I want to be on the other side.  I want to be among those whose early beginnings did not punish them for being alive, did not punish them through abuse and trauma for being a child, for things that had nothing to do with them.

I want to be among those whose lives travel backwards through time in a flowing way so that who they are is directly connected to what made sense to them from the time of their beginnings.  Not that every childhood is perfect.  Perfection is not what a person needs to get a ‘good enough’ shot at life so that their very body does not have to remember severe trauma every nearly time a person turns around.

Fortunately for me throughout most of my adulthood I did not really know the truth.  I watched other people.  I figured that anyone could live a life OK if they just did what seemed to be ‘the right thing’ to do.  I didn’t understand anxiety.  I didn’t understand dissociation.  I didn’t understand depression.  I didn’t know that how unsafe and insecure my early beginnings were directly impacted not only the choices I made — but the choices I COULD make.

I want to be on the other side, the side of those who look like winners to me.  Those whose thoughts do not disappear out of their heads when some unforeseen threat tips their ongoing experience of self in their life right over.  When the boat tips.  When it lurches, when it falls apart, when it can’t seem to get righted again.

When there’s something missing and it seems to not have a name.  When every time we try to name it ourself or hear someone else try, we know that something is still missing.  But what?

I think about the early times of my personal research that began in 2004 as I knew that what I suffered from did not HAVE a name.  I studied the complexities of developmental neuroscience.  I studied ‘attachment’ research.  I have not had the luxury of looking the other way, of hopping on a 12-step band wagon and fleeing off into a joint ‘recovery’ future with people who all agree what their problem is — and its solution.

How nice that would be.

And how difficult it is to live life within a body that the experts now know was directly altered in its physiological development through early abuse and trauma.  We have no words for this, no right words.  “Evolutionarily altered” is the best that the best of the scientific experts have to say about what ails us right now.  Live with it.

But I don’t WANT to be this way.  I want to shake it all off.  I want a different body-brain, the kind I would have had should I have ever been anyone’s ‘darling child’ as my five siblings were to my parents.  Take the damage and run with it?  Take the damage and carve out the best life I can?  I’ve done that.  I do that.  But I WANT to be on the other side — to walk away from this kind of a wound-changed body from the inside out, from the top down, that so few understand.

And heaven forbid I ever hear myself complain about myself in my life.  How dare I wish I were different than I am.  And I am not talking about a kind of difference that I have any power to change.  That’s the really hard part.  The ways severe early trauma changed me are profound and permanent.  That’s the legacy of surviving severe child abuse – the legacy nobody wants to hear about.


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  1. I was writing you a reply and my computer just crashed – again – no reason. I was saying I know, Helen! And how I feel responsible for my own ‘shortcomings’ – all of them. I don’t see massive self-doubt among those who were raised to be safe and secure in the world. This continual awareness that for us, none of this was necessary! None of it! If people had been paying attention this all could have been prevented. As a society, we are not willing to take those steps….

  2. I want to be there too.I want to be surrounded by love, empathy and warmth.I want to connect and feel safe with other people.As I’m typing these two measly sentences to you I’m saying aloud, “not going to happen, not going to happen”

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