+WHAT MIGHT LOVE FEEL LIKE? A “RESILIENCY FACTOR” STORY FROM MY ABUSIVE CHILDHOOD

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Monday, April 6, 2015.  While I don’t understand my point exactly in writing this post it seems to be one that has moved past the perculation stage into WRITE ME NOW.  So here is a little more about my personal conflicts with the concept of “resiliency” as it may be achieving a generic standing within the “healing trauma” circles.

The adult human body is made up of about 37 trillion cells.  The United States Census Bureau estimates that the world population exceeded 7 billion on March 12, 2012.  To do research that tried to extrapolate meaningful information about ALL cells or ALL people based on a small sample of ONE would be ludicrous.

Nobody can determine each individual’s experiences with trauma in such a way that the data generated could be made useful to anyone, let alone everyone!  So naturally what I have lived through and what I know as a result of my studies about what happened to me and how I survived it will never fit into any clear “significant probability” statistic with meaning.  I can, however, share parts of my story to illustrate points important to me.

I am sharing a story included on this blog that I certainly am NOT going to read right now.  I may never return to read it again.  (This is often the case with my own childhood stories once written, which is why my ace professional researcher and writer daughter is my editor for our books.  She has not yet proofed the story at this link.)

*Age 8 – BLOODY NOSE

What I wish to say about the experience detailed in this story as it connects to my standpoint on “resiliency” is that had I NOT gone through this event I do not believe I would have come out of my childhood having ANY sense of what “feeling loved” felt like.

The story is of trauma, true, but for me having my family gathered around me as I was nearly bleeding to death was the ONLY clear time of my 18-year childhood that I felt I belonged to this family.  It was the ONLY time that the feeling I lived with all of rest of my childhood from birth that I was at any moment, out of nowhere (my mother was psychotically mentally ill with me as her abuse target as my book at link below describes) going to be brutally attacked was absent.

This event COULD have been a very low spot – what I call a risk factor moment —  in my horrifying childhood rather than being the powerful, necessary (to me) resiliency factor moment that I built upon to successfully raise my own children and to care about others.  (In my case, I believe in what I call “borrowed secure attachment” rather than in “earned secure attachment” – a online search of terms “stop the storm borrowed secure attachment” will highlight some related posts.)

There is no possible “resiliency measurement tool” that could capture what truly traumatic childhoods are/were like.  But in the interest of preserving the integrity of useful data through meticulous research what is found MUST be processed by thinkers steeped in the depths of what early trauma IS.  The impeccable artistry and beauty of individual survivor’s lives must not be lost in the mad rush to understand what numbers-only are telling us.

Only with this understanding can any useful thinking about a vague concept like “resiliency” be made to pull its weight in efforts to understand and stop trauma and to assist those who survive it to increase their well-being across their lifespan.

I learned all I was going to find out in the 18 years of my childhood about what love-of-Linda was going to feel like.  All I was going to learn about what love might be like PERIOD I learned during those moments.  I believe traumatized children notice every possible useful bit of information and make PROFOUNDLY amazing good use of those tidbits.  That kind of resiliency, if we are going to call it that, is to me nothing more or less than the will to survive coupled with accumulating the tools necessary to do so.

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Here is our first book out in ebook format.  Click here to view or purchase –

Story Without Words:  How Did Child Abuse Break My Mother?

It lists for $2.99 and can be read by Amazon Prime customers without charge.

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+EIGHT YEARS LATER – MY AFFIRMATION

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In case I ever doubted the direction my own healing journey took me beginning in 2004 once I realized nothing I had ever been told about so-called recovery was helping me when I needed help most – and began my self-directed research that led me to attachment study and then into developmental neuroscience – this email alert that just appeared today from Prevent Child Abuse New York absolutely affirms my work:

August 24, 2012

A Rare Case In Texas Sheds Light on Complex Reality of Child Abuse

“Sometimes it takes an incredibly rare event to shed light on something common, and by pushing the limits of how we think of murder by child abuse, this case (“Childhood abuse killed 36-year-old Texas woman, police say“) does just that.

The sad fact is that adults die from consequences of child abuse every day, but rarely do they die in a way as medically clear-cut as this. When children suffer any form of abuse during childhood, as well as other extremely stressful events such as parental domestic violence, mental illness, chemical addiction or incarceration, it changes the way their brains grow and develop. It also changes the way a child’s immune and endocrine systems develop. Unfortunately, within the confines of today’s medicine, these changes are permanent. Even if the abuse stops and the child’s mind and soul heal, permanent physical damage has been done.

One of those damaging conditions is a pre-disposition to mental illnesses, including depression. Statistically, an unfortunate consequence of depression is often suicide. Child abuse survivors are 1122 percent more likely to attempt suicide than their non-abused peers. While I welcome the recent focus on bullying prevention that has come from a few high-profile suicides, the simple truth is that if we are trying to prevent youth suicide, we get the most “bang for our buck” by preventing child abuse from happening. An increased likelihood to become addicted to alcohol, cigarettes and illegal drugs is another documented consequence of child abuse, as is an increased likelihood to die from cancer, heart disease and violent crime. In fact, child abuse survivors are more likely to die from every leading cause of death at any age than their non-abused peers. But the nature of our legal system limits our ability to prosecute these kinds of deaths as murder—after all, alcoholism, drug addiction and even suicide have an element of choice involved in them.

While I believe it is crucial that child abuse is prosecutable, I also realize that our court system cannot deliver “justice” to those who have been victimized as children. Arresting parents who inflict neglect, physical abuse or emotional abuse on their children doesn’t accomplish much. The abused child, and any other siblings living with the now-incarcerated parent, need a new home. If those children end up in foster care, the odds of them growing into successful adults are low. The odds of them growing and healing are better if they can be placed with relatives who are up to the challenge of raising an abused child, but this isn’t always an option. Children rarely feel relief when a parent or caregiver is arrested—they usually feel guilt for causing the arrest, and for the upheaval they’ve caused their family. Threat of arrest doesn’t deter most child abusers. I have known many in my life; all of them say child abuse is terrible, many will say it was something they suffered, but all of them say it is something they have never done. With the exception of sex offenders, most child abusers aren’t much of a threat to children who aren’t their own—they are very unlikely to shake a stranger’s baby in a grocery store, for example—so there’s no convincing argument that arresting them affects public safety.

The most visceral reason we applaud the arrest of “bad guys” is because we like the notion of victimizers suffering as much as their victims, but in the context of child abuse, even this idea becomes complex. While most child abuse survivors don’t go on to abuse children, most people who do abuse children were abused as children themselves. Being abused can cause parts of the psyche and self to shatter like glass, and anyone who comes in contact with broken glass is likely to experience some injury. This is especially true when the person exposed to the most broken glass is as delicate as a child. Non-sexual abuse is strongly tied to poor bonding with a child, either due to a parent’s own psychological issues at the time they become parents, due to stressors in the parent’s life when they become parents, or both. If a parent can’t bond with their child, they cannot experience much of the joy and satisfaction that comes with parenting. Imagine how hard it is to raise a child with little of the reward. Now imagine doing that while dealing with intense psychological and situational issues. If these parents become abusive or neglectful, it is likely that their children will develop behavior problems, making them even harder and less rewarding to parent. Very often adult children raised by such a family have a weak relationship with their parents, denying the parents of another reward of parenthood. In many ways, being an abusive parent is its own punishment.

Ultimately, the onus of the work of raising a child non-abusively falls on the shoulders of the child’s caretakers. It is naïve of us to think that, as a society, we can expect people with the most challenges to rise above them, every time, without help. For forty years, we have known exactly how to help parents who need it the most, and for forty years we have under-funded these programs. Currently, only two states offer evidence-based child abuse prevention services to all high-risk parents who want them. In New York, less than ten percent of high-risk parents have access to these services. As interesting and appealing as it may be to charge a dead woman with murder for an act she committed 36 years prior to her victim’s death, more punishment isn’t going to fix this issue. While law makers will never be held legally accountable when someone dies from child abuse, whether they die as a child or an adult, a strong argument can be made that they have a moral responsibility to do as much as they can to prevent it. And an equally strong argument can be made that those of us who care about this issue must let it guide who we choose to lead, and where we ask them to lead us. Stories like this will only become rarer when all of us realize we can, and must, help insulate children from the lacerating forces of the world.”

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+AN UNEXPECTED POST TOPIC: HOARDING

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The web of life is so complex, and appears to be gaining in complexity with every passing moment.  It seems unfortunate to me that some of life’s complexities have come to so surround me and to infiltrate my thoughts and heart that tonight I have given up any hope of sleeping.  How to untangle what seems to be so much bigger than me?

How to even begin to write about what?

I will start with this.  A woman I have recently met in town offered to house, animal and garden sit for me while I am traveling north to see my family free of charge.  I may be being small-minded to say that I am leaving ‘my life’ with this woman who is very much a stranger to me.

Because of the limitations of my existence – both inner and outer – my home, my garden and my animals exist as a sort of oasis for me of safety, security, entertainment, what gives some meaning to my life, some structure, some sense of well-being and connectedness to the web of life which for me so seldom CAN include human contact and interaction.

Yet as I mention my decision to accept this woman’s generous offer to people I know in my life here in this small town rural area I have had my initial suspicions verified – this woman is ‘a hoarder’.

My oldest daughter’s best friend’s now deceased mother was a hoarder.  I know very little about this state of being.  Someone told me today of a television show about this condition.   I don’t have any insight about what the intent of this show is, why people watch it, what it offers for the betterment of humanity.  My initial reaction was sadness.  “Why would anyone wish to put on display or voyeuristically want to watch it?”

When I type ‘hoarder research’ into an online search I see many pages appear with information about this condition and about being raised as a child of a parent with this condition.  Yet what gives me hope for whatever suffering might exist both for the hoarders and for those who love them is this:

Inside the hoarder’s brain: A unique problem with decision-making By Maia Szalavitz, Time.com, updated 9:32 AM EDT, Tue August 7, 2012 (there are some fascinating links to follow for related information at this link)

And this:

Distinct Brain Activity in Hoarders – August 20, 2012

What strikes me personally is the fact that evidently it is most common that no matter how much ‘stuff’ someone with hoarding accumulates – they do not recognize that they have any problem at all.

BOY does THIS make me THINK!!

I can think about my mother and about my father, about the insane abuse that happened to me (with my siblings suffering as witnesses) because they also did not recognize they had a problem at all!

I think of raging alcoholics, drug addicts, violent offenders – the list could fill a blog post by itself – who also do not recognize they have a problem.

I think of myself living my life until I was 29 as I mentioned in my last post as I did not recognize that I had a problem – even that I had been abused – until I was this old!

I even think about our society being so oblivious to the terrible ongoing demise of what could even be called civilization let alone morals within our national boundaries.  We don’t have ‘a problem’ with the fact, for example, that research has clearly shown 75% of our nation’s youth between the ages of 17 and 24 are unfit for military duty?

The list of telling facts about what’s wrong with society and with the world seems to be so overwhelming to so many people as any solution seems to be nonexistent (which it is NOT, by the way) that ‘the problems’ simply vanish over some imaginary horizon so that people can get up and get through another day.

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I am still cleaning up my own house!  I have plenty, although by many American standards I am poor.  Everyone has some kind of hoarding tendency – I suspect.  Why do we buy more than one roll of toilet paper at a time?

Yet as I clean my house I think about this woman who will be staying here if our agreement finds fulfillment.  I want my house clean and organized for myself – but also for this woman.  I want her to feel she has a full-house Hilton vacation while she is here.

Will she notice?

It seems that the brain of a hoarder does not connect what they might see of how other people manage their material resources in any way with the overflowing MESS that can engulf their own lives.  This woman I mention (not meaning to put her down but boy has this all got me thinking) drives an older model pickup truck that is stuffed in the bed with stuff (I’ve seen books and magazines peeking out from under blankets thrown over the pile) that has no option than to be soaked through and through with our heavy monsoon summer rains.

The cab of her truck is packed so tightly there is barely room for her to sit herself in there – but she CAN – so there must be some sense of ‘enough is enough’.

I sure don’t know.  I don’t know how this woman will feel staying here – but I wonder if part of the reason she jumped up to offer to stay here while I am gone free of charge is connected to how she feels in her own home.  Is there a vacation from hoarding?

I suddenly (as I wrote those last words) thought of what I ‘saw’ when I so thoroughly examined my own mentally ill mother’s papers and letters, sifting through my own filters about how I would bring HER words (as the terrible perpetrator of abuse against me for 18 years that she was) into my own version of MY childhood story.

I was able to so clearly recognize that there were two brilliant, short periods of time in my childhood when Mother was OK!  I view these periods (each having been about two months long) as having been times when my mother was granted a reprieve from her own devouring devils – times when she was in what I call ‘a perfect state of grace’.

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It is both my business and not at all my business to be considering these things regarding someone completely separate from me.  Yet I can’t ignore the fact that I process related information through a series of personal filters.

As I do this I realize that I see two kinds of filters.  One kind allows us to filter out reality so that we can ‘ignore problems’ as if they do not exist at all – which allows us to keep on keeping on IN SPITE of what troubles us.

The other kind of filter reminds me of purification filters that remove debris and contaminating toxins – like water filters.  This kind of filter for a human being must by nature involve some thinking and processing GROWTH work.

This kind of filter must allow us to see things in a new light, to gain new insights along with new information, to reprocess what has been known before into something bigger and more whole that what we have known before.

This filtering system is about clearing things up, gaining clarity, expanding possibilities and potential.  One kind of filter is a closed filter.  The other kind is an open filter.

And I guess, as the above research mentions, what we keep and what we don’t allow to stay in our lives has to do with our brain’s ability to make decisions and choices based on what we find has value to us – or does not.

I am adding the fact that I do not have a hoarding condition to my long list of things I am absolutely grateful for.  Although I have spent days bemoaning my housecleaning tasks – I realize now that I am grateful that I CAN clean my house, that I CAN make the kinds of decisions and choices and take the necessary actions to clean my house at all!

Life.  Never boring!

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+MY SELFISH POST

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Having just written the

+INTRODUCTION TO ‘MY SELFISH POST’

here is the rest of this piece of writing

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It may seem strange for me to say at this point in my life I would not look back and bemoan any of the abuse of my childhood IFIF it had not harmed me in my development in such a way that I am a different person in a different body than I would be IF that abuse had never happened to me.

There was a time, a very long period of my life, actually, when I was completely oblivious to the truth that I had experienced abuse in the first place.  When I walked out of my parents’ door into my adult life one month after my 18th birthday, the world I entered was full of strangers.  I had so thoroughly learned how to behave as a person that I was able to walk among those strangers as if I knew who/what they were and I was.

I didn’t.  I didn’t have a clue I didn’t.  I simply did what I had always done.  I walked forward and I never looked back.  That’s all I knew HOW to do.  That’s all I knew of being alive.

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I think of the edict Americans seem to have not yet forgotten about the separation of church and state.  I can translate this for myself to mean a separation between what is private to me and what is public.  When I left the overwhelmingly abusive environment of my first 18 years of life I was not aware that I carried that hell privately within myself right out of my old life into my new life.  I was unaware THAT hell had ever existed at all.

My only personal memories I kept alive were of my relationship with the Alaskan wilderness and OH, how I missed it!  But walk forward I did as an immigrant into a universe I knew nothing about.

I look back and wonder how it was possible for me to so fundamentally disconnect my past life from the life I walked into at 18.  My first world was evidently so separate from my next world it did not exist for me at all.

It’s like I went into a coma.  I could walk around and talk, but my selective amnesia only grew over time as the woundedness of my being disappeared behind closed, sealed doors.  I never ONCE thought about my prior life in any way except to miss Alaska.

And I stayed that way.  I had a daughter, married and divorced and married again and had another daughter….

I had moved in my traveling wanders from Alaska to Baltimore to San Diego to Rhode Island back to San Diego to San Francisco through Hawaii to Sacramento to Ohio to North Dakota back to San Francisco to Minnesota — with many side trips in between — before I was 23 years old, long before it began to bubble up to my awareness that not only was something very wrong about me in my life — but most importantly that there were resources available to help me.  I had just turned 29.

Yet I even walked through this amorphous door of so-called ‘recovery’ being completely blind to the terrible ongoing abusive trauma of the first 18 years of my life.

The treatment center I entered ‘diagnosed’ my childhood of victimization and my depression, both of which are connected and have been the underlying chronic factors that have influenced me so greatly all of my life — even when I had no clue either one existed.

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What I know now as I near my 61st birthday continues to fill the cyber pages of this blog.  I have lived in my current house (rented) for six years this November, the longest period of stable time in one home in my entire life.  I am now a five-year survivor of what was diagnosed as advanced, aggressive breast cancer.  And yet I sit outside this morning writing this in my thriving garden still asking myself two questions:  “Linda, who are you?  What do you want?”

I have no answers.

Maybe it is the most enduring consequence of having been formed in and by an environment of nearly complete chaos and psychotic abuse from birth and for the next 18 years that leaves me without my own answers to my own questions.

I seem to only know of myself where I’ve been, and what I need, both of which have been governed completely by HOW I am in the world and by WHAT I do.  Any real sense of who I am and of what I want still seems to be so sealed away in some inner private place that my answers do not seem to have ever existed at all.

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I see an inner image this morning of myself in a large empty classroom upon whose walls surrounding me are black chalk boards.  I have at times drawn upon them my own life journey although most of what I put there once has been erased.  There are traces of chalk dust and a few faint lines here and there.  But most of what I once knew about how to get along in life — all that I had taught myself about pretending I was just fine so I could get along and get by in my life – is gone.

The biggest part of this erasing began nine years ago as my youngest child left home right before his 19th birthday to enter the Air Force.  For the prior 35 years (I had so spaced out the birth of my 3 children) I had always been the mother of a dependent child in the home.

His leaving was followed by my losing my business followed by my having to walk away from the home and land I had been buying.  And then — came the cancer.

The stress/distress of all of this loss and turmoil, coupled then with the devastating impact that chemotherapy had on my memory of how to pretend I was OK in the world, has all but wiped the previous versions of Linda out.

I mostly live today as a stranger to myself interacting with a world full of strangers.  i have forgotten how to believe ,as I did before the cancer hit me, that I have any answers to end the repeating loop of my questions.

“Who am I?  What do I want?”

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I am re-addressing these concerns as I approach a brink of change that I anticipate as another life-changing difficult time for me.  I have recently mentioned the deteriorating health of my dearest friend, the man I have been in love with for these past 12 years.

Although we have never ‘lived together’, we do share the meanings of our lives.  As he may soon leave this earth I cannot help but wonder what the loss of this deepest attachment will do to me.

As this next doorway of change begins to loom ever larger I feel myself to be in a kind of suspended animation as if the world I know is soon to disintegrate into chalk dust itself, leaving me for a moment — for one brief instant in time — poised above an abyss that will then swallow me up as if I have never existed at all.

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What will be left of me once my dearest friend has gone?  Into whose eyes will I search for a sign reflected back to me of who I am?

(Yes, this reflecting should have happened long ago in my mother’s eyes so I could have begun to find myself THEN — so I could find myself NOW.  It never did.)

I know it is true I have a glimmering sense of my eternal soul who has traveled through my entire lifespan thus far — the one of me that will keep on sailing once the boat of my body crashes on this earthly shore as my friend’s body is not long from doing.

Maybe the disadvantages of my life have given me this advantage — this vantage — this view — of my eternal soul self that has always been with me — but resides like an angel always separate from the Linda who moves through life in this body sitting here with me in it — now.

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Some part of me shames me for daring to write these words.  For daring to part the heavy draperies between silence and non-silence.

How dare I write a word tainted with complaint when so many others suffer in this world?

Yet I do dare.  I am daring.  I am saying, “I wonder where the line is between BEING and WELL-BEING.”

How can I make my own choices for well-being when what I know about myself is that most of who I am remains behind those walls upon which those chalk boards hang?

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I am not ‘what I do’.  I am not ‘where I am’.  I am not ‘who I love’.  I am not what happens to me.  I am not even what I know.  I am not what I don’t know.

I am ‘something else’.  I am ‘something more’.  I am connected with Creation.  I am a part of the Great Mystery.

What matters most tome is the fact that I have never been nor am I now nor will I ever be — alone or unloved.  My core inner self knows this.  The rest of me mostly forgets.

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+INTRODUCTION TO ‘MY SELFISH POST’

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Having just completed the piece of writing titled ‘+MY SELFISH POST‘ I rebooted my computer to transcribe this essay onto the blog and realized something:  There needs to be an introduction to that post.

How I have always existed as a ‘version of self’ in my life is in direct response to the very nature of my mother’s severely mentally ill psychosis about me that was created during her labor to birth breech me into this world.

Mother’s particular very refined psychosis that the devil sent me to kill her while I was being born, and as we both survived the birthing that I was not human but was the devil’s child ‘sent as a curse upon’ her life, meant that fundamentally and essentially I as a separate self-person from my Mother was not allowed to be born.

My mother did every single thing in her power for the 18 years of my childhood to prevent my self from coming into existence.

In Mother’s macabre ‘dance with the devil’ I was born to be her proxy self that the devil already owned so SHE could escape HER inevitable fate of being found by him and forever tortured in hell.

Mother’s psychosis demanded that I not o nly never become my own self separate from her, but also demanded that I reside hidden away in hell — that I could not possibly be allowed to escape from — instead of her.

My mother did everything in her power to keep me in this hell that she, in her terrible psychosis, created for me.

Although I was Mother’s so-called ‘projection’ of her perceived own evil self (that the devil was coming to get) — she so liberalized and ‘made real’ (concretized) both me as being the devil’s child AND the hell she created and trapped me within that there FUNDAMENTALLY was no other reality possible for me for those 18 long years.

This was the perpetual life-and-death struggle I was born into.  In order for Mother to remain alive I could not be born as my own self — ever.  Hence my living (unborn) death as a self — as Mother’s proxy-self in hell — kept my mother alive (and probably all of her children, as well).

My self – who I am – was born along with my body.  But I was born not into the ‘real world’ but rather I was instantly hijacked at the instant of my birth into my mother’s psychotic hell.

The influence upon me of the profound, comprehensive, all-enveloping, sustained, intense, all-pervasive, inescapable, extremely hurtful nature of Mother’s psychotic job of keeping me ‘all evil’ in her hell still escapes my ability to articulate it.

But as I prepare to transcribe ‘My Selfish Post’ onto this blog I realize the task I have of trying ‘to find myself’ can only match the experience of survivors of mothers with the same integral psychosis that my mother so entirely orchestrated against me.

My mother’s psychosis within which I was forced to occupy the central core and to be the center person was permanent, not temporary.  It was continual, not on again-off again.  It was specific, very specialized, not random.  It was focused and detailed, not diffuse and unspecified.

Mother’s psychosis that fed and sustained her abuse of me was impenetrable from within and from without.

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See next post – +MY SELFISH POST

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+FIRST LANGUAGE

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I have mentioned this previously – something people who work with horses call ‘looking with soft eyes’.  I wrote this post while sitting outside this morning and simply copy it now into a post.  This was written with ‘soft eyes’ – meaning that I did not look directly at the topic I wrote about, but rather softened my inner gaze in such a way that some kind of inner truth of mine could appear in the following words – or so I hope!

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It is possible for an infant to be born into a universe where ‘seldom is heard’ a word that sounds to an infant like a word most would recognize as being a human one.

What is a human word, anyway?

I can add one single letter to that word and PRESTO!  Most will instantly know what I am talking about — as the word human becomes humane.

Ah-Ha!  Mystery solved?

Human language uses words themselves as if they exist as entities of substance that are real to us because when we know some particular language we recognize those words because we know the MEANING of them.

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We all know or can clearly imagine how different and difficult language use becomes when people are forced to communicate when the words of one another’s spoken language is equally foreign to each person.

Assuming the subject matter is important enough that these people are forced to continue trying to communicate, what happens?  All the usually less obvious elements of language come into blatant play — exaggerated facial expressions, extremes of tone, rhythm, prosody (the music of language), gesturing and body movements.  These instantly cease from being the hidden aspects of language as they become the only means possible for conveying, for SIGNALING from one person to another what is being said — beyond words.

This kind of communication is our human older way of communicating.  We knew this language well earlier than 140,000 years ago when our species began to use words in the first place.  And we knew this kind of communication as our FIRST communication within the womb of our mother right through our birth and on into the first months and years of our life.  Once we learn to share word language these other aspects of language usually seem to fade so far into the background we rarely detect them consciously at all.

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There are links below to blog posts here about verbal abuse and why it is so damaging to both the direct target of the attacks and to those infants and children who are forced to overhear it.  Verbal abuse changes the way the brain, nervous system and body form during our earliest most important critical stages of physiological growth and development.

Those of us born into a universe filled with trauma, terrorism and vicious tyranny had our communication needs virtually unmet.  No matter what literal ‘language in words’ we eventually learned to speak and to understand, the underlying patterns of signalling back and forth between people did not develop normally within us.  We are, therefore, at a permanent disadvantage because the language we do know is not fundamentally connected to a language most people on earth actually know.

(While there is much suffering and trauma on this earth it is specifically the most permanently damaging trauma a mother can cause her infant from conception to age two — which includes her failure to protect her infant from harm from others for whatever reasons that I am talking about here.   A mother’s state of health and well-being is determined to the largest extent by the conditions of societal forces which influence/d her.  She in turn communicates societal conditions to her infant.)

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While it is of course true that everyone has their own unique experiences since conception, most people’s early experiences fall within the boundaries of ‘ordinary’.  Trauma is by definition outside the range of ‘ordinary’.  It is the continual repeated experience while very young of developing as a person — which absolutely includes how we develop ALL the patterns of language use — in the midst of ongoing trauma, terror and tyranny that creates some permanent disconnections and altered connections related to our ability to express our self and to comprehend other people’s language.

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More ‘ordinarily created’ people will usually expect that early trauma survivors are ALSO ordinary people.  Yet I suspect on fundamental levels we all know that when survivors are in communication there IS something very different going on.  We are, in effect, shouting across a great divide — and much of what is not literally carried in words, AS words, never gets transmitted across the vast space that exists between our worlds.

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On the most basic and obvious level we can detect that these missed-communication connections are happening because we feel LONELY.  We are fundamentally alone!  That’s what our traumatic, terrorizing, tyrannical early experiences were all about in the first place.  Yes, there we were in a monstrous world without the safety and security of humane attachments.

Yes, we survived, but there has been a price to pay for doing so on every level of our being.

My newest grandson is now four weeks old.  Although I won’t physically meet him for another ten days when I travel 1700 miles north from where I live, I know my daughter.  She is ably, with absolute love, attending to her newborn’s every signal of communication — and she is responding in understanding to meet his needs.

These human and humane patterns of communication are building the entire body-brain of my newest grandson as his entire body-brain-self responds to the safe and secure attachment he has not only with his mother, but also with the entire universe he has been born into.  What he is experiencing now will determine how he lives the rest of his life because he is building the only body-brain he has to live in and with as long as he’s on this earth.

He is learning the language of his world.  He will share this language with all human beings around the globe that are being formed in a healthy, safe and secure attachment early universe.

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I am one example of being a being formed in an ‘opposite’ universe where extreme mental illness and psychotic abuse was present in my mother toward me from the instant I took my first breath.  I can recognize what a different experience from mine my grandson’s journey through life is and will be.

He will live among a gathering of people for whom ordinary communication can happen because his entire formation as a person is preparing him to be a fully MODERN member of his species.

People like me, however, are formally related in our physiology to those of our species who were formed in a hostile universe where threat and danger ruled the world.  We are among those people Dr. Martin Teicher and his Harvard research group refer to as being ‘evolutionarily altered’.  (see link below)

We belong to the ‘old ways’ of our species.  My grandsons both belong to the ‘new ways’ of our species.  The most critically important determining factor that sends a newly born person off in their development in one direction or the other is the degree of health and total well-being of its MOTHER.

No matter who else is involved with the early care of an infant during its first two years of life (early critical developmental years) — it remains a mother’s primary ability to forge and to guarantee the safe and secure attachment of her infant TO HER that matters most.

For mothers such as my daughter is, who will be returning to full-time employment when her baby is six weeks old, making sure her son continues to be in safe and secure attachment communication and care while she is away from him becomes an extension of her own role in her infant’s life.  The mother-infant attachment always remains primary, and it is a terrific job to ensure that an infant’s fullest needs are met.

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Those of us born into a malevolent world just plain missed safe and secure attachment to our mother and hence to the world.  Our development was forced to turn in the obvious direction I have just described.

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It is beyond the scope of this post to discuss how I, as my daughter’s mother, was able to make certain that her early needs were met in such a way as to enable and allow her to become the most excellent mother that she is.  The simplest description of how this happened is this:

Every instant of my early life I was forced to live, grow and develop in reaction to my insanely abusive mother.  Yet at the same time I never left my own central core of my self.  My core self did not wander away to become lost, no matter what Mother did to me.

In some way I was protected by the frequency and severity of her abuse.  I continually had to react to her – from birth – while at the same time I was always busy finding a way to not only survive but to return ‘up right’ – no matter what Mother did to ‘tip me over’.

In truth only two things happened for me within my early environment of extreme trauma (that did last the first 18 years of my life):  Mother ‘abused’ me AND I reacted.

However, every time I reacted to endure and survive what Mother did to me – as an integral part of my life process there was ALWAYS a point in time when I returned to my own inner core state of central balance — MY OWN SELF.  From there I was always forced yet AGAIN to endure another trauma – to react to survive it – and to again return to my own central core self-state as part of this ongoing cyclic process.

This pattern of reacting and responding to external sources of ‘stimulation’ and my return to self-center meant that when my children were born I was exquisitely built in such a way that I could react-respond to the signals they sent out to me.

In essence I had been built from birth to react-respond not to what I had accumulated of a complicated self, but rather to react-respond to external sources from a clear core place of self inside ME — to OTHERS.

I had always been forced from birth to react-respond adequately and appropriately to the ‘lead’ of my mother.  I had no choice if I was going to remain alive.

The process was FOR ME identical.  Once my children were born I was able to react-respond adequately and appropriately to the signals sent to me by my children.  My children led the way – I was able to allow them to do what they did naturally – attach to me.

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Human beings are designed to adapt to the context of the world they are born into (all the way down to how our DNA manifests and operates).  Our language abilities (and dis-abilities) are built into us by our interactions within and with this context.

In closing I will mention a phrase whose meaning few people are prepared to understand:

“There is more than one way to skin a cat!”

Say, WHAT?

No matter what visions of meaning and intent this statement might trigger in readers, because of my unique exposure to being raised as a child of Alaskan mountainside homesteading parents I know the meaning of these particular words because I know their context.

The people (always men as far as I knew) who ‘skinned’ the surface of Alaska’s virgin earth as they cleared timber, forged roads and created homesteaders’ fields drove massive Caterpillar tractors (with treads).  These men were known as ‘cat skinners’.

The deep thundering, throbbing, pulsating roaring growl of these ‘cats’ at their grinding, crunching, crushing work echoed through the valley and across the mountains of our home.  However, when the cats became silent it was often the case that the cat skinner was looking for ‘another way to skin the cat’.  No matter what obstacle appeared the skinners were always confident that a way could be found to solve the problem and to finish the job right.

I grew up in such a context.  No matter what obstacles arose in my life as a child I found my own way past them ‘to get the job done right’.  I knew no other choice.

No matter what kind of a world a person was born into I doubt anyone can ask for more than this.

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*SYMTPOMS: 120909 Scan of Teicher’s Research – Trauma Altered Development Paper

VERBAL ABUSE LINKS HERE:

+LINKS – PREVERBAL COMMUNICATION and DEVELOPMENT (RISK FACTORS, INFANT ABUSE)

+SOME PRIMARY LINKS ON INFANT VERBAL ABUSE

+A LONG, THOUGHTFUL LOOK AT VERBAL ABUSE AS MALIGNANT TEASING

+WORDS DO NOT MEAN SOCIAL CONNECTION TO ME – THEY ARE OBJECT-TOOLS-WEAPONS

+SCIENCE ON THE SIDE OF MUSIC THERAPY

+SOME MORE INFO ON MUSIC, VOICE AND THE BRAIN

+THE ‘TERROR-ABLE’ CONSEQUENCES OF INFANT-CHILDHOOD VERBAL ABUSE

+HOP! HOP! THE BLOG FROG’S PICK OF PAST POSTS

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+NO REAL CHOICE: WE HAVE TO UNDERSTAND OUR DEVELOPMENTAL CHANGES FROM INFANT-CHILD ABUSE – NOW!

+SCHORE ON BRAIN AND NERVOUS SYSTEM DEVELOPMENT

++SCHORE ON DEVELOPMENT OF RIGHT BRAIN

*Attachment Simplified – Still More Complicated Information Including ‘Feeling Felt’ and ‘Healing in Solitude’

+SIEGEL ON DEVELOPING CHILD’S BRAIN – ATTACHMENT

**DAMASIO ON CONSCIOUSNESS

**DAMASIO ON CORE CONSCIOUSNESS

+WHAT SETS ASIDE A BORDERLINE PARENT’S CHILD ABUSE AS ‘DIFFERENT’?

+BORN AS A COMPONENT OF A BORDERLINE MOTHER’S MIND-LIE

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+SIMPLY SLIPPING BY

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It would be nice if I had something profound to say – but today?  These past few days?  Not a single chance.  I am living.  I probably underestimate how grand that act really is!  How does one gauge the value of simply being alive?  I have no idea.

I travel north to see my family in less that two weeks.  Preparing for that journey is all I can do right now.  Preparing to journey – and making it through these days of mystery until more is known about the deteriorating health of my dear, dearest friend.

I see the image of sitting alone on the shore of an empty beach – doing nothing but listening to a sound coming from the waters that seems to fill every nook within me – at the same time it leaves me feeling distant and very, very small.

The rising swell of waves that move forever into shore only to be sucked back out again in a timeless, seamless pattern of coming and going, of up and of down, of in and of out – over and over again – like breathing.

It’s all both profound and insignificant – at the same time.  There is no system of weights and measures to use to determine the value of one’s life – of another person’s life.  Sometimes everything just feels like movement.  Not random.  Mundane?

What does preparing one’s self for traveling have to do with the journey itself?  Whether the traveling remains upon this planet – or permanently away from it?  Is all of life really only a preparation for leaving this body we are so familiar with behind, to travel forward in a form we cannot imagine or begin to understand?

How bound up are we with the passage of time?  I feel the season changing, the sunlight beginning to lean toward shortening days and lengthening nights.  Plants in the garden have borne their fruit.  Leaves are yellowing here and there – soon to fall.

We are not outside the bounds of time any more than we escape the bounds of gravity except by conveyance in something human made.  I feel myself moving more slowly, unable to know what the future might hold at the same time I am always preparing to join those mysteries in a time that does not yet exist in my world.

“Time will tell.”  What a saying.  I am caught in the movements of time as if I am but a tiny drop in some gigantic ocean.

Time will tell……

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+MY FATHER’S CRIME (such as I can tolerate knowing it)

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I am making a new friend with a woman I have met at our local laundromat cafe who I will call ‘Marge’.  Among the many interesting aspects of getting to know this woman as I share my own self with her is that I have a fresh person to tell my trauma story to.  That is always an inevitable occurance now.  Because I was completely blind to what happened to me during the first 18 years of my life throughout so much of my adulthood THIS part of who I am never came up in those old days.  But it sure comes up now.

Part of the reason this happens is that everyone’s view of the world and of other people in it is colored by what they understand about how earliest experiences shape how one lives the rest of their life.  The initial trajectory of what and how early experience was set into motion is determined — I guess I could most simply say — by how many early safe and secure attachments a person had — and by how much of what kind of trauma was present during their most vulnerable, formative years of life.

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This woman did not have an ‘easy’ childhood (she’s 68 now), but neither did she have an early life so chock full of trauma that it overshadowed everything else that happened to her.  She thus hears my story from a perspective of “OH MY GOSH!  How could such things have HAPPENED to you?”

Thankfully Marge is savvy enough not to doubt a single word I tell her.  Her initial shock at some of the very basic components of my early life that I tell her is equally balanced with her willingness and ability to expand what she knows about other people in her life who she KNOWS had difficult traumas in their life — that NOW she understands changed them in their early development so that lifelong difficulties were inevitable because of their early sufferings.

Marge is one of those voracious readers it is always a pleasure for me to meet.  On a personal level, I am thrilled to meet someone who is willing ‘down the line’ to be a reader of my writings.  Marge unequivocally assures me that my story is both unique and fascinating.  She has no doubts that there is at least one ‘best seller’ in me – and I have no doubt that as our friendship grows and matures that she will support me in my book writing when I am ready to turn again in that direction.

++

Putting all of this in perspective as it becomes now almost a pleasant background sound like a gently running water fountain I can attend to in my thoughts and feelings — or ignore as I do whatever else I need to be doing right now — is giving me a renewed sense of, yes, the blessing of a growing ‘safe and secure attachment’ in my life that we all so deserve and need.  These kinds of friendships are, I find, most rare.  I NEVER take them for granted.

In the perspective I mention at this moment I am adding information back into my story, like carefully folded-in egg whites that make tapioca so deliciously light and fluffy, Marge’s clear reaction to the place my father has in my early story and hence in my life.

Marge can stretch her thinking as far as is needed to comprehend the mental psychosis and illness of my mother that led her to perpetrating such incredible insane abuse against me.  Marge CANNOT, however, stretch her mind in any direction that would let my father off the accountability hook.

++

Marge’s clear reaction to my father’s role in the 18 years of abuse from birth my mother did is strong and clear.  There was something terribly wrong with my father that he knew the abuse was happening and did NOTHING to help me or to stop my mother.

I found myself adding all the extraneous words I find myself always adding to my story in explanation and therefore in defense of my father.

No matter what, Marge states back to me, my father could have picked me up and driven me to the nearest police station or hospital and LEFT ME THERE.

++

Without detailing thoughts at this point about my father except to say that for all my healing work, all my inner research, all my studies about infant and child abuse, I have never achieved a solid HONEST idea about my father or about the role he played in my abuse.

I choose to say “Father was a mystery to me.”

Yesterday while in conversation with Marge something began to dawn for me that I’ve never even allowed myself to think before!  MY FATHER HATED ME — BY CHOICE!

Mother hated me because she was psychotically mentally ill and deeply, deeply SICK and more than troubled.  My father hated me because he chose to.

I have never accepted Mother’s hatred of me as being REAL.  Hers came as I say from factors that put her ability to actually CHOOSE out of her reach.

The ability to CHOOSE to hate me belonged to my father.  He made that choice and not only RAN with it, but STOOD with it.  I have very clear memories as recorded in my trauma stories of Father being present — of him WATCHING — and of him doing nothing at all to help me.

I have a sense that the level of trauma reaction all the way down to the center of my being that my father’s support of my mother’s abuse created in me is so massive that I have always protected myself from knowing about his hatred of me because I suspect on a deep BODY level that this knowledge — should I ever know it in its fullness — has the power to destroy me.

Being destroyed is NOT a good thing.  It certainly has nothing to contribute to my moving forward in my life in the best way possible.  At least not up until now when at age 61 (turning so in less than 3 weeks) I MIGHT — through this newest friendship in my life with an entirely objective woman — when I might be willing to be able to look more honestly than I have ever been able to do in my life hence far — at the crime my father committed against me.  (And, no, this has nothing to do with sexual abuse that I know of.)

Yes, with the power of her mental illness Mother was able to create an entire universe in which it was REALLY TRUE that I was not human, that I was the evil child of the devil.

My father’s crime, it seems to me at this moment as I peek through the tiny crack that appeared yesterday in the wall of denial and evidently of self-protection that I maintain around the truth about my father, is that he BELIEVED Mother!!

My father chose to hate me because it suited him to do so.

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I don’t want to deal with any of this right now.  So the only thing I will add here is that last week I again watched the movie, “Forrest Gump.”  I wanted to see if I could detect what I resonated with in that story so deeply 20 years ago when I first watched it that I cried all the way through it as if I was hemorrhaging tears.

I will still say that that movie remains one of the most deeply disturbing ones I have ever watched — for all kinds of reasons.  But I did NOT cry through it this time.  I was able to remain far enough away from the ‘resonation points’ in the story to see the bigger picture for myself:  I so desperately needed to be loved the way Forrest loved Jenny.

Obviously my emotional connection to the lifelong suffering Jenny experienced because of her father’s abuse of her (and evidently due to the absence of a  mother in her life) struck me both times I watched the movie.  But at this moment, after yesterday’s conversation with Marge, I am realizing that the abuse by Jenny’s father IS what that entire movie is about on the personal level — added onto by the profound and powerful emotions that resonating with the events that occurred during those years covered in that movie can create in those of us of the generation that lived through those massive social changes.

Gump’s depleted ability to add the depth of consideration for all the events portrayed in the movie, both personal and social, allow for the emotions connected to the events outside of him to carry their emotional powers to touch compassion and comprehension of the audience untampered by the story being told by a complicated speaker.

The stories of the movie simply RING — and resonate — according to the experience of members of the watching audience’s personal experience.

We take our own self to a story that anyone else shares with us – no matter what the medium used to convey it.

In my case it has taken me 20 years to be strong enough to watch that movie a second time because of the depths of my own sorrow that resides in my heart and that was triggered in resonance with this movie’s stories.

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+WHAT DO WE WANT TO DO WITH THE INFO IN OUR TRAUMA MEMORIES?

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It takes no time at all for ongoing comments and replies on this blog to disappear into the past.  They unfortunately appear on the side bar of the main page only for the briefest of time.  I am currently in thought about comments and replies at these posts – I hope these links here will go to those words:

alchemynow on+WHEN ONE’S WORLD E…
alchemynow on+SOMETIMES THERE IS CRAP
alchemynow on+WHEN THE GOODNESS APPEARS IN …

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When it comes to memory retrieval, the experience of remembering especially NEW and powerfully traumatic memories of terrible things we have lived through – I will forever in this lifetime recommend extreme caution!

Those experiences in hell that happened to us when we were very small and most pure, innocent and vulnerable (which for me was a state that lasted for me long after I left home into my early 30s), DO NEED TO BE REMEMBERED.

At the same time it is important to understand that what we are looking for is positive change – HEALING.

Anyone who ‘is attendance’ at this Stop the Storm blog is here for a reason.  It is my task to be as honest as I can be in every ongoing moment of time that leads me – and this blog – through each ongoing moment of time into the future.

In doing this I will again say here right now that the creation of as an exact a time line of your history as you can possibly create is necessary for working with new – and with older, more familiar trauma memories — BEFORE you begin to let information from ‘raw’ contaminated and toxic memories into your current ongoing experience of conscious reality.

Trauma wrecks a person’s ability to tell a coherent narrative of their life.  This is NOT a simple task – to heal our story as we heal the telling of our story.

Why are we doing this work?

What do we hope to accomplish?  What are we aiming for?  What are our hopes?

What is contributing to ‘pressure’ to do this work NOW?

Who are our support people?

What are the questions you would personally add to this list?

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I am 3 weeks away from my 61st birthday.   Who I am today – and what I would tell of my life story is different now than it has ever been before.  Life is a guarantee of change.

Unresolved trauma most often manifests its presence in a kind of mantra, a litany, a chanting to self and/or others of repetitive motifs that we recognize as OUR STORY — and therefore connect most deeply and personally to our ongoing senses of self (and often of multiple selves).

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A true story is appropriately told in a fluid and beautiful manner.

How do we take experiences of hellacious content, of very real overwhelmingly terrifying and painful things that were done to us – and make a beautiful story of our very own life?

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I do not want to hear myself tell myself about the really bad things that happened to me.  I at my current age have done the work so that I know my memories inside and out, backwards and forwards, and – most importantly – they NO LONGER HAVE ANY NEGATIVE HOLD OVER ME.

Yes, occasionally a twinge might appear of sadness, of confusion, of rage, of whatever FEELING might be connected to memories I KNOW – but it is the memories I DON”T KNOW that have really saved me (in my opinion).

Knowing about myself, and trusting about myself, that I remembered exactly what I CHOSE to remember – for a very good reason – lets me pat myself on the back in cheerful, self-affirming and self-sustaining ways.  What I chose not to remember no doubt is about horrors that serve me absolutely NO good purpose to remember.

At the same time, as I have written here before, within the memories I do have, which are awful enough, I was taught to understand what my healing process is all about.

I named the trauma, named the wreckage as NOT MINE in any possible way (not then, not now).  The horrible parts of my story belonged to the adults (alive and dead) who acted out their unresolved trauma in really bad ways against me.

Yes I suffered, etc.  Most importantly I LIVED THROUGH those experiences without dragging hatred along with me, but rather a great curiosity about how this all happened to me in the first place.

My goal has always been about gaining informed compassion for self and for perpetrators.

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My memories do seem to exist in a darkened sphere of shadow and twilight, half light, gray – sometimes when I locate my OWN self in the middle of these memories I see glorious colors!  But NEVER do I ‘wallow in’ those memories.  I made it through those experiences.  The trauma I experienced changed my physiological development in many critically important ways.

But when I consider any memory I have connected to traumas in my earliest years (18 of them) – I MOVE as I approach those memories with a kind of freedom that happened to me gradually as I began to line those experiences up — and the memories that contain them — along the time line of my growing-up years where they belong.

This kind of ‘remote ordering and organizing’ heals our insecure attachment patterns in our body brain in important ways.  It is NOT enough to randomly entrance our self with the trauma drama included in our memories.  Once we know the facts, we are free in important ways to explore the deeper reasons we have chosen to keep these memories.

We are looking for our perfect beautiful SELF inside the wreckage and the rubble (as I have said before).  The horror of what happened was NEVER ours – and is not ours now (in my thinking).  That trauma was ugly then.  It is ugly now.  I want nothing to do with it.

This is ultimately what detoxifying and decontaminating trauma encapsulated in memory is all about.  This is resolving trauma – which is our ultimate goal.

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+WHEN ONE’S WORLD EXPLODES

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(Please note:  The formatting on this blog does not let me space these words in the way I want to – frustrating – but IS so, hence the little marks “^” on the left to keep my spaces!)

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Unresolved trauma equals

accumulated trauma

^

Where are the breaks

in between?

^

We’re doing our best

when times seem better

^

in between the really hard

times

^

The really hard times

that would be hard for

anyone

everyone

^

We never had a warning

no yellow light

no warning

^

BAM

(not even exclamation marks can help describe this one)

^

What little bit of peace

we’d found

^

GONE

^

in less than one heartbeat

^

GONE

^

Where did our peace go?

We don’t know

our self ran after it

^

BOTH GONE NOW!

^

how to find either one?

Our peace

our self

our peaceful self?

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there are tears

in between

tears

from being torn

ripped from our

childhood

^

into a grownup’s

world

We could not escape it.

^

ten thousand thousand times

We could not escape it.

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the glue that binds

one’s self to one’s self

a wet glue

a slippery salty water glue

^

tears

self

peace

^

Where?

How?

When?

^

because life is full of

slip ups

and blunders

^

We were supposed to be

a self in trouble

and in peace

^

not one or the other

^

not losing our self

when

THE BIG TROUBLES CAME

(THE BIG TROUBLES COME)

^

so no peace

could be found

(can be found)

^

or our self

^

blown up

blown away

^

so when the threats come

(and life will make sure that sometimes they do)

^

tears find us

standing more than naked

no legs left to stand

WITH

no body at all

so it

seems

^

again

and again

and

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“Come back to your body,

Linda.

Come be in your body

tears and all

^

Yes, your world

appears to be quaking

^

Yes it could eat you up

and leave

nothing

behind

at all

^

POOF

^

A puff of mist

^

But now people see you

not like long ago

when so often you

vanished

into the mist

nobody noticed

nobody found you

(nobody even found out this was happening to you)

^

Split apart

smaller than the parts

of an atom

^

Those big people

did that

to

YOU!

^

NO MORE!

THIS

is not the same.

^

You can remember

your self

NOW

Re-member!

^

tears in your present

taste them.

They are salty

^

as they have always been

^

they belong to YOU.

^

Remember this:

YOU

ARE

YOU!”

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