A Shaman Daughter
Saturday, June 7, 2008
At least being defined by a person with a personality disorder allows us to exist. Without our station, our role, our definition, our position, our existence as an externalized “object” of their externalized psyche, we exist. Without this, we are so poorly formed, so poorly defined, that we hardly exist at all.
How can this be called an addiction? It is our reality. We were never mirrored, we were not distinguished from our caregiver’s psyche, and this lack of distinguishment has left us without not only our true identity, but without a self. Without our self. And, yes, this is an unimaginably lonely place to be.
Being an undefined person means that we cannot conceive of ourselves separate from what we do. What we do is a mirror for US, for our very existence. In relationship with a PD person, we do something remarkably important. We keep their essential existence, their “psychic” or psychological existence, in operation. This is not particularly a sacrifice for us because we have no self to sacrifice anyway. We just have, as we have always had, a role to play in a PD’s reality.
Being their actor/ress in their play allows us to exist at all, and for that we are extremely grateful.
Because we literally are undefined and nonexistent without DOING. We do, therefore we are. There isn’t a well formed self doing the doing. We do, therefore we are. Without the doing, we vanish like a puff of smoke on a windy day. Gone. Bye bye.
When we are born we are born into a world of objects, which includes our body in relationship with and to these objects. If we are never mirrored, and never learn that not only do we exist at all, but there is a SELF that is us that is doing the experiencing in this world of objects (including our body). If I am right here, that means that everyone that is a so-called workaholic does in fact have a disturbed relationship to the object world. For someone like me, I am completely at risk for hooking up with someone who has a place to assign me to in their psychological dance – the stuff that a healthy, secure person accomplishes within the boundaries of their body and their skull is done by PD people in the outside external object world. I have nothing to lose and everything to gain by doing what they need me to do.
And someone who cannot “relax” most likely has a parallel or similar problem. If they are not doing, i.e. manipulating something in the outside world, they do not exist on the inside. For us, this oblivion is just short of death. Nobody wants to volunteer to become nonexistent. It is against our evolutionary standards.
How do we NOT be defined, how do we exist without this mirroring from the outside world? It’s like an invisible person who would need to be covered with dust or powder or spray paint so that anyone could see them at all. Our business is this powder.
Why would we think our psychological drive to survive is any less motivating or essential than our physical one?
This takes “bad relationships” to a whole new level.
So what, today, is the medicine part of all this? That I am sitting here looking out the window as I write at this beautiful mountain at the same time I am aware that I might be moving back to the cold harsh north?
What is it about realizing that ER’s psyche is going to become even less flexible, less accepting of my deviations into my own selfhood as his need for me becomes more rigid, insistent, demanding and desperate with his ailing health and his aging? What is this sense that my escape is nearing?
What is it about drive, as sis Cindy calls it, that we are high drive sisters and Bisbee is full of low drive people, and that is feeling anesthetic to me, numbing, trapping me, even beginning to nauseate me?
What about high drive people, the genetics of those who immigrated to this country, the hypomania that has been studied among those highly successful in the business world?
What about the drive to be engaged with life, an extension of the drive to exist, to survive – and what about the drive to be oneself? Is that focusing in me now, finally, and that it might be time to continue this relationship with ER more as it truly is anyway, of the heart, the mind, the soul, and so minimally of this material plane?
Does it take a kind of manic energy to survive, or only so when threatened? Does pot dumb down and dumb down the energy of Bisbee?
I heard Madonna’s song in my head, a woman with grit, singing “Life in the Material World.” When we are sucked into someone’s psychological external world and then assume that role, act out that part, identifying ourselves – period – as we didn’t get to form our own identities in the first place – not necessarily or so much with a perpetrator, but with someone who in fact assists us alleviate some of our own pain and anguish by giving us a form to assume that at least lets us know that we are alive. Driven to live, driven to be, driven to exist, we are glad in some way, not for pain in these relationships, but for relief. As odd as that might seem, that the pain of these relationships is a lesser pain than the deeper one we feel by not having identity, by not existing, by being so close to invisible ourselves, by being “no things,” “nothings,” at least being a part of a PD’s world allows us to be a “something.”
Being a “nothing” is too close to death. Requires too little of us.
So how do we learn another way of doing and being?
How many of us have conscious, deep and abiding love for the individual workings and manifestations within our own head, mind, psyche? If that is all I can ever be to this man I love, then he can never truly offer me anything that I need other than (and yes this is and has been a big one) identity that equals existence. He cannot care for me any more than my mother could, because I as a separate identity, do not and cannot exist for him. I am invisible. He has cast the image from his own mind onto me and there is no other possibility. I am an integral part of his reality – but only from his point of view. There is no potential for empathy.
So if I stop seeing myself and experiencing myself through his mind, who and what am I? What’s left over when this subtraction has been accomplished? This is more than a boundary problem, though that is part of the picture. It is an existence problem connected to boundaries that should have been formed through initial mirroring before the age of 2. We are always looking for our image in somebody else’s mirror to not so much define who we are, but to create and establish in some deep and fundamental way, who we are.
Classic saying, “If it’s not broken, don’t fix it.” How do we know we are in danger when in relationship with a MD person? Usually if we are driving down the highway we only react in a defensive manner if we detect danger. Otherwise, it’s business as usual.
So when does business as usual become risky and put us in some sort of danger? What if all we do is continue to cruise down the road, never changing our definition of what puts us at risk?
I ask, because I am at this juncture. I have reached it subtly with an indefinable sense that enough is enough and that a major change needs to occur. What change, and when? How? Why?
People like me are emotionally and mentally unstable – as in something in unstable orbit around our would-have-been self. Our relationship with the rigidly structured PD allows us, I suspect, to form a dissociated self which relies on the stability of the PD’s structure for our own solidification and stability. They stabilize us. Which is directly at odds with the chaos of the emotional turmoil we feel in these relationships. But our activated attachment system (which is perennially activated because we have no security or secure base and have brains built in trauma and prepared only for its inevitability) requires such an attachment to alleviate at least some of the unbearable pain and sorrow, our grief at being left entirely alone in this world. And because our attachment wiring went ary since onset of life outside the womb, we have no way to permanently fix it. All we hope for, search for, and accept are band aids. Temporary, yet desperately held onto, relationships with our stabilizing identity creators, albeit misleading – we don’t know the difference.
Perhaps it begins to be something other than projection when the participant becomes a willing part of another’s psyche. With my mother I had no choice but to be her projection. With ER, is it different?
Tuesday, June 10, 2008
Perhaps with him it’s like when someone is holding the end of a live electric cable and the charge is going through them and them cannot let go.
Saturday, June 14, 2008
I don’t think there’s ever been a whole, real me. I’m thinking back to all of the work I did in Sioux Falls, the hopes I had were for financial sustainability for Jered and me. But all of Linda wasn’t there any more than she is here. Just pieces, functional pieces. When Bair writes of “functional empathy,” and I think of “functional attachment (earned secure attachment), I also think of a “functional self” along the same lines. A self that can get along, but not a genuine one, real and complete one.
Yesterday, for the first time in several weeks, I got to go with ER out on a short run in the black truck. It made me happy, and I smiled the first smile in that amount of days/weeks. Why? Because that self I have with him is the most complete? Not the one that is going to work and stressing about money and the SSD process.
The self that sits and sews is not the real, whole me either. I focus, and everything else disappears. Then I get up to eat, and that is a different Linda.
So we have unresolved state shift disruption issues – Scaer’s ideas about not being able to release the trauma energy and resume what we were doing before the freeze response – like Schore’s writing about the introduction of shame, about rupture with and without repair – all connected to dissociation. We are dissociated from our continuous conscious self, which is MORE than what an animal experiences when not able to complete the cycle. Scaer writes about animals released into the wild, that if they don’t go through the shaking part they die. It has to be connected to that powerful massage by that man from India at the massage school in Albuquerque. I wish I knew what I know now, and could go back to him.
Evidently the human body can survive when the trauma cycle is not completed, but maybe our self dies – any chance for having an advanced human brain or a cohesive, coherent self or self story. Maybe our body survives but our self dies, even if that is little bit by little bit as traumas go on. Or, as Schore might agree, that self is never formed in the first place. Without repair to rupture there is a broken place.
And it must be from this place that “the intergenerational transmission of unresolved trauma” occurs. Or is it traumas? Where and what is the plural of this word?
Maybe as humans we have lost sight of our own bedrock, buried as it is under eons of evolutionary advancements and complications. This is deeper even than our “foundation” being flawed or solid. It is referring to what this foundation is built upon. Perhaps we can call it the foundation of our foundation.
Sound without silence is not music. Silence without sound cannot be music, either. It takes a combination of these two, usually in a pattern, preferably in an identifiable pattern. This is rupture and repair. Rupture of silence is sound. Rupture of sound is silence. When either one stops and then resumes, it has been ruptured and repaired.
This same thing happens in our body, nervous system, brain. Yet when a trauma happens, it seems a requirement that the rupture in “what we were doing before” the trauma must go through its completion process so that “what we are doing after” the trauma matches the before state. If this doesn’t happen, we are “stuck in the middle again” as the song puts it.
Maybe it is more accurate, then, to say we are stuck in the middle rather than stuck in the past. Being stuck in the past is a RESULT of being stuck in the middle of a trauma, or peritraumatic happening.
Is it possible for those of us with these different brains to find another way to heal the traumas through the body rather than through the brain? If our hemispheres never were built correctly from the beginning, nor the barrier between them that passes information between the two, then perhaps the other way to heal them is to physically release the trauma from the body. It seems to me that perhaps not ideal in that we can’t have it both ways as perhaps a “normal person” could, we could at least make some progress toward resolving these trauma that are interrupting our lives and our beings from being whole.
So, take for example just one of the thousands of horrible beatings I received growing up. Not only is the physical pain of the beating stored in my body, along with the emotional memory also stored in my body of what this experience was like, my conscious awareness of the whole process is also missing in action. At today’s point in time I can become conscious of this triparate reality, and perhaps that is also at least a partial level of healing, even though the conscious memory of he individual beatings are not with me, and perhaps were fried in the burnout process of memory processing and storage in my hippocampus. Those fried memories are gone from my autobiographical retrieval process forever. And I still believe the brain does that because there is no purpose or use to keeping those trauma memories. They are too bad for any human to keep and utilize usefully in the future. Best erase them before they even begin. Abort mission. Only remember those trauma memories on the helpful end of the continuum, on the useful edge of the threshold. They are evidently more than we need bear, even though the emotional and physical part of every single one of those memories are within us. That “energy” kind of memory must do the overall job of building an alert system and a reaction system that is super prepared to respond in the future to a malevolent world.
So we have perpetual and perennial dead spots. All the spaces between my floating bubbles, my sealed off mini-me-s all disconnected from one another. I imagine normal people get to put everything in the same bubble and it grows with them throughout their lives. That’s why they can tell a coherent life story; it’s all there.
Not me. When at the psychologist’s for the Ss interview last week, when he asked me questions like jobs I had before this current one, everything got what I call very noisy in my head as I had to search for the correct bubble with the information he asked for in it. It remains in a bubble named “running away from the terrible pain of ER, being homeless, lost, getting fired, spending a summer with my kids in Fargo, being at my friend’s wedding, etc.” but is not a part of me that is here today, or that was in that office trying to answer that question.
The dead spots are like dropped cell phone calls. In the middle of something, a request/demand is made, “snap” there’s no connection to the “other” information.
Every time a serious trauma occurs a breach is created between the known and unknown. When the parasympathetic nervous system kicks in, our active/known/effective coping skills/abilities did not work and in this STOP state we are not only surviving, which includes NOT licking our wounds – attending to our injuries – but we are also in a prepared state to learn something new (related to kindling).
In this framework, every time we are in this state between known and unknown, competency and incompetency, we are then in a state of trauma in that we are vulnerable at this instant. We are sitting ducks unless we can utilize flexibility and intelligence to come up with a way out. In nature, under threat, just the act of freezing unto death can be enough. This is a automatic “known” response which often does the trick. But where do we go from here?
Perhaps it is the increased ability of human brainpower which allows us to come up with new alternative solutions in these freeze/unknown, “Gee, I don’t have a known response to solve this problem and keep on going” states that has a parallel in our having a different option when coming out of these states than the animals do. We don’t shake ourselves, tremble, and then resume what we were doing before. Some might say, as Scaer does, that this is a limitation of our cultural heritage as humans. I would add that we cannot eliminate the fact that our intelligence provides us perhaps with this major third option – learn something entirely new, make something out of nothing known to us before. We can take the quantum leap, perform mental alchemy. Animals are not geared this way.
Traumatized infants are exposed to threat to their lives at the very time they are supposed to be growing into their lives. Their lives are ending before they begin. The literature has a lot to say about what happens to infants left in the crying state – and I need to go back and look at that. They escalate.
I believe that this state of crying ourselves to death carries along with us should we survive those peritraumatic events during our brain developmental stages. That’s why I think there is something that is beyond anything we normally think about trauma. It happens when the brain is so young that there are no alternatives except to include the trauma into the very fabric and structure of the developing brain.
They have changed the DSM description of PTSD from something that happens beyond the normal range of human experience – but I know that an individual infant has no normal range – only what evolution has determined. There are optimal, necessary requirements to building a modern human brain. If an infant survives chronic peritraumatic conditions, they evidently, as Teicher describes, get an evolutionarily altered brain – which in my thinking must mean a more primitive one.
My question is, “What are the limitations of these primitive brains? How far backwards in the continuum of human evolutionary capacity are our brains thrown? Is there some sort of extremely significant line that we are thrown on the other side of? Is it related to information processing, problem solving, responses to the environment, how we receive, process, and respond to incoming sensory information? Is it about how we see ourselves related to our species, and that we see ourselves related to a different, older human species?
When did humans NOT take exceptionally good care of their offspring? It seems that only now in modern times are offspring more of a liability than an asset. Children and infants might be disposable now, there are 7 billion of us on this planet. But infants and children were not disposable when our species was trying to adapt and survive on this planet.
I am still tending in the direction that personality disorders occur when basic human infant caregiving necessities were met better in the beginning than what happens when the trauma occurs constantly from birth. It think there is something about a partially modern brain’s development that then receives devastating traumatic blows – differing from the abuse from birth scenario.
I think their identities had begun to form along normal lines. Ours did not.
That’s why I am especially susceptible to becoming a role-identity for someone with an externalized psyche.
Oh, I was going to write something about that. I think there is a place in everyone’s internal psyche for the presence of the other, like I exist as my children’s mother in their psyche, inside their heads. But being a separate entity in my children’s psyches is different from having to exist in a psyche player’s role – like I exist as an identity that is included in the identity of my mother or ER, not as a separate entity from them.
I am a part of them, not separate from them. Theirs is an inclusive mental structure which includes me on the outside as part of their inner reality. My children would have an exclusive reality, in that I am excluded from belonging to their individual reality – I exist separate from them.
This is mercurial, hard to pin down. I don’t have it clear enough in thought or word yet.
It is related to merging. I was merged with my mother’s mind, and am merged with ER’s mind. I am not merged with my kids.
So it’s like a merger. They have a merger where I am a part of them – and when this happens it indicates that there is some sort of state of emergency going on. Things are not well, clear, strong or healthy.
For me to complete this merger I have to allow them to throw their cloak of their projected identity piece/part over me, and I become THAT to them, not me.
I am my children’s mother. But if I was just some other woman, and they threw their cloak of mother identity onto me so that I was their mother in their minds (projection) that is not the same thing – perhaps that projection is related to magical thinking stage gone awry?
When it makes me happy to be with ER in the truck like yesterday, so that I smiled the first real smile in weeks, what is really going on? I do believe I love him as a separate person, but I ALSO think I like having an identity that strong like the one I have when I get to be with him – that woman of his psyche externalized on/in me – whomever she may be. Perhaps it relieves me from my most usual reality of “one who is of and in the void.” Perhaps in HIS role I can avoid my own state of perpetual nonexistence/nonidentity – my voidsomeness. (being somebody vs being voidbody).
Several things are happening simultaneously. My attachment system is quieted when I am with ER, and when I feel that, I feel a good state, meaning I am at a secure base position and not feeling threatened at that moment. I am in a bubble that is a “not alone” bubble, where being alone equals near to death.
Reliving past traumas, trauma reenactment is occurring at the same time as there’s no me/self in clear relation to a you/self. This is an undifferentiated merger state – connected to “you can’t mirror me because I am not a separate person to you, as with my mother. These are old circuits, engrained circuits, and there is a chance, as Schore says, that GOOD psychotherapy could help heal this by engaging new circuits involved in actual mirroring, though neurons cannot be built in this area, perhaps they are already there, or some are which could grow new dendrites and make new connections.
I need a super clear mirroring, not merging. They are not the same thing, and actually probably work to opposite ends.
The confusion must be tied in part to the reality that feelings are good in both situations because the soul-cry of an activated needing to feel connected attachment system are quiet. Quiet attachment system (i.e. not activated) feels good and secure and safe and comforting.
But that attachment system is mine, inside of me, and not inside another. The confusion is a contamination. One scenario is one in which a self does not exist in the presence (even in thought) of the other. I cannot tell the difference. Are we standing on their foundation or on our own? Yes, this is a “boundary” issue, but a fundamental one. Their warped boundary requires us to be a part of their self and to assume the role of their psychic player. We are to be their pawns, not our own.
Our boundary problem is that we don’t have one. We have no self with which to make a boundary with. We don’t feel real to ourselves, therefore our self is nearly nonexistent. So we need to share their reality, to be the object of their inner world. Be a part of them, a somebody rather than our usual nobody. Our brains were formed seeing ourselves through the eyes of the other, not mirrored, we never were shown and therefore never saw our selves independently. We never un-merged in the first place, never differentiated properly or became defined ourselves.
How do we or can we do that at this point? How do we mirror ourselves to ourselves when we are not in our own mirror in the first place? Are we identifiable through what is stored in our bodies?
Otherwise, I am a part of ER’s past the same way I was a part of my mother’s past.
Sunday, June 15, 2008
I am looking for a solution, really, so that I can feel happy and comfortable in this world in this body before it is too late and I am forced to leave both behind.
It seems that this search should be like mathematics, first defining the problem, and then applying rules and principles to solve the equation and thus have the solution.
If my main problem, other than this altered brain, is that I cannot tell a human from an object, including myself from the material world around me, and that without this self that should have existed from at least the age of 2 I therefore do not have an identity, then what does that mean? Can my brain accept neural programming alterations that could allow for this self and hence my identity this late in the game? Will I always seek outside of myself to be mirrored back by the outside world?
Will I always feel and be this lost, and hence this alone?
Wednesday, June 18, 2008
Back from herceptin treatment today
I don’t know why I feel so angry. I was crabby when I woke up this morning, but it’s progressed, and now I feel like a kamikaze woman. What is this rage I feel? Could it be this full moon, along with everything else?
Saturday, June 21, 2008
First day of summer
We can yell and scream at “them” all we want, until hell freezes over, myself included – but we will never be able to tell a person apart from an object. I suspect that this is the bottom line on these empathy pathologies. I need to study object relations.
Without empathy how can we tell what effect our behavior is having on others?
Today I am also thinking about the not being a member of species recognition, or lack of – and about no grooming behavior and language, not being able to “chatter” along or even, now for me, tolerate it
First seasonal thunderstorm, must log off now
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*Age 57 – Dec. 2007 – July 2008 – (A Shaman Daughter Pages)