Friday, May 15, 2014. For the first time in my adult life, and no doubt in reaction to surviving not only a wicked North Dakota winter but now also in survival of its pitiful ongoing attempt at spring, I have found myself relying on what is really trash reading at night to step down from my days into sleep time. John Sandford is a master at “thriller” fiction and has been at his trade a long time. The fact that under his actual name of John Camp he is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist simply means that he wants for nothing material in his life.
My current get-lost-in-it story, The Night Crew, popped a line out at me the other night that slapped me into my own reality. The main character in the story, Anna, was in the emergency room of a Los Angeles hospital after averting the worst of a sexual predator’s violent attack on her in a remote corner of a golf course parking lot. As Anna prepares to leave the hospital after receiving stitches for a head wound Sandford wrote this dialog with a nurse:
“Despite the stitching, she yawned, apologized, and said, “I don’t know what’s wrong with me.”
“”Your system is closing down. You’ll need some sleep. With the adrenaline and the wrestling around, the blows…. you had about two weeks’ wear and tear in two minutes. You’ll sleep for a while.” (pages 192-3)
My entire infancy and childhood of being attacked, brutally beaten, verbally scourged on a continual basis, held in solitary confinement — all the rest of the severe trauma I survived during the first 18 years of my life…. WHAT did that actually FEEL like to my body?
My response to reading this simplistic fictional statement in response to a terrible surprise attack — “you had about two weeks’ wear and tear in two minutes” — was “No wonder at 62 I feel so completely exhausted! How many lifetimes worth of time have I actually LIVED?”
There is no possible way to evaluate the cost of surviving childhood trauma. As I have written before on this blog I figure my mother would have received a minimum prison sentence of 15,000 years JUST for her physical assaults against me. She was psychotically mentally ill. Her beatings on my body from the time I was very small lasted as long as her large-framed body could sustain them. She would rest after banishing me to confinement only to resume many of them again later — and then again later ———
No point in reiterating or detailing that part of my reality here and now regarding what happened as I usually think about those times. What hit me reading those words was that for every single second of one of any kind of attack she did against me I was suffering EXAGGERATED trauma in the same way Sandford alludes to it in his sentence.
In other words when I try to communicate to others in my life how I feel OLD OLD OLD and worn out it is to this level of trauma survival that any of us would need to look to discover the SANE truth of what I am experiencing. I am probably a thousand years old if the actual physical experience of surviving the level of trauma that I did were to be fairly and accurately assessed.
I am worn out. I am VALIANTLY worn out. I EARNED being this worn out.
I am not a wimp or a complainer.
How do I validate my reality no matter what ANYONE else thinks or says or believes about how I might not quite be keeping my forward pace with everyone else as they march through life?
I need rest. I need peaceful, nurturing, calm, sustaining rest. I have been heroic past belief all of my life since my birthing as have all early severe trauma survivors. I continue to be heroic but frankly I don’t have “the PUNCH in my judy” I used to be able to muster. I am depleted without being able to replenish myself like I used to be able to. Even this replenishing begins to cost us more and more as our life rolls on.
There is a cost for us in continuing to grow into our older ages. I say this partly for people younger than me that fit these patterns: How can you prepare to take increasing levels of pressure/stress off of yourself as you pass age 50 (say)?
We cannot continue at the pace we are used to, the pace that allowed us to live those thousand-year childhoods.
Where is our sanctuary? We are an endangered species. Take a look at (Google search) CDC – ACE study results. We don’t just suffer through our childhoods. We suffer throughout our lifetime.
I don’t mean to be maudlin. We don’t invent or make up the very real exhaustion that seems to increasingly overtake us as we age. We ARE worn out. How do we work to sustain and replenish ourselves to keep pace with the wear and tear on our body and hence on our inner self that resides within our body?
How do we find ways to clear our thinking so that we can make the most informed, best choices for our future that we can? (Keeping in mind that trauma detrimentally affects the way our higher brain processes this kind of information from the start of our life….)
People as a rule do not understand this kind of tired. We may LOOK younger by hundreds of years (of actual living) than we are by standard measurements. What is most important is that we begin to understand this about and for our self. It is a part of honoring who we are.
Here is our first book out in ebook format. A very kind professional graphic artist is going to revise our cover pro bono (we are still waiting to hear that he has accomplished this job – I think we will have to find an alternative!). Click here to view or purchase –
It lists for $2.99 and can be read by Amazon Prime customers without charge. Reviews for the book on the Amazon.com site
2 thoughts on “+JUST PLAIN WORN OUT”
In this brief video, Dr. Bruce Perry (author of “The Boy Who Was Raised as a Dog,” and “Born for Love: Why Empathy Is Essential–and Endangered”) speaks about how our current cultural practices are often ‘biologically unfriendly…’
“Dr. Bruce Perry discusses the disconnect between what our children need to thrive and what the modern world has to offer, emphasizing the importance of human connections at early stages in life. He also offers tools for parents to help their children develop healthy minds, nurture friendships, overcome traumatic experiences, and feel cherished. Drawing from his own experience as a parent, Dr. Perry further informs us how parents can evaluate themselves as friends, spouses, workers, etc. to become better role models for their children Living Smart by emphasizing the importance of human connections.” http://WWW.HOUSTONPBS.ORG
Wow. You said a mouthful: “Our thousand-year childhoods.” You have a real gift for describing the lingering effects of Trauma Altered Development, Linda.
And part of the wear-and-tear you’re chronicling is that our culture, hell, our SPECIES, is only just beginning to wake up to how much damage has been done through our collective misunderstanding of how human development works.
Thank god for the work of those scientists who were not themselves subjected to living with chronic insecurity; people like Dan Siegel, Steven Porges, Martin Teicher, and all the others patiently teasing out the truths about how our CNS actually operates. It is difficult for those who were cherished and protected from an early age to understand how those who WEREN’T can be so quickly dysregulated, so those who actually try to do so are real heroes to me.
And so are you! Thank god for your ability to seek out and write about the work of those explorers of the inner realms of being human – and for your courage and honesty in expressing the truths of YOUR personal experience…and you ability to point out facets that the experts haven’t been able to see yet from their perspective.
You’re like a courageous war correspondent (Chris Hedges comes to mind), ‘reporting from the frontlines’ of what it’s like to live with a central nervous system that’s been forced to adapt to the exact opposite of ‘optimal conditions’ for development…in a culture that is increasingly moving in the exact wrong direction in terms of supporting healthy biological development.
“Where is our sanctuary?” Indeed!
Lately I’ve had the weary sense that I feel like a rock being slowly worn down by the relentless flow of water and weather, and have been coming to some of the same realizations you’re writing about – and I so appreciate your ability to put into words my own experience, which is mostly vague and inchoate until your writing triggers a resounding “YES that’s it, exactly!” in my consciousness.
I’m grateful for your insights that are helping me ‘normalize’ my own experiences, rather than repressing and denying them in the way our culture insists in a thousand ways that we must do… and to slowly learn to protect myself from the relentless over-stimulation being forced on us by the craziness of our times.
“I get by with a little help from my friends.” Thank you, friend…