Now, I consider this a FIND – so I want to share it!!

Why Are We Wired for Story?

By Lisa Cron on Jul 30 2012

Here is part of THAT story…..

“What would you say if I told you that what the brain craves, hunts for and responds to in every story it hears has nothing to do with what most writers are taught to strive for?

What does the brain crave? Beginning with the very first sentence, the brain craves a sense of urgency that instantly makes us want to know what happens next. It’s a visceral feeling that seduces us into leaving the real world behind and surrendering to the world of the story.

Which brings us to the real question: Why? What are we really looking for in every story we read? What is that sense of urgency all about?

Thanks to recent advances in neuroscience, these are questions that we can now begin to answer with the kind clarity that sheds light on the genuine purpose of story, and elevates writers to the most powerful people on earth. Because story, as it turns out, has a much deeper and more meaningful purpose than simply to entertain and delight.

Story is how we make sense of the world. Let me explain . . .

It’s long been known that the brain has one goal: survival. It evaluates everything we encounter based on a very simple question: Is this going to help me or hurt me? Not just physically, but emotionally as well.

The brain’s goal is to then predict what might happen, so we can figure out what the hell to do about it before it does. That’s where story comes in. By letting us vicariously experience difficult situations and problems we haven’t actually lived through, story bestows upon us, risk free, a treasure trove of useful intel, just in case. And so back in the Stone Age, even though those shiny red berries looked delicious, we remembered the story of the Neanderthal next door who gobbled ‘em down and promptly keeled over, and made do with a couple of stale old beetles instead.

Story was so crucial to our survival that the brain evolved specifically to respond to it, especially once we realized that banding together in social groups makes surviving a whole lot easier.

Suddenly it wasn’t just about figuring out the physical world, it was about something far trickier: navigating the social realm.

In short, we’re wired to turn to story to teach us the way of the world and give us insight into what makes people tick, the better to discern whether the cute guy in the next cubicle really is single like he says, and to plan the perfect comeuppance if he’s not.

The sense of urgency we feel when a good story grabs us is nature’s way of making sure we pay attention to it. It turns out that intoxicating sensation is not arbitrary, ephemeral or “magic,” even though it sure feels like magic. It’s physical. It’s a rush of the neural pleasure transmitter, dopamine. And it has a very specific purpose. Want to know what triggers it?”



And here is the BOOK!

Wired for Story: The Writer’s Guide to Using Brain Science to Hook Readers from the Very First Sentence by Lisa Cron 


And – on this blog – the connection between degrees of safe and secure attachment and our ability to tell our own life story coherently —






And there are more posts a’plenty here about the connection between attachment and our ability or non-ability to tell our own coherent life story.  Simply Google or otherwise online search these terms and click and read:

“stop the storm coherent life story “


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I am thinking about my 28-month-old grandson whose life has changed dramatically now that he has a one-week-old baby brother.  Nobody can possibly determine how this change is affecting him.  He isn’t old enough to be able to articulate in word or thought how he feels or how he sees the world.  Add into the mixture the fact that nearly everyone commonly uses the phrase “the terrible twos’ to describe in general the stage that little people of his age group seem to transition through no matter what else might be going on in their lives.

These ponderings of mine flow from this tributary of thought into one that concerns all of us:  “Who helped us grow the body-nervous system-brain pathways and circuits on every level during our early development that we needed to move through transitions of life as calmly and orderly as possible?”

My grandson has all of the safe and secure attachment patterns built into him already that he needs to further build his patterns of processing change of all kinds throughout his lifetime.  He is unequivocally loved and cherished.  He has two wise and informed parents as well as a super-professional daycare staff to assist him – every step of the way through his growth and development.


Transitions are as much a part of life as are changes.  These two states of ‘being in the world’ (for everything) are not two sides of the same coin.  They are ONE side — inextricably interwoven in their connection with one another.

I realize as I ponder this morning that I most often think of trauma in term of the ACTIONS that are its components.  Yet the truth is that the radical disturbances that are created by these actions to a previously ongoing state INTO a different one are so radical that a smooth transition from one state to the other cannot happen smoothly.  The WAY traumatic change happens is just as traumatic as WHAT actually happens as these changes take place.


My abusive infancy and childhood was nothing BUT unpredictable, unforeseeable, unanticipated, uncontrollable, unprepared for RADICAL CHANGE from MY current-ongoing state of being a little person in my own reality into and through a traumatic transition/change state that was instrumented by my psychotic very mentally ill supremely abusive mother.

Without giving an account here of all the times I know of when the shifts between my own states of being into those initiated by abuse I can simply say that each and every one of these FELT like an ATTACK to me on every level of my being — because they WERE attacks.  These attacks came out-of-the-blue and so greatly disturbed my ongoing experience of being alive that I had no possible way to transition smoothly through them.  And obviously there certainly was NOBODY there to assist me.


I see an image in my mind’s eye.  There I was even from the tiniest of my ages on my own ‘solid ground’.  Seeking ‘solid ground’ is as natural a part of being alive as – well, as LIFE is a part of being alive.  Every living creature must be able to return to some place of ‘safety and security’ within the body to reestablish and maintain ongoing existence or it will die.

There I am on my ‘solid ground’ — and BOOM!  ATTACK by Mother!  Suddenly inside of myself I am falling into a bottomless abyss.  There is no rope to grab, nobody to throw the rope — just falling falling falling until the ATTACK stops.  I went through such frequent attacks sometimes several times a day, sometimes all day, sometimes for weeks — and the conditions of continual threat of attack were such that my body had to find a way to make conscious continual awareness of my danger fade into the background so that I could continue to remain alive at all.


But today instead of thinking one bit about what Mother actually DID to me during these attacks — I am thinking about the very split-second INSTANT her attacks took place.

The fact that I could not transition from my own pre-attack state smoothly into the trauma of her actual attack was as traumatic for me as any action she actually did to me.

Developmental neuroscientists speak of ‘state shifts’.  Yes, we often experience these shifts between one ongoing experience into another one emotionally — but often, as severe early trauma survivors, our emotions come in the aftermath.  Our BODY and our brain react of their OWN well-honed extremely-rapid intelligence about how to transition through anything that hints of threat as quickly and as effectively as possible.  Our conscious self is dragged along by our physiological self’s reaction which had to dominate our development so that we could remain alive.


(I went outside into the glorious beauty of this new day after recent monsoons rain have stimulated such new growth around me in this high desert to write what follows….)

Given the unsafe, insecure, unpredictable, threatening, dangerous and traumatic, malevolent conditions of a little person’s universe of abuse (and I include all neglect of basic important needs here) there is no possible way such a person’s body-brain could develop “AS IF” conditions were the opposite.

Yet within the OVERALL environment of malevolence every little person will find, will discover, will create times-places-spaces (inside and outside of itself) where all the trauma does not exist — because trauma CANNOT ALWAYS EXIST if the little person is going to remain alive.

Even on the level of physiology alone there HAS TO BE down-time from the ongoing experience and reality of trauma.  The human self has this same need.

And yet there is a very high price paid both for being FORCED to find these down-times AND for actually finding a way to do so.


Chaos theorists describe something known as ‘The Butterfly Effect.”  According to Wickipedia, “In chaos theory, the butterfly effect is the sensitive dependence on initial conditions, where a small change at one place in a deterministic nonlinear system can result in large differences to a later state. The name of the effect, coined by Edward Lorenz, is derived from the theoretical example of a hurricane’s formation being contingent on whether or not a distant butterfly had flapped its wings several weeks before.”

Some say the wing flap can be on one side of the planet causing the hurricane on the other side of the planet.  How are visible realities tied and connected by invisible ones?  What is the tie and the connection between what we currently understand and what we do not?

Early trauma survivors do not get to connect their down-time realities together.  These realities seem to be as far apart as the butterfly wing and the hurricane described above.  Not being allowed in the BODY to transition smoothly between ‘states of reality’ due to continual traumatic interruptions leaves us living the experience of our lives as if we are in disconnected pieces.  The traumas we lived through were too overwhelming to manage in any other way.


As I stop to consider the words I have just written this morning I see the image in my mind of a lake so big it’s shores are so far away they are invisible and might as well not exist at all.  We entered this world in such a big splash of trauma that the ripples moving out from the epicenter of our earliest unsafe and insecure beginnings continue to roll out around us — affecting every aspect of our existence — for our entire lifespan.

OK.  So exactly where and how do I find something helpful and hopeful to say here without it sounding useless and trite?


Just at the moment I ask this question one single word comes into my thoughts:  CONTRIBUTION.

The world itself seems to be a doorway.  As I peek through it I see what appears at first glimpse to be —– an infinity of beauty!

I know should I choose to move through this doorway evidently represented by this seemingly oddly presenting word — CONTRIBUTION — that I could spend an infinity of time describing what I find.

The simple words that come to me next are, “Do not forget that there are infinite ways to look at and to understand every aspect of life.”

Yes, what I think I know is such a tiny fragment that it limits me — until I allow myself to begin to see all the goodness and beauty that has CONTRIBUTED to my even being alive at this moment.

Do I allow, even encourage myself to also see the brilliant sparkles from sunlight and moonbeams that are a part of this lake of my life?  Do I see the colors in the prisms of each tiny drop?  Do I imagine the purity of this water that is me, the life teeming in its depths, the cycles of the water’s movements over the courses of time?

Do I consider the spring thaws in distant places that send water here, the cycles of clouds giving rain, the evaporation of moisture as lake water changes form and rises to move off to give life somewhere else?

Do I consider the miracles?

Oh.  I see.  No matter what else has happened this part is up to me.


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This post follows



I am thinking about credibility – how severe early neglect, abuse and trauma survivors are in many ways geared physiologically to appreciate the perspective of ‘their people’ who know first hand what I don’t think any non-survivor of early trauma can.  I think we resonate with one another.  We believe one another.

It is an honor to be believed.  No matter how horrible my first 18 years of life were – and no matter the very real and very serious consequences I bear because of that abuse — having this honor is a great gift to me.  Heck!  Sometimes I even believe myself!

Seriously though – I find myself wanting to go back and add whole new thoughts to the post above that I just wrote awhile ago.  I better not because people who have already read that post will not read what I add to it now!

I am thinking about depression and that kind of deep, deep sadness that brings the state of being where NOTHING new and positive seems possible.

I can believe myself about this.  I have felt this sadness ALL OF MY LIFE, all the way back into my earliest infancy and childhood.

I think this is why my rather new discovery for myself that I CAN feel positive emotions and have a ‘good day’ AT THE SAME TIME my sadness (and related feelings) are running along inside of me at the same time.

There is power in this discovery for me.  There is also a recognition of the reality of my existence.

Over and over again in my childhood my mother commented on how SLOW Linda was.  I found references to this in her letters I transcribed after her death that were written to her mother.

I have had flashes of anger about this – but it doesn’t help me – knowing how sick my mother was – to ask questions like, “How could she do to me the terrible things that she did and expect me to NOT be sad – and hence slow?”


Often I find myself moving in what feels like slow motion – as if I am moving deep deep under water.

I always do MOVE, though.  I always find something positive to do in one day even if nobody in the world will know what I did.  Somehow finding some little positive solution to accomplish to something helps me to feel I am contributing something to the betterment of the world.

My garden is about this, too.  Maybe only the butterflies and bees and hummingbirds benefit – but I know I am creating beauty and moving forward while I do this work.



If I could handle the hyper-stimulation that being around public creates in me I could find some volunteer work to do.  I might have to be really creative to come up with something — but I am going to try.

Sometimes I donate books I’ve read to the public library, or food to the food bank, or school supplies to the school.  I have very little money – but doing anything that might have a positive impact on the world, for others, helps me a lot.

This is part of contributing to the SOLUTIONS in the much bigger picture.  Sometimes maybe we don’t see that we are making any real progress ‘on our own problems’ – ANYTHING we do in the direction of compassion, generosity, caring about the world in any way, HELPS!!

I believe myself when I say this!  I really, really do.


A serious reminder to subscribers of this blog – I edit a lot!  Just the way I write, I guess.  Please remember to click on the title of a post that appears to you in your email so you will see the latest updates for the post.  Thanks!


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The title of this post is one of my all-time favorite quotes!  It comes from the 1999 absolutely DELIGHTFUL movie, “Galaxy Quest,” which I consider one of the greatest feel-good movies of all time!!

A blog commenter asked me yesterday if now that I know the truth about how the severe early trauma from abuse (birth to age 18) affected my physiological development (leading to Reactive Attachment Disorder, PTSD, depression, high anxiety, etc.) – have I ever felt like GIVING UP?

First of all, I doubt there is an adult the globe over who hasn’t at one time or another ‘felt like giving up’.  However, those of us who are survivors of early relationship traumas – ESPECIALLY WITH OUR MOTHERS FROM BIRTH FORWARD – have a star role to play in the ‘give up or not to give up’ tragedy-drama.

SO WHAT???????

I am not glib with this sentiment.  I am ‘deadly-lively’ serious!!

Of COURSE there have been times I have felt like giving up.  Being in this state is NORMAL at times!

AT TIMES!!  This does not mean ALL OF THE TIME!!


I told the commenter yesterday that I needed to think before I could respond to her question.  Here is my response:

I was born with the capacity to be STUBBORN!!

I was born with the capacity to be DETERMINED!!

I was born with the capacity to be able to LEARN!!

Combining these qualities so that I could/can ‘go on being’ (a statement developmental neuroscientists use to describe an infant faced with the ‘unsolvable paradox’ of having to remain alive when there is nobody to help it but rather caregivers who harm it) is how I survived – and how I SURVIVE now.

I am motivated to LEARN how to be STUBBORNLY DETERMINED!!


The most clear example of the fight I fought and have so far won regarding ‘to give up or not to give up’ happened five years ago right about now when I received the grim diagnosis of having advanced aggressive breast cancer.

I often say that for those people who have NOT experienced severe relationship trauma/abuse, it is most certainly that moment when a person receives a cancer diagnosis that the EXPERIENCE of trauma is made REAL for them – for anyone – for all of us – and it was real for me (even though I have known from the moment of my birth what trauma is).



At the moment I received this diagnosis I was faced with one of my deepest reality states:  “I am now forced to make the decision to live when I DO NOT WANT TO BE ALIVE in the first place!”

This was a terror-able day.

I have three dear, dear adult children.  I will not know in this lifetime if I decided to go through the treatments and surgery so that I am still here for myself – or for my children.  I believe it was for the latter.


Going back to the start of ‘the story’ – oh, which reminds me of a thought I want to include here – so please consider this a sidebar for newer blog readers……

What ALL of us severe early neglect, abuse and relationship trauma survivors are after that reflects our deepest healing is this –

Insecure and unsafe early attachments to caregivers – ESPECIALLY when there is NOBODY else available to whom we can bond to or form a safe and secure attachment with – takes from us the ability to LIVE or to TELL what is called in adult attachment research – A COHERENT LIFE STORY.

As I describe below what I wish to say next, please keep this is mind.  Learning about the reality of our entire life and being willing to dare to begin to make sense of OUR OWN PLACE in OUR OWN LIFE – creates healing at our core!

This is a task only we can do – and there is absolutely NO REASON not to do this work!!

Researchers know that the inability to tell a ‘coherent life story’ is the NUMBER ONE SYMPTOM of adult insecure attachment disorders – any and all of them!!

We can make ourselves competent to do the task of straightening out our trauma-infested life – and it is of paramount importance that we do so even when we can only take baby baby steps toward this goal.


Giving up.  Back to this idea – and my stubborn determination!

I look back as far into my abusive infancy and childhood as I can safely see and I know that I NEVER let my abusive sick mother WIN.

She was psychotic.  Much of her terrible abuse of me happened over things she perceived in her psychosis that DID NOT HAPPEN.

I never GAVE IN!  I am not crazy.  I have always known the truth.  This was because inside of myself I NEVER bought mother’s twisted perceptions as real.  I COULD NOT.  It was not in me to do so.

I also NEVER cried – no matter how hard or how long or how often she beat me!  NEVER cried.   My siblings used to say to me, “If you cry when she hits you she will stop.”

Nope.  Again, not  in me.

Mother could NOT control my tears.  She had control over what she did to my body as far as how she could hurt me – but my TEARS were my own – as were my perceptions of what happened and what did not happen as those things involved me.


Now, there’s more……

What is commonly known as the ‘stress response’ system is actually different than how it is described to us.

Our stress response system has two ends:  One is as we conceive of it – the obvious fight/flight/freeze stuff.  The OTHER and more important end is about CALM connection to self, others and the world around us.

As I have written many times on this blog, an infant who was healthy in the womb and is born to a healthy mother in a healthy (NOT TOXIC) environment is given what it needs to build at the exact center of its body-brain – in its nervous system, in its immune system, in every biochemical system it has – a center point that is where its balanced equilibrium lies (and where once stressed it can return to easily) – of PEACEFUL CALM.

Early abuse, neglect, trauma survivors who had no safe and secure attachments could not POSSIBLY build peaceful calm into the center of their being.  This is what developmental neuroscientists refer to as our SET POINT.

Survivors end up being like blown up balloons that someone has let go of the end of – flying at high speed willy nilly through a life we do not comprehend and are not equipped to deal with.

We are also like helium balloons that someone has let go of.  Up into the air we are sucked drifting helplessly according to what currents of air in the environment capture us.


When it comes to our stress-calm response system (as I have said before) – the purpose of safe and secure early attachment is to build for people a body whose powers throughout their lifetime allow that person to be – AUTONOMOUS!!

What a concept.  This is NOT a reactionary state of being.  This is a state of considered choice on all possible levels.  This is a state where there is MAXIMUM ability to respond to an ever-changing world with competence and confidence – successfully.

This is a FLUID rather than rigid state of being.  It is maximally adaptable.

Survivors have all kinds of successful ways to adapt to trauma.  But those ways have built our body.  They lie in the FAST response arena, the automatic response arena.  They do not often lie in the arena of CHOICE on a conscious, self-aware level.


So, briefly:

STARTLE response – something unusual, good or bad has happened that has changed our normal state of peaceful calm into alert/warning

We assess the ‘change’ – let’s say it is harmful/threatening

We can act from our informed competence and confidence with coping abilities that solve the problem so that we can immediately return to our peaceful calm center set point of balanced equilibrium


“Aw, shucks!”

But we do NOT GIVE UP!

Next comes what is commonly called an ‘anger’ state – which I see as a high energy determined fighter/doer state.  We search harder for a solution – and we try to apply it to solve the problem.

Doesn’t work?

Then comes a surge of FEAR!!!  We search HARDER – through every known possible response to solve this problem that we can possibly FIND!


Enter grief and sadness.  NOT A BAD THING!

Actually, from my informed vantage point of being nearly 61 – I can CELEBRATE sadness.  I have to in lots of ways because it is the perpetual bottom-line of my existence.  THIS is where my set point was put from the time I was born.

OK, knowing that, understanding that – what are the beautiful bounties present in this state of GRIEF AND SADNESS?


Now, we DO determine what happens next here – no matter how we got into this state!!

We can CHOOSE what we are going to do because we can CHANGE what we understand and accept about ourselves and about this very natural stage on the stress-calm response circle of being alive.

THIS is the most important state of human existence!  Why?  How?

This is the state in which we are FINALLY willing to admit that all we know from solving problems in the past DOES NOT WORK with our current problem.  WE NEED TO LEARN SOMETHING NEW!!

Our species would sure not be here if we lacked the capacity to learn something new when new problems appeared that we did not have the solutions to!  We have to honor and CELEBRATE this stage/state.


So the not-too-short response to the comment I mention is that I am too STUBBORNLY DETERMINED TO LEARN something new to give up!!

Thinking about it, remaining perpetually sad at my core does not stop me from learning at least something new every moment of my life.  I can chip away at making the sadness smaller – and even at times feel joy and relief in the process.  (Alas, a temporary experience for many early trauma survivors – and often one that happens at the same time we are feeling some other ‘negative survival based feeling – but so what?)

Personally, I know this life is temporary.  I know my soul can grow here as it should according to what I choose to ‘feed’ myself.  I can always try to learn more, to be kinder to myself and to others, to ask God for assistance and forgiveness – etc.

Learning something new and good and better is the destiny of the human race.  That some of us actually got to build a peaceful calm center set point where our balanced equilibrium can return us to once we solve a problem is marvelous.

That some of us were born into a life of nearly insurmountable PROBLEMS given to us by our early caregivers means that for us – we will ALWAYS be faced with unique challenges.

I would say – no matter how we FEEL at times – we are up to moving forward with our superhuman courage – with every breath we take!

We will not find solutions if we are not open to the search!  Perhaps sadness is the humblest state humans know.  In this state all new possibilities are open.  It is our job to go after them.


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If I were a more-healed person I would today be able to upgrade what concerns me.  However, what I am experiencing right now is first and foremost evidently of a deeply personal nature.  (Darn it!)

I do not know exactly what the triggers are and have been that are contributing to this very high anxiety ‘state’ that I am in.  The birth of my 2nd grandson?  I don’t know.  The changes in what will so entirely occupy the energies of my daughter after this birth — and with a husband, full time demanding occupation from which she has only 6 weeks off, the combining of her needs with mothering a 2-year-old?

And I as her mother, and grandmother?  I WANT to be nothing but affirming and supporting to my daughter.  I want to ‘caregive’ to her – but I know enough about what the research says, that those of us severely traumatized, abused, neglected – so unsafely and insecurely attached to ANYONE during our early years have insecure attachment patterns in our body-brain that mean our own attachment system — demanding that our own attachment needs FEEL unmet — does not turn itself off in ordinary ways.  And when an insecure attachment pattern cannot turn OFF appropriately — neither — then — can our caregiving system be turned ON.


I am in the middle of completely cleaning my house before I travel north in a month to see my family.  I am moving things around, changing things – shifting all the patterns inside the dwelling that I live in.  This is very hard work for me.  There is nobody here to help me move the furniture.  There is nobody here but ME to do this job — period.  It’s a job I am not enjoying!

Yet at the same time it seems that something MAJOR is changing itself around inside of my SELF.  This is the HARD WORK!

I feel blind.  I cannot see what it is that needs changing.  I cannot tell how I am carrying this task out.  I can’t find what inner resources I could find and use in myself to make this job easier — or in the end more successful.

So – I am left now carrying on this house cleaning — literally inside and outside of myself — one teensy weensy step at a time.  I have to trust that what I am doing will all come together in the end and ‘things’ will be more beautiful, more perfect.


Ah.  That word.  PERFECT.  There is HUGE TROUBLE brewing, no BOILING and turning into stormy steam inside of me around the concept of a ‘perfect world’.

Connected to PERFECT are two other words that I need to deeply explore within myself:  JUSTICE and FAIRNESS.

This triad — I cannot pull these three concepts apart from one another at the same time I cannot even say on what level I have any idea what any of these words actually MEAN.


All I know now is that from the start of my life as an abused infant and child I was ALWAYS told that all problems in my mother’s life, in my father’s life, in the life of my entire family were MY FAULT.

In essence this message was always tied to the fact (to Mother) that my being born ‘spoiled her life’, spoiled everything.

I was TOLD in every conceivable way that what was WRONG in the world (which in our sick family consisted ONLY of what happened within our sick family) – was my fault.

Somehow – as I start with the knowns as tools for this deep cleaning and sorting I am doing — I grew up ALWAYS believing this because I had no possible way to get any kind of idea that this was not TRUTH.

Part of what so thoroughly impacted how I grew to see the world and my not-place in it was that Mother frequently removed me from her ongoing life and the life of my family by isolating me, by banishing me, by confining me, by vanishing me.

This aspect of Mother’s insane abuse of me began when I was born and I ‘disappeared’ inside a bedroom within my crib behind a closed door.  It progressed into days running into weeks of being stood in corners, confined to my bed — progressing to being locked in a shed, stuffed for a night bent over under our car’s steering wheel in my teens – BIG ETC. here!

My only concern at the moment with any of this is that I always knew a PERFECT LIFE was going on while I WAS NOT IN IT.  I can see this in the family pictures — everyone else having a wonderful time doing this, doing that — I am not in the pictures.  Often if I do appear in the pictures I am way off to the side, physically separated by distance, by clear body language, from the body of my family.

So, my absolute deepest desire to have the world be a perfect place — is it only because THEN I COULD LIVE IN IT MYSELF?  If the world were perfect – Linda would then be ALLOWED to live in it?

I don’t want to admit that this small and self-centered ‘motive’ is behind the frequent reactionary anger/rage/irritation I feel when I am confronted  with ‘things’ in our society that seem WRONG to me and that seem illogical, that do not seem RIGHT and do not make sense.

I could make a long list of what I consider to be unjust in the world.  I see the world deteriorating on so many, many IMPORTANT and trivial levels.

But I do NOT wish to feel disharmony, resentment, self-righteousness, condemning, judgmental, or any other ‘negative’ feeling inside of ME when I detect injustice and/or unfairness in the world.  I cannot be a part of the solution at the same time I am carrying negativity that is a part of the problem within me.


People talk about ‘trauma triggers’ as if they are items one could list on paper like making a shopping list — that clearly.  When severe abuse starts at birth and things never get any better as a child/teen — and in my case — being ALIVE, just BEING HERE — is a trauma trigger!


I guess the neat and clean and tidy and organized, etc. patterns that I am working to create here as I (as my friend calls it) ‘reconfigure’ my outer dwelling place is being mirrored on my insides.  I have not made any significant progress on either task yet — but I am determined.  I am willing.  I will be hopeful and patient.  I will pray for assistance and for forgiveness for the flaws inside of me — no matter how they GOT there — find a way to disappear.

I do not underestimate the difficulty of my task – especially my inner one. I don’t have a firm foundation of balance inside of me from my beginning of life that set me off in the right direction.

I do understand that there is some kind of miracle that I live with — that I could go through such unbelievable hell for 18 years — and still even begin to think that there COULD be such a thing as a perfect world!  Why do I care so much that beauty and goodness, truth, justice, fairness prevail over chaos, stupidity, sickness and darkness?

At present I cannot separate what I know, what I feel, what I believe, what I need to change — all the complex inner states inside of me — enough to simply, instantly magic-wand-CHANGE how I feel and how I react.  I don’t know the easy way to become different than how I am right now.

All I know is that I have work to do.  So I will go do it.  I don’t want to live feeling and reacting the way I am now.  I want to be BETTER!!  NEVER perfect – just better.


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I have what feels to me to be an important post to write.  It feels too important, so important that even thoughts about trying to write this post feel too intense for me to find what I need inside of me to write it.

As I sit outside penning on paper these words (a process I rarely use these days of computer keyboard speed) I realize I have lines of words to say that are not tangled up with one another but rather seem to coexist in a kind of hierarchy in time and space.

In other words

What I wish to say is alive in me, a living part of me.  Multi-faceted.  Multi-dimensional.  All are a “one thing” as a whole.

It seems that to write I would have to break this whole apart.  Crumble it into pieces in my hands so I could then find a way to pull what IS whole — through into a different world — this world — where the pieces would take the shape of words.

Mere words.

Inconsequential — words.


In some ways I would rather just know this wholeness exists in me — just the way it is.  Do I fear that if I tamper with it I will break it?

I tell myself, “Linda, if this is whole and right and true, you cannot break it.”


I wrote two emails to my daughter this morning about breastfeeding.  She gave birth to a beautiful healthy son last Friday.  Today — right about now — they are leaving the hospital and going home.

(They live 1,700 miles away.  I will travel there in about a month to visit.)

I wrote to her about a perfect world where the best possible actually exists for a newly born human being.  My daughter and her son are in that world right now.  From here everything in that newborn’s life moves forward as he interacts with the world outside his mother’s womb — the only world he has ever known — until three days ago.


It is here as I write that words disappear.  I exist in this body with a feeling I don’t want to try to describe to myself — or to anyone else.

Time seems to stretch backward to the beginnings of our species.  Time reaches forward far, far, far into the future of how we will become.

At every single point along this line a baby is being born to its mother.

In this world that I wish only to be aware of at this moment, every perfect baby is being born to a mother who takes care of her child perfectly.

At this moment I know this is possible.  It has always been possible.  If we look at the best of our past, the best of our present as we anticipate the best of our future we know that within our nature we exactly know what best is.  We have been designed this way.

All that impedes, interferes with and interrupts the best that we are designed to experience from the moment we are conceived — and born — means that some form of trauma is present.

Humans are designed to be flexible, to respond to minor disturbances that always happen to us in this material world, and to adapt.  Change is life.

There is a range of wisdom for us here where what is truly ‘not best’ can be easily recognized so that in a world where best is accepted as real, ‘not best’ can be prevented.


As soon as I contemplate what ‘not best’ can do to us I see what really is “a fall from grace.”


A newborn held close in its healthy mother’s loving arms — yes — perfectly — is in a state of perfect contentment that exists beyond time, yet in it.  It exists in a world beyond words.


Every human being deserves to know what this feels like because we need to.  I personally never experienced anything close to this with my very sick Borderline Personality Disorder (abusive) mother.  Yet I find in these moments I know what this state is because I know my grandson feels this with his mother.  Nothing I could think of would make me feel more deeply happy.


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What’s worse than being lost in one’s life?  Being lost and not even knowing it.

I think back across the span of my lifetime — now looking especially at my adulthood — and realize I have ALWAYS been lost.  Mostly I look at my own children to see what NOT being lost is like.  That’s a miracle to me.  How could I as their mother have managed to raise three wonderful children who are not lost in their lives in the slightest (they range in age from 27 to 41)?

The main thing I accomplished during my whole 18 year abusive childhood was to keep on breathing, keep on getting up when I was knocked down (which was often), and to keep putting my one foot in front of the other as I managed to continue to move forward in time.

I never knew I was lost because I had nothing to compare my state of being to.  Being lost seems to me to be an extremely personal experience.  Never could I compare my insides to anyone else’s insides.  And even if I could have I would have had no idea what I was looking FOR or AT.

I haven’t spent time in my adulthood (nor did I in my childhood) longing for what I did not have.  My problem is that I never knew I had a right to set my own course from any deep inner place that was connected to WHO I AM.

What did I want?

Mostly I operated automatically and on instinct –  flying blind.

While I knew I did not want to raise my children the way I was – as I raised them in the OPPOSITE way to how I was raised — I never knew from the start that I had a choice to have children or not.  I never knew that I had a right to intentionally set the course of my life.  I never knew it was OK for Linda to want anything for Linda.

I didn’t even know enough to know I didn’t want to be lost.

Most of my life has been a wandering life, not because I wanted to wander – wander around lost – but because I had no other option.  I COULD not make any different choices than the ones that I made.

Do I regret those decisions?  Not for the most part.  What bothers me now is seeing young women, especially unmarried pregnant ones, who I KNOW are as lost as I was at their age, lost as I have always been.

I wish I could ‘help’ them but I cannot think of any way to do so — because I know this kind of lost — the kind that comes from troubled, traumatic and unstable childhoods that creates a kind of fog within which a person cannot see how lost they truly are.  In fact, they have no idea they are lost at all because they have nothing to compare it to.

What does NOT being lost look like?

I can see ‘not lost’ in other people now besides in my children – but it is my children I care most about, and the children they bring into the world. That they are doing well is most important to me.


Is the intergenerational transmission of unresolved trauma REALLY about this being so lost and not knowing it?  Does all the trauma drama that follows draw its sustenance from the lostness that can swallow a person up sometimes from before they are even born?

If anything else other than survival happened along the way for me in my childhood it was really a surprise.  It was not the pattern of my life.  What clues did I possibly have about who I was, what I needed, what I wanted, what I had to offer to the world, how to make friends, how to settle down, how to have a life of my own that did not center around being a mother?

Even though I have lived in this same area for the past 12 years, I am still often wandering in my heart and mind.  If I had the money in my life I would be able to travel to see the people I love that live a long ways from me.  I would be able to travel to the places that I also miss.  I would have many more options if I had money – but being poor because I cannot make it out there in the ‘real world’ leaves me – well, lost and mostly alone.

I don’t want other young women who had a very rough start to end up like this!!


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My good guess is that many of the readers who find their way to this blog have had/or still do have deep and lasting relationships of some kind with people who frequently or chronically display behaviors that could be considered classically part of or related to Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD).

Although I doubt this statement can be found on a grand scale to describe people who abuse infants and children, I believe that Borderline Personality Disorder as well as the entire spectrum of personality disorders contain what I call classical NPD ‘symptoms’.  This is part of what makes these people so difficult if not impossible to depend on to sustain our very real human attachment needs.

In contradiction to what might be thought of as ‘self-love’, NPD is about such a person not having a clear strong self at all, which prevents them from having a relationship with their own true self or empathy with others.

A NPD person seems – when push comes to shove – when they feel threatened at their core, which can happen occasionally, frequently or nearly all of the time – to so completely put their own self first that this mistake could be made, “Oh my heavens this person loves their self so much nobody else exists at all in their universe.”

There is far more to their story, one which always includes failed early significant relationships and deep wounding during early stages of the development of self.


For reference:

Echo and Narcissus – The Myth

Wickipedia’s short version of what happened to Narcissus


I have no real hopes of being able to explain here what I mean – in part because I will not use examples from those I am close to and therefore I will not be able to present details of the many, many times I have seen NPD in action.

So be it.  I have an ‘alternative route’ explanation in an image that came to me this week to make my point in a moment here.


I am not so interested in exploring the depths of mythology or the ‘official’ NPD psychiatric diagnosis as I am in learning from within my own experience of being connected to and emotionally involved with people who seem to me to display NPD attitudes and actions.

My own ‘alternative route’ that I discovered relates to a toy that I had for all three of my children.  (If this ebay picture has timed out by the time you read this post, simply do another Google search for its terms and you will be lead to a different one.)

Please click here to see the image I will refer to next:

Playskool Wooden Toy Old Woman Who Lived in a Shoe

By the time I had my second child in 1975 I was already becoming very sensitive to the harsh and to me often abusive words contained in many old children’s stories and nursery rhymes.  So I simply changed them for my kids.

There was an old woman who lived in a shoe – She had so many children she didn’t know what to do – She fed them some broth without any bread, (I changed ‘whipped’ to) kissed them all soundly and sent them to bed.

My point is the image that came clear to me inside my (right) brain-mind this week.  People without NPD components to the way they operate in the world have LOTS of entry places to match the people around them in their lives.  In the case of this SHOE, windows are access points right along with doors – each being shaped and sized for the ‘person’ who is entering the structure.

If I liken in my own mind a ‘house’ to ‘a person’s heart’ I would say that in my encounters with NPD people I can now see they have ONE and ONLY ONE entryway into their ‘house’ – the one that has their OWN shape to it – and none other.

If anyone else has a desire, a need, a want, a wish to be in interaction with a NPD person, they better figure out how to enter that person’s reality through that one and ONLY doorway.  In this process we really must leave any part of our own true existence completely out of the picture.  There is no doorway or entryway into a NPD world that takes the necessary shape of another person to let them inside.

Everything in a NPD universe exists from this person’s single-point view of what they can bear to experience of the entire world – that can for them ONLY come in a shape that can fit through their one entryway.

Simply click on the shoe image above and consider how a triangle or a circle or an oval shape is going to fit, say, through a single NPD square doorway?


We might try forever to reshape our self – reframe our self – so we can fit through a one-shape ONLY entrance to a NPD world that is not OUR shape.  This is, yes, a nearly complete failure of a healthy empathy process for NPD people.

At the same time I understand this I also understand that just as this NPD empathy failure is directly connected to their insecure attachment patterns formed that formed their body-brain at a very early infant-toddler age – so too are the empathy-ability disruptions  that everyone with an insecure attachment disorder lives with (at least half of our population) formed in this same way.

In fact, I doubt it is common for a person with a safe and secure attachment pattern to seek or maintain – want or bother with – any long-term relationship with a NPD person.  Early abuse and neglect survivors might be so familiar with and so accustomed to the truly bizarre interactions that happen with NPD people on a regular basis that we try to take them completely in stride.

We also might with wisdom realize that while we are deeply connected to/with a NPD person that we are not going to leave them or throw them out of our life.

What then?

I believe it is a continual learning process about how not to expect the impossible from NPD people.  I do not believe they have a choice in the way they relate to the world – even if they were to take some ‘trained monkey’ approach to TRYING to NOT be NPD with their dealings with the world.


If I were not a survivor myself of 18 years in infancy and childhood with a severely mentally ill abusive mother, I doubt I would have fallen for anything like a NPD distorted version of relationship.  I bet I would have known the truth in my gut in all cases where I encountered a person who society might simply label as ‘selfish’, ‘self-centered’, ‘egotistical’.

The problem is much bigger than this, and very illusive.

NPD people will never be able to experience multi-faceted relationships with people.  They exist on a one-way street where all traffic must come directly AT them.  I believe the limitations to human interaction that are a part of them have to do with protection against threat.  If you only have ONE entryway – and if you make it so that you completely SHAPE this entryway according to what you understand and can tolerate – and if you seal off any other POSSIBLE way into your reality – well, there you have supreme protection over a deeply wounded self.


So now I am beginning to learn how to reframe (rephrase) most of my interactions with NPD people so that what I am bringing into this relationship SEEMS totally non-threatening to the NPD person.  This is a translation process that fully acknowledges the reality of the limitations of the person I care about.

What good does it do me to knock my head against the wall of a NPD fortress trying to find or to make a way that FITS ME to get inside the NPD universe?

What good has it done me to feel rejected, abandoned, hurt, disappointed, confused and/or angry that this reality is absolute for a NPD person?


So if I am going to remain connected to the NPD people in my life it is time for me to be realistic myself.  Either I translate everything that might be (unconsciously) threatening to a NPD person – make it palatable, yes, not unlike a parent bird chewing up food for its baby and then spitting it into its offspring’s mouth – and pass this through their one-self-shape-perception doorway (through which nobody else really can fit anyway) – or I walk away.

My feeling misused, misunderstood, taken for granted, let down, unappreciated, disappointed, rejected/abandoned, etc. is of no use whatsoever.  (I am not talking about any kind of ABUSE here – if that is happening in relationship – GET OUT!)

The one-door ‘wooden shoe’ is the way a NPD person’s body-brain was formed very early in their life through unsafe and insecure attachment relationships.  They cannot be FIXED by us no matter how much we love them.

To find my own straight path, to recognize and honor my own ‘shape’ is as essential as it has always been difficult for me given my extreme infant-child abuse history.  But as I near age 61 I realize I CAN still remain in relationship with NPD people – if I choose to – without trying to create with them a reality that simply does not exist – because it cannot.

I think to maintain relationship with NPD people one must become very wise.  I see that the self of these people really is locked inside their one-doorway shoe starving to death.  “Pass in the narcissistic supply that keeps me alive” is their unending, consistent, perpetual mantra.  These people cannot consistently depend on any relationship even if they want to.  It is not a part of their makeup to do so.

I am not saying that NPD people cannot LOVE other people.  It is my experience that they do so deeply and permanently – but love is itself nearly intolerably painful for them.  Love hurts!

These people do not have the tools to negotiate their way in relationships fairly, so they simply do not try to negotiate (and I do not include game-playing to get what they want as negotiation).  They simply recognize the only-one doorway and leave it that way – throughout their entire lifetime.

The trap for me has been that I am only now gaining the clarity of this helpful image for myself at the same time I am beginning to deeply understand that I have been trying to reshape myself to fit through my NPD people’s doorway.  This is impossible and harmful and hurtful to me.

“You can’t squeeze blood out of a turnip.”  Those of us who allow other people to be in our life as they BE THEIR OWN SELF, as we allow them to have their OWN shaped doorway to come and go through, are extremely fortunate although we probably take our abilities completely for granted.  Yet we are at risk for lots of troubles (trauma dramas) if we blindly expect NPD people to be able to do this as we can.

They cannot.

In essence I suppose these people are hidden away hiding!  Hiding IS one of the survival-stress-response modes useful at times to retain life in dangerous situations.  But if one’s life has ALWAYS been in this state?  It is probably best under this circumstance to completely block it from awareness and move on.  This does not mean the rest of us need to block it from ours.  (And it does not mean it is our task to try to change them, either!)

We are always completely free – with our eyes and our hearts completely open – to take care of our own self while we love these people exactly the way they are.

(NOTE:  I am writing here about NPD relationship of people ‘of age’ — not children!)


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Today’s news of the terrible shooting tragedy in Colorado:

12 killed, 50 wounded at Aurora movie theater

By Ryan Parker, Kurtis A. Lee and Jordan Steffen
The Denver Post


The American public seems to prefer remaining ignorant of the impact of formational experiences during the very earliest months and years of life.  What kind, we all best ask, of early childhood experiences did the movie theater shooter REALLY HAVE?  Does anyone know?  Will anyone ask?  Suddenly, in this one particular case – do we suddenly CARE what most likely went so wrong in this shooter’s infancy and childhood?

While our society ignores the power of early experiences to shape a person for life – we at the same time put ourselves at risk – PERIOD.


In my July 15, 2012 post – +THOUSANDS OF GEESE AND THREE BOOKS

I stressed the importance of reading what Dr. Allan Schore has to say about what goes right and what goes wrong in building human beings – and why.

Affect Dysregulation and Disorders of the Self by Allan N. Schore (Apr 2003)

I just randomly opened this book to a sticky note I placed on page 297-8 some years ago as I studied Schore’s writings.  (I am going to put – …. – where most of the names of the studies are listed in this very brief example of the relevance of all of Schore’s work (“developmentally acquired sociopathy).”– if you wish to have the names of the researchers that I am currently omitting, just post your request in the comment section to this post – or FIND THE BOOK and study it!)

“The recent studies of Blair and his colleagues demonstrated that boys with psychopathic tendencies, as young as 9 years, show impairments in processing fearful and sad (but not aggressive) faces….and orbitofrontal dysfunction….  As mentioned, this prefrontal cortex is centrally involved in the individual’s appraisal of the safety or danger of interactive contexts.  Early traumatic experiences bias this system toward insecurity and aggression, and this negatively tinged perceptual bias powerfully influences the way in which a male, abused early in childhood, would see the world during moments of stress.  A growing literature demonstrates that neglected children have difficulty in recognizing emotion in faces, and that physically abused children display a response bias for angry facial expressions….

“Developmental research also reveals that “hostile attributional biases” among aggressive boys are specifically exacerbated under conditions of threat to the self.  Dodge and Somberg (1987) suggested that early experiences of physical abuse, exposure to aggressive models, and insecure attachments lead a child to develop memory structures that contain a hostile world schema and an aggressive response repertoire.  Later, when the child is presented with provocative stimuli, such as peer teasing and humiliation, these structures lead him to attend to hostile cues and to engage in aggressive behavior.  These dynamics characterize “early onset antisocial youth,” which spans 7 through 11 years [of age]….

“Multiple psychological changes are seen in adolescence, a time in the life span when the commission of violence is highest….  The brain undergoes a significant reorganization during this period.  Adolescence is second only to the neonatal period in terms of both rapid biophyschosocial growth as well as changing environmental characteristics and demands.  After a relatively long period of slowed growth during early childhood, the adolescent brain undergoes extensive repruning and a prominent developmental transformation.  It has been suggested that the reorganization of the amygdala and prefrontal limbic areas that innervate the hypothalamus and modulate emotional reactivity drive the reorganization of the adolescent brain (Spear, 2000).  Notice that these systems are the same ones involved in aggression and its regulation.

“Although adolescence can be being [sic] potentially growth enhancing for certain personalities, for others with developmentally overly pruned cortical-subcortical circuits, this stage of the life span can be emotionally overwhelming and disorganizing.  A brain that in infancy had to chronically shift into hypometabolic  survival modes had little energy available for growth, and a repruning of already developmentally thinned-down cortical-subcortical connections exposes earlier forming regulatory deficits.  This would be particularly so for type D personalities (identified on the Adult Attachment Interview as “unresolved/disorganized”) who show inefficient capacities for regulating rage states.  Excessive pruning is thought to be a primary mechanism in other “neurodevelopmental” disorders, where large reductions in frontal connectivity are associated with emergence of circuit pathology that mediates dysfunctional symptoms….

“In other words, early structural defects of aggression regulation circuits would become even more apparent during this stressful transitional period.  In support of this principle, neurological damage of the orbitofrontal cortex in the first year-and-a-half results, in adolescence, in a syndrome that resembles psychopathy…., and infants who experience perinatal complications show orbitofrontal dysfunction in adolescence….  Psychiatrid diagnoses of sociopathy are also first made at this time.  The “frontal lobe maturational lag” ofjuvenile delinquents…thus reflects…a “long-term sequelae of prefrontal cortex damage acquired in early childhood”…that results in “a failure to ever develop specific cognitive and behavioral competencies,” and what Bechara and colleagues (2001) term “a developmentally hypo-functioning ventromedial cortex” )p.388).  A “developmentally hypo-functioning ventromedial cortex” thus underlies a “developmentally acquired sociopathy.”  [bold type, underlining and italics is mine for emphasis here]



While a reader might need to quickly do online searches to clarify the meaning of some of the technical words in this quote above, the gist is very very clear and understandable.

Again, the best thing we can do as society members would be to READ Dr. Allan Schore’s books!  In them the mysteries are solved about how things like this Colorado shooting CAN and DO happen.  The kind of changes to development Schore describes LAST FOR A LIFETIME!

And they CAN be prevented with adequate and appropriate early infant-child care!


News at 2:47 pm

Aurora mass shooting suspect applied to UA graduate program in 2011


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I have found a series of YouTube video recordings of a spiritual conference held some time ago in Alaska.  I am most grateful for the availability of this series online – and for the spiritual food listening to it is providing to me.  I have some new and interesting – and very helpful – thoughts to carry around with me on this very special day.

One of my daughters is today going through the last day of her pregnancy – they live 1700 miles away – and part of me is very sad I cannot be there with her while she brings her 2nd little body into this world.  I will be traveling up there 5 weeks after his birth.  My trip is planned to happen within the pattern of her leave off of work and her husband’s paternity leave so that Grandma can at least care for the newborn two or three weeks after my daughter has to return to work.

Today I am noticing very clearly how I think and feel ‘in combination’.  No event in our lives happens in a vacuum.  Every strand of every experience carries from the past, through the present moment, into the future.  Even though I feel sad I cannot be with my daughter and her family right now I am working hard at ALLOWING far more positive thoughts, and therefore positive feelings, to flow along with me today – yes – along WITH this sadness.


The Baha’i speaker in this series of conference talks (there are eleven of them, I am listening to #4 today) much has been said about how the next world where human will does not exist so that ONLY God’s Will does means that we will carry nothing negative with us into that perfectly positive world.  Yes, I guess we will remember what we experienced in this world.  We will recognize souls who have been important to us in the next world – but it will not be possible for negativity to exist in that next world.

That is giving me thinking room today to practice ‘positive thinking’ in an expanded way.  While I am certainly aware of many painful facts about things that have happened in my life, including so many not-so-wise choices I have made myself, if I can increasingly carry around with me as positive a perspective as I can — well — this process will evidently grow and strengthen my soul.

There are millions and millions of positive things I can pay attention to in my life – even in my past life, including my 18-year childhood that was so ugly and painful.  The fact I feel sadness I cannot be with my daughter RIGHT NOW is not a negative aspect of who I am.  I am sad because of the great love I have for my children, for my grandchildren – and because I am human and because I am alive.

I am looking for ways to learn about how sadness is NOT a negative experience after all.  Maybe I need to learn new words to converse with myself about what I do feel.  At the same time I know that even up until I was 30 years old I had no idea what a feeling even was!

But I chose to learn.  I chose to feel.

Long ago ‘helpers’ along my journey toward increasing wholeness told me that abuse survivors mostly block all their ‘negative’ feelings – but as we do this we also are blocking our ability to feel the ‘positive’ feelings.  There are infinite treasures in our life.  Understanding that our soul does have feelings that act as signals about how we are experiencing our life lets me know that – again – I am so much more than this trauma-changed body I live in.  I can CHOOSE to expand my experience of my life through EXERCISE and PRACTICE!


My daughter is healthy and as far as we know so is the little new one who will be born tomorrow into this learning ground we call earthly life.

My daughter is happy, in a marriage that is stable, parenting with her husband children that were PLANNED for and WANTED.  None of the trauma drama of my own past has been transferred to my daughter – through the grace of God and through education, practice and some hard work toward better choices.

I have MUCH to celebrate – as I believe we all do – if we can turn around in a full circle as we allow our focus to include all the very real blessings (no matter what we call them) that flood every second of our life.

But we have to CHOOSE to expand our self so that the positive can become not AS REAL as whatever hardship we know — but so the positive can increasingly become ALL THAT IS REAL in our life.

I am not talking about magic here.  I am not talking about blissful ‘new age’ philosophy or about denial.  It may be that as severe early trauma survivors that the incredible negative experiences we have gone through has biased us toward our suffering.  We ARE more than that.  LIFE is more than that.

There is certainly no shame or self-blame in being aware that we often carry with us – well, MOSTLY can be more accurate for severe early trauma survivors — great suffering that is hard to ‘see’ and ‘feel’ around.  But we are tough and wise people, we survivors.  We can honor the full circle of our experience on earth – which includes SO MUCH GOODNESS that our suffering can fade into the background many times a day — enough so that for precious moments we can forget that the ‘negative’ has any place in our ongoing moments.

At least this is what I am working toward understanding and experiencing because I CAN, because I WANT TO, and because this choice is better than any other alternative I can think of.

This earthly plane of existence which is a testing and training ground for our souls is a plane of duality.  OF COURSE the positive and the negative exist here!  That is what being alive in a material body in a material, physical universe is all about.  But we can increasingly strengthen the ability of our soul to understand that just as positive and goodness is all that exists in the next world we will go to when we leave this physical plane, this same positive exists for us here.

Most thankfully!


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