Experts say that we cannot be truly autonomous and secure adults if we lack the ability to have safe and secure attachments.
I wanted to write today about Dr. Siegel’s next statements about secure-autonomous attachment. I find, as usual, that I am nearly completely lost in trying to understand what he is saying (see bottom of this post) because I do not come from a childhood of safe and secure attachments. Instead my 18 years of abuse from birth gave me the opposite – a disorganized-disoriented insecure attachment disorder. To begin to understand what Siegel is saying, I have to turn his words upside down and backwards so that they can make sense to ‘opposite’ extra-ordinary ME.
In order to keep my thoughts from appearing and flying away in their often random way, I had to find my own internal image to attach them to so that they could have an order I can understand. What came to me in relation to what Siegel is saying about secure versus insecure attachment was: “stolen thunder.” In working with my own internal image I came to understand three basic questions about how parents raise their children. In fact, I think it might be the simplest ‘test’ possible to determine the quality of the parenting we received and of the parenting we give our own children.
1. Does a parent help their child’s own personal power, uniqueness, expression and self to grow? In other words, do they help their child’s thunder to grow or do they interfere with their child’s growing thunder (self=personal power)?
Yes or No
2. Does a parent actually steal their child’s thunder away from them so that the child is diminished rather than helped and allowed to grow and thrive?
Yes or No
3. Does the parent then project their own garbage onto and into their child?
Yes or No
These questions are, of course, only showing us what the very tip of the iceberg is like about how parents can act toward their children. But I think the answers give a pretty clear indication about what lies below the surface:
As I thought about my mother’s interactions with me from my birth, I realized that 1. was No; 2. was Yes; 3. was Yes. N-Y-Y. She did not allow my personal thunder to grow, she stole it away from me and projected her garbage onto me. (This is exactly what I believe my mother’s mother and grandmother did to her in her childhood.)
I thought about my father and 1. was No; 2. was No; 3. was No. N-N-N. He did not help me to grow my own thunder, but he did not steal it away from me, either. Nor did he project his garbage onto me. I basically did not seem to exist in his world at all.
I thought about my interactions with my own children and 1. was Yes; 2. was No; and 3. was No. Y-N-N. My foremost effort with my children was to allow them and to help them grow into their own self and to grow their personal thunder. I did not steal their thunder away from them or deny them the opportunity to grow their own strong, clear self. I did not confuse, overpower or disempower them. I did not project my own garbage onto them. I had what the child development attachment experts would call an ‘earned secure’ attachment with my children. (I think about this from my own perspective as my having built a ‘borrowed secure’ attachment with my children.)
NOTE: Our patterns of trying to give our thunder away is a topic for some future writing…..
Out of curiosity I wanted to know where the phrase “steal my thunder” even came from. At trivia-library.com I found it to be 300 years old:
Origins of Sayings – Steal My Thunder
About the history, origin and story behind the famous saying
STEAL MY THUNDER
Who Said It: John Dennis
The Story behind It: John Dennis, English critic and playwright, invented a new way of simulating the sound of thunder on stage and used the method in one of his plays, Appius and Virginia. Dennis “made” thunder by using “troughs of wood with stops in them” instead of the large mustard bowls usually employed. The thunder was a great success, but Dennis’ play was a dismal failure. The manager at Drury Lane, where the play was performed, canceled its run after only a few performances. A short time later, Dennis returned to Drury Lane to see Shakespeare’s Macbeth. As he sat in the pit, he was horrified to discover that his method of making thunder was being used. Jumping to his feet, Dennis screamed at the audience, “That’s my thunder, by God! The villains will not play my play but they steal my thunder.”
I have a different association with thunder. I used to be terrified of electrical storms. Gradually, after more than 25 years spent in friendships with traditional-believing Native Americans in northern Minnesota, I came to understand another perspective on these storms.
I had a friend who was a lawyer and Chief Magistrate, and not given to ‘flights of fancy’. One time she told the story of driving a stretch of deserted 2-lane highway after leaving Canada as she headed home. She glanced in her rear view mirror and saw a massive bird speeding towards her along the line of road. It shone copper, and when it reached her car it lifted over it and swooped down in front of her and continued down the road. It was so big its wing tips reached over the shoulders on both sides of the road. My friend was stunned and shaken, and pulled off the road and stopped as she watched it disappear ahead of her.
Traditional Anishinabeg (Ojibway, Chippewa) and other Tribal teachings tell of how thunder is the sound of the voice of these great Thunderbirds, and lightning is the light flashing from their eyes. I am no longer afraid of electrical storms. Finding, claiming and growing my own personal thunder remains a bit more of a challenge!
My entire recovery from the terrible child abuse I suffered has been about the healing of myself and the claiming of my personal power to be my self, in my power, in my life. How does having one’s personal thunder — or not — apply to my understanding of the following words by Dr. Daniel Siegel? I guess my discussion of this information now belongs in tomorrow’s post:
“Moreover, the capacity to reflect on the role of mental states in determining human behavior is associated with the capacity to provide sensitive and nurturing parenting….this reflective function is more than the ability to introspect; it directly influences a self-organizational process within the individual…..the reflective function also enables the parent to facilitate the self-organizational development of the child….the coherent organization of the mind depends upon an integrative process that enables such reflective processes to occur….integrative coherence within the individual may early in life depend upon, and later facilitate, interpersonal connections that foster the development of emotional well-being. (Siegle/tdm/312)”
This post follows:
+DISSOCIATION AND THE TRAUMA-SPECIALIZED BRAIN 11-11-09
+SECURE AND INSECURE ATTACHMENT AND THE CHILDHOOD NARRATIVE 11-13-09
+EXPLODING MOTHER, IMPLODING ME: SOME FUNDAMENTAL DIFFERENCES BETWEEN US 11-14-09
MORE INFORMATION ABOUT BORDERLINE PERSONALITY DISORDER
(IN MEMORY OF MY MOTHER)
Borderline Personality Disorder
|In the Spotlight | More Topics ||
|from Kristalyn Salters-Pedneault, PhD
Most people with a diagnosis of BPD have at least one (if not more) co-occurring disorders. Common comorbid conditions include mood and anxiety disorders and substance use problems. But other disorders can occur alongside BPD as well.
|In the Spotlight|
2 thoughts on “+WHEN ABUSIVE PARENTS STEAL THEIR CHILD’S THUNDER”
Hi there, PhilA
Thank you very much for your comment. I hope you have also read the posts at these links about the United Nations Convention on Child Rights.
We do not have to have anything to do with anyone we don’t want to — and that certainly includes anyone harmful. We have to empower ourselves, protect ourselves, and learn as much as we can about how what was done to us as infant-children harmed us so that we can continue to find ways to improve our own well-being as much as we possibly can.
You certainly understand more than most about the kind of physical damage to the body that early abuse causes for the life span. The effects of severe child abuse and maltreatment do not ever end simply because we get older and bigger.
I have written on my blog that I added up the very minimum sentence my mother SHOULD have received just for the beatings and physical assault she did to me when I was a child. The lightest sentence would have been 14,500 years — and this does not include the mental, verbal, emotional, psychological abuse. Of course, neither of my parents ever received any censure or punishment of any kind for what they did to me.
Please read the information in these links up above about the United Nations Universal Rights of Children — they leave no doubt whatsoever about what children need and what their rights are. You are so absolutely RIGHT that the laws and the enforcement of them are not adequate to protect infant-children or to address the harm that is caused to them. We need to EMPOWER OURSELVES in any possible way we can, from the inside out, to become clearer, stronger, and better informed every day!
Adults who harm infants and children commit criminal acts. They are criminals. I reached a point where I was finally able to disown my mother — but it took a long time to get there! See:
We need to speak out and speak up for ourselves. We need to let nobody harm us now if there is any way possible we can prevent it. We need to educate and inform ourselves. We need to stand up for ourselves NOW. If I ever thought I might need someone to take over any part of my affairs I would carefully and intentionally choose them myself!
Please comment again whenever you like. We all value what you have to say! I put a link to your comment here over on the Reader Response Page (see tab at top or click here:
— readers can find it over there and find there way here!!
You might also find the information on SUBSTANCE P to be something you might find interesting. Substance P (named by brain scientists “P” for “PAIN”) is what makes our body feel both physical and emotional pain. Here are some links:
and here to poke around on Google!
Hope to hear from you again!!
What about parents who steal their children’s assets and then try to alienate them from the rest of the family in order to keep others from knowing or destroying the credibility of the child in hopes that even if the child complians about severe abuse the child won’t be believed?
My parents forced me to work without a proper work permit full time after school, weekends, summers or anytime I was not in school. In order to keep my parents from being arrested by my vice principle after he saw my social security records that proved I worked from the age of eight years old full time after school, weekends, holidays and summers while my grades were failing I had to drop out of high school. My parents were caught but nothing was done to stop the horrible physical and emotional abuse as well and stealing the money I made since the age of eight. I suffered great bodily damage and ended up with major surgeries to my lower back and hip due to being forced to perform very heavy labor as a child that caused development problems of my spine and vertibrae. Then my parents were caught selling the things I needed for classes in high school by my teachers who gave me failing grades and sent me to the vice principles office.
I ended up going on social security because I couldn’t work and social security had to approve me because I had too many quarters of work behing me that had to be counted as me paying into social security so I basically had to retire by the age of forty with full social security. I suffer horrible pain every day and now I recently found out my mother is trying to find ways to take over my estate by any means necessary. She also split up my marriage and lied about me in ways that caused problems between my own children and wife. She’s insisting on being executor or manager of my estate and did the same to my brother who committed suicide and turned around and took all his assets from his adult children who are afraid to turn her in for stealing their fathers estate and life insurance.
I’m going to tell my mother that I don’t want anything more to do with her until she pays back what she stole from me and my nieces and nephews over a very long time that adds up to a very significant amount of money.
Why isn’t this ever discussed? Why aren’t the DA’s ad child protective services enforcing the laws of children working and having to have work permits that must be approved by the principles of the school the minors attend? Why are the DA allowing parents to steal from thier children? I don’t get this. The laws are there but never enforced if not rarely.