What if Chinese biophysicists are right?  What if “…our consciousness is subject to evolutionary development…?”  Popp, 254

What if Dr. Martin Teicher is right?  What if severe child abuse in a malevolent environment creates an “evolutionarily altered brain?”

What if the second happens directly because the first does?

I was thinking about increased complexity as a good thing in life.  I was thinking that my mother was too simple.  She created an environment that was too simple for me.  As a result of this, I got a changed body-brain – a different one from hers, obviously, but one like hers because we each shared related experiences as we developed.

The simple, unconsciously-driven world of my mother’s and mine went like this:  “Let’s play a game.  I’ll be the mean monster mother who hates and hurts you.  You try to survive me.”

Day after day, week in, week out, year in and year out.  Same old game.  Nothing original in that!  Nothing that increased the complexity of our relationship.  Nothing that fed an increase in complex communication between us.  Nothing that challenged me to THINK.

Of course the isolation my mother enforced for me kept me from developing any diverse and increasingly complex relationships with anyone else, either.

Popp, the Chinese biophysicist mentioned above, also writes about a theory that – “essentially claims that the guide-line of evolution is the expansion of coherent states.”

Nothing very coherent about my mother’s state, and thus, because she had kept so much control over me from birth, was there much coherence in my state, or in our relationship.  Just the same old ‘game’ repeated over and over again.

When I think about an ‘evolutionarily altered brain’ the way Teicher describes it, I think about far earlier years in the experience of our species when ‘group think’ had not evolved into ‘individual think’.  Considering our species has only had spoken language for about 140,000 years, it doesn’t take much imagination to picture communication happening back then in far more simple and primitive ways.

(‘Group think’, to me, has different boundaries.  My mother included me as a part of her group – not mine.  Actually, she and I were an enmeshed group of one!  Her – and me as her projection.  I could not escape to become a separate more complex and differentiated person – like constantly fighting being sucked into a black hole – unable to escape a gravitational pull.  An individual has to become increasingly differentiated from the ‘group’ – or we remain (develop into) a more ‘ancient’ being than a ‘modern’ one.)

So, what if simply put, both mine and my mother’s childhoods were just too primitive and simple:  Survive?  Hard to get increased complexity (and a matching ‘evolutionarily advanced brain’) out of that situation!




My sister gave me some valuable and insightful feedback last night in a telephone conversation about my writing and about this blog.  She spends far more time than I do reading other people’s blog writing – on far different topics that what I write about.  But what she told me fits in with something I have been thinking about a lot recently:  What do humans show to one another and what do they hide?

I have mentioned recently how much I am enjoying the Netflix gift subscription my children have given to me as I stream the Australian television series, “McLeod’s Daughters” and watch some of it daily.  Perhaps I so thoroughly enjoy watching this series because it portrays very confident and capable women ranchers, perhaps because it portrays country living, perhaps because it is about a culture that is certainly ‘western’ in that everyone speaks English and shares a background similar enough to mind that I don’t have to stretch very far to imagine the story but does not come from an American-Hollywood perspective.

But ultimately what I am most enjoying about this series is that it offers me the opportunity to watch ‘ordinary’ people interacting with one another.  It’s the same reason I love the movie, “The Secret Garden.”  I can’t count the number of times I’ve watched this movie because from it I can glimpse a little bit of what it might be like to be a child.

The truth is, I don’t have any more personal information about what being a child is/was like than I do about what being an adult is REALLY like.  I missed that show when it came to town.  I was too busy surviving being tortured, tormented, terrified, overwhelmed, traumatized and isolated as an infant-child and then trying to make my way through my adulthood as a confused survivor.


What this has to do with ‘writing a book’ and the conversation I had with my sister last night is that I will never be able to write a single word that comes from a so-called ‘ordinary’ point of view.  I have often written about ‘the spectrum of abuse’, but today I am not feeling that as a linear concept.  I am feeling it as a circle.

Those of my readers here who suffered from parental abuse that happened within a context of true madness will always be most qualified to understand what I say and the way that I say it.  I cannot, however, offer anything to anyone if I don’t get to a place of knowing and accepting that I (and the readers I mention) are in a narrow percentage range having to do with surviving ‘the worst possible childhoods.’

I don’t want to be in some vague exclusive group.  I never wanted that from the moment I was born to my mad, mean mother.  But it happened, and I AM there.

My sister was describing to me aspects of my blog writing that she sees as being ‘different from others’.  I am not sure that I exactly understand what she said to me, but I think it had something to do with TRANSPARENCY.  In watching the actions and interactions of people on “McLeod’s Daughters” I am learning something about the reality of the social species I belong to.  I can do it far more safely than is possible when I am in interaction with REAL people because I am not expected to say or do anything as I watch.

The concept of TRANSPARENCY in my writing has to do with how much I disclose in my writing versus how much I ‘hide’ from public view.  It has to do with my inability to participate in any ordinary way in social interactions.

I have written far more about the early developing EMOTIONAL right limbic brain through very early infant-caregiver interactions than I have about THIS SAME BRAIN REGION as it governs SOCIAL interactions.  In fact, emotional cannot physiologically be split off and separated from social.

When I say “I cannot read or respond normally to social cues,” I mean it.  That inability cannot help but show itself in my writing.  I simply have no concept of ‘filters’ or ‘screening’ of information that evidently ordinary-built people do normally.

I see this filtering all the time on “McLeod’s Daughters” as the characters are shown to have inner thoughts, feelings, motivations, intentions and ‘blockages’ that the watcher is privy to but that the individual characters do not know about one another.

This has to do with the early developing emotional-social brain (and all its corresponding nervous system connections) that are involved in the development of what is called Theory of Mind.  To be extremely blunt about this topic, mammal Theory of Mind is just as real as ‘human’ Theory of Mind.  My mother’s abuse of me interfered with my developing even as rudimentary a Theory of Mind as a dog or a monkey might have.

And this will always show in my writing just as surely as having an altered brain-mind development is a sure sign of the presence of an Autistic-spectrum person’s relationship with self and others.


So when I say today that suddenly I feel the ‘abuse spectrum’ exists in a circle rather than ‘on a line’, I am saying that ALL Theory of Mind processes, ALL human interactions happen through ‘social-emotional’ brain processes that were built into it from the start of our life by social interactions with caregivers.  All these social interactions happen within social-societal environments.

If you follow any circle around far enough from the point of origin we will come back to the beginning.  Those of us in the far extreme away from normal-ordinary early caregiver interactions are simply closer to the starting point of the RANGE of what is humanly possible.

What is normal-ordinary is socially defined.  At the same time I can say that I am extremely limited in my ability to interact socially in normal-ordinary ways with other people (or with myself), and therefore am dis-abled to fit into mainstream human society, I can also say that I am en-abled to operate in a very different way that so-called normal and ordinary people cannot begin to imagine.

As I watch the Australian dramas unfold on “McLeod’s Daughters” what I am ACTUALLY WATCHING is the keeping and sharing of SECRETS.  What I see is that evidently adults not only keep secrets from other people, they keep them from their own self.  This, to me, quite simply means that the ‘legal tender’ of normal-ordinary human social interactions on ALL levels is about the TRUTH.

Who has the truth?  Who knows the truth?  When will the truth be revealed?  How will the truth finally appear?  Will the truth ever be discovered?  What is the truth, anyway?  What happens when the truth finally pops out – one way or the other?  What power does the truth have to change people’s lives?  What power does keeping the truth secret have on people’s lives?

Is all truth equal?  Are all secrets equal?  When does the truth appear accidentally?  When does it appear intentionally and why?  Who knows what about whom?  And on and on and on social interactions seem to go.

Theory of Mind then becomes about this whole connected circle that exists between having secrets, keeping secrets, revealing secrets, hiding the truth, knowing the truth — or not.  It seems people have a variety of techniques for keeping this circle broken, for keeping the truth a secret – or not.  It seems that their are an infinite number of ways that these patterns of truth-secret interactions play themselves out.


My transparency comes from my having experienced so much abuse, trauma and isolation that none of these physiological circuits ever developed within me in the first place.  When ‘self help’ writers talk about survivors of ‘dysfunctional childhoods’ having no clue what ‘normal’ is – so they have to ‘guess what normal is’ – I cringe now.

The most important truth here has not been revealed by these writers.  Some of us were formed in environments that were so far from being socially normal-ordinary that we never received the social-emotional information during our development that would have put these normal-ordinary social circuits into play.  So – they aren’t there and they never will be.  We are a different sort of human.  I am a different sort of human.

I am on the far extreme of the social-game interaction circle.  I did not develop WITHIN that arena.  I was always on the outside, I AM on the outside, and I will ALWAYS be on the outside.  I can ‘watch and learn’ about how humans interact about as effectively as a high-functioning Autistic person can.  I watch and try to learn about social interactions around REAL humans equally as I do with television and movie people.

But I have no more illusions or delusions that anything I will ever be able to do will let me BE on the inside of that circle.  As a consequence of being a survivor of early abuse on the far end of the abuse-spectrum, I simply will never have the same in-formation that less abuse or non abused people have built into them.

It is here that my ability becomes my disability, right where the whole circle of what is socially possible for my species connects itself:  I can both know what I am NOT SUPPOSED to know about others at the same time I don’t know what I am SUPPOSED to know.


According to developmental-attachment experts, I am in the small percentage of people who have a ‘disorganized-disoriented insecure attachment disorder’.  Looking at myself from this ‘whole circle’ perspective, I can say that of course having the experience of operating with a completely different social-emotional brain puts me at a disadvantage when and if I find I need to interact with people who are, themselves, different than I am.

But because the social mainstream was built ordinarily, they set the rules.  What is normal for them is NOT normal for me and vice verso.  Because of what I now know about this whole subject, I can OFTEN watch people who interact with me express their confusion and disarray as they try to understand my reactions and interactions.  We speak a different language – and most of the time, unless I am interacting with people who care about me greatly, there is simply not enough time or opportunity for the TRANSLATION to occur.

Communication between species members is most efficient and effective when the arena is a shared one, when the ground rules are known and understood, and when everyone participating is on equal (shared-learned-understood) ground.


The topic gets really complicated at this point.  It seems that human interactions are meant to negotiate power, competence, status and connectedness.  This all happens within a shared Theory of Mind arena that allows patterns of truth-revelation and secret-keeping to operate.  These patterns, it seems to me, help to define who is who, who is a self, how they are a self, what self they are with whom.  These patterns define the individual self, the group self, the connections of the self to others as members of a social species.

Being as TRANSPARENT as I am sets me apart from all of these patterns of interactions.  Am I sitting at the table with other people playing cards with no cards in my hand?  With a hand full of wild cards?  Trump cards?  Crap cards?  Am I playing with the same number of cards as others have?  Are all my cards showing to others?  Are all their cards showing to me?

What am I supposed to pretend?  What am I supposed to know, or not know?  What am I supposed to hide?  What am I supposed to reveal?  To whom, when, under what conditions?  How am I supposed to KNOW?

By connecting the trauma/abuse spectrum ends together into a full circle range of human social interactional patterns together, I would guess that if everyone was raised the way I was, everyone would be about as transparent as I am.  How would power and the boundaries of selfhood and connection-disconnection with others be negotiated then?


Related post:





I heard a true tale as I sat eating the last of my Thursday lunch in town today with my friend, Sharon.  It rivals my grieving chicken story.  And again, it makes me wonder about how much wonder most of us miss in the world.

I was still picking through the last of my bargain basement pile of Burger King fries.  My friend had finished her chicken sandwich and was replacing her cell phone back into her purse after taking it out to check on the time.  Suddenly she straightened up a bit taller in the booth with one of those ‘oh, and’ looks on her face as she said, “My granddaughter called me this morning.  She was cracking up.  You won’t believe what she told me.”

OK, I’ll bite.  Sharon’s granddaughter, Shelly, arrived at work in a nearby town this morning a little earlier than her boss did.  She was busy sorting through real estate folders at the start of her day when her boss burst through the door.

“Come out here and look!  You have GOT to see this!  There’s a gigantic snake out here in the parking lot!”

The real estate office sits behind the town’s Denny’s restaurant and shares its parking lot.  Once Shelly stepped out through the office door, she was greeted with a pandemonium movie scene.  Groups of excited people clustered together pointing and squealing near their parked cars.  More people streaming out of the Denny’s.  In the center of the parking lot arena wandered a massive snake, in and out, under and around the cars, obviously searching for the best way out and not finding it.

It twisted and turned its direction, heading first one way and then another as the growing crowd skittered and chattered.

“What should we do?” Shelly heard people calling to one another.  “Don’t hurt it,” someone finally shouted loudly.  “It’s not a rattlesnake.  It’s a bull snake.  It can’t hurt anyone.  Just leave the poor thing alone.  It’s confused and scared.  It will leave by itself.”

Shelly was as fascinated watching the people as she was following the trajectories of this snake, out of place on this hot pavement, obviously having no more idea what it was doing there than the people did.

Suddenly two elderly women rushed out of the restaurant.  One of them moved toward their pickup truck and stood there while the other woman, brazen and very self directed, marched across the wide parking lot directly toward the snake who stopped dead in its snake tracks at the sound of her firm and commanding voice.

“What in the WORLD are you doing out here!”  The woman spoke to the snake as if it were a wayward child.  “I thought I told you to stay in that truck until we came back out!  Now, you get yourself BACK in there right this minute!  Do you hear me?  I’m talking to you.  Get yourself back in that truck — NOW!  Do as I say!”

Shelly could hardly finish telling her grandmother this story she was laughing so hard.  “You won’t believe what happened next, grandma!  That snake straightened out its body and headed right to that truck.  It poked its head up the side of the rear tire, arched itself over the top of it, and – really, grandma, I am telling you the truth – got right back into that pickup like it was told to!”

Once the snake had followed its orders, and with the tailgate slammed shut, the women turned to the awed crowd and told them the rest of the story.

“We both decided we deserved a Denny’s breakfast this morning,” reported the snake charmer.  “We were on our way into town when I had to slow down for a snake crossing the road.  Only when we got closer, we could see that there were two snakes, great big ones.  But one snake was smashed dead.  The other one, this one, lay close beside it and wouldn’t move an inch even after I saw it was a bull snake and I walked right up to it and tried to chase it away.”

“What to do with a stubborn snake?  Nothing, I tell you.  Not a thing.  So I decided to ignore it and let it have its way as I bent over to pick up that dead one. It took me a couple of minutes to carry it down the shoulder and into the Mesquite bushes off the side of the road.  It was heavy!  I laid it down to rest there in the shade.”

“By the time I got back to the road, the other snake was gone.  I thought it had wandered away, but as I got into the truck my sister told me she caught sight of it in the rear view mirror climbing into the back of our truck.  We always leave the tailgate open for better gas mileage, you know how that goes.  I didn’t shut the tailgate after the snake got in.  I figured it would just stay in there until we were done with breakfast like I told it to, and then we’d just drop it off where we found it on our way back home.”

The listening audience of bystanders, bound to remember and tell this story for many days to come, decided as a group that these two snakes were obviously married for life, and had been for a long time.  They decided this surviving snake was beside itself at the tragic death of its mate, and being left suddenly and completely alone, hitched a ride with these two kind strangers.


Supporting Evidence-Based Home Visiting Website

The Children’s Bureau has launched a website for Supporting Evidence-Based Home Visiting. The website includes findings from 17 cooperative agreements “to support the infrastructure needed for the widespread adoption, implementation and sustaining of evidence-based home visitation programs” and a cross-site evaluation. Resources are available in the form of archived webinars, newsletters, and research documentation.




For all the horror and suffering my mother created for me in my childhood, there were three things about me that she did not obliterate.  She didn’t criticize me for them.  She didn’t verbally berate me for them.  She didn’t ever seem to see or say or do anything negative to me about them.

What a miracle that was!  I experience the benefit from this absence of my mother’s abuse of me about these three things every single day of my life.  In fact, for some strange reason I could not fathom as a child even if I had tried to, my mother actually approved of my BIG THREE as if they somehow offered a glimmer of redemption for EVERYTHING else that she saw wrong with me.

On the other hand, it strikes me how bizarre my childhood was that I would even now, at 58, even think about what shining pleasure I have in my life just BECAUSE my mother allowed me to be me in regard to these three things.  Had I had a different childhood with a different mother, who knows how much more these three aspects of who I am could have blossomed.  Her severe and chronic abuse of me couldn’t help but interfere with all of my development, including these three aspects of me.  But I am grateful my mother did not — maybe COULD not — remove from my life the pleasure I have always taken in these three things:

* My love of the outdoors and the natural world

*My love particularly of plants and flowers

*My creativity and love for making things with my hands


I thought about this today as I worked to change the contours of my backyard.  I thought about this today as I sloshed water into soil and created more bricks for my expanding project.  I thought about this today as I ‘dead-headed’ my flowers, carefully pinching off dead blooms so the flowers do not go to seed and the plants can keep on blooming, and as I snipped away bigger plants to allow more sunshine and air to reach the smaller ones.

Some months back I remember replying to a commenter who wrote about her troubled son.  I paraphrase this mother here:  “Where is my son?  All I can see are the symptoms of his distress.  I cannot see my son at all.  I cannot find him.”

My response to this mother’s sorrow was to encourage her to pay very close attention, attentive attention, to everything she could possibly find out about what her son liked.  What foods does he like?  What colors does he like?  What clothes does he like to wear?  What can you notice about what he likes to do, what gives him pleasure?

When I think back on my childhood in terms of my BIG THREE, I know that the two-year-old me sitting in the middle of the living room floor playing with my pop beads is the same person I am today with my love of making things.  Even though my mother lent a shade of abuse to this particular incident, saying that only a slow and stupid child would sit like that, doing that (she added this part to her abuse litany of me), she did not tie that abuse to my artistic loves or to my creativity.

When I think back on the very first early summer days on the homestead when I was seven, I remember finding a little group of brightly blooming flowers growing in the grasses.  Only because flowers are a part of my ‘gift’ could I have known there was something unusual and particularly special about these few blossoms.  I picked one and ran into the canvas Jamesway to show my mother.  “That’s a Bachelor Button,” she told me.  “It came from somewhere far away from here.  It doesn’t grow here naturally.  A bird must have eaten seeds and brought them here.  Leave the rest of them alone now and we’ll see if they come back next year.”

My mother wasn’t mad at me or mean to me that I picked that flower, or that I bothered her in showing it to her.  On this occasion she treated me as a human child.  Every following year of my childhood on the mountain I looked in that same place for another patch of Bachelor Buttons, but I never saw them grow there again.


True, my mother interfered with my actions every single time she thought I was showing signs of being a ‘Tom Boy’.  I could not climb trees.  I was supposed to play with dolls (which I hated).  I was supposed to be ‘lady like’, whatever that meant to my mother.  But any time I was able to escape from my mother’s glare and meanness to get outdoors, I did.  And I loved it there.

I loved the idea that we could plant seeds and grow things to eat, and grow our own flowers.  But I especially loved Alaska’s wildflowers.  Somehow just today I realized on a whole new level how much of a plant person I am – plants are more real to me like being people than people are.  Of course the abuse and imposed isolation I experienced from birth did nothing to help me develop the social part of my right brain, so I suppose my special connection with plants and flowers perhaps grew more keenly and deeply into me as a result.

But grow into me it did.  I knew the names of all the wildflowers on the homestead.  I knew what they looked like with their first leaves in the spring.  I knew their buds, I knew their flowers.  I knew each of their seasons.  I knew when they were getting ready to seed, and I watched until the moment was perfect so I could capture them.  I made little packets for the seeds, wrote information about the flowers on them, carefully preserved my collections, and took them outdoors in the springtime to sow them among their wild relations.

And I love flowers now.  I love their fragility, their endurance, their shape, their colors.  I love to watch them shake and sway in the wind.  I have never seen a flower that wasn’t delicate.  I have never seen a flower that can survive abuse and harsh treatment.  Flowers endure in their own environment and thrive as their needs are met.  Perhaps they are like little children to me, and I thrive on taking care of them and enjoying them.


Plants are about seasons.  They are about change and resilience to me.  They are about living according to nature’s way, and I suspect that as insane, chaotic, unpredictable, terrifying, painful and violent as my childhood was, there was something stable and predictable and reasonable and knowable about the life of plants.  I could rely on trees and bushes to change their colors in the fall, lose their dead leaves, remain quiet and silently alive all winter, to burst again into life again in the spring.

I never questioned any of these processes.  I noticed, I watched, I appreciated and valued, I loved plants – and the earth they grew out of.  I loved all nature’s influences on the plants – sun and rain, clouds and wind, warmth and coldness.  No plant ever did anything to harm me.  I resonated with their inner stillness, their ‘beingness’.

In other words, I am a creative, ‘artistic’ plant person and for some inexplicable reason my mother never took her monster boots and stomped this out of me.  Maybe somehow she KNEW she could not take these three parts of who I am away from me, no matter what she did to me and no matter how hard she might have tried.

I suspect there is some part of every single person, no matter what our infant-childhood was like, that could only have been removed from us through our death.  Because we endured and survived, those things we innately LOVE remain with us because they are an integral-integrated part of us — they are a part of who we are.

I believe we must find out for our self what the loves of our childhood were, because they are still our loves.  What made us happiest?  What joy did we return to as often as we could?  What are those loves of ours that continue to appear and reappear in our lives as surely as an air bubble will rise to the surface of water?

So maybe instead of feeling grateful my mother ‘chose’ not to abuse me in regard to my BIG THREE, I need to feel grateful that she did not kill me, because as long as I am alive these three loves of mine remain — and they are not a part of trauma for me.  These loves have always been good and pure for me, uncontaminated by my mother.  How super-duper cool is that?


Here are a few pictures taken outside today.

Nothing fancy. Nothing spectacular. Just two flowers blooming in the dirt.
Flowers, themselves, are fragile, vulnerable and honest. They are beautiful and seem to me to express themselves in colors that are unique in this world to the flower kingdom.
Flowers are humble, pretend nothing, demand nothing, never intrude, are patient and willing to do one simple thing - bloom until they die. Afterward, when the seeds come, that is a good thing, also.
Coming from a world where I was the Chosen Child for terrible abuse, there was something RIGHT with the natural world that was missing in my mother's world of WRONG: Nature plays no favorites. Everything is equally in the mix together. All these flowers were equally blown in today's wind. They all receive the same sunshine, moonshine, starshine. Rained upon equally, live and die equally. None pulls rank. None abuses another. Everything makes perfect sense in THIS world - and I knew this from the earliest time of my life I can remember.
Fake, faded yellow flowers - spot them?
I am trying to resurrect the raggedy pomegranate tree in the back yard. This season it has five blossoms.
I remember the one pomegranate I ever held in my hands and ate as a child. Our school bus driver gave each of his riders one on the last day of school the year I was in 5th grade.
The pomegranate - figure of myth and legend - Persephone in the underworld, being tricked, eating its seed?
I remember a line from the movie I recently watched, "Local Color," about painters and painting. "Every time you see a color, if you look closely, you will see its complementary opposite." Red and green. Not hard to see here.


Here are a few pictures of the ongoing mud project behind my house:

Dirt grows (that's an empty pain can with flapping label on top of the bricks - to help keep my cats from leaping up there and knocking bricks down - or attacking my window screen)
Tuesday's work
Still Tuesday
Various shades of dry
That's the little pomegranate tree back there. I am going to make a pathway heading in that direction.




I have been thinking about a commenter’s words yesterday to the post, *Age 36 – My May 10, 1988 Letter Disowning My Mother as it relates to ‘disclosure’:

I’m reading your stories and I’m amazed they are not triggering me. There are many similarities (my mother is bipolar and went off of her meds around 1975 because it embarrassed my father) in experiences, but the original abuses are a bit different.

This brought to mind the several posts I have written on DISCLOSURE:

The collection of this blog’s posts related to DISCLOSURE can be reached HERE, including —














I have had some feedback on the writing of my childhood stories that they need to be more detailed, contain more emotion, be more ‘real’.  This commenter’s words were affirming to me that perhaps MY way of writing is, well, MY way!  I will never write for the voyeur readers.  Nor is it my intention to so horrify and trigger traumatic memories in my readers that harm to them might follow.  My aim has always been to be kind to myself and kind to my readers while at the same time (hopefully) striking a beneficial balance between safety and disclosure.


Posting links to posts from the past makes this post another ‘scavenger post’ – which got me to thinking about something else I found important in my studies:  The relationship between the ratio of adrenal gland to thyroid function in mammals as it corresponds to predator and prey status.

Human infants are born with an adrenal gland that is two-and-a-half times larger in proportion to their body weight than it will be when they reach adulthood.  This fact causes me to cringe at the thought of how devastating extreme stress and distress is to infants during their development because stress hormone overdose is a toxin to them.

We know how destructive stress hormones can be on the adult body (including what it does to the hippocampus brain region and memory) – it is almost unimaginable what these powerful hormones do to an infant-toddler and small child’s developing body-brain.

Thoughts about the posts at the links below came to me in relation to the idea of a ‘scavenger post’ because I now live where huge buzzards float above the earth searching for their meals.  During the years I lived north in Alaska and in northern Minnesota, eagles floated above me instead.

Both of these two birds are mentioned in the work referenced below.  Buzzards are thyroid-based creatures who do not hunt, while eagles are adrenal-based creatures that do.  If you haven’t already encountered these posts, perhaps you might find it helpful to scan through them now:





Related posts:



*ADVERSIVE CHILDHOODS (notes from chapter 4)

*ATTACHMENT (chapter 5 notes)

*Trauma Recovery – notes on Waking the Tiger








*Endocannabinoids, Digestion, Food Intake, Energy Balance

*Endocannabinoid System, Fear and Anxiety

*Endocannabinoids, Pain, Depression and Grief

*Endocannabinoid Protection and Regulation




More of these related posts can be found by continuing to search through this blog HERE (past the links you see posted here today)


Just a note:  There’s a Buzzard Tree in Old Bisbee where hundreds of buzzards roost every night.  Near sunset the skies are filled with these giant, peaceful, slowly soaring birds.  A few years ago the city council wanted to destroy that giant tree because they said all the buzzard droppings are a health hazard!  Old Bisbee-ites would have nothing to do with this idea, and arose en masse in protection of their friends and this ancient cottonwood the buzzards have chosen for their summertime home.


These related posts can be found by continuing to search through this blog HERE (past the links you see posted here today)



I watched a spider scampering across the stubby lawn grass this morning as I sat in the shade drinking my coffee.  Somehow, and this puzzled me, this spider noticed I was near even though it was a good six feet away from me.  It froze in place at the edge of the dirt pathway it was about to cross, and it stayed there completely still.

I wondered how the spider knew of my presence.  I, too, froze and was careful not to move a muscle, but my stillness did not fool that little beast.  I watched and I watched to see how long it would take before the spider determined I was no threat, but my attention wandered away from watching the spider without me even noticing.  The next I knew, the next I looked, the spider was gone.

Most spiders in the southwest are harmless to mammals as I imagine this one was.  The ones to pay most attention to are either obvious as the Black Widows are with their masses of obvious, very messy webs, or the ones that hide in quiet, untouched places like the Brown Recluse.  Spiders that cross open ground in the daylight are probably not dangerous.  But, even so, how do I know for certain when I meet a spider who is prey and who is predator?

A few moments after noticing the spider had vanished, the form of a little lizard, also seeming frozen near me on the dirt caught my eye.  “Go away, little one,” I said to it.  I was thinking that it might be intent on heading toward the single step that rises to the back door, and as nice as it is to have these bug eating reptiles running around in the yard, I certainly don’t like the idea of one surprising me under foot inside my house, or popping out from under the appliances in the kitchen.

I tossed a pebble in the direction of the lizard thinking I could startle it into movement along with a change in its direction.  The lizard didn’t move.  One of its tiny front feet was placed in front of its body.  The other one was bent with the foot behind the lizard’s shoulder.  Again, frozen in place, the lizard seemed to be in its survival-based state of visual suspended animation.

As I moved toward the lizard, thinking I could scare it away with my hand movement, I noticed its tail.  Nature designs lizards, as you probably know, with a detachable and re-growable tail with the hopes that a tail catch by a predator will leave the lizard free to run away.  This one’s tail was half gone and all dried up, which seemed most strange to me.  I didn’t ‘get it’ until I actually touched the lizard and realized he was entirely all dried up and – well – completely D-E-A-D.


I guess I have an enquiring mind that feeds on the obvious as I try to understand the mysteries of my infant-childhood.  It’s not that I particularly CARE about my mother, or even about the details of the horrific abuse she perpetrated against me.  What I care about is having a body-brain that cannot keep me in the mainstream of life, that leaves me nestled in the safest place I can find (my home) without the physical, mental or emotional stamina, resources, or resiliency to be able to handle anything like a social demand or a stressful situation.  Those dis-abilities, I know, stem directly from how my body-brain developed under the constant trauma of living as my mother’s daughter.

So as soon as I knew the lizard was dead (and had been for some time), my next thought after, “I wish my cats would leave these poor little lizards alone, but cats will be cats,” was “Well, if that isn’t just like my relationship with my mother!”

My mother.  The truth is I never had a mother.  I might have imagined that woman was my mother, but she was as dead to me as a mother as this dried up, petrifying lizard IS dead.  My mother was dead to me as a mother from the first breath of air I ever consumed.

My mother could no more mother me than this lizard can ever move its tiny legs and go off for another bug.

As for the frozen spider obviously afraid of me:  If something as small as that spider could detect threat to its life from me, how could I not have known from the moment I was born that my mother was a threat to me and to my life?

But my mother never lost interest in paying attention to her prey, me.  Her mind and her attention never wandered off to other things so that I could somehow escape and go on with my business of being an infant, a toddler, a child, a teen.

When a woman who is SUPPOSED to be one’s mother is instead a predatory monster, the laws and by-laws of the natural order of life are obviously turned up-side-down.  There are very real physiological developmental consequences to having a monster for a mother, as infant-child abuse and trauma survivors well know.


This brings me to the point of needing to speak about the ‘hidden monster’ mothers.  These neglectful, abusive and traumatizing mothers might SEEM to be the real thing.  They might SEEM to be living, breathing lizards.  The trick is to identify when these mothers are/were as inadequate as my mother was – and just as dead to their position of being a mother.

The information I posted yesterday about Borderline Personality Disorder as it may or may not be tied in its origins to early abuse, bothers me”


From Kristalyn Salters-Pedneault, PhD, your Guide to Borderline Personality Disorder

Child Abuse and BPD– Understanding the Link

– “Parents of BPD teens and adults often ask why their child has the disorder, and sometimes feel blamed for their child’s symptoms. Yes, sometimes BPD is caused by child maltreatment, but that isn’t the full story– parents are not always to blame.”


In thinking about my mother’s early years as her mother’s daughter, even though NOBODY in the family would have EVER dared to suggest that my mother was abused, I KNOW in my mind and in my heart of hearts that she was.  Leaving a tiny infant alone in a crib crying and not being heard or responded to is abuse.  Not loving an infant enough to cuddle it, coo to it, talk to it, and glow with joy over the infant’s existence is abuse.  Propping a bottle and disappearing is abuse.

My grandmother relied on the ‘main-nanny’ to care for her newborn daughter.  Throughout the years of my mother’s childhood the patterns of abuse and neglect reappeared in many stories my mother told us, though she never put the two-plus-two together and arrived at that conclusion that she had been abused.

So when someone like Salters-Pedneault throws out that ‘life line’ of sustaining the illusion that no abuse ever occurred in certain Borderline’s early life, I listen in the same way I look at a petrifying dead lizard.  I could wish all I want that little lizard was still alive, but that IS NOT going to happen.  I can pretend my mother was a living, breathing mother to me, but she wasn’t.  I can imagine that my grandmother was a true mother to my mother, but she wasn’t.

“Dead lizards tell no tales.”  (This dead lizard barely had anything left of its tail.)  Dead is dead, and my mother was as dead to me as a mother as any woman could be short of performing the act of completing murder.  Mrs. Lloyd shared her genes with me and incubated me.  That’s the extent of her mothering contribution.  What she did after that belongs in the category of PREDATORY terrorism, not mothering.  It took me far too long to figure this out.




Check out this NOVA PBS video on EPIGENETICS.  The epigenetic process is one of the ways that early infant-childhood stress, abuse and trauma changes the way our body-brain develops and can affect how our DNA information is ‘transcribed’ into action for the rest of our lives.


A word to the wise from

Prevent Child Abuse New York Blog

The Costs of Disinvestment: Why States Can’t Afford to Cut Smart Early Childhood Programs

As New York and other states continue to struggle with budget shortfalls that have placed programs that focus on early childhood on the chopping block, we’d like to mention a recent issue brief from the Partnership for American’s Economic Success (PAES), part of the Pew Center on the States.   The brief offers policymakers a succinct argument for maintaining and even increasing investments in early childhood as a strategy for smart budgeting during the economic downturn.  PAES highlights the demonstrated economic gains in both the short term and the long term of supporting early childhood investments with solid examples from states.

Quite simply, children are our future.  Investing in their success is perhaps the best way to guarantee future prosperity.  Budget cuts that deprive children of a strong developmental start mean society and taxpayers lose too.

Effective pre-k programs reduce costly grade retention and special education services.  Each child that is held back a grade costs the state $16,000 per year.

Better-prepared pre-k graduates make kindergarten teachers more effective, which reduces costs because ready learners have a tendency to reduce teacher turnover, as well as enabling the whole class to learn more and progress more quickly.

Programs that start children on the path to successful adulthood—such as early education and parent support/home visiting—spur the workforce development in multiple ways.

Read “The Cost of State Disinvestment: Why states Can’t Afford to Cut Smart Early Childhood Programs.”




This is a sort of ‘scavenger’ post.  I’ve been thinking about a comment left yesterday, and I wanted to make sure these links were easy to spot in case there might be something in here that might interest/assist!

Considering the fact that our body is a link in a generational and genetic chain, the more we can learn about how the actual circumstances of our individual life affects how our genetic code manifests itself throughout our lifetime, the more we can learn about both the specifics and the overall picture of where we came from and how the history of our species affects us now.

Understanding how our circumstances affect how our genetic code manifests itself through epigenetic processes helps us expand the range of our vision about our self and about our family.

See this blog’s posts:


We can think of a load-bearing wall in a house and understand that if that wall is removed without special attention being first made as to how the load that wall is carrying can be handled in some other way the house can collapse.  Our body carries the load of all the combined debits and credits combined.  Learning how the circumstances of our life affect how our body handles the load of our life involves an understanding of what is called allostasis and allostatic load.

See this blog’s posts:


Two other links of interest:

+ Other posts on the vagus nerve




Here are a few pictures of my current mud project.  I want to direct the rain water coming off my south roof line away from the house’s foundation.  Eventually I want to grade the back yard so that the water ends up where I want it:  On the plants and trees!

Years of water pounding down along the sidewalk edge have lowered the soil there so far rain water cannot escape and run into the yard. I need to change that grade and direct the water flow - before the summer monsoon rains come (usually in July). The slope I need is 1/4 inch per foot down away from the house, and level across the width - my civil engineering father would probably cringe if he saw the way I do things!
I had to go collect some rocks from nearby roadsides for this project. The rocks are embedded into the adobes. I find I don't care if I see the stones or not, but suspect that eventually wear on the adobes will expose them. Certainly the stones (and increased cement in my mud mix) will aid in survival of my adobes under the pressures of running water over time.
It's always hard for me to be linear enough (left-brained?) to level anything! It just happens that directing the water requires that I pay at least SOME attention to which way 'what' is going!

I figure it will take several days before the blocks are dry enough that I can go back and fill the cracks - with cement-mud and gravel/small stones.
I don't know the technical name for this species of aloe, but they survive winters and go 'native' - this is what they look like blooming (my neighbor's trailer was put there the day they moved in 3 years ago - has never moved - and I doubt it ever will in my lifetime!)



From Kristalyn Salters-Pedneault, PhD, your Guide to Borderline Personality Disorder

What’s the link between child abuse and BPD? We do know that people with BPD endorse child abuse at a much higher rate than the general population, but does that mean the BPD is caused by abuse?

Child Abuse and BPD– Understanding the Link

Parents of BPD teens and adults often ask why their child has the disorder, and sometimes feel blamed for their child’s symptoms. Yes, sometimes BPD is caused by child maltreatment, but that isn’t the full story– parents are not always to blame.
What is ‘Abusive’ Behavior?

When we talk about child abuse, what exactly do we mean? Learn more about child abuse and maltreatment.
Building a Meaningful Life- Where to Start?

Do you need help finding meaning in your life? Many people with borderline personality disorder (BPD) struggle with feelings of emptiness, identity problems, and depressed mood. Together, the symptoms of BPD can leave you searching for meaning in your life.
This Week’s How-To — Grounding Exercises

Grounding exercises are designed to help you focus your attention on the present moment. They are helpful whenever you are having an experience that is overwhelming, or that is absorbing all of your attention. Grounding exercises are meant to “snap you back into reality” relatively quickly.

Must Reads

What is BPD?
Symptoms of BPD
Diagnosis of BPD
Treatment of BPD
Living with BPD




I woke up thinking with my brain-mind-soul-self about an opposite condition – if it exists – to Narcissistic Personality Disorder.

Actually, I was wondering.  I didn’t wonder for my first 18 years, either – so I actually think being able to wonder is a gift.

I keep seeing images from movies of situations (sci-fi) in space where ‘life support failure’ means the oxygen in the environment is going to run out.  Who would last longer, a big person who needs to breathe a lot or a little person who needs to breathe less oxygen?

An infant-child is a captive of its early environment.  It is contained in the space with its earliest caregivers and cannot escape or do anything, really, to improve what might be terrible conditions it is living in.  If there is ‘limited life support’, which person is going to get the most and leave whom without, the parent or the child?

If a little person and a big person were both approaching a Black Hole, or if one just suddenly appeared in front of them some distance away, but both are within the gravitational pull-field of the Hole, who would get sucked in first and fastest, the big or the little one?

If a big person and a much smaller person were wandering lost, thirsty without water, and came upon a little clear pool, and were both kneeling on the moist soil at the edge of the pool, bending to take a drink, who would get to the water first and drink the most?

What if this pool is one meant for gaining a ‘narcissistic psychological’ view of one’s self?  What if the big person shoved the little one away?  If I imagine that there’s only enough room on the surface of the pool for only one to get a clear view of their own self reflection there, might only the big one get that clear reflective (mirroring) look?

Yes, in all of these conditions, I can imagine the big person being the hog while the little person does without.  It is nice in environments free from scarcity and trauma when everyone can get what they need.  Yet because I was raised by my Borderline mother, it isn’t hard for me at all to imagine my mother, as the big person, consuming everything she felt that she needed (certainly psychologically) while leaving her children with scraps.

It is much harder for me to imagine what these situations might be like if a mother would self-sacrifice her own self for the benefit of her child.  Is this what nature would want to happen if push came to shove and only one of a ‘big person-little person’ pair (dyad) could survive?  What would evolution say about survival then?

Would Nature determine that the big person mother take what she needed so she could survive and reproduce soon again if and when the environment became less malevolent rather than influencing survival in the direction of the little dependent one who still had so very far to go before it could reproduce?


I don’t want these thoughts and wonderings to fade away as my dreams from last night certainly have already done that spawned these ponderings, yet all I can do is string out these words that seem connected to whatever it was I was processing while I slept and before I woke up this morning.

All I can guess is that my ‘topic’ might be related to mothers who see their own more complete self reflected only in the faces and in the lives and in the presence of their children long after this mother’s solid sense of self COULD have been formed within her under better circumstances from the time she was very, very young herself.

It’s too early in the day for my thinking to be able to get as complicated as it would need to be in order for me to follow my own train of thought past this point.  I lose my own bread-crumb trail through the forest.  All I know is that there are varying conditions where physical deprivation related to supplies of air, water and food can occur in families.  I spoke with a woman in her 60s yesterday whose WWII PTSD alcoholic father consumed most of his income and often left his wife and children hungry during her childhood with no food in the house whatsoever.  This woman built into herself an ongoing, continual concern for her own children that they (and herself) NEVER have a house empty of food.  As this woman told me, “I always made sure there was baking powder, flour and beans in the house.  Then I always knew I could make something for us to eat.”

But what if the scarcity is more invisible?  What if the deprivation is primarily ‘psychological’ like it was in my childhood home?  What if infant-children’s needs to have their little growing self reflected back to them so they can claim it for their own never happens because their parent is consumed with trying to find their own reflection?

Such a parent is psychologically starving to death in their own need to locate and claim their OWN fully formed self.  They not only have little or nothing left over to offer their offspring personally because they are so depleted, they also steal away their children’s opportunities to use vital resources themselves.


So, this leaves me thinking about ‘anti-narcissism’ as it might ‘psychologically’ exist like anti-matter.  If the parents of these anti-matter children cannot help their own children to MATTER, what choice do the children have but to be in a deprivation-of-a-fully-formed-own-self into their adulthood?  Offspring of incompletely-built-self parents were never given the chance to form their own self, either, and on down the generations the scarcity and deprivation-based patterns tumble.

I can’t think my way out far enough away from the Black Hole of the Personality Disorder spectrum to imagine under what conditions an anti-narcissism state of being does not exist in some way within every single one of the Personality Disorders.

As I ponder this morning about a state of ‘anti-narcissism’ I cannot imagine that there is any self-love involved in the process of having to perpetually search for the reflection of an unformed self.  Particularly infants and very young children are SUPPOSED to search for the reflections of their own self being mirrored back to them from others in their beginning of their lives.  What the little ones find mirrored back to them (or not) gets built particularly into the way their brain will operate for the rest of their lives (along with the brain’s connection to all aspects of their body, nervous and immune system).

To NOT have one’s self appropriately and adequately mirrored back leaves a person in a state of ‘unfinished business’ so that the search for self, through mirrored reflection from outside of the self, simply continues on and on and on and on…..

‘Anti-narcissism’  seems to be like a state of hanging around in life in limbo, like in a state of anti-gravity where a person can never completely come into their own body and live their own life from a position of FELT CERTAINTY that they exist as a whole-self person at all.  Developmental neuroscientist, Dr. Daniel Siegel, addresses the ‘problems’ from one point of view:  That a person’s self is always meant to be in a state of flexible, resilient adaptation.

But I believe the first steps of forming a strong, clear sense of self in relationship to others and to the world must be taken correctly for this adaptive, cohesive, coherent self to ever appear at all.  If those first steps cannot be taken, if the new self cannot be reflected back to the ‘new one’ through a mirroring process that includes required information being sent to the ‘new one’ very early in its life, the adaptive whole self simply never takes form, and the searching continues for this whole self that lasts for a lifetime.


If I am using people, situations and circumstances in my life to see my own partially-formed self reflected back to me, what happens to ME when these reflecting ‘surfaces’ change?  If having a WHOLE self means that I am flexible, resilient and adaptive, and if I KNOW I don’t have one of these whole selves, then by definition I am at risk for suffering greatly if the external conditions of my life (that I am dependent upon to shine aspects of my self back to me) change.

Life is about change.  In fact, to me, LIFE IS CHANGE.  Being alive is a guarantee that change is constantly happening.  My suffering happens when I cannot do what a whole self is designed to do – flexibly, resiliently and adaptively adjust to change.

Our capacity to control our ‘reflective surfaces’, be they people, situations or circumstances, is limited.  Those of us who were deprived of the air, water and food we needed ‘psychologically’ to build our whole self in our earliest life, are left feeling disoriented and disorganized, if not overwhelmingly desperate when change leaves us in a void without the ‘reflective surfaces’ we need for our survival.

My guess is that one of the meanest consequences of growing up with ‘mentally ill’ if not truly abusive parents is that we are at extremely high risk for painful disequilibrium to take over our self and our life when life changes take away from us whatever ‘reflective surface’ we rely upon to recognize important parts of our own self.  We are left like a flying kite with a severed string, a bobbing balloon untied and left to the whims of the wind.  We are like an unanchored ship without a rudder tossed around in a raging storm far out at sea, or like a small or giant tree without roots that falls to the earth unable to stand.

One way or the other a human being needs to be tethered inside of their own self to their own whole self.  Even in cultures where the definition of a self means the self is more closely formed in social relationship and less defined by autonomous action, a self that is not tethered will suffer from change that threatens its organization and orientation in a body in the world.


The ongoing processes of life do not stop and wait for any individual to form a whole self.  We are given our infant-childhoods for this job to be mostly completed.  Some attachment experts call this whole self ‘the autonomous self’.  Whatever words we use to culturally describe this whole self, it is the one that possesses what it needs to successfully adapt and adjust itself throughout the changes life brings.

Various self-states of being that exist along the narcissism /anti-narcissism spectrum simply reflect degrees of lack of wholeness that affect a person’s ability to flexibly, resiliently and adaptively adjust to change with a minimal reliance on outside ‘reflective-surfaces’ – or mirrors for the self.

I am one of the dependent searchers.  My inner well-being state right now is completely dependent on where I live.  I am dependent for my safety and security on this house I reside in, on my yard I can grow things in, on the small circle of people I know that care about me.  Any thought of change to my circumstances right now completely threatens to destabilize me.

But I have a huge advantage over what my mother had.  I KNOW this about myself.  I am uncomfortably conscious of my current internal limitations in the same way I am painfully aware of my financial and material limitations.

At the same time I am also aware that the way my mother consumed ‘psychological’ air, water, food and all other resources she could get a hold of in my infancy-childhood left me without all the inner whole self structures that would now let me be more complete and whole myself.  I greatly struggle with my own dis-abilities to live my life as a flexible, resilient and adaptive-to-change person.

This all leaves me today as a high risk for upset person.  I struggle every moment of my life to nurture, feed, strengthen and grow my own root connection to my own authentic, autonomous, whole self so that my own self can be stronger and not be so shakily dependent upon outside conditions and circumstances for its sense of well-being.

Where does the concept of ‘self love’ or ‘love of one’s own reflection’ even enter this picture I am painting in words here this morning?  If one has been left from the origins of their being in a state of searching for one’s self in the reflections we get back from the world around us that might tell us we even exist at all, we can only guess at what it would FEEL like and BE like to know entirely that we even are a self in the first place.

“I feel, therefore I am.”  “I do, therefore I am.”  “I think, therefore I am.”  These are stages of development that we go through from the time we are born.  All of these states of self-development, if accomplished adequately and successfully, most likely lead to this integrative state:  “I am, therefore I am.”

Nobody is exempt from enduring this process in this lifetime according to their physiological abilities.  In this fact we are all the same.  To the degree that this process is joy-filled or pain-filled we take delight or sorrow in the process – and trigger degrees of either state within others around us.  It’s far better that the major stages be accomplished in our earliest years as they are meant to, but if that does not happen, we will be going through them for the rest of our lives.  This seems to me to be the destiny of being human, whether we like it so or not.


I remember telling the first therapist I had ever developed a relationship with right before she moved away that she had been like a sustaining, reflective pool of clear water that I had been able to go to and see myself reflected back to me.  Looking back, I am surprised that I knew exactly what I needed even way back then 30 years ago.  Now I know I want that reflecting pool within my own self.  That is what I work for.  That is what I need.  That is what I want.  That is where my strength and power as a self truly lies.  Having this reflective pool of self within my self is my antidote to feeling fragile and vulnerable throughout my life.  And it is something my mother never had.

(I wonder, is this the difference between being a being that is resource-full rather than being a being that is resource-less?)




Everyday we are alive is an Earth Day, yet it seems now we have chosen a particular day once a year in our culture to recognize Earth.  I suppose that’s in part so we might focus our thoughts on the source of our existence.

I’m on my way into town today to spend a few hours working on a little project – my town day.  But before I leave home I just wanted to post a link to the story I wrote a year ago that I will probably always remember especially on Earth Day because on the day I wrote about I saw something so different from the ordinary that it’s impossible for me to forget it.

In a lifetime of being a human being, at least in this culture, it is easy to assume superiority over the rest of life’s manifestations, I suppose.  But on this day I felt humbled, extremely humbled.  I just want to again share this story for any readers who might not have encountered it last year as I wish everyone the best of days on this amazing planet we all share life on together.

*In Honor of the Grieving Chicken (2003)