Thursday, November 20, 2014. I guess I easily jumped forward 900 years in my last post. And now backward….. In the meantime, I have a few post-post observations.
Conflict. Although there are degrees of conflict I don’t think it is “ordinary” to have such a narrow comfort with conflict. Any change in the environment, any challenge to an ongoing experience of life can be seen as conflict by the body. Any shift in attention, anything that demands we might need to alter how we are using available resources to get along in life can be perceived as conflict between self and the wider world.
Any time a person is already challenged — by hunger, thirst, exhaustion, sickness and/or preoccupation with other concerns — and then is met by a new change (challenge) in their experience in the world some kind of a readjustment of attention is required so that a determination can be made about what needs to happen next. Always threat vs safety is included in these assessments. Every interaction demands the use of resources — inner and/or outer.
Because early severe trauma survivors live in a body that was built by, in and for a trauma world there is always an overload of sensation biased toward the ongoing need to survive in a malevolent, dangerous, threatening world of deprivation and scarcity. Hoping to rely on the use of perpetual conscious logic to “trick” the body into “laying off the horn” of an alarm response is not enough to keep many of us from over-reacting in challenging situations when they arrive. The body uses automatic responses because they are incredibly fast, efficient, and most likely to be effective. Trying to down-regulate alarm responses so that conscious, very slow and complicated conscious responses can come into play always uses inner resources that might not be easily or quickly replenished.
Resiliency is, then, a multifaceted series of events. I can imagine that as a severe early trauma survivor living within a body whose physiological development was altered in order to endure and survive those 18 long years, that my inner resources have been depleted over the years of my adulthood and have not been adequately replenished — all through no fault of my own. This seems to be my experience, and I have little tolerance for conflict of ANY kind. I see this lack of resources, lack of resource replenishment, and depletion of my tolerance for conflict as being directly connected to the ongoing lifelong negative consequence of severe early trauma from abuse and neglect.
Escaping the physical abuse when I was 18 did NOT mean I escaped then or ever will escape the long-term harmful effects of my years of early trauma.
NOW when I think about “STOP CHILD ABUSE” I think not even so much about the terrible suffering of the little tiny helpless innocent dependent victims of ongoing early abuse. I think of its SURVIVORS who are most likely to suffer from consequences of that abuse IN THEIR BODY for their entire lifespan.
It does seem to me looking back over my adulthood that I carried with me some kind of natural immunity to the effects that I am so aware of now. I could “handle” being around people, for example. I absolutely took it for granted that “we” were alike. It NEVER dawned on me that I was “a different kind of person” because of what I had lived through and because of how those experience changed my physiological development.
Again I mention a need for readers to Google “CDC ACE study” to begin to learn about the kind of information beginning to infiltrate understanding about the life-long risk of problems from early traumas. The term “Trauma Informed Care” is evolving as professionals learn more and more about the extremely high risk early severe trauma survivors carry with them for all kinds of problems during their life. Being able to understand HOW we are in the world because of our trauma history is part of how we apply this kind of new thinking to our own life.
What depletes us? What feeds and sustains us? What helps to increase our strength — which IS our power to experience a better quality of life in all arenas vital to humans?
It seems as I write this meandering post that I am asking myself a fundamental question: “What is quality of life? What does it mean? Where does it come from? How much of it is essential to having and maintaining an inner ongoing state of assurance that we are OK in the world?”
I lived all of my life until my youngest child left home when I was 52 years old being primarily concerned and involved with GIVING to other people. It was not a familiar process for me to think about “What do I need for myself in my life?” Now that I am older I realize that I would say first of all “I needed not to experience continual horrible abuse and neglect trauma throughout the duration of my childhood from birth so that HOW my body was created did not come to overtax every one of my innate abilities to have a good life.”
Perhaps it is helpful at this point for me to be getting so clear about what the limitations I live with are doing to deplete my quality of life. But how do I CHANGE things to help myself improve my quality of life in spite of these difficulties?
I know I resigned myself to the horrible conditions of my childhood. If I had not done that I would have been dead a long, long time ago. I have no doubt that if I had challenged my abuser (Mother) she would have killed me in her attempts to maintain her delusions. Neither of us had any other choice back then.
But what does resignation do to me now?
I am willing to bet that I only ask these kinds of questions now because I have lived long enough to do so.
And the answers? SOME answers? Time will tell.
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