*Age 58 – November 5, 2009 – A hard way to be in the world
We are born with the capacity to learn about who we are, and to remember ourselves throughout our many and varied experiences. This is meant to happen as we grow from birth being cared for by loving caregivers, people who give us care consistently over time.
It is natural that caregivers understand an infant is not them, but is somebody else, a separate unique individual. They communicate this knowledge by everything they say and do with the infant.
These patterns of interaction are building the infant’s growing brain. Humans are designed from birth to be able to see their own separate and unique self as it is mirrored back and reflected to them by their caregivers, who are their attachment humans.
If a parent such as my mother was lacks the capacity to understand that her infant is NOT her, she will overwhelm her infant with information from herself that has absolutely no relevance to her infant’s developing connection with itself. The infant will miss the critical interactions with its caregiver that are meant to feedback to it information about its own self.
If the infant has access to additional caregivers who are themselves of healthy brain-mind-self, the infant can get at least some of the feedback about its own self from them, and this information will be critical to the infant’s brain-mind-self growth and development.
Without access to other appropriate (secure attachment) caregivers, the infant’s brain-mind-self will not develop in an ordinary way. Its body will of course continue to develop, but the self of the infant-child cannot possibly find its way into being a cohesive, integrated, clear and affirmed self-hood.
Whatever the break was that happened within my mother’s brain-mind-self, it had consumed her by the time I took my first tiny breath into my body in this world in my lifetime. She was prevented from ever looking at me and being able to allow my individual self to be born. She could only see some split-off part of herself in me that she hated and wanted to destroy.
Her mental illness (I believe psychotic borderline) left no room for Linda to be present in my body or in my life. All I could do was remain buried alive, hidden from her view, protected only by the miracle of life that demands that people remain intact, separate from one another.
In the meantime all the trauma she caused me from birth built my brain, the only one I have to use to get along in this world. That my brain could not include clear and definable connections to my own selfhood HAD to be the result of my mother being not only my primary caregiver, but with the exception of early contact with my 14-month-old brother and very occasional exposure to my father or grandmother, she was my sole caregiver.
I can try to describe every resiliency factor I can think of that probably contributed to me being able to survive my childhood with my mother so that I appeared on the adult end of my life to be mostly intact and ‘ordinary’. At the same time, however, I have to include my dissociational abilities as being the most important resiliency factor I have.
The real me I was born as could remain hidden and protected from my mother where she could not reach me. At the same time the self of me could not come out into the world to play, grow, learn and live. My self could not be recognized, could not express myself. My needs were not met except as they invisibly allowed me to continue to exist without my mother ever being able to stop me except by killing my body (which I helped her not to do).
Evidently I was born strong. But who and where and how the essential me is in the world still remains extremely difficult for me to detect. I can sit here writing on this pad at this moment in time with this pen in my hand and hope I am at this moment able to open a clear, true pathway that allows the real me, the hidden-away-from-my-mean-mother me, to speak these words.
It’s like I have to keep the deep, pure waters within myself perfectly still without a single small ripple in order for the real me to appear in my life. I do not believe this is the way ordinary people have to engage their self. Life is busy. It is full of stimulation and changes. One’s self is supposed to be able to maintain its integrity in spite of external (distracting) factors.
It is only when the environment I am in is quiet, peaceful, safe and predictable that I can experience my core self. Once anything hits my inner still pool and causes a ripple, my inner me vanishes and I cannot reach her.
When a disturbance happens, a frantic feeling that translates into anxiety follows, as professionals call this state along with the host of other labels they insist on using to describe what my fragile connection to my own true self looks like or seems like from the inside of me.
I am left having to be so careful – so full of care concerning my self in this world — now at 58, because nobody was there in the beginning to do it for me. I can think about my connection to my self in today’s world as being like a frequently ‘dropped call’. When life challenges me, the resulting disturbance inside of me causes a ‘call lost’ reaction. Then some version of Linda has to keep on going, the best way that it-I can until circumstances change and complete calm around and within me returns.
Believe me, this is a hard, hard way to be in this world.
posted also on main page November 5, 2009
8 thoughts on “*Age 58 – November 5, 2009 – A hard way to be in the world”
Funny u should mention that song in ur example. I know the song well as our music therapist sings it weekly!
Do u know that I never new any of this info until I found ur blog? I had been searching for an understanding of what was going on in me for all of my adult years. I had no clue that very very early interaction with ur caregiver affects u for the rest of ur life.
Had I known that info I would have been even more careful mothering my twins when they were infants. I think I did a good job but I would have made that my all consuming passion. I really believed that what was most important was when they get to the age of understanding,say two years old. Now I know that the age of understanding is even before they are born!!
Its a critcial piece of knowlege that every mother and father should know. I had this baby book,,,I forget what its called but all the new moms have it..something like what to do when ur expecting…then there one what to do from newborn to 2 years. I dont ever remember reading that!
Anyhow…ur example of driving while trying to change tires at the same time. The panic of trying to do both…is often how I feel when faced with a challenge. I may view it as extreme as ur example..to me, thru my lenses and my body signals.
Thanks! So very well written!! I forwarded this to Ramona – is what we need to cover in this book!!! so true true true!!
beautifully said.When I was referring to self talk…I was referring to what they say studies have shown with success the best treatment for anxiety is cognitive (changing 0ur thoughts) Behavioral (changing our behavior) therapy. I know I have tried it and had great difficulty with it. Its because it goes against my natural grain…of what I feel inside. In those studies…I dont know if those individuals who had improvement had the kind of trauma that changes ur brain or not.
I do think that talking differently and thinkung differently certainly can help. And I think we should make an effort to try, But sometimes, most of the time…my feelings becaome overwhelming and I can;t think about changing my inner dialogue because I am so bound up in fear.
I do think that our faith can help..by knowing that God is with us and will never leave us…but I have to admit again…when I get anxious,I sometimes forget that.
I know for me when I would spend time with God, praying or mediating I always felt better because I had just connected to my Source of Strength.
Automatic body-based survival information is VERY FAST and bypasses our much, much slower conscious awareness thought.
Makes me think of this song
Our body says to us: “Oh! ye’ll take the high road and
I’ll take the low road,
And I’ll be in Scotland afore ye;”
The ‘low road’ is the automatic actually VERY fast body-based survival road
Given safe and secure beginnings the body-brain gets a chance to develop the ‘high road’ consciousness-based abilities that ARE slower — but are supposed to be a consequence of human ‘higher evolution’ abilities — which also include how to avoid and prevent circumstances that are not safe for us
I find it is just plain tiring to always have to try to wrestle away from my body my own ability to respond appropriately in the here-and-now to situations my body tells me are not safe — when actually they really do NOT pose immediate threat of harm or harm to me
The cognitive behavioral methods you mention — seems for us it would be like trying to drive a car at the same time you have to get out and manually turn each tire yourself to move forward!
How much inner self talk to I need to repeat to myself until I actually believe that I am safe??
To those outside the trauma past..this sounds absurd. But to those of us who have been through it…speak my lanuage and know what I am talking about.
Well, I sure think about this anxious state A LOT, too. I watch how my grandson is being raised – he’s 15 months now. The core self is formed by age two. THESE are the most important stages of development — I think you and I were already so changed by age two that we then experienced even all the later trauma and stress of our older childhood differently because of it!
We did not internalize a sense of TRUST which begins to form in infant brains clearly by age two months.
I sure don’t have the answers – living as I do in such a small world to keep my own sense of trust, safety, security, and any sense of peaceful calm inside of me.
I believe we DO suffer from a physical disability – as real as deafness, blindness, missing limbs, etc. Learning how to ADAPT the best we can is then what we are aiming at.
We missed 0-2 what we needed to NOT have had the disabilities we have. We did not learn how to self-sooth, for example, either. What we know will be recognized by society, but I fear not in our lifetime. That leaves us needing to discover, recognize and name our ‘dis-abilities’ — and for us to figure out anything HEALTHY that helps us feel better!!!!!!
At least at this moment in my progress toward healing I don’t believe that any amount of self-talk will make us believe we are safe. Being safe is a KNOWING and we do not have the body-brain wiring from birth that we would have had built into us if we had had safe and secure early attachments in the first place.
This means to me that whatever I consider self-talk has to be grounded in this reality. OUR BODY, including our nervous system and brain, were built in an unsafe world to live in an unsafe world. That is our reality.
This means to me that I must honor what my body-brain was built to know as its reality. Now I can try my best to OVERRULE what my body naturally knows and continually communicates to me about living in an unsafe world. This requires use of my highest thinking abilities which to me have to include the spiritual information I understand about how God is the reality and is always the One that keeps me safe in the world. It helps me to be writing this book because I am seeing how my essence, my soul and my own personality I was born with, were ALWAYS safe and beyond harm. I am intact at my core. That core is a spiritual one.
If someone falls or jumps into deep, deep water it is only by following the direction the bubbles are going that one knows which way to go to safety. My body on its own doesn’t know how to do this so I have to continually keep checking in with how I feel and TELL it. My spiritual beliefs are finally getting strong enough that I can use them to assist me in finding those bubbles — in finding a verbally-based thinking process I can use to lower my anxiety level.
At the same time the limitations I have about what I can do and where I can go in my life are very real. I have to pay attention to those as well and I continue to be extremely grateful that at this point in my life I have what I need so that I don’t have to challenge myself past what I could ever hope to accomplish.
But how does one create that calm? Live in a cocoon ,cut off from the world with no distractions? This is what happens to people who are agoraphobic. There lives become so restricted so that they can remain in as safe a place internally as possible…but is that what we need to do to be anxiety free ? I hate the fact that I get disturbed by any thing that challenges my coping skills! Which translates for me…into everything!
This is the part of thetrauma that really angers me. Why…do we have to CONTINUE to live in fear and anxiety when the real threats are gone?