Perhaps it is this simple. If nobody in our lives had the capacity to attach to us, then they did not have the capacity to miss us. That is what we missed, and what we still miss. Somebody missing us. And if nobody missed us “enough,” then we ended up missing our self – that developmental stage was not reached and crossed correctly.
Maybe that is the essence of the whole “thing,” and where the lack of balance is – where the imbalance is. Not that we usually think of any of this on this microscopic level. But perhaps we need to, because as humans, it might just be that if our attachment system is out of balance, everything else in our body and life will be, too.
If our attachment system is not in balance, we are not in balance. Our emotions are not in balance, and this is most essential. We can take all the medications someone will prescribe to us, or that we can find illegally. Or we can pursue all kinds of assorted “addictions,” attempting to alter our brain chemistry without even knowing it. But what if we were able to pay attention to our true inner selves and discovered that the feelings we are attempting to change have the most important information contained in them that we will ever need?
None of this is easy, and I am not suggesting it is. But if we are walled off or cut off from our feelings, we are wandering this world worse than blind. We are missing the sense of our lives, because it is through our body’s reaction to everything that we experience that our feelings are born. They are there to tell us what is what, and what the wherefore has to do with us, personally. We are living our own lives, and we do live them personally. What happens to us affects us personally – and that happens to us through our AFFECTS. Life affects us and we have affects to prove it.
Not that we like how we feel. But how is this any different that when a child eats dirt, and people say, “Oh, they must be missing some mineral in their diet, and their body is craving it, so they eat the dirt to get the mineral?” Knowing this, do you let you child just continue to eat dirt? Or do you figure out what is missing in their diet and then give it to them? Once you have figured out what your child is missing, and then determine that there is no possible other way to have them meet that need, then I suppose eating dirt is the only available option.
If something is missing in our lives, and in our brains, then perhaps a reliance on medication is the same as eating dirt. We can try to discover what exactly is missing, and try to find another way to meet that need. If, after all our efforts there can be no other option, then take the meds. Eat the dirt. But if you don’t thoroughly search the situation out in all its aspects, you won’t really know what is wrong, what is missing, or what is needed, will you?
It is at those places that we are powerless, and therefore those places that the fundamental state of powerlessness then initiates the most primary and fundamental defense mechanism of helplessness that we are most stuck.
These stuck places are inevitably to be found where trauma lies. And just as inevitably, traumas are not what was done to us or what happened to us. Traumas are external events that affect us or not – but the distinguishing factor is not the external aspect, it is the internal one. The key word is WITH. Remember the old question, “If a tree falls in a forest and nobody hears it, does it make a sound?” Were we there WITH the tree when it fell?
Traumas happen. They are intertwined with life. They are manifestations of life, circumstances of life, aspects of life. If we are there when they happen, if we are there WITH them when they happen, what makes them traumatic is how we experience them, how they impact us, what effects they have in us. It is the “us” part that makes traumas significant. Traumas are the trees falling in the forest when there is somebody WITH them to hear them as they fall – us.
So if we were there WITH a tree of trauma when it fell, or there WITH an entire forest of traumas when they fell, then we were WITH the trauma. Take out the little common word “the” and you have the essence: with trauma. If your reaction with the trauma has not healed (and it is most likely that it has not, as I will explain), then we are still “with trauma” in the same way a mother is “with child.” And just as it is not possible to be “almost pregnant” or “partly pregnant,” one is most entirely “with trauma.”
Many trauma experts now advise that we should not “go back” and remember or recount traumas, and I will say right here that I do not agree with them. True, memory experts are now saying that every time we remember a memory and re-store it in our brain it becomes larger. What I say is that traumas left untouched, the ones that WANT to become known fester and kill us as surely as if they caused untreated gangrene. But what we need is to be able to re-count (as in the Sioux battle re-count-ments) the traumas in healing environments. We need to bring them forward and re-store them – yes, as larger memories – but with the GOOD attached to them, the goodness of honoring ourselves as survivors of them. The goodness of sharing them with others in a loving fashion that allows the memories to become so large through the goodness of healing that the “badness” of the trauma is counteracted and balanced out.
It is when we can metabolize our experience of trauma that healing occurs, not by ignoring them, burying them, running and hiding from them. And we need information about what traumas do to our bodies, to our brains, to our minds, and to our selves in order to ameliorate the negative impact traumas have not only on our lives, but the lives of those around us, especially our mates and most especially, our offspring.
We need to know that most early-forming psychopathologies can now be traced to origins in early childhood relationship traumas, particularly those that happened to us before the age of 2 when our brains were forming the fastest. And what causes most abuse and neglect traumas to happen to infants and children – as well as in adult abuse situations – happens because unresolved traumas are being passed directly down the generations because that is exactly what happens to them. They do not go away on their own. And if we want to worry about remembering traumas and making them bigger – we need to know that they remember themselves through not only through our own lives, but through the lives of our descendants.
How can we conceive of unbearable sadness as having degrees? Isn’t it an aspect of the very unbearableness of the sadness the very fact that it is unbearable? How can there be degrees of unbearableness? If something is unbearable, then that is just exactly what it is – unbearable. So how is it possible that there are degrees to something this absolute? Either one can bear something, or they cannot bear it. How can it be possible to bear something that is unbearable in the first place?
My suspicion is that we can withstand something that we cannot bear. The “bearableness” of it is irrelevant if our bodies themselves can remain alive. My guess is that our bodies can stand what we cannot psychologically bear. It is the “psychologicalness” of being human that bears the destruction of the unbearable in life.
If we are to say that humans are “more than” the rest of the animal kingdom, they we are stating a fact that there is something different about ourselves from “them.” This difference is not that we have a neocortex, for scientists now realize that even birds and reptiles have a section of their brains that resembles the neocortex enough to say that we are not alone in having one.