I recently read a newspaper article about obesity now being the #1 health problem in America. An important contributing factor to the increasing weight of our population is that people with a high ‘body mass index (BMI)’ are producing children with other people who also have a high BMI. This genetic selection process is alone and by itself swaying the direction of our literal growth as a nation!
Similar patterns, I believe, happen among people who have unresolved trauma in their history (personally and in their family lines). Unresolved trauma survivors choose to mate and to produce offspring with others who also are unresolved trauma survivors. Troubles upon troubles are transferred down through the generations of these people.
The TROUBLES are clearly present in the patterns of the lives these unresolved trauma people live in the ‘form’ of TRAUMA DRAMA. Most simply put – the stories match!
I believe that readers who find their way to this blog have recognized these unresolved trauma patterns in self and family and are dedicated to finding ways to reverse the downward spiral. The first steps to be taken in creating positive changes happen on a deeply profound level at which we have all taken this stand: “NO MORE TRAUMA! There IS a better way to live and I am going to find it!”
We can’t beg, push or drag anyone else along with us on our healing journey. We simply begin to find our own way to let the light of a better way of living begin to creep into our own reality.
Somewhere in this process there comes a time when all the dark and dismal cards that represent the deck of unresolved trauma coming down the generations of our family are laid face up on the table. We will play this deck out until there comes a time where we can find no more secrets, hide no more pain, and deny no more misery. At this time in our honest truth discovery process we realize trauma is NOT the whole story — and it is certainly not the END of our story.
No matter how awful our experiences have been — often clearly so since our conception and birth — if a person is still alive there has been goodness present all along the way — and there still is.
I believe in the natural process of healing there comes a point where we are ready to equally accept THIS fact. There is no need to rush the process. Being ready to deal out the cards in the deck of goodness happens after the bulk of the AWFUL truths about our life have been discovered. Perhaps it is only then that we are ready to find the goodness that had AWESOME power to save us.
From my own experience I can say that as I discovered the goodness that existed right along with the terrible wreckage of my abusive childhood, I realized that trauma survivors live in a universe that uses different ‘weights and measures’ from ‘ordinary’ or ‘normal’.
What was good in our lives carried immense weight!!!
When it comes to accepting this fact we find that we cannot EVER compare the weight of the goodness we experienced to anyone else’s.
As an example, the two hours I spent in caring, friendly, compassionate, kind interaction with my Brownie scout leader when I was seven was the ONLY safe and secure attachment experience I had between the ages of 6 and 18. It therefore carried weight in its powers of goodness beyond what most people could begin to imagine or comprehend.
In an ‘ordinary’ childhood such a brief interaction probably would have been so insignificant as to not be remembered at all. In my early life of trauma this was the brightest shining star — and at age 60 I still credit it greatly as giving me what I needed to stay alive.
Although it is essential to our healing that we clearly track, identify and name all that has harmed us in our life, this is not enough. No matter how massively dark and overwhelming early trauma was in our beginnings, goodness DID exist or we would not still be here.
In our work toward healing we will eventually be ready to track, identify, name — and KEEP — this goodness at the same time we loosen our grip on what we know of the trauma.
Can we ever let the traumas GO? We don’t ever pretend they did not happen. Trauma DID happen to us! Of course our experience of trauma changed us on every level in the development of our body-brain.
I suspect that resolving unresolved trauma happens as we begin to clarify what we WANT and what we do NOT want. We never wanted those horrors to happen to us. We DID WANT good things to happen.
We might not believe that goodness ever happened in the darkness of our infancy and childhood. We might not understand yet how critically important it is to us to understand that it DID exist in our life (and still does).
There are times our healing work demands that we melt into our pool of despair as if we are sinking into the earth itself. There are times it demands that we lay curled in a fetal position with our arms bent so tightly into the curve of our body our fists only fit under our chin.
There are times in our healing journey we must pull our power into our body to rail against what wrong was done to us as we pound our way out of the darkness of our past.
There will also be times as we lift up our palms to the warmth of the sun that memories of goodness begin to appear in our openness.
Please also see some related comments and replies at this link:
REPRODUCTIVE FITNESS INDICATORS
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22 thoughts on “+WHEN THE GOODNESS APPEARS IN SPITE OF THE TRAUMAS”
I have been rereading this blog and a couple of things jumped out for me.
First of all, your idea of writing a multi-generational book is absolutely brilliant. I can’t imagine a more useful framework to communicate about the experience of living with trauma. Things just don’t make any sense at all until you step back far enough to see the generational view. I’ve always been very moved by storytelling that told multi-generational stories. Two favorites that pop into my mind are “Antonnia’s Line’ (a funny though gutwrenching Dutch movie), and “Yellow Raft on Blue Water” written by Michael Dorris. Interestingly, both of these movies focus on the maternal side of things.
I find that fact interesting I think because I agree with you that the internal experience of being a guy is alot different than that of a woman.
The second thing that jumped out was the section that you wrote about releasing detailed memories.
“If you are dealing with a body that wishes to release detailed facts of memories — I hope you can find an extremely safe way to do this. If this is the case, I HIGHLY suggest that you create for yourself a journal within which you write down ALL THE WORDS around each memory as it arrives.”
The first interesting thing is that you wrote this in response to Helen about one hour before I posted about the fact that I felt like there were memories in me that were banging to come out. Then when you replied to my post 8 hours later, you were mixed up about who you were responding to. I’m not sure why but I find this interesting.
The second thing was your description and warnings about going into the memories. I don’t believe that I have any option about something that is just below the surface for me, so then my burning question is: what do you mean by safe. Based on my previous experiences I have a healthy respect for the impact of these experiences and so I’m curious what you do to create safety for yourself?
I have a friend who at some point offered to hold healing space for me if I ever needed it. He’s an abuse survivor as well and has some understanding of the principles and importance of holding space for friends while they’re doing healing work. I worked with a therapist every week for 5 or 6 months earlier this year but feel like my friend has a much better sense of what’s needed. I am prepared to write every detail that I can remember as soon as possible, and will leave myself a solid 24 hrs before I’m expected to do anything!
Hello Gregory – wow!
It strikes me that never before have I had any clarity about the ‘audience’ I am writing to – as ‘everyone’ suggests I need to know! When Helen writes, when you write, when several of other commenters write to me – I respond back ‘to the audience’ – finally!! That I know does not need to filter or translate what I say because ‘we’ KNOW – in our beings – what the unique experiences of ‘our kind’ of trauma does to a person. I don’t mean to be mixed up (lol – bound to happen knowing me!) – apologies!!
At the same time there is a new kind of experience of POWER in being OK with exactly who I am — and what I communicate from ‘that place’ when I reply to any and to all of you. Because I am going thru several very intense in-the-moment events simultaneously right now, when I reply on the blog I do so without stopping to define exactly which part of which comment seems to stimulate a reply…..
Meanwhile, back at the ranch…..
You wrote: “The second thing was your description and warnings about going into the memories. I don’t believe that I have any option about something that is just below the surface for me, so then my burning question is: what do you mean by safe. Based on my previous experiences I have a healthy respect for the impact of these experiences and so I’m curious what you do to create safety for yourself?”
I believe personally that there are specific memories THAT BELONG TO MY STORY – of the thousands, millions of experiences in my childhood (as with my ongoing life) – there are some that my inner core, my SELF, my soul, have CHOSEN as absolutely essential for me to remember.
As I started this blog I thought the memories I retain are directly tied to my mother’s ‘abuse litany’. I found over time that this was not enough for me to know (without going into details about this at this moment….)
For example, the ‘I am a pig’ abuse experience (this is not a final version of this…) – *Age 14 – DIRTY DIAPER AND PEPPLES IN MY KNEES click here to read
This experience WAS NOT ONE I REMEMBERED ON MY OWN!!!!
This is very important for me to know.
I describe (without rereading this post, I think it’s stated in this version) – how my sister gave me back this memory.
I am glad I have it — but I am also very glad for the understandings I have from the experience of having the memory GONE — how I got it back — how that FELT as the memory returned — and perhaps most importantly to me NOW —
I am fascinated by how DIFFERENT this memory feels to me.
I don’t think I can explain what I mean here – not now — but I know. This was not a memory I CHOSE to keep. For a reason. Knowing how completely GONE this memory was – helps me with my understanding of how 99.9% of my abuse memories are equally GONE in the same way – and for the same reason.
Personally – I would NEVER go after ANY of those GONE memories. For me it is not safe to pursue those GONE memories. The feeling that surrounds my pebble in my knees memory is VERY DARK – it has a twilight zone aura around it that surrounds and permeates the memory – that I absolutely do not have for the memories I kept on my own.
If I had started my healing work at a much younger age I suppose I would have had a lot more material to work with, btw
(note here as a writer – I have such a massive amount of trauma related information it is difficult to even make it through a coherent reply such as this one – all the way through – on task and on target – let alone to keep track of ‘who’ I am responding to – ’cause I don’t know any of my readers personally – but I do know enough about trauma histories to get myself up on that train station platform in an attempt to chat a bit with those there waiting for the dust down both ends of the track to clear….)
A memory such as what you seem to be mentioning might be teetering on the edge of being fully known — those are part of the batch of memories I would suspect you CHOSE to keep, that BELONG in your story directly, that have a PURPOSE for being remembered — There is a kind of waiting, I believe, that we do in order to let these memories into our conscious awareness.
I define ‘safety’ for myself in a kind of intangible-tangible way. The anchor ALWAYS HAS TO BE INSIDE ME IN THE PRESENT MOMENT AS THIS REALITY IS ONGOING.
The intangible thing is that the universe of the ‘memory’ I am ‘communicating with’ at any time is very real, also – but is NOT ONE I BELONG IN — for anything other than the very briefest of times. I suppose there is a lot I could write about this – but after this long day, time for dinner and some DOWN TIME!!
I can think of nothing, absolutely NOTHING more blessed and helpful – because I believe it is necessary and most of us never get this kind of opportunity to have this need met — to have a true healing/helper person and a true safe healing place/space to do our memory work. I would consider this (perhaps you have some shared perceptions that will resonate with this) – a CEREMONY, a sacred soul-work ceremony. Those of us with experience with what ceremony can be — how it feels, what is special and unique about this kind of work – KNOW this kind of safety in person and in people when we feel it.
IF we feel this perfect safety – to me – we are IN ceremony!!! I do not believe any kind of ‘playing with’ another person is ethical in any way — I trust you would exactly know what safety means to you…..
FANTASTIC if you can access this! FANTASTIC if you can let your chosen memories appear – no matter how horrible, how difficult – the ANCHOR self in the present directs this journey with absolute wisdom — that has been EARNED – by keeping us alive!!!!!
Linda, I’ve been away from the blog for a few days and I wanted to thank you for your reply. Thanks for talking about what ‘safety’ means for you. It served to reinforce my own understanding and strengthen my conviction to create the space that will allow the memories to sally forth;-)
Also, I understand what you are saying about the place that you write from being somewhat amorphous. In my mind it sounds like the difference between jazz riffing and meticulously crafted symphonies. I like jazz better anyways. The fact that I am wanting clarity is reflective of the process that I am going thru at the present time. I am seeking clarity. To understand which thoughts and feelings are mine, and which belong to someone else.
And so I’ll acknowledge a few things. I appreciate your blog and hope to continue being a part of it as it helps me to learn about myself. Secondly, I feel at a disadvantage in the sense of not knowing what constitutes ‘good edicate’ versus rudeness. Alot of new age types might say, ‘oh there is no edicate, just be yourself … but I disagree. It is important to me to respect your time and willingness to put yourself in the position that you have assumed. I’m sure that over time my sense of appropriateness will grow. Also, I want you to know that I understand that you are not my therapist.
Having said that, I am selfish, and I am here (on your blog) for a reason and so I ask for what I am needing. I have not had much luck finding a therapist who has demonstrated any understanding of what I am needing. And I do not have much money to spend to find one which is what it would take.
In the meantime, engaging with you has been very orienting for me although it has that creepy consequence of simultaneously making me realize & feel just how disoriented the first 40 years of my life were.
I’m going to go out on a limb here, based on a hunch, and ask a favor of you. Could you help me, over time, get oriented in the fundamentals of neurobiology and psychology as they relate to childhood abuse. I have studied basic anatomy and physiology for many years now as a massage therapist and now I’m in school as a physical therapist so I have a good fundamental understanding of the +-11 body systems, as well as the fact that nervous disorders affect all of the other systems. For me that primarily includes my musculoskeletal system, endocrine, pulmonary, and digestive. Learning these things helps me in 2 ways. One is that it informs me on how to take care of myself given that I have no one to guide me … and secondly it helps me to be able to communicate what I am experiencing to others which can be important if I want to be able to have relationships, particularly with my brother & mother and doctors. Unless I can clearly articulate what I am going thru, I will not be able to carry on anything close to a supportive relationship with my mother or brother, nor will I be able to get the medical support that I need. My experience with doctors is that unless I use correct medical terminology to describe what I am going thru then they just offer me pain pills.
I have tried sifting thru your blog to get to the relevant information some but I feel like there is probably some sequence that would help me as I am not good at sifting thru large volumes of info as I tend to get bogged down in details before I find what I am looking for. Finding a good starting place is usually enough for me to be off and running. Also, I find the blog somewhat confusing to navigate, although I’m sure that over time and with a little effort I’ll get better at that too.
So there is my request.
I will keep you & your dear friend in my prayers … that some sort of grace will come from what sounds like a nasty and unavoidable physical condition.
Good morning, Gregory! WOW!
I completely understand that navigating through this blog is all but impossible in any kind of linear way! I gave up worrying about that – because I can see no current way to resolve the difficulties. I remain undyingly grateful to WordPress for the life enhancing gift of the free blog services and space they provide.
That said – my very first recommendation is to read every single article you can find online by Dr. Allan N. Schore! Many of his articles are presented on this blog through links – but any search engine will pull them up for you. Include ‘infant attachment’ – into your terms — if you possibly can find your way to do this, go to amazon.com and find his books –
Dr. Schore’s work is profound – was groundbreaking developmental neuroscience related to early infant/child trauma and abuse – and has been echoed and supported as well as continued by many other writers on the topic.
What I have found personally, however, is that because there are so many specialist enclaves of study and research that contribute to the vital information not being integrated as I know it will be in the future, that trusting one’s own process – instincts and intuition – will provide the needed bigger picture context to begin to make better sense out of what any individual writer has to say.
Combining the work of Dr. Schore with that of Dr. Martin Teicher, for example – gave me a quantum leap toward understanding the facts of altered development in trauma environments.
I have pared down my library to include my top ten researchers. The multiplication of info online available just by combining search times is beyond belief!
You can always put ‘stop the storm’ at the start of your search terms to see if they lead you to writing here – but wherever you end up is great!
child abuse brain development
verbal abuse brain development
mother infant attachment brain development
I highly recommend making a stop at the PubMed site!!
every piece of research that receives ANY federal funding must place info about their work on this site. I used to get lost for DAYS leading into MONTHS by following my instinctive searches on this site!!!
I now understand what I personally need to know. Sometimes putting all the pieces together leads to the creation of ‘knowing’ that is far, far bigger and more comprehensive whole than can be envisioned when one looks at the pieces individually.
This is getting all rambling around the edges – sorry! In essence I want to say to you trust your own re-search instincts absolutely! You will be led to the info you need to know!!!!!
Along the way there will be side dips and valleys that all feed info through tributaries to your main river of search. For example – I thought about re-mentioning this again soon —
Primate researchers, I think somewhere in Washington – ‘accidentally’ discovered something vitally important to those of us who experience trauma altered development.
These researchers had been doing brain surgery on primates — altering different brain regions — the primates live in a well-provisioned natural-enough huge compound.
Researchers began to notice that primates who had certain regions of their brain altered through experimental surgery GROUPED THEMSELVES TOGETHER according to which regions had been changed.
The groups functioned in enclaves that did not intermingle with other groups.
How did the primates ‘know’ who was who?? Important things to think about
So – again – my recommendation – search online for Dr. Allan Schore’s writings on infant attachment, right brain development – I have posted the links to all his research many times on this blog – but true to circumstances not even I can locate where those posts are!
I think this kind of blog writing is about LIFE – and as such is ORGANIC and does not follow a linear process. The info is ONLINE and can be found – and that’s a great thing, no matter what page we search for and find – to find it!!!
Hope to hear from you again, Gregory!! You sound GREAT!!!!
In the biggest picture I have found so far – the one that seems to surround the pyramid of research I have consulted on ‘this topic’ of trauma altered development – the
NUMBER ONE person I would suggest that you read (kind of like jumping ahead and reading the conclusion!) – is Dr. Stephen Porges!!
He is not the easiest writer to read – but he KNOWS what we need to KNOW!!!
search for his books on amazon.com
I thought of you as I pulled together the rather whopper list of blog links on this post!
click here to read:
Another small note on safety – What I went through the first 18 years of my life was awful. I see absolutely NO REASON to ever return to what memories I have in any way that would mean ‘going into the memory’ or ‘letting the memory come into me’. Of course the memories ARE IN me, in my body, but there is MORE to it than that.
At least I think so. I think a person’s SOUL is involved – and I now understood that what my soul self did in preserving what memories I have is so that I can find the GOODNESS of myself inside the hell that those memories are concerned with ON ONE LEVEL.
There are times when emotions will, of course, take over the memory experience. I urge extreme caution toward safety in this regard and DO NOT recommend this when alone — until the memory has been detoxified, decontaminated — yes, like staying safe from the distance of being in one of those super suits!!
Further – post in reply –
+WHAT DO WE WANT TO DO WITH THE INFO IN OUR TRAUMA MEMORIES?
click here to read
and, “you” is essentially good and pure.
This is true for ALL OF US!! In my mother’s case, her sickness completely blocked the ability of her ‘essential self’ from being in her present life at all.
It’s also through coming here that I realized that I’m altered not damaged.I was always told that I was damaged, “you will struggle Helen, you don’t feel and think like a normal person…you’re whole family is damaged”, I walked away feeling like there was no use in trying, I was a nightmare to deal with, and that I’m really abnormal.I felt powerless, and I wanted to take my own life.I did attempt it…. BUT I EVEN FAILED AT THIS!It wasn’t until I had children that I realized that I was actually a survivor, I’ve actually been to hell met the devil I call , “mother” herself and somehow I’m back?Like I’ve stated I should have died at 6..my mother wanted me to die!!That forever alters the soul,it etches a massive scar.Scars only alter your body/mind…you’re still you
Because I am inside at this moment after wandering around in my garden this morning – an image popped into my mind that makes me smile!!
WHAT IF!!!!!!! All of a sudden I was a butterfly – but not any kind of ORDINARY or NORMAL butterfly!
No, I find myself being a butterfly with ……. TEN WINGS!!!
From the perspective of being that butterfly I would be rather stunned, perhaps, at the moment I realized how extra-ordinary I was. But then I would move on further down my (air) road of life into understanding how I LIVE in the world DIFFERENTLY having ten wings!!!!
smiling at this image — but we are like that kind of butterfly!! Like it or not….
Last night I struggled with my RAD symptoms,AGAIN! As usual I struggled to fall asleep and when I finally fell asleep 4 hrs later I abruptly woke up to find myself on the floor!I panicked, sat up, and immediately a warm steady trickle of blood came pouring my nose..My face hit the floor, ( not uncommon for me, makes me feel like a child sometimes).So, I got up to attend to my injury and I had a cold rush that overwhelmed me…and then the stomach cramps came, so I was on the toilet most of night.Sadly, this happens every other night!I’m absolutely exhausted/drained today.I feel like my body refuses to give my mind a break and my mind refuses to give my body a break….and my “essence” is broken.Today I’m alone.My family went camping without me last night because it’s actually unsafe for me to sleep on an island..lol, I wander and the bathrooms are far out of my reach..IBS in the wilderness= horrible, messy experience.Linda, I’m very grateful that I found you because I was ready to give up and throw in the towel..Thank goodness you’re always finding ways to encourage me to listen, follow and guide.You’re a wise old soul..you connect to people in ways that most people can’t!Thank you for responding to me! AND I HOPE YOU FINISH YOUR BOOK SOON!I can’t wait to read your masterpiece!AND,the way you articulate trauma…I can feel your energy, I can feel that you’re strong.I want to be where are someday!!
I am so sorry for your sickness!!! Being gentle with ourselves is the only remedy. I never underestimate the terrible difficulties we face. I just believe that we MUST reach for what is good and right and better and healthy — anywhere we can possibly find it.
I am on full disability for all the complications and consequences IN MY BODY that my early trauma created. I would grieve myself into a very early grave if I didn’t marshal my same strength I used to survive all that crap in the first place to keep myself WANTING to be alive.
We struggle. If we have even one full 60 second moment in a day during which we actually can say I FEEL FINE — we celebrate that rare, rare moment.
If you are dealing with a body that wishes to release detailed facts of memories — I hope you can find an extremely safe way to do this. If this is the case, I HIGHLY suggest that you create for yourself a journal within which you write down ALL THE WORDS around each memory as it arrives.
Resisting the arrival of these kinds of memories can be like trying not to push when the pushing stage of labor has come. We are transforming. We are growing always into a more informed (in-formed) self.
It is very important to add a date or an approximate year and age to these memories. It is not necessary to try to create a pattern of order time-wise. Our inner self and our body have long ago assigned priorities to our experiences – and hence to our memories. This pattern comes obvious to us after time as we deal the cards in our ‘dark deck’ onto the table of our consciousness.
As hard as this may be as we work through our memories, I believe it is critically important to continually keep the ‘shift of balance’ with ourselves IN THE PRESENT MOMENT in relation to these memories. The person we are in this present moment of time IS NOT back there in the past. Those are things we LIVED through. They are a part of us — but in many important ways they are like skin cells on our skin we scrub off and let run on down the shower drain. They are like our finger and toe nails – clip them and let them go.
Of course these memories never actually go anywhere, but they can lose their power over us.
I write of something as small as this — one day 2 years ago I was sitting on a wide porch in town having friendly conversation with people I know. A man I did not know walked up the steps, across the porch in front of me toward the front door of the building.
For some reason I will never know — my vision instantly captured his BELT! It was wide sturdy leather. At the same time I could feel that this was a trauma trigger for ALL the beatings I ever received with my father’s belt (in Mother’s hands).
It’s enough for me to know how oddly this can happen, that it does happen, that the process is very real — I respect that — but there was and is no possible value in me letting out the reins to let the horse of my consciousness follow in the direction of where this trauma trigger could go.
So WE, in the present moment, are able to keep our focus where we want it. If we cannot do this, cannot safely move into the liquid memory space you describe – we better NOT DO IT!!
This is, as I mention, currently the reason I am leaving my book writing alone. There is NOBODY I can rely upon to be here for me should I choose to ‘work with’ difficult memories in an ‘up close and oh so personal’ manner.
Be gentle, be wise, be careful, be patient — but trust yourself at the same time. If holding memories at bay is contributing to the sickness in your body — and if this is becoming more apparent in relation to the neurofeedback – do not be surprised. But do not be steamrolled by your body if there is ANYTHING you can do to stop it.
For example, I often do not sleep in a bed at all. I sleep in my beat up old recliner. I can make a nest in there – I FIT in there – it feels comforting and safe for me when I need that — and I cannot fall out of it!!!
I am here. Thank you for writing!!
I’ve had amnesia for a 40+ years. My father was insane during my infancy and toddler years and I believe that my nervous system developed around terror and pain. I have tried for the last 20 years of my life to figure out why I was in so much pain to no avail. I spent many years of my adult life at meditation, yoga, and healing centers as a live in volunteer because I was in so much pain and so confused about what it was, how it got there and what to do about it. Additionally I’ve had seizures all of my adult life. Often times they would end with me muttering “don’t forget” to myself but by the next day having no idea what it was that I should not forget. At the age of 40 the cartilage in my left hip disintegrated, for no official reason (undiagnosed, though I understand the process by which it happened in my own terms). So for the first time in 20 years I stopped working.
As I lay in bed resting and waiting for surgery to replace my hip, I began remembering.
Now, I find it difficult to trust my own senses about anything. I guess that’s a logical symptom of 40 years of amnesia. I’m having memories of being attacked by my father as an infant in my cradle for god’s sake. Ofcourse to say that I’m ‘having memories’ doesn’t quite do the experience justice. It feels like my nervous system formed in reaction to the events of that period of my life and to ‘remember’ them is to feel and experience them. Consequently, the memories of the actual events that my nervous system formed around haunt me and I have spent a life time firmly blocking those memories from my consciousness. I’m even beginning to have memories of the process by which I as an infant, and then on up through the years, have blocked the memories. It is a very active process. Not at all like forgetting.
Like you talked about in your post today, I just want to live a good life. I want to learn how to communicate with other humans and how to focus my energy to accomplish the the things that I want to do with my life.
What I am finding is that in order for me to be present enough to do ANYTHING well and thoroughly, I need to bump into some blockage of memories and pain that is lodged in my nervous system. So, your statement “Being ready to deal out the cards in the deck of goodness happens after the bulk of the AWFUL truths about our life have been discovered” makes me feel hopeful that there is a milestone that I can reach that will shift this frustrating predicament that I have lived in all of my life.
What’s frustrating about that to me is that it feels like being stuck in between a rock and a hard place. I simply cannot focus on my present and future enough to envision a life for myself that is worth living … without triggering the pain, terror and now the memories of 40 years that I really would rather have been dead. I guess that its a kind of push a little and then back off technique that will get me there.
I feel myself to be on the threshold of experiencing the abuse events in 4 dimensional technicolor. I have 40 years of experience of blocking that from happening. Which is what I have continued to do, but I go a little further each time now. Now, when it comes up I can feel parts of my body beginning to feel like they are turning into liquid, as if some part of me is leaving my present reality and preparing for a journey out of mind and time. I feel some kind of hormonal response happening in my body. It is so frightening that so far I have chosen to not ‘stay with the experience’. But I feel myself coming closer to being strong enough, or having a strong enough container, to actually go through with it. But it terrifies me in a way that I find ineffable. As if Lucifer himself stationed sentinals to scare me away from going in that direction. And that sounds trite to me when I write it or think it … but its VERY real to me when I’m in it.
All of this to say that maybe I needed some encouragement to know that going through that process does actually have a purpose and a trajectory. One of my meditation teachers used to say over and over … “this too shall pass, … and this too shall pass”. I think however that certain hells do NOT pass until you face them. Only in the light of awareness can then can they pass from my nervous system.
I find it tricky to balance my commitment to my ‘future worth living’ with my need to process my past. So again I find it helpful to hear from someone who’s been through something similar and managed to find some sort of balance that has allowed you to move on with a life lived on your own terms.
Responding to all of this you write – especially noting for myself —
“Now, when it comes up I can feel parts of my body beginning to feel like they are turning into liquid, as if some part of me is leaving my present reality and preparing for a journey out of mind and time.”
“I think however that certain hells do NOT pass until you face them. Only in the light of awareness can then can they pass from my nervous system.”
There are many levels of understanding in every word in every language in existence. Taking this in stride I state to you what I clearly sense: “You are a genius.”
Remember the link I posted recently in a reply about the giftedness of the human race being carried along with genes that can cause such devastation under hurtful developmental conditions?
I have been watching very closely and carefully for the dawn to come in your writings — and here it IS!! It brings me tears to see this kind of unfolding appear before my very eyes in a woman who deserves all the BEST that life can possibly provide!!
You have come through a hell that even I cannot begin to imagine!! You have come through this hell carrying such a load of knowledge that I don’t think it could begin to unfold for you until you reached ‘a certain age’.
I often write that what keeps trauma unresolved – and hence so terribly problematic — and why unresolved trauma is transmitted down the generations — is because our human design is to LEARN extremely important information about how to recognize, prevent, and AVOID similar circumstances in the future!
We were NOT designed to understand the lessons in trauma ALONE. Those of us who most suffer from unresolved trauma carry information in the MEMORY WITHIN OUR BODY (most powerfully) that nature has designed us not to FORGET!!!!!!
Trauma IS NEVER MEANT TO BE FORGOTTEN until it is able to teach SOMEBODY somewhere somehow the most important lessons needed not only for survival but for future increased well-being for our species.
We are carriers — although few people can really recognize this — not only of history from the PAST — but also of hope for the future — not so much for our own self (we have to remember the self-centered, individualistic, egotistical orientation of our culture IS NOT a healthy one. It is one we invented and perpetrate ‘as if’ it is good and real — but it is contributing to the sickness of society the world over in every conceivable way — and it will NOT last) — as it is for OUR SPECIES.
In the early months of this blog I wrote a lot about disclosure and remembering. I think many of these posts can be found by typing ‘disclosure’ into the search bar on the home page of the blog.
As I worked on writing the draft for my first book I realized that the essence of who I am (I call my soul self) chose EXACTLY what to remember — and what not to.
I hold to this with honor personally, but everyone is different. I do NOT recommend that anyone EVER ‘go after’ ‘lost’ memories.
This does not speak to the issue of memories our body will transmit to us — because it can — at times. I personally realize the wisdom of avoiding the danger to me of pushing to follow these memories.
but this is speaking of MY PROCESS ONLY! I believe I am protected in very important ways from remembering the bulk of the horrors that happened to me. I do not believe I COULD continue to live a semblance of a good life if I did not have this protection – and if I did not honor it.
When it comes to what unresolved trauma WANTS to communicate — because unresolved trauma DOES want to communicate — that is the ONLY reason it continues to bother anybody — it has, as I mentioned, extremely important lessons to teach the human race about how to live a better life — what it WANTS to communicate to us, through us will NOT HURT US if we are not attempting to control and manipulate the process for any other possible reason except to heal (goal of healing = for self and planet)
Somewhere on the blog I wrote of the day in 1989 after I made the decision to move from northern Minnesota to Albuquerque, New Mexico to attend art therapy graduate school – that in full stride across my outside deck out of NOWHERE that I could track a memory came back to me of being probably about 3-5 months old – in a crib – with MONSTER MOTHER pounding her way down the hallway toward the closed door of the bedroom she had me isolated in………. (I will not return to the memory now — but from your infant memory you describe above, you know where this went…..)
Anyway – I RESPECT the memory and self-disclosure process absolutely!!!! I am very very very careful — even to the extent of not waking the giant in the infant memory I just mention by describing it any further at this moment (it’s not necessary/would serve no purpose at this moment, therefore it’s not wise to do so).
My point to you from me here is that TRUST WHAT COMES TO YOU!!! It is not just ‘our nervous system’ which remembers everything that has ever happened to us. Our nervous system/brain transmits information into our awareness, but the information itself is stored in every molecular interaction within our body.
Somehow I sense that within your ancestry your family carried far more trauma than mine did. I have never encountered anyone that I could make this statement to. I am very honored to meet you here, Helen. I have the highest regard for who you are. I have the highest respect for your strength and power to endure, to survive, and to perform acts of transformation — even entire paradigm shifts — when your time is right to experience what I call QUANTUM HEALING.
As we heal I believe we are healing our entire ancestral line in every direction. We at this point in our evolution don’t actually understand how this happens — but I believe that it does. This is ALL GOOD — !
Linda, I appreciate your response to my letter. It really means alot to me in two ways; First and foremost it makes me feel less insane that someone else understands the thoughts and feelings that I have. And secondly I believe that there are some guiding principles regarding ‘thriving in spite of being ‘different’ ‘ and that your reply contains some useful clues for me to study and experiment with. I’m definately going to read that reply a few more times this week.
I particularly resonated with your belief that my experience contains lessons for the survival of the human race. Until recently, I never understood why, but I have always taken an interest in politics, oppression and war in the sense that they appear to me to be forms of insanity. I believe that I understand the consequences of war more clearly than most. I understand that the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan make all Americans less safe, not more safe, with the exception of a few dogs of war who are making obscene amounts of money. I understand the inter-connectedness of all life in a way that most people seem not to. I understand that the choices of one generation have a HUGE impact on the next generation and the generation after that and right on down the line. I understand that when you are recovering from trauma it is more difficult to make decisions that lead to an abundant and happy future. I understand that it is in my best interest (yes I now consider myself to be very selfish that way) for my enemy to feel abundant, safe, and happy. Abundant, safe and happy people are much less likely to attack.
I understand that when I make important decisions I need to consider other people who may be affected as well as the short, medium and long term consequences to me and others.
My belief around all of this understanding boils down to the fact that I understand what there is to be lost better than most.
And now I’d like to point out that in your reply you seem to have gotten mixed up in thinking that you were responding to Helen. My first clue was when you wrote “It brings me tears to see this kind of unfolding appear before my very eyes in a woman who deserves all the BEST that life can possibly provide!!” Well I’m not a woman but I do have a sense of humor, and I appreciate the sentiment. I guess that all of this points to the limitations of the internet, although … I can only imagine how isolating it would be to go thru this process that I am going thru now without the internet… and more specifically your blog.
Thanks for what you do.
Glad for humor!! Yes – BOTH of you were very much in my thoughts as this post created itself.
I very much appreciate hearing your male perspective. Men will always be the protectors of our species (perhaps a controversial thought – but I know what I mean) — Males are different in so many ways from women in how they receive information, process and respond.
Your reply is profound. Thank you VERY much!! Nobody on this earth is truly happy if ALL on this earth are not. Nor is anyone safe if all are not safe. Thank you for your reply.
I think I also wish to say something tonight more directly related to your words
“Now, when it comes up I can feel parts of my body beginning to feel like they are turning into liquid, as if some part of me is leaving my present reality and preparing for a journey out of mind and time.”
I think I know exactly what you are describing – and I mean EXACTLY! Which in itself fascinates and intrigues me!!
I think your words describe this state more perfectly than anything I could ever say.
I am thinking at this moment specifically of the first pages of the book that I wrote the first (600 pg) draft of finished last October (already that long ago?!).
I cannot find it in me to write the last and final draft of MY part of this book – which they would be turned over to my daughter so she could edit my part and write her own part. (She does NOT have time for this now and may not in my lifetime.)
HOW I am in the world is ‘dissociated’ – I am a pro at it, as no doubt you and many other readers here are.
When I mentioned in my last reply that some part of us very specifically handles our memory storage and retrieval process – very wisely, to best protect us — this means that it is not HOW I am in the world that will allow me to ‘orient and organize’ the final text of what I have written. (RAD is the same thing on the exaggerated end of what can be called ‘Disorganized-Disoriented Insecure Attachment)
This means that I am stuck in a Catch-22 situation regarding my book – which would greatly distress and dismay and depress and dissatisfy me if I dwelled on this fact.
Even now as I sit here considering your words and this reply I will say this about one of the ‘scenes’ from my teen years that turns out to be at the start of my book. (This surprised me. I had thought the book would only run up to my age 10 1/2 – where the actual story DOES end. But lo and behold my essential self turned out to know exactly where the book begins – and it’s with these teenage scenes!)
Partly I suspect this is so because to introduce an ‘average’ reader to the horrors of being children in a universe such as you and I know would obliterate them. I can’t start out telling them about abuse that began when I was born. I think tolerance for my situation is greater if I dump readers into my reality when I am OLDER – etc.
Anyway, in the scene I am thinking of — It’s like this (I hope I can write this ‘right’!) —
There I am in a PLACE that seems incredibly real. There I am as a teenage self, in that situation – suffering.
I NEVER handle my memories ordinarily in the way I did as I wrote this draft — which I know is very close to the CLOSEST I will ever let myself get to remembering the truth of my first 18 years of traumas.
But for a good purpose, for the writing of this book, I was willing to approach the memory – to get close to it – and to get INTO the memory.
WHAT AN EXPERIENCE!! It is literally like opening a closed door into a time and space that STILL DOES EXIST!!
How can this be? It was as if (and I am getting close at this moment to my actual memory of what it felt/seemed like as I wrote this memory for the book) I could literally return inside my body ‘back then’ – and nothing had changed.
This may be what the powers of dissociation do to and for us. This may be one of the only times in my life – for the writing of this book – that I willingly and intentionally get that close to what happened to me.
The rest of the time these experiences – as dissociated experiences — are in a time capsule — intact — unaltered — untouched — unchangeable — they have an INTEGRITY that probably will not disintegrate and die even when my body does (the soul remembers what we experience here – but in the next world the mysteries are heard and we are listened to by very highly evolved souls).
Probably most of what most of us would consider as our ongoing life IS totally trivial in the grand scheme of things. That I just ate a delicious tortilla that a Mexican woman made and brought over the border to sell outside our local Safeway grocery store — is no doubt of very little significance in the grand scheme of things.
But what trauma survivors, especially innocent pure little people have gone through — will NEVER exist in the universe of trivia. We have lived through experiences of import and impact. We have a LOT of this ‘inward formation = in-formation’ — we KNOW a LOT (refer to my previous reply).
It may be that our memories – those dissociated experiences that are like real-life movies of ALL we went through connected to these experiences — remain intact in their special way for the reasons I mentioned (again in my previous reply).
It’s like parts of us are still existing in a virtual reality. I found it very spooky as I wrote for that book — to go through a portal into a reality that has not diminished in detail or impact — AND YET — at the same time — during parts of the book writing, especially the final ‘scenes’ were VASTLY BIGGER than anything I went through at 10 1/2 years old.
This time, as I chose to become willing to get closer to my own memory than I ever have before, I experienced a kind of expansion of realities — both of the one I was remembering and of the one I was in as I wrote what I ‘saw’ of my childhood experience.
I think we might be right on the verge of, the edge of, one of humanity’s important powers of our soul: IMAGINATION.
This can be a sticky quagmire = “Is this memory real or not real? Did this really happen? Did it really happen THIS WAY?”
I KNOW the reality of my childhood, even though my self-protection/self-preservation will not allow me wisely to access any but a very very very representative few of my experiences of trauma. The echoes of whatever memory we might retrieve, in whatever form it comes to us — is in our lives. We are living representatives of the realities of trauma – down to the smallest molecule of our physical being — and beyond that — within our eternal soul.
And yet as a writer it is my imagination that is probably the best vehicle I can choose to travel in/with/by on my journeys of remembering myself in my life (which, by the way, we do differently from ‘ordinaries’).
Somewhere on this blog I have written about something a therapist told me once that made very good, useful sense to me. Healing is like a doily. What makes the lace doily beautiful is the balance between the tightly crocheted parts of the design and the open parts.
We work HARD — and then we rest, relax, leave it alone for awhile, recuperate, process, integrate…..
When I was little it was that child that came to me during recess and asked to play..or during my teens, it was that neighbor that took me to school everyday.I’ve learned to process in my damaged mind that there is humanity
As we dig ourselves – our pure and gentle innocent SELF out of the absolute RUINS of humanity that we were raised in we find it easier and easier to recognize this goodness — it mirrored WHO WE WERE (are) — and NOT the universe of horrors in the war zone we were trapped within
I crossed a line in my developmental neuroscience study about trauma and abuse where I FINALLY understood we ARE NOT DAMAGED! We are CHANGED and we are DIFFERENT. We are not damaged.
It was in the reading of Dr. Martin Teicher’s article that I posted about recently that this transition/transformation was made in my understanding. I literally LEPT for JOY after I read that article. It is critically important, I believe, that we can take this step. We were built in, by and for a different world — which means a whole lot of things — but taken objectively it means we are changed and different from those who were formed in a benign/benevolent world rather than an extremely traumatic one.