Tuesday, February 11, 2014. The developmental neuroscientist Dr. Allan N. Schore has a lot to say about how rupture and repair in early attachment infant-caregiver relationships work to build a nervous system including the brain (most essentially the right limbic area) before the age of one. (Online search his name in any combination with infant mother attachment brain development.)
He tells us that prior to age one, certainly, it is the ADULT who MUST repair any breach in the ongoing infant experience of feeling safe and secure in the world. Once the infant is old enough, usually after age one, to venture out into the world to actively explore the environment there are then times when the infant intentions and actions must be modulated by the adult’s reactions – and here is where SHAME begins to enter the infant’s world as the nervous system “crashes” when “rupture” STOPS ongoing experience.
Adults “correct” the direction of infant exploration simply by turning down a pleasurable response to the infant. But this “rupture” cannot be left to carry forward in time without being “repaired” by a caring, compassionate caregiver who knows instinctively how to give the infant what is needed to “repair” the problem.
Life always involves rupture and repair. We cannot go forward through life without periods of rest and revitalization. Caring for all the physical needs of the body is a part of this restoration and repair process. What is important to me this morning is the fact that because we are human we are also designed to add the advanced process of CREATIVITY into our lives. It is very hard to be creative if we are depleted and in need of restoration and repair!
Those of us who were neglected, abused, traumatized from the start of our life never had a chance to build a body (nervous system-brain included) that had EASY channels included in it that came to be through happy, loving, safe and secure caregiving.
(The image just popped into my mind – our experience was sort of like playing a video of a baseball game backwards. There must be something in this image from my right brain that is about the fact that every step I tried to take forward in my child life and development was met with brutal abuse that did nothing to give me what I needed to go through the patterns of my life smoothly!)
I believe that as survivors of severe early trauma we need to pay very special, careful attention to how we can meet our needs for restoring our inner (and often outer) resources so that we can repair ourselves from the outgoing expenditure of these resources that is required just to exist (subsist?!). Where is the “re-creation” in our life?
Yes, repairing ourselves does involve aspects of recreating ourselves – but I think there’s more to this part of our life cycle. For many survivors – certainly this is absolutely true for me – I never had enough safety in my early environment to PLAY. Not only that, but Mother’s particular mental illness psychosis demanded that I NEVER play. How could she keep me in her psychotic hell perpetually if I could at times escape – and PLAY?
In fact to psychotic Mother my playing was a criminal offense.
So – I don’t know HOW to PLAY! This is one of the great tragedies of my life. When ‘experts’ talk about the perpetual state of alarm that our body has built into it they are even in that assessment diagnosing a lack of safety ending in a lack of joy AND a lack of PLAY.
As I see things destiny allowed me two avenues of re-creation within the mad hell I grew up in. One was access to art materials at the same time I was (mysteriously?) allowed by Mother to use them. Yes, she abused me often by denigrating what I created (and wrote) but I WAS (miraculously?) able to preserve and protect myself by keeping what I wrote and made PRIVATE, secret, and out of her range of sight.
The second avenue of re-creation allowed to me – and DEFINITELY this lies within the sphere of miraculous! Our family left suburban Los Angeles, CA when I was five and moved to Alaska. I was given the gift of access to the wilderness!
I have always ‘been in love’ with both creative expression through “the arts” and with the wilderness. If I haven’t been able to reach the actual wilderness I have found ways to place myself in regions where my soul is fed by the land and plants surrounding me.
That this is not true for me where I have landed at this point in my life is amplifying my struggles significantly. But I still have writing. I still have work I can do to create with my hands.
I struggle with all the basics of my life: Breathing. Sleeping. Eating. I struggle with social difficulties on multiple levels. Yet I also have the great gift of being near my two daughters and two grandsons at this point. My questioning often has to do with ME and MY LIFE – my own unique and personal life within myself. My daughters have their lives. As I have asked at so many difficult junctures in my adult life, “WHERE and WHAT is my life and HOW to I find and make my own life?”
These thoughts have led me recently to thinking about the term “death wish” as I realize that as a severe abuse-trauma survivor I have always struggled with a “life wish.” I have always stayed alive IN SPITE of what happened to me at the same time I mostly feel that I have never truly come alive in my own life! I am 62 and I can still say this!
And as many of us have discovered it is the INFANT abuse and neglect prior to age one – and then prior to age two – that did us the most harm. The fact that the severe abuse I suffered lasted from birth until age 18 just means — WHAT?
Certainly it does not mean that I am alone in this kind of predicament! Knowing this helps me to feel a little more OK. More acceptant. More hopeful. It gives me strength to go forward. It is one of my most important inner resources I can use to restore, repair and re-create myself at times when life feels difficult to me — which is most of every day these days.
Thank you for being here!
Here is our first book out in ebook format. A very kind professional graphic artist is going to revise our cover pro bono – what a gift and thank you Ben!
Click here to view or purchase: A STORY WITHOUT WORDS
It lists for $2.99 and can be read free for Amazon Prime customers. Reviews for the book on the Amazon.com site are WELCOME and appreciated!
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