Whining, moaning, complaining? Nope, but it is time for we severe child abuse survivors to admit that there is a realm of special joy the nonabused among us will (thankfully) never know. Those of us with severe trauma in our earliest life know a very special joy that comes from the experience of identifying those traumas, what they did to us, how we can heal them — and THEN notice especially those very special moments AS THOSE TRAUMA WOUNDS ARE HEALING!
Turning 60 yesterday was something for me to celebrate. I think having survived two nasty breast cancers gave me a second life — so on my birthday yesterday I celebrated BOTH of my lifetimes as they have been given to me — along with yet ANOTHER kind of new life experience: Being very aware of a level of healing that I have never been this conscious of before.
Without spending eons of time or galaxies of words (see previous post) to describe all of this — in part because I am ‘writing out of line’ to even mention this right now (because it will all have to be carefully documented in the book being written of my childhood), I will simply present the following.
Although I am only at my age 10 1/2 in the book writing so far, this trauma event from my age 14 1/2 came very much into my arena of focus yesterday on my birthday.
This description of the ‘event’ was written some time ago and will be re-remembered and rewritten when I get to this point in the book.
But yesterday, as expressions of love and caring flooded into me from all those who know and love me, I remembered another ‘tidbit’ of memory that happened right after this incident recorded at this post (right click title and open in new tab or window):
*Age 14 – DIRTY DIAPER AND PEPPLES IN MY KNEES
Because I am learning and therefore changing all the way through this book writing process, what I knew when I wrote this post (above) and what I know now are different in important ways. I know MORE now and I know it more deeply.
But what I wanted to mention here has to do with the ‘tidbit’ that hit me yesterday. That part of the memory, that I understood yesterday to be directly connected to what I had written about before, I had NEVER mentioned to another person.
Yesterday I was preparing for the fun gathering of friends at a local Pizza house. As I waited I realized that this ‘tidbit’ memory was plaguing me. I knew it was interfering with my experience of the present moments of my 60th birthday. This ‘tidbit’ had a grip on me. I was in TWO places at the same time experiencing TWO separate and conflicting/contrasting experiences at the same time.
When my daughter called me shortly before I was to head up for the party I asked her if she could/would listen to me tell her of the ‘tidbit’ memory. (I try to be very care-full and considerate when I wish to share something with anyone of this nature.) My daughter agreed to hear me.
I want to also mention that during these 96 hours of book-writing pause-break time I am taking I have also been battling with myself about why in tarnation (is there such a place?) I am doing this book-writing of my abusive childhood in the first place — but that’s a different concern!
What it relates to in THIS moment and to YESTERDAY’S moments is that I found myself, in connection to this ‘tidbit’, thinking, “You know, Linda! This memory belongs to the category of ‘childhood secrets’. Secrets are secrets for a REASON! What is WRONG with you that you are telling these secrets?”
HA! I quickly wrested back the power in THAT discussion!
The tidbit: If you read the ‘story’ as it is currently stored in words at the link above, this tidbit follows it by several days.
In the memory, very REAL memory yesterday, I am sitting on a swing on our family’s swing set. On the mountain homestead, during a gray and windless day. Alone. I am looking down at my knees.
My knees have wounds on them from what Mother had done to me. Gravel had embedded itself into my skin and cut my flesh. I had already picked out the tiny stones, but the wounds on my knees were still bleeding and scabbing, still oozing puss as unhealed fresh wounds are apt to do. (I had similar wounds on the palms of my hands.)
Yesterday I could not sit without seeing THOSE knees of that age-14 girl-me. Not until I had told my daughter my secret.
Sitting on that swing, all alone, so still, so silent, so wounded, I had no thoughts of anger at my mother. I had no thoughts or feelings of emotion that I could detect. No envy that my siblings never were treated as I was. No self pity. No concept that something WRONG had been done to me or that there was such a thing as ‘unfairness’ or ‘injustice’.
As I sat staring at the wounds on my knees, staring as if I was not in any way involved with the body with those knees — I watched flies begin to land on my wounds. They gathered there, lots of flies.
I felt their tiny dainty feet walking around on my injured flesh. So delicate was their touch. And in that touch I faintly knew these flies were comforting me. But most of all, the most important words that I needed to say and said to my daughter — the words in the secret, the words that broke the spell that trauma-induced moment had held over me for 46 years were this:
“Being there with those gentle-footed flies on my wounds — I was glad for their company. I was thankful for their being with me.”
I can’t name the sadness that this kind of child abuse memory of experience carries within it. I will deal with that on some level when I have moved forward another 4 years’ of time in my book writing.
But what I needed to know yesterday, as I prepared to join friends for my birthday pizza gathering — is that my inner wound from lack of ‘friendly bonding’ (safe and secure attachment) with anyone in my life — by the time I was 14 — is what directly impacts my lack of true ability to be able to FEEL what it feels like to be loved today.
I can go through the motions with people — but I cannot feel the EMOTIONS that come from having a body-brain built from birth with positive social-emotional experience included. Most simply put, it is a very real ‘SHAME’ that the 14-year-old girl I was, who was grateful for the gentle non-hurting touch and companionship of a collection of flies on my abuse-created wounds, NATURALLY cannot truly feel NOW what I could not feel THEN.
By naturally I mean — the ability to experience certain things happens because we can (or cannot) PHYSIOLOGICALLY process the information that is included in and presented by our experience.
Attachment and human bonding are literally PHYSIOLOGICAL experiences. The ability to experience bonding and attachment is formed into humans before their first birthday. The self that then can (or cannot) include attachment and bonding experience information, THROUGH THEIR BODY-BRAIN, is formed before the age of two.
If this seems difficult to grasp, just relate it to this: Researchers know that there is a very narrow and very specific range of developmental opportunity for a mammal to grow the body-brain circuitry to be able to see.
When researchers (yes, horrific!) sew shut the eyes of a kitten and leave them sewed shut through this Critical Window time for vision development, and then ‘unsew ‘ the eyes — the kitten will NEVER be able to see. These kittens were born fine. They had the full potential to be able to see — but experience during the Critical Window of growth for vision was interfered with and the potential for vision was erased.
When some human beings, in extreme and hopefully very rare circumstances, are deprived of love and attachment as I was — well the rest of that story is in my story……. Which includes whatever avenues of discovery and healing I can find along my way as I no longer have to wonder in the darkness why and how my life as a severe child abuse survivor is different in many important ways from the life experience of ‘ordinary’ people. And every new discovery I make, and all of my new learnings DO give me joy!
(And, no, the flies were not paying me ‘negative attention’ — Theirs was the closest thing to positive attention I knew! And, yes, my 60th birthday pizza party with friends who love me was a whole lot more fun! (Never lose a sense of humor!))
Technical note: I have always remembered the ‘fly tidbit’ memory but only now as I write the book do I have the context of when/where that memory belongs. I DID NOT remember the main ‘I am a pig!’ incident until in 1983 my sister told it to me over the telephone, at which point the entire memory came back to me. According to my own theory regarding which memories I have ‘chosen’ to retain, there evidently was nothing redeeming connected to the main memory that would have ‘made’ me keep it, but there was something redeeming about the tidbit: Companionship in nature even in the face of human-to-human destitution.
(Putting this post together has been extremely ‘disorienting’ and ‘disorganizing’ – in other words, this entire memory of the main incident itself was DISSOCIATED. It was forgotten in a particular way for a particular reason. It was ‘coherency’ supporting and life enhancing for me to NOT remember this memory. This post has had MANY revisions to get it right – I didn’t even have my age or year correct when I wrote the original post about the memory. I think I have it right now — another reason why those readers who subscribe to this blog should ALWAYS click on the title of the post in their email box and read it on the blog. The revisions will NOT show up in the first email notification you receive about a new post.)