So far, what did I learn about my falling into the abyss of sorrow yesterday? That is one of the strongest assets I have going for me: I always want to try to learn something new, like a tool, that I can use to ‘be better’ and ‘do better’ in the future. Days like yesterday was, I cannot learn anything. I was too much in the thicket of the bramble bushes and in too much pain. It took all the resources and certainly the strength of my sister to get out of it.
Today I have a day to try to do something different. Because I have no idea what triggered such depth of my sorrow yesterday, it is hard to know how to walk through today differently so I can lower my risk for that happening to me again. Yet even that realization is important — how fragile and vulnerable to upset I am right now. Because I live with an inner mine field and an inner fire swamp, the very quality of my life — if not my very life itself – means I have to learn as much as I can about my disorganized-disoriented insecure attachment disorder and how it operates.
Today I am being as careful as I can be to consciously orchestrate not only my actions, but the exact condition of both my inner mind’s environment and the external environment I am spending my day in.
I am not strong right now. Thankfully I have some income from social security disability because of how the added stress of cancer and the complications of chemotherapy impacted me, so that I can remain within the safe and secure boundaries of my house. Yet because my breakup with the man who owns this house now threatens my home, my inner base of safety and security is additionally threatened by the circumstances I am surrounded by.
But for today I will do everything I can to control what might potentially trigger that sorrow that nearly overwhelmed me yesterday.
The essence of what I learned so far today from what I went through yesterday is that I cannot handle surprises. Because I am experiencing so much attachment-related stress right now, anything that might be a minor surprise for an ‘ordinary’ (safely and securely attached-from-birth person) translates into a total shock to my entire being for me.
What would stress an ‘ordinary’ person distresses me. What would distress an ‘ordinary’ person — like an abrupt, unforeseen major breakup and threat of losing my home with no resources to move and no idea where I’d go, etc. — translates into my dissociated PTSD inner world as nearly a state of panic.
An ‘ordinary’ person has gradually built within themselves from the time of their birth an inner platform of safety and security that ALSO means they have built a cohesive SELF that they can count on to be with them ALWAYS. If a person’s early world was chaotic, brutal and malevolent, the basis that they were forced to build from includes an entirely different ‘operating system’. This means, as I now know, that I do not have the same inner resources that an ‘ordinary’ person has so that I can use them in ‘ordinary’ times, let alone threatening ones.
So, again, I ask how I would have walked through my life differently starting at age 18 when I left home, if I had know that for me life would often be like walking over a bottomless abyss of pain and sorrow with nothing to stand on but a gossamer thread of spider web silk? Given what I see NOW, but only now, and knowing about my disorganized-disoriented insecure attachment disorder — and all the difficulties of being in the world that come with it — what can I do to make my life better?
At least spider web silk is extremely strong, “five times stronger, on a weight-to-strength basis, than steel,” so I have that going for me. But I can never take for granted that I have the kind of inner balance that I need in order to make it through what an ‘ordinary’ person can with seeming ease. I have to be careful, ever so careful. I cannot take for granted what I always have before — that I can go on being no matter what difficulties I might encounter.
I am beginning to see that everything and anything that I do is actually something I have far more of an investment in than should be ordinarily so. This holds true for the people in my life, the places in my life and for all of my chosen activities. A person is supposed to be organized (from birth) around a safe and secure cohesive self that they can access and count on to carry them through all the variations that life might throw at them.
I don’t have one of those cohesive selves, nor do I have guaranteed access to any particularly dependable patterns of reactions — ever. Neither do I have a being that is organized around a personality disorder, such as my mother did (and probably my ex boyfriend). At least the personality disorders, as I see it, have a sort of second self that was locked into place so early in development — through a combination of trauma and abuse interacting with genetic potential — that all the patterns of their ongoing lives are oriented and organized by and because of their disorder.
I also believe that because of the nature of the construction and operation of personality disorders, these people are confined and defined by the structure that the disorder provides for them. In some important ways, they are prevented from becoming consciously aware of the depths of their own pain. I do not believe they were born this way. They were born with the potential to take that detour should they suffer enough during their early development.
For me and others like me, who suffered from terribly abusive and malevolent early-formative experiences and did not have the genetic combination for forming personality disorders, we are most vulnerable and fragile to disruption, disorganization and disorientation BECAUSE we did not have this option available to us during our development.
I suffer from dissociation, lack of a cohesive self, posttraumatic stress disorder and reoccurring major depression along with anxiety that works to trigger all of the above. I do not, however, have a ‘disordered personality’ that can organize all these manifestations of childhood trauma consequences for me.
I cannot walk my tightrope blindly through life. I cannot count on any ‘secondary personality’ to carry the weight of my actions and reactions. I am forced TO BE HERE, right in this body, one way or the other, all of the time. My mother no doubt suffered throughout her life, but she had no way, no possible way, of consciously knowing why. I fell in love with a man who is in a very similar boat. While all of us have a disorganized-disoriented insecure attachment disorder, I do not have a personality disorder that could have jumped in and taken over control by organizing my being. My resulting trauma reaction difficulties are consciously mine.
Do I celebrate that I have an option they do not have, to learn, to recognize, to grow? Only at this moment for the very first time in my life I question that the ‘prize’ I got in my Cracker Jack box is anything worthy of envy. My single qualifier at this moment is that I cannot blithely, automatically, unconsciously and devastatingly hurt and injure other people.
If given the choice, would I then choose to personally experience the full impact of my disorder over having a personality disorder that could shield me from my own inner experience of devastation? Yes. I have to say yes. Because I would not want to be able to hurt other people — and not even realize it or be able to change my patterns. I would never wish to overcome other people with my pain, unconsciously or not! Through it all, I would rather have access to a conscience.
In the beginning, the middle and the end of it all, all of it is about surviving unmentionable early traumas that continue to affect us one way or another for the rest of our lives. Because I had enough people around me that wanted me to continue as a part of their lives, I went through my year of treatments for double breast cancer and am still alive to talk about it.
Some powerful inner awareness knew that nobody on the outside could possibly know what that decision to stay alive cost me. I have no access to resources — magical though they would need to be — to change how my brain-mind and entire body developed in an intolerably traumatic, malevolent world. While, yes, my body is still alive I still suffer from invisible-to-others damage that I am just beginning to be able to describe for myself.
Major inner collateral damage that is the consequence of severe, chronic child abuse can never be erased. It cannot be vanquished because it lies within the very body that hosted the experience of the abuse in the first place. Those of us so affected must continue to try to understand in real-time how our disorganized-disoriented insecure attachment disorder operates.
If it is cloaked within a personality disorder the symptoms will be more clear if we know what to look for. For the rest of us, we know on our insides what has made our lives so difficult to live. We cannot afford to underestimate the power that everyone and everything we organize and orient ourselves around has in our lives. We are using external sources and resources to do what an ‘ordinary’ securely attached — or even an organized-oriented insecurely attached — person can do within their own minds and bodies.
Knowing this, today I will be as careful of myself in my world and in my life as I can possibly be. My hope for today is that even if I cannot achieve a state of being happy, at least I must achieve a state of not being overwhelmed with unbearable sorrow, pain and sadness. I will organize and orient myself the best I can and hope that more and more I can learn to do this — better.
At the same time I must realize and accept that the entirety of the pain of my childhood is completely stored within my body and this body will not let go of it until it is dead. That is a fact as I experience my life. I can find ways to circumvent triggering it, but I cannot make the pain go away. That is part of what bothered me most yesterday.
I know it is not possible in my lifetime to cry enough tears to make anything better. It is terrifying when the tears start and I cannot make them stop. I know there are readers who know what I mean. But I believe we each have enough courage, hope and faith — no matter how much the pain hurts us — to keep going through each present moment into our future or we would not still be here contemplating that fact.
We have to know that the pain is there. It is very real. But we have a right to build a life that is MORE THAN THE PAIN, even if we can only do that one baby step at a time.