While I was traveling I found and read The Origin Of Humankind by Richard Leakey. Since the 1994 publication of this book even more ancient human-species bones have been discovered. I find such information fascinating.
But what’s on my mind this morning – in regard to writing out my abusive mother’s story and in thinking about my own – is that anthropologists can determine from studying a skull of any mammal the age adult teeth erupt. Given this information they can determine how long that species was SUPPOSED to remain safely within its mother’s womb before it was born (as well as its expected lifespan).
Humans? We are SUPPOSED to remain unborn until we reach the age of 21 months.
Obviously due to the massive size of our brains and skulls this age range for absolute safety cannot be met. But this does affirm how fundamentally critical the experiences of our first BORN 12 months of life are to our entire development. These are the ‘attachment formation’ months — secure vs. insecure.
As I consider publishing Mother’s writings, as I try my best to form a ‘coherent life story narrative’ of her story, I think today about what Mother was given once she was born. I KNOW she did not get what she needed, and in fact no doubt (to me) suffered from neglect in massive ways – if not also from direct abusive handling and treatment (as Mother ended up also doing to me).
Birth and earliest caregiving interactions directly communicate to a rapidly developing infant’s body-brain what the conditions of the ‘world’ it is being formed to live within for the rest of its life actually are. Of course the womb experience also directly communicates this information to a fetus, as well.
Because we are actually born 12 months too early, it is the care we are given by those within our environment that determine — in fact — the bulk of what happens to us the rest of our life.
Those of us who were NOT taken care of will NEVER have a body-brain that REALLY knows what ‘taking care of self’ means. (This topic has been mentioned in recent blog comments.)
This connects to what is described as a trajectory of development directed by and for either a ‘malevolent’ or a ‘benevolent’ future by an infant-child’s quality of early attachment, as outlined here:
+Dr. Teicher’s ARTICLE ON TRAUMA ALTERED DEVELOPMENT
*Notes on Teicher
If I do title the first half of the book about my very mentally ill and severely abusive mother “Born in Shadow,” I understand that I would on the parallel need to title my own early story “Born in Complete Darkness.”
I will give myself permission to mention something here that cannot but fundamentally and most deeply disturb me. I HATED the intrusion (contamination?) of my own reality into my experience with my perfect grandson. While I visited my family up north I could not separate the experience of holding my beautiful, most precious new grandson who was 6 weeks old at my arrival and 9 weeks old at my leaving, from what I know about myself and about my mother.
In my case Mother was already fully within the terrible psychosis that was created in her very sick mind with my birthing, as I have certainly mentioned before.
She absolutely, unequivocally and permanently believed that the devil sent me to kill her while I was being born, that I was not human. Because we both survived my breech (and evidently very difficult) labor process, she then believed that I was the devil’s child sent “as a curse” upon her life.
Mother, however, was born into an extremely troubled family and into very destructive conditions – but without an accompanying most destructive psychosis to embrace and envelop her from birth.
Tying these facts in my thoughts to how conditions of the world at birth (and of course before) as reflected by the quality of the attachment caregiving interactions given to an infant ARE about how ‘the self’ is taken care of. These patterns FROM BIRTH directly become the underlying architecture in our body-brain of how we will later operate to take care of our self.
When I describe how Mother’s abuse of me had a purpose, I can state directly that EVERYTHING my mother thought, felt, understood, believed and DID to me was about how she ‘TOOK CARE OF’ herself.
She HAD no other options. This is ultimately what true madness is about.
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[…] Most simply put, as I seem to repeat so many, many times, as Dr. Martin Teicher’s research group so succinctly describes, early trauma and abuse changes physiological development. Readers of this blog know this point well by now. (See in the Teicher links in this recent post: +TEETH. ATTACHMENT. SELF-CARE.) […]