Thursday, February 5, 2015. I wish I could write what would be a ‘coherent’ account of what the processes are that I am going through right now, but I would be highly surprised if I will. By all accounts being unable to tell a ‘coherent’ life story narrative as an adult who lived through severe trauma in their early life is exactly how adult insecure attachment disorders are assessed. With a trauma history such as mine is I am fully aware that I will be victimized by trauma stored in my body when trauma triggers appear in my ongoing life – for the rest of my life.
I am in the midst of what can be termed a “crisis of healing” or a “healing crisis.” I am also thinking of a term discussed in my art therapy graduate program 25 years ago: State of emergency. These states happen when important aspects of injuries from any trauma, but certainly from severe early abusive trauma, begin to literally emerge. Make themselves known. Whether or not anyone can understand what is being drawn forth for healing.
I am describing what I am going through right now as being one of the vastest, complicated and BIG trauma-triggered crises of my life. It all began to appear so innocuously about 3 weeks ago.
Fargo, North Dakota where I am “camped out” until the end of next August as I care for my youngest grandson who just turned 2 ½ – I will simply refer to him as the toddler – has a Blue Law which prohibits any retail store from opening before noon on Sundays. My daughter, her hubby, the nearly 5-year-old grandson and the toddler stopped by to pick me up for a jaunt at noon to the nearby Sam’s Club. The experience was a DISASTER for me and I am still reeling from the repercussions.
Toddler, as I manage his little life Monday-Friday for 9+ hours, is absolutely READY for a nice nap after lunch at noon. He was NOT ready for a foray through the aisles of a mega store and let EVERYONE know how absolutely MISERABLE he was. I reacted. Or rather, I tried NOT to react in dismay and panic as in “WHY is this happening to this precious little boy?”
I attempted silence in the most grandmotherly way as I scooted my own cart around to pick up my basics. But my BODY let me know (Out of nowhere? Not.) with sudden explosive diarrhea that sent me tailspinning out of the store that TO ME and IN ME something was terribly awry.
I have not felt well since.
As that trauma trigger experience began to further display my true reaction over these passing days (To what? I am only now beginning to understand.) I found my entire midsection felt internally paralyzed and my digestive system just stopped working. I had to start asking the questions that matter: What am I trying to digest right now? What is it that I cannot stomach?
Now. Here comes the really important and tricky part to put into words. If you do an online search for the terms “stop the storm borrowed attachment” you can locate some of my past writings about how I have understood my own process of having been SO ABUSED throughout the entire 18 years of my childhood from birth and did NOT abuse my own children.
I am learning more about that on a MAJOR deep level right now.
I was absolutely unable to tolerate even that ‘minor’ (I know it did not feel minor to him) ‘suffering’ of my grandson as he was so desperately ready for his nap. I could do NOTHING at the time to spare him what my body powerfully recognized as his suffering.
I am processing that I have an EXQUISITE ability to detect suffering in children and a POWERFUL drive response to STOP that suffering.
It is IN MY BODY! It is a part of who I am.
I learned how to foster safe and secure attachment with my children when they were little under ONLY profoundly traumatic circumstances. I know that because my entire childhood was profoundly traumatic. I have known for a long time that my ability to prevent suffering in wee ones was honed when my youngest brother was born when I was in 8th grade. Mother did not want to be bothered with knowing he existed when I was home.
I would be brutally abused any time I did not meet Mother’s standards (as well as any other time her ‘mood’ dictated). I had to keep the baby silent and invisible to her and there was ONLY one way for me to do that.
I had to ‘read’ his every signal of need and respond to keep him HAPPY.
Well, nature creates needs in little ones that are not THAT hard to meet – although the ‘giving’ to these little ones IS work. I just kept my brother happy. Whatever it took.
In other words, as my current healing crisis is telling me, I met his needs so that he DID NOT SUFFER. Remove suffering from little ones? They are happy.
BUT, at this point in my healing this is all SO MUCH BIGGER. As I described in my book Story Without Words it was the unique demand of Mother’s terrible psychosis that she create a hell exactly for me and that she keep me in there ALWAYS – so she did not have to suffer.
That was my life from birth. As I suffered, my siblings were free to play, to grow. Of course our home was BAD NEWS on so many levels that harmed my siblings, including the fact that they witnessed what nobody should being done to me, but at least the kind of suffering that was demanded of ME did not touch them. Suffering was my job. Even to spare my father.
But until this healing crisis I am moving through right now I never understood how much a part of the cells in my body it is for me to STOP THE SUFFERING of little ones. My grandson was NOT suffering in his mother’s eyes due to missing naptime; probably not in most of her generation’s parents’ eyes. But my standards are, formed through such a history of trauma, that any suffering I COULD prevent – I BETTER prevent.
OR? OR WHAT?
Whatever is happening to me right now involves some kind of ‘re-feeling’ and ‘re-thinking’ everything I have ever known about myself as a mother (I was pregnant with my first child in 1970), and now as a grandmother (and even as a sister). I can feel it – I am ‘being changed’ from the core of my being outward. This is HARD WORK HEALING.
This is ‘sickening work.’ (So many FEELINGS!) What happened to me in the first 18 years of my life was SICK! Mother was SICK beyond belief! (So was my father to NEVER protect me, etc.)
These are big wounds I am talking about. I suffered so much that if I EVER even consider looking in a wider circle at what I lived through to learn more about those experiences than I already know, I shut everything down in my thoughts immediately.
I never get past this: I simply SHOULD NOT BE ALIVE. There is NO understandable way I survived what I did and am still here.
BUT. I am evidently learning to understand on a much deeper level more about the nitty-gritty workings that allowed me to not only NOT abuse my children, but to do SO MUCH MORE good for them than I can imagine I ‘should’ have ever been able to do. I did everything in my power to prevent them from ever suffering. In doing that I “accidentally” did things right.
There are mysteries here. I count on them being explained to me in the next world. BUT when some parts of those mysteries come to be faced in my body – and then inescapably by me who lives with this body – I count on some important healing benefits coming into my life now.
NOT an easy process. To be discovering now that something so precious, so positive, so sacred to me as my relationships with my children and my grandchildren is so intertwined with my experiences of trauma is profoundly disturbing to me. This healing crisis is literally – creating one big ‘chunk of change’ in me.
And – a welcome great mystery that we met in this crazy life – I cannot even begin to imagine how I would be getting through these difficult stages of my life right now without my amazing friend who lives half a nation away from me. He is always on the other end of my telephone when I need him with the utmost caring, compassion, empathy, understanding, knowledge, wisdom and love. Thank you, Sandy, with all of my heart and soul! Thank you!
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