+LEAVING NO CHAOS BEHIND – PART ONE

I will be writing a response to the following comment:

“Why did you stay with your parents until you were 18 years old? Many kids from abusive homes will leave early and actually prefer living on the streets rather than return to the home. I am not suggesting that you should have left–just wondering if you ever thought about leaving as a way to escape the constant abuse.”

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Before I begin to address the above important question, I want to give you a very brief synopsis of what happened once I DID leave home.

My parents put me into the Navy and I left Alaska October 3, 1969.  It had not been my decision.  I was incapable, even a month after my 18th birthday, of making a decision.

I completed boot camp in Bainbridge, Maryland and was placed in data processing (computer) school in San Diego.  I tried, but could not ‘get’ computers, so was put through a brief secretarial training program and then stationed in Newport, Rhode Island.

I was pregnant four months out of boot camp, but hid it from the military for as long as I possibly could.  At that time women were still being instantly discharged from the service if they were pregnant, no exceptions.

I was discharged from the Navy in September 1970 and knew of nowhere to go but back to San Diego where I’d met some young people prior to my transfer.  I was unmarried when I gave birth to my daughter in January 1971 and had no means to make the decision to keep her or not.  I placed in her a foster home where she remained for the first month of her life.  During that time I traveled with another group of young people to Brandywine, West Virginia where I made the decision to keep my daughter.

I traveled back to San Diego, brought my daughter home, and in June of 1971 moved to Alameda to be with the father of my child who was in the Navy also.  I’ve written the whole story about this time in my life but of course can’t locate it in my computer files.  Enough to say I traveled to Hawaii to marry the father once he was sent out to sea on an aircraft carrier, and returned back to California alone to try to figure out what to do next.

The chaos continued as the father was discharged for drug charges, together we managed to get ourselves out to Ohio by fall 1972 where we had other young friends.  The marriage failed nearly immediately, the father went to Fargo, North Dakota the winter my daughter turned one and I followed him there, arriving in Fargo in early June of 1972.

It was at that time that I wrote this piece I am going to share with you here.  All the above experiences in chaos had occurred prior to my 21st birthday the end of August 1972, and in less than three years after I had walked out of my parents’ door.  How this piece of writing has survived for 37 years and is still with me, I do not know.

But it did, and here it is followed by the poems that I wrote at the same time.  I remember sitting at the typewriter in the tiny basement apartment I found in Fargo for myself and my daughter.  I remember these words pouring out of my finger tips as I wrote them, and I see there are no corrections on these two pieces of white paper, folded in fourths.  Today I might call this piece “A Dissociator’s Dream.”

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written early June 1972

Don’t blow your cover.  No matter what, don’t blow your cover.  Cover?  What cover?  Naked legs?  Flowing hair.  Double-talk, triple-talk, round-the-circle talk.  Don’t look in my eyes, they’re real.  Yes, perhaps in time you’ll see the fears and the years and the tears.  Perhaps in time.

But right now.  What about right NOW?  Wait, what game are we playing.  Come back, wait here, where are you, hurry, they’re leaving…don’t run quite so fast, my legs are shorter than yours used to be.

Your time’s up.  Ha!  You didn’t think I was around these parts.  Didn’t know I was right behind you, did ya?  Well, what did you think?  I’d change the rules and let you know?  Come now, what fun would that have been?  We can’t all win.  Not all the time, now that you mention it, not any of the time.

Look around you.  Where am I?  No, no, no, not there.  I tired of that place long ago.  No, not there either.  Don’t you  remember?  We decided back there we should find a place, a safer place, where you could find me any time you cared to look.  You’ve come calling on me again…well think about it for awhile.  Who let who down?

When the bills were posted the word was clear enough.  The old fellow who did the touch up job passed through some time ago.  Faded now, can’t for the life of me figure out what it used to say.  Oh, well, there must be one sheltered from that last storm.  It’ll all come clear when I come across that one.

Did you call my name?  Please, did you call me?  It couldn’t have been your mistake.  It’s been so long since you’ve used it, denying doesn’t change what I have heard.  Don’t leave…wait!  I’ll take care of you, you’ll remember.

Believe me when I say your pain doesn’t matter.  Once you feel it as pain your battle’s half won!  Just hand it here, I’ll take it over there and put it down, and I really wouldn’t worry about coming back to check on it.

Don’t worry, it’ll pass.  I’ve merely forgotten my name.  No, you can’t tell me.  Remember, we’ve just met?  Maybe you could take a moment and give me a reminder.  A clue, just a clue.  Not that I need it, sometimes warm words fill cold spaces.

Laugh a little, cry a little, work a little, worry a little.  The tune’s the same, we make up our own words.

Did I tell you the sun came up last night?  It was really neat.  I made the date with the sun a few years back, surprised I remembered when the time came around.  Let me know when you set yours, I’d love to be with you.  Now that I’ve seen it, I find the night a little empty.

It’s been a little over an hour now.  My perception has been warped by too much exposure.  Hopefully when developed, the images will clear.  Proper timing.  Important, you know.  Where is the clarity without the darkness and the light?

My body will never be as perfect as yours.  I don’t think about it that way.  My balance is in my fingers, where yours is in your toes.  Don’t laugh, I’m humming now, and I can’t hear you, so just hum along…you know the tune.

I waited too long, words have a way of getting bored and running out on you.  Well, I’ll be patient with you, they’ll be back.

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(the following words were indented in patterns that do not translate into this blog’s format)

There is so much

within you

for you

to be

Everything

that is

happening

now

is

to be

Everything

…………………………………….

When you see beauty

you see me

When you hear music

you are in tune

with me

When you remember

anything

you are remembering me

In your head

and

When you believe

you have found

peace

happiness

fulfillment

you believe

in me

As I have been

in your past

For now we

Exist

As when

………………………………………

return to

your mother

without demanding

to know

where

she

has been for

the ages

that

have passed

between you and

her

have been only

necessary

for

you

……………………………..

my Voice is one with all voices

all voices are my Voice

my Voice

speaks

of thunder and whispers

to your ears

every sound you detect

is my Voice

every

sound that is

in existence is

a tune

my Voice

Is

………………………………….

Let my child be my beacon, and I her song…..

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Looking back, I see that I might as well have fallen out of the sky and hit the ground running when I left home.  I’d never been away from home a night in my life except for one week at my grandmother’s house when I was two and my sister was born, and for the week I spent at bible camp the summer before I turned 12.  I had never spent the night at a friend’s house.  I had never been on a date.

My mother did not come out from behind her closed bedroom door to say goodbye to me the night I left home.  My father had driven me to the airport in Anchorage, a drive that took over an hour that night and never said a word.

I stepped through the door into that jet plane, headed 3362 miles off to boot camp as the crow flies, never looking back until I was 30 years old and went into treatment.  Even then, I had no way to understand what had happened to me.  My experience matched nothing anyone seemed to know, and of course I had no idea what other people’s experiences had been or were like, either.  It’s taken another almost 30 years for me to begin to figure that out.

+LEAVING NO CHAOS BEHIND – PART TWO

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+EARLY ORIGIN OF OUR ONGOING EXPERIENCE OF SHAME AND FORGIVENESS

I can in  no way see that forgiveness is not about the patterns of rupture and repair.  Lack of the ability  or willingness to forgive must relate to there being a rupture for which there is no repair.

Every issue involving rupture and repair patterns occur in attachment relationship contexts of our self in relationship to our self, to others and to our world at large.  All of our attachment relationships are processed through our right brain’s emotional center.  This means that all our ongoing attachment relationship processes are processed through the same neuronal pathways that were built within our brains through our experiences with our early caregivers from birth to one year old.

These experiences built our social emotional brain well before we even had potential for consciousness.  They will continue to operate in exactly the way they were formed unless we later can apply conscious thought and effort to change them.

When we choose to apply ‘new and more advanced’ terminology to the basic operations of our brains, minds, nervous systems and bodies, we are taking a step toward the risk of losing touch and sight of what we are actually talking about.  It is no different to me than using any word in our language without knowing what the imaginal root of the word is as it came into our language from its beginnings.  Words get born.  They originate somewhere.  They come from somewhere.  They have a beginning.

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If one pays particular attention to how an infant is attached within its world at about one year old as it moves from the world of its caregiver into the wider world of its own discovery, I suspect that we can tell about the origin of the operation of what we call ‘forgiveness’ as it operates in tandem with the origin of what we call ‘the shame reaction’ that occurs at this time.  This ‘shame’ reaction as it is described by Dr. Allan Schore happens when an infant’s nervous system, or more specifically the ‘go’ or sympathetic arm of its autonomic nervous system responds with excitement and outgoing energy as an infant moves into its wider world of discovery.

At the same time, the potential has correspondingly increased for the infant to experience a ‘crash’ or ‘stop’ as the other arm of the automic nervous system, the parasympathetic (I think of this as the pair of breaks) will kick in if the infant returns from its excited explorations to find that its caregiver does not respond back to the infant with the same level of ‘go’ excitement.  The infant will experience this clash, or rupture as a depletion of its positive state.  This ‘stop’ after ‘go’ is neurologically what we come to call the shame reaction.

There has to be the basis of a safe and secure attachment relationship between an infant and the caregiver it is returning to in order for this rupture to be repaired.  These rupture and repair processes are simply further continuations of the development and growth of already existing rupture and repair patterns that have been built through caregiver-infant interactions from birth and correspond to the infant’s right brain emotional center’s development.

If that area of the brain has already suffered from enough malevolent interactions to have been ‘mis-informed’ and thus ‘misformed’ by the time an infant is one year old, all ongoing patterns related to movements within the bigger world as they relate to patterns of ‘coming back together in safety and security’ with the primary caregivers surrounding the infant will also be affected.  This go and stop, rupture and repair patterning seems to me to directly connect our more advanced (and thus somewhat more obscure0 words of shame to forgiveness.  Even on the most profound and basic physiological level, shame reflects rupture and forgiveness reflects repair.

Because these go and stop patterns are directly related to the right brain’s emotional social center, they are both about emotions in terms of their experience through either regulation or dysregulation.  These two patterns are built into the brain from birth, as I’ve mentioned.  This means to me that what we call forgiveness directly ties into the right brain’s ability to regulate emotions.  Even though we think of forgiveness as being a conscious activity, it still has its roots in the original patterns of our right emotional brain.

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Infant brains formed through safe and secure early attachment relationships have the advantage regarding emotional regulation in every possible way over infant brains formed in unsafe and insecure early environmental interactions with early caregivers.  The advantages of one and the disadvantages of the other are in the circuitry of the brain itself.

Caregivers need have no negative intent to cause an infant this ‘stop’ shame reaction.  It is a natural reaction an infant actually needs to experience on occasion as it learns about safety and danger in the wider world, and about how to negotiate the space of the world with other people and their needs.  But the resolution of shame through a repair of the shame reaction is essential if all is going to go well in an infant’s development.  Looking at this repair process as a reinstatement of a secure attachment relationship in the world lets us know absolutely that ‘forgiveness’ is the counterpart of ‘shame’ and lies at the basis of our attachment interrelationships.

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I remember specifically with my middle child that once she learned to talk well, she needed to talk about things that happened in her life and in her mind long before I would have thought she had the capacity for forming memories from those experiences.  It was if she knew somehow that once she had the ability to verbalize about these early experiences that process was also necessary.  She had in fact waited for her own developmental abilities to catch up with her needs.

I wonder if it isn’t the same with shame in cases where very eary experiences are harmful and detrimental to an infant.  Their phsyiological development might not have developed to the point that they can actually experience the physical process of the stop and go within their nervous system.  Yet if those older experiences were damaging enough to a child, I suspect that they can be there waiting for the time that infant’s body is old enough to experience that shame reaction.

I say this because the process of rupture and repair, as it builds the early infant social emotional right limbic brain, has already deeply formed itself into the brain itself well before a child reaches the age of one, the age when the infant can physically move itself around in the larger world.  I believe that it is possible that if ruptures have not already been adequately met with repair early on, that even the beginnings of the physical shame and forgiveness patterns will be interfered with.

This is true because expectation, anticipation, hope  and hopelessness have already begun the foundational development of the right brain from very early on.  For example, when a tiny infant is hungry and someone responds adequately to feed it, that infant’s brain is already building hope into it as it learns within itself that in this safe and secure world it can trust that its needs will be met.  These experiences form the basis of the first thought processes as they involve the early formation of mental representations.

If harmful and inadequate experiences are the ones that operate at these crucial early stages, hopelessness, despair and even rage can fill in the cracks where these misshapen mental representations are forming.  They will already be firmly in place well before the age of one, and will influence what an infant anticipates and expects upon its return to its caregiver once it enters into the world.

This puts hope — its fulfillment or disappointment — at the pivotal point where shame and forgiveness operate from the start.  These inner relationships are physiologically formed into the body and brain of an infant, and will obviously form the foundation for all our hope, shame and forgiveness experiences we have for the rest of our lives.

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There is no mystery here.  If we want to change the patterns that were built into our brains and bodies from the beginning we have to become conscious of how these patterns are operating within us, even though we will probably never retrieve the actual facts of the experiences we had as infants that built our inner operating systems in the first place.  First we have to recognize that these patterns exist, and directly realize that they involve our right emotional brain.

Shame normally happens for an infant when it anticipates a emotional state reaction from an attachment figure that matches the infant’s own state.  When that state is not matched the infant experiences this as a rupture that we come to know as shame.  It is an interactional experience.

Forgiveness normally happens for an infant when the mismatch between what it anticipated from the caregiver and did not get is repaired.  When a caregiver reestablishes rapport with the infant it is acting our forgiveness.  The infant actually accepts the forgiveness willingly because an infant’s natural state is to be united with or reunited with its attachment figures.

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In looking at both shame and forgiveness in the dictionary, both have origins in the English language before the 12th century.  It is rare to find a word in what we would call modern English that came into the language earlier than that.  This means to me that both these words refer to states that have been consciously known for a long, long time.

Both words, however, reflect at their basis, at least in modern English, that they relate to conditions of the mind and states of being — as they are rooted in our human physiological body and experience of being alive in that body.  They are therefore related to mentalizing abilities and to Theory of Mind.  Both of these two operations are interfered with in cases of mental illness like my mother had, and both are also interfered with through early trauma as they become reflected in insecure attachment disorders.

This is because the true issue at stake in both the shame rupture and the forgiveness repair require the context of an attachment relationship in order to operate in the first place.  They are both physiologically rooted in our body, brain, nervous system and mind because we are members of a social species and we must form this way.  Shame reflects a breech in ongoing attachment and forgiveness repairs and heals this breech.

Early developmental experiences in a malevolent world change how these two corresponding parts of who we are form and operate.  If we suffered early abuse and trauma, without having access to adequate secure and safe attachment figures we could always depend on to mediate the damage-forming process as we formed our shame-forgiveness response system, we will experience complications throughout our lives related to these changes.

If we hope to affect healing for ourselves related to shame and forgiveness, I believe we need to understand and accept how and why we got these problems in the first place.  To do so we must consider the quality of our attachment relationships from birth so that we can begin to understand how they were already operating in our brains, nervous system and body by the time we were old enough to begin to enter the bigger, wider world on our own at about one year old.

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Main Entry:

1shame

Pronunciation:

\ˈshām\

Function:

noun

Etymology:

Middle English, from Old English scamu; akin to Old High German scama shame

Date:

before 12th century

1 a: a painful emotion caused by consciousness of guilt, shortcoming, or impropriety b: the susceptibility to such emotion <have you no shame?>2: a condition of humiliating disgrace or disrepute : ignominy <the shame of being arrested>3 a: something that brings censure or reproach ; also : something to be regretted : pity <it’s a shame you can’t go> b: a cause of feeling shame

rom http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/shame

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Main Entry:

for·give

Pronunciation:

\fər-ˈgiv, fȯr-\

Function:

verb

Inflected Form(s):

for·gave \-ˈgāv\ ; for·giv·en \-ˈgi-vən\ ; for·giv·ing

Etymology:

Middle English, from Old English forgifan, from for- + gifan to give

Date:

before 12th century

transitive verb1 a: to give up resentment of or claim to requital for <forgive an insult> b: to grant relief from payment of <forgive a debt>2: to cease to feel resentment against (an offender) : pardon <forgive one’s enemies>intransitive verb: to grant forgiveness

synonyms see excuse

— for·giv·able \-ˈgi-və-bəl\ adjective

— for·giv·ably \-blē\ adverb

— for·giv·er noun

from http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/forgive

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+FORGIVENESS AND EARLY BETRAYAL

WARNING – POST MAY TRIGGER TRAUMA MEMORIES FOR THOSE WITH ABUSE HISTORIES

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Because of the way dissociation was built into my brain from birth, I can never address a topic that involves an emotional image head on.  For those of you who have ever played with building blocks with a toddler, we generally place all the blocks close to the child and begin playing from there.  What would happen if we hid all the blocks individually in different places and then told the child to build something out of one particular color, say blue.  Or red.  The child would have to search in every imaginable place it could think of to find any of the blocks, let alone just those of a single particular color.  How well would the game progress for the child?

I have to follow a similar process as I try to know what I might know of forgiveness, or of any other emotional topic.  Children are meant to build one safe, secure, logical experience on top of previous ones as they learn about themselves, about the world, and about themselves in the world.  When other people talk about ‘recovering’ or ‘rebuilding’ themselves through healing they need to realize that there might be nothing straight forward about the process.

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I have an 18 year childhood of bits and pieces of experiences that did not form themselves together in any kind of logical or reasonable way.  That is because there was no logic or reason in the environment I was in as my life happened to me.  The only organizing principle available to me, other than the one my body could orchestrate on the most basic, physiological level, was my mother.  The basis of her organization toward me was her psychosis about me.

I cannot, therefore, travel backward by following an organized, connected, coherent pathway in order to find out anything about myself as I grew and developed into a body and into my life.  It becomes an intricate matching game with the pieces in complete disarrangement and mostly lost.  My strongest memories are, as I’ve mentioned before, those that my mother included in the abuse litany she recited over and over and over again each time that she beat me throughout these 18 years.  One of those very early abuse litany crimes that I had evidently committed happened when I was two years old.

Do I remember this memory because it is mine or because it was placed in my mother’s abuse litany so that over the years the memory was literally pounded into me?  I was two years old, my grandmother had just come to visit us and mother sent me to my bedroom because I had done something ‘bad’.  After this my mother added it to the litany because it proved to her I was willful, obstinate and disobedient — because I pounded my fists on the wall all the down the hallway to my bedroom.

Whether the memory is mine or mine only because of my mother’s repeated resurrections over the years of this event, I do believe that it happened.  I believe at this age of two I was able, still, to feel anger.  I have no memory of the feeling of anger in my childhood except as connected to this memory, or pseudo memory.  Obviously it was thoroughly communicated to me at this time that my feeling angry was not acceptable or allowed.

As I try to face the topic of forgiveness head on I am automatically lost to myself as I try to know what I might know about it.  I cannot track the growth and development of any anger toward my mother past this two year old event, one that I was beaten for many times over in the years that followed.  The dissociational patterns within my mind only allow me to try to snatch what might be related events of my life, an act no easier than it would be to try to snatch bits of dandelion fluff out of a strong wind, hoping I can catch them in the order that they were attached to their flower of origin in the first place.

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The concept that I could think about individual emotions and my experience of them as actual factors of my being alive was not introduced to me until I entered the seven week in-patient treatment program for alcoholism when I was 30 years old.  This is a process that a normal child is exposed to from birth through the mirroring process a mother and other early caregivers surround an infant with.  These early mirroring experiences actually show the infant what it is feeling, and begin to form the early foundation of a connection to being an individual self.

If you imagine conditions that prevent this mirroring process from EVER happening for an infant, and then imagine that this non-mirroring state is maintained consistently throughout an entire childhood, you can perhaps realize how difficult it might be for such a person to ever go back and make things right within themselves.  Early infant reciprocal interactions form the right emotional limbic brain itself, and they establish all the emotional regulatory patterns that will then exist in that brain for the duration of a lifetime.

This is where the insecure attachment disorders first take their root — in the patterns of neuronal firings that are built into an infant and young child’s growing brain.  If a growing individual is exposed only to interactions with adults around them that are completely disorganized and disoriented, that overwhelm the child, that are not one bit reasonable or logical, that are not patterned on ANY information that is actually connected to the inner experience particularly of an infant under one year old, we cannot expect that the resulting operations of such a little one’s brain will ever be either optimal or ‘normal’.

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Because of my mother’s mental illness and psychosis it was impossible for her to ever respond to me as being anything other than a distorted projection of evil coming out of her own damaged mind.  I have pondered and wondered how it was possible, from these very disturbed beginnings (as they continued unabated for 18 years), that I was able to come out on the other end to be as able to negotiate myself around in the world as I did.

Even for all the resiliency factors that I have identified and described in my earlier posts, I still find myself trying to find the answer to this question.  On the one hand, if I remain in the wishful magical thinking state I suspect the magic of some kind of ‘miracle’ that occurred that allowed me to survive as a relatively adequate person.  I still know I am faced with a mystery here, but without resorting to magical wishful thinking I also know that I am missing some kind of important factual information in my considerations.

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During the nearly 30 years that have passed since I was first told that I had feelings, I have passed many times through a state where I think I was far better off before I had that knowledge.  I have come to understand that for some people not ‘being in touch’ with their feelings might be the wisest course a body, brain and mind can ever take.

I say this because I have also come to understand that for those of us with terrible early trauma during our brain formative stages of development, at the same time we experienced these traumas we also experienced the lack of being given adequate abilities and faculties to ever be able to regulate our emotions like ‘normal’ people can.  Building an early forming right brain emotional center is about either having emotional regulation abilities built into this center or not.  We must understand that emotional regulation occurs through very real physiological, neurological operations that ARE the patterns that were built into our brains in the first place.

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I bring this all up as I write today because of those that I asked about their understanding of forgiveness, all of them seem to relate forgiveness in some way to the experience of anger.  In fact, one respondent to my question believes that forgiveness itself is a FEELING.  Nowhere can I see in people’s response to my question do I see that forgiveness is NOT about feelings.  Oh, boy!  I am in trouble now!  I can either give up and turn away from trying to learn something new about forgiveness, or I can apply a whole lot of willpower, courage and focused effort in an attempt to heal something here — in order to learn something new and different about myself and others in relation to being human in this world.

Because of my childhood I can never assume that I have the same background information about anything that other people who are not early abuse survivors have at their disposal.  My building blocks are either missing or so disconnected, dispersed and hidden in unrelated places within me that it takes a whole lot of work to connect them together into a useful construction.

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I do know when I think about it that every single time I was beaten my mother was at the same time screaming at me to say I was ‘sorry’.  Sorry for what?  There was so seldom any rational connection between her beatings and the real world that I did not even know what I had done ‘wrong’ in the first place.  Fortunately or unfortunately there was a part of ME that endured these beatings that evidently was extremely stubborn as I held to some version of an inner integrity that I don’t even now understand.  I refused her request.

In fact, as my siblings used to point out to me in their pleadings to me on my and their behalf, if I would have cried and if I would have said I was sorry her beatings of me might have been less severe.  What was it about ME, as I look back at this today, that prevented me from participating with my mother during these beatings by giving in to her demands?  Why did I not shed the requisite tears and beg desperately for her forgiveness?

Those of you who have experience with severe child abuse through beatings will understand me when I say that there were two kinds of beatings.  During one kind my mother lost control and entered her violent rage state so quickly that she didn’t even take pause long enough to demand that I pull my pants down.  If the origination point of the beating included a ‘slower burn’ that was in fact as cold as ice, the ritualized demand to pull my pants down happened before the physical impact began.

The difference between these two kinds of beatings only had to do with the speed of the actual eruption of her physical blows upon my body.  The force of the beatings and the length of them did not vary.  Once my mother had entered her insane physical violence against me stage, the beatings themselves could literally go on for a long, long time until she had exhausted not only her rage attack but also her physical stamina.  She had a vast reservoir of both.

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It is also important that I point out to you that my choice and decision not to beg her forgiveness, not to say I was sorry, and not to cry was never, to my knowledge, a conscious choice.  It had to therefore originate from some core of will within myself that I was not able to consciously access in my thoughts — not before the beatings, not during, after or between them.  I am left to conclude, therefore, that this ‘battle of wills’ between my mother and my self originated very, very early in my development.  In fact, this ability that I had to defy her in taking over ME is what saved me.

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Looking backward as I write today I see that I am approaching something that is powerful, forceful, amazing, yet at the same time very delicate.  In my attempts to discern what I know about forgiveness I am having to travel back to an age well before two.  For those of you who know what anthropomorphizing in relation to animals means, you will understand me better when I say it is not helpful to go back into early childhood and use any adult idea of what was actually happening on the insides of an infant or a very young child.

The reasons should be obvious to us.  An infant is very much like a young animal at the beginning in that its brain is very primitive simply because not enough time has gone by yet for the advanced human brain to grow and develop.  A fully developed brain would mean that a head would be too big to be born from the mother in the first place.  In addition, nature has designed the rest of a brain’s formation to occur in interaction with its environment, not exclusively without those interactions.  Experience in the world has to be built into our early brains so that the brain is actually effective in surviving within the same world that built it.

So a very key important point is trying to come clear to me as I write at this moment.  Because my mother’s hatred for me was present before I was born as a result of her psychotic break while delivering me that meant she understood I was the devil’s child sent to kill her, there was something within me FROM THE MOMENT OF MY BIRTH, or even before because her break happened while I was still inside of her, that meant the ME that I was and am — KNEW BETTER.

It was therefore never, from that point forward, possible for me to comprehend what she was talking about or beating me for.  That is the closest I can describe to what I experienced during the thousands of beatings — this state of non comprehension.  My refusal to participate in her psychosis the way she probably wanted me to resulted not from my conscious choice not to, but rather was connected to my innate inner point of logic, reason and the most profound knowing that I’d never left from the time of my birth.

I DID NOT know what she was talking about or really why she hated me or what the beatings and abuse were all about.  It was therefore not possible for me to comprehend anything about the abuse.  My mother’s actions toward me were outside of my realm of understanding from the first breath I ever took.

How could such a fact actually be possible?  Yes, this fills me with awe and makes me feel like I am standing at a point witnessing the mystery and the miracle of a genesis.  But as I allow myself to expand my understanding of the possibilities of what still is factual about being human even though science might never be able to explain it, I do include as fact the actual experience I had with my mother as I knew — somehow and most profoundly — from the first breath I ever took — and from the first moment she turned the force and power of her hatred and psychotic mental illness upon me — that she was WRONG.

When we talk about the miracle of healing and of recovery, it is almost mind boggling to me to understand that my personal recovery means that I have to go back to THIS POINT of awareness of knowing I was NOT who and what she said I was, and did NOT do what she said I did and therefore could not possible beg her forgiveness or say I was sorry because I innately KNEW this fact inside of myself.

Nothing she could ever do over a long 18 years could touch me at this core.  Nothing she could ever do, and she tried as hard as she possibly could have, could convince ME she was right and I was wrong.

I can sense as I write this today that it is like there was a sacred fire burning at the center of my being that included in its fuel this piece of knowledge.  That sacred fire at the center of who I was, and who I am, was somehow absolutely protected from harm.  She could not touch it.  She could not touch me.

What also happened, however, is that this fire had to remain within its own circle as I grew a body into this world throughout the horror of all the experiences that I had to experience with my mother.  Every time that part of Linda tried to move out into the world it was devastatingly attacked and had to retreat back into the safe place that my mother could not get to.

Because I was growing up in a malevolent world without safety and security, I could not integrate this inner self into my own life.  The strange part is that even though this hampered me in my development at nearly every turn (my relationship with my 14 month older brother was for my early months of life exempt from her attacks, as was my later relationship with the Alaskan wilderness when I was away from her reach), it also saved me from the betrayal trauma that I believe caused the destruction of my mother’s mind.

My mother, I believe, grew up as any child naturally attempts to grow.  The difference between my mother’s experience and my own is that she had, at times, false security offered to her so that she was in fact fooled into believing that her own self could come out into the world and form attachments of some kind to her early caregivers.

I, on the other hand, was never fooled.  I actually was betrayed at the time of my birth.  The MONSTER was obviously there to greet me at my first breath.  My experience was of a consistent hatred while hers was of an inconsistent conditional love mixed with hatred.

My mother had already entered out into the world before she was severely betrayed by the people who had let her believe that they loved her.  I knew instantly as soon as I ‘woke into the world’ that something was already terribly wrong.  She figured this out too late in her own childhood.  And by the time she did, on some deep level, figure out that she was unsafe in the world, it was too late for her to retreat back into that inner place of protective safety that I was forced to never leave from my start.

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My mother was old enough to already be at a stage of trying to form a Theory of Mind as she tried to figure out how the rules of life impacted her.  She had already experienced conditional love as it coincided with harm to the point that she was ‘tricked’ into believing that she was somehow responsible for actions that meant her attachment figures could not love her because she was wrong, because she was bad.

I believe that her mind became so entangled with this idea that somehow if she could only be good enough those around her would love her (as in that childhood note she found at the time of her mother’s death as I describe in +What I Suspect of My Mother’s Early Childhood), that it ended up becoming the wound around which her psychosis formed that she later projected in its entirety upon me before I was born.  In her psychosis some part of her evidently believed that she was so bad and bad enough that the devil would send an unborn child to kill her in labor.  I took my first breath being the personification of the entirety of her intolerable internalized evil.

This psychosis actively played itself out throughout my entire childhood.  I see an image as I write of the fairy tale ‘poisoned apple’, only this one doesn’t put you to sleep.  It kills you in the depths of your being.

My mother was old enough to eat the poisoned apple during her childhood.  She trusted enough in those around her that she COULD be betrayed.  She was fooled.  Because the poisoned apple was presented to me at birth, well before I was actually old enough to eat it, I never was fooled into believing anyone loved me in the first place.  I was therefore spared the eating of the poisoned apple.  I was spared any further betrayal past my mother’s hatred of me at my first breath.

I could never believe there was anything I could do to change the situation, one way or the other.  I was given an immunity as a result that my mother never had.  That means that while I consciously completely and totally believed by the time I was 17 that I was evil, that I was not human, that I was the devil’s child — and I DID completely believe this without question — that belief only had to do with what had been told to me and beaten into me from the time of my birth.

I can never underestimate the power of the actual experiences I had that formed this understanding into my brain.  But the truth of the matter is that there MUST be more to us than what is built into our brain — and what a long, strange road of suffering I had to take to be able to be one of the people on this earth who can make this statement from the facts of actual experience.

There IS more to us than what our bodies and our brains actually contain.  There WAS a Linda, a self of Linda, present when I was born that had a knowledge, even though it was not verbal or conscious, that stood with its own truth and its own corresponding version of reality, against my mother every single step of the way.

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Tracking this back to the concept of forgiveness I would say at this moment that when we have a choice to forgive or not to forgive we are being given the ability to exercise an option that lies at some fundamental point of our existence as members of our advanced human species.  When I say that I don’t understand it, I mean it.  The issue of forgiveness goes back to a time when I was in the act of being born because that is where the betrayals first began for me.  But I am lucky this is so because unlike my mother I never had to participate in a fundamental betrayal later on, as she did as a child, that might have broken me as my mother’s broke her.

+ASKING THE QUESTION, “WHAT IS FORGIVENESS?”

I just wrote the following in an email and sent it off to my family and friends.  I will also post it here, seriously asking any of my readers to please respond if they care to share with me their own answer to this question:

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If I were a young child and I came to you with this question, how would you answer me?

“What is forgiveness?”

I ask because I realize I absolutely don’t know the answer to the question myself.  I can’t, for example, even imagine any situation that could happen where I would even think about forgiving my children.  There’s nothing they could do that I can imagine that would even make my needing them enter the picture.

Maybe because I grew up always being in trouble and never being forgiven that I did not grow up with any concept of what forgiveness might be.  I just don’t know.  So I ask this as a serious question and hope you can give me your perspective.  I feel like I’m missing something that seems so important to other people.

+MAGICAL WISHFUL THINKING DOES NOT HEAL ABUSE

If I try to look at myself objectively I would wonder that I refer to my mother as having been mentally ill but I do not consider myself mentally ill.  I would ask myself what criteria do I use and apply to myself that is different from the criteria I use in my thinking about my mother?

There seems to be a level of desription regarding the operation of a person’s brain-mind and nervous system that means to outsiders that mental illness is present.  With today’s advances in brain imaging techniques I believe that if our culture wanted to, we could actually see in actual brain operating pictures the distinction that I evidently make about mental illnesses within my own mind.

I can visualize my thinking about mental health and mental illness in terms of a growing tree with branches that relate to my descriptive categories.  Once a person is set off onto one of the branches related to these categories, they can never ‘jump branches’ by changing the basic origination point that leads into development along one of these branches.  What is done or happens to a person before the age of two is the determining factor and cannot be changed.

It is important to realize that there is a fifth branch that I can visualize on this tree.  It is actually the one that grows straight up to the sky without deviation or interruption.  It relates to people who are optimally designed and who were raised from conception in a ‘good enough’ optimal caregiving environment.  These people’s bodies and brains were not forced to change their development in adaptation to malevolency within the world.  I only talk about these securely attached individuals in this writing as comparison points for how the rest of us ended up having to develop in one of these other four directions.

In the process of my own writing I have determined that there are four main levels leading to four different branches of this imaginary tree.   They result from brain-mind-body changes that lead, in my thinking, off in one of these differing directions.  Each of these categories, or types of mental illness that I recognize stem from altered brain development.   I can understand that some mental illness occurs strictly through extreme genetic combinations that existed from conception and would have manifested as mental illness no matter how well a person had been cared from during their early lives.  I include within this category serious changes that occur prior to birth or at birth through severe traumas to the fetus or infant that can also completely change the way a person develops.  Obviously and fortunately I don’t fit this category and did not have to develop along the lines of this branch.

Now I will describe other three categories that do apply to my life personally.  I also believe that in the future medical experts, including those working in the mental health fields, will recognize the accuracy of what I understand about these categories.  At this point in time I believe that an understanding of which branch we grew into, which one our parents grew into, which ones our siblings grew into, etc. will help us determine what realistic changes for the better we can expect in our lives.

My personal understanding is that for any one of us that grew and developed in some form of a malevolent world during our early years were forced to adapt in some way that has placed us on one of these four ‘deviating’ limbs.  We therefore experience some form of very real disability in comparison to the securely attached who grew up without severe harmful influence and who were not forced to adapt to a harmful environment.

The other three branches I am going to describe all entail the presence of some form of insecure attachment disorder.  I agree with Dr. Allan Schore that every insecure attachment pattern results in some form of an empathy disorder.  The toxic, malevolent, unsafe and insecure experiences we had as we developed created the breach in our ability to form secure attachments in the first place.  Changes an individual was forced to make physiologically in our bodies and brains as we adapted in our development is what sends us off into one of these other three branch directions.

If we are of the luckier ones, we ONLY had to develop an insecure attachment.  These manifest as what experts call dismissive-avoidant or ambivalent-preoccupied insecure attachment patterns.  The FACT is that these patterns are built into the operation of the body, brain, mind and nervous system of the individual who has them.

These people have been forced to develop along an alternative branch of the tree, but do not usually end up with what we, as a society, would term a mental illness.  They will, however, experience life differently than a securely attached person will, and are at risk for all kinds of ‘social’ disabilities due to the fact that their early forming social emotional brain development has been effected.  They are ‘wired’ for insecure attachments.

It is here in my description of the next two branches of the tree that I deviate from the commonly accepted ideas about mental illness.  Early development within an environment of severe trauma so often leads in the direction of the development of some form of ‘mental illness’ that it would be the rare, rare event to find an exception where this does not happen.  Current thinking on ‘mental illness’ would therefore demand that we accept what I describe as two separate branches as being only one single large branch.  Along this single branch are placed all currently used mental illness diagnostic categories.

As we become very clear regarding the facts, we will know that what creates this branch in the first place is exposure to severe traumas during early development in an environment that does not contain enough available resources to prevent serious adjustments within the infant and young child from having to be made.  Once we leave our magical wishful thinking behind about the causes of so-called mental illnesses, we will see that disorganized and disoriented insecure attachment from birth (or before) create the deviation point from which what see as two separate branches originate.

I am forced to use currently accepted thinking and terminology to describe what happens from that origination point on our visualized tree. But I believe that the two branches result from very different and distinct adaptations to trauma and into some version of what we currently consider to be mental illness.   While we might magically wish that these two branches are the same, I do not believe that they are.

In my own world of ‘fact’, I know these branches are different from my own experience.  My mother was forced to grow along one of these two branches while I was forced to grow along the other one.  While personal knowledge is not the stuff science is based on, it can still inform our individual and collective thinking.  Larger changes may well come from the bottom-up, grass root, experience based real world knowledge that those of us who have experienced and survived severe abuse from birth have within us.  It is from this base that I describe the differences that exist between these last two branches as they originated from adaptations within early malevolent environments.

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Do not get me wrong here.  Any consideration of mental illness, either as it might currently be accepted as occurring on one single branch, or as might exist in two separate categories on two separate branches, still means that a person’s brain, mind and body has been devastatingly altered during early development.  The distinction matters to me because it influences the ability to live with the resulting dis-order and helps our efforts to heal be more effective.

Of all the varying cultural and religious belief structures that exist on our planet, I am going to pick only one to illustrate my point here.  In fact, I am only going to pick one sentence from one of these belief structures.  I encourage anyone who cannot relate to this one sentence because of its origins to please find a related, similar thought within your own belief structure that will allow you to understand what I am trying to say here.

This one sentence is, I believe, a statement about our species’ condition that can be understood through any spiritual belief system, certainly not only from a Christian point of view.  It belongs to the final “Last Seven Words” that Jesus Christ uttered from the cross of crucifixion.

Father forgive them, for they know not what they do (Luke 23:34).

SEE:

http://74.125.47.132/search?q=cache:c93sR4hE5jMJ:en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sayings_of_Jesus_on_the_cross+forgive+them+father+for+they+know&cd=1&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=us

http://bibref.hebtools.com/?book=%20Luke&verse=23:34&src=!

I cannot personally find it within myself to argue with these few simple words.  Nor can I really understand what they mean.  All I know is that situations exist between people on this planet that often come back to this fundamental concept of forgiveness.

I will never argue about religion, nor will I ever defend my own beliefs whatever they might be (and many might say they are eclectic).  But I will say that every time the topic of forgiveness arises in relation to my experience of 18 years of nearly constant, terrible insane abuse heaped upon me by my mother, my thoughts always return to the above 10 words.  By doing I pass the issue of forgiveness on up the ladder in an understanding that it originates from and in my case belongs to Powers much greater than me.

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I introduce the concept of forgiveness here before I describe the two branches of mental illness because believe forgiveness is ultimately about accountability and responsibility.  One of the two branches I do hold both accountable and responsible for their actions and the other I do not.  I belong to the first branch while I believe my mother belongs to the second.

As I have already mentioned in other posts I am ‘diagnosed’, through the current existing mental health system’s structure, as ‘having’ posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety disorder including severe recurring depression, and dissociative disorder.  Within a more enlightened system I would also be described as ‘having’ a severe disoriented-disorganized insecure attachment disorder, if not an adult version of the childhood version of Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD).  In the MOST enlightened system I would be considered to have logical physiological changes caused by adaptations that had to be made in order for me to survive in a devastatingly hostile world.

My mother was never formally recognized by anyone as having severe mental illness, so any attempt to ‘diagnose’ her happens in retrospect as a ‘best guess’.  She appears obviously to have suffered from a psychotic break,  from serious Borderline Personality Disorder, and probably had some Bi-Polar characteristics, as well.

What do I see as the main difference between the two of us, and why would I describe myself as being on one branch of mental illness and place her on an entirely different one?  What do I use as the final determining factor for the difference between us?

Returning to the originating point of both of these two branches in their common source of developmental adaptation to a malevolent early environment, and to my description of disorganized-disoriented insecure attachment disorder, I can say that both of us have the same roots to our mental illnesses in the same kind of brain operation:  DISSOCIATION.

The distinction I make between the two branches and the mental illnesses that are found on each one, is that in some forms of mental illness such a dissociative break occurred during their development that the survivor has had the ability to connect to their self removed.

Continued survival necessitated that this break occur to prevent the overwhelming nature of their exposure to trauma, as experienced by a self in connection to a mind overcome by that trauma, to continue their lives hopefully without destroying their bodies.  As we know, this break is not a guarantee to continued life in a physical body because some still succumb to self destruction.

This fundamental dissociative break between the experience of ongoing life and the self results in brain and body changes that protect life itself at the same time the more advanced and developed abilities to experience consciousness are interfered with.  As a consequence these people lack real self reflective abilities, do not appear with what all the rest of us would consider a conscience, and have had the exercise of free will and choice based on self consciousness removed from them.  Theirs is a different, and often dangerous, version of reality.

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Those of us that do not have the genetic potential to take this detour during our developments that results in a single, profound and fundamental dissociative break in our connection to self — the operation of self and a connection to self being the result a very real (and visible through advanced brain imaging techniques) physiological brain operation — develop along what I see as the other branch.

Both branches, again, involve dissociational patterns as they occur in the brain’s function.  Those of us that I would place on this branch I see myself on as different from the one I see my mother as being on, have NOT suffered a fundamental break that prevents us from having access to our self.  Having some access to our self is still in the operational loops within our brains (most of the time) while theirs is not ALL of the time.

What do I mean by ‘most of the time’?  It is the nature of dissociation when and as it occurs to create some kind of breach between the ongoing experience of being alive in a body and the self.  For some, I believe, the dissociative breach happened once and for all and can only be said to be ‘a pattern of one’.

For the rest of us, dissociation can happen thousands and thousands of times throughout our life time, caused by exposure to a million trauma triggers.  In between these triggered reactions those of us on this different branch can access some version of a connection to some version of our self while the others cannot.

A very graphic, though not disgustingly bloody, image just popped into my awareness as I finished writing my last sentence.  I see those on the one branch where I would place my mother as having a head completely severed from their body.  This head hovers closely above the body and follows where it goes but there is no connection between the two.  Those of us on the other branch have a head that is partially severed by that is connected through the equivalent of vital main arteries and nerves.  Strange image, I know…..

If I go outside to start my car and find the battery is dead, it does me no good at all to forgive my car’s battery for failing me and for making my life more difficult.  I think about my own abuse history and my mother in the same kind of factual way I would think about a dead battery.  No amount of magical wishful thinking involving denial or forgiveness is going to get my car started.  Neither do I see that it applies to my thinking about my mother.  If an individual is forced through conditions of early trauma to severe their connection to self they are just as cut off from their power source of consciousness as my car would be from the power of a working battery.

++++++++++

By thinking in terms of this tree, and by identifying how a person ends up on one branch or another, we can begin to separate out what really is the magical wishful thinking process of denial from the more helpful process of learning new facts about how our brains develop.  Brains CAN and DO develop in such a way that the more advanced abilities related to having a self and an operational connection to this self are left out of the picture.

It might seem like an odd assessment to make, but I consider that the term and topic of ‘forgiveness’ is often tangled up with magical wishful thinking that is actually a denial of the facts regarding the risks and consequences of severe maltreatment as it affects human development.

I have no desire to protect my mother, excuse or justify her horribly abusive behavior toward me.  I equally have no desire to forgive her.  I see both my mother and her behavior in the light of fact, not magical wishful thinking that leads to denial.  I think we have to be very careful in our thinking about forgiveness because of the risk we take in involving forgiveness with our denial of the very real physiological causes and consequences of severe maltreatment during early brain formation stages.

As long as we keep forgiveness tangled up with our denial of the facts, we will never truly find ways to heal the very real damage done to our perpetrators, to ourselves and being done to others on an ongoing basis.  If we continue to apply magical wishful thinking to the real conditions of our existence, we will be at the same time also denying that we have a very REAL problem that has very REAL solutions — a problem caused by factual conditions that we can factually address, heal and resolve.

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This is, to me, simply a helpful clarification process.  It is a form of inventory taking that can help us identify both our possession of specific resources and our lack of resources.

I aim for realistic rather than wishful thinking.  As children, we all moved through a Theory of Mind developmental stage during which we processed, incorporated, and integrated outsiders’ thinking into our own brain-mind.  It can feel uncomfortable to have our final thinking structure ‘threatened’ by the introduction of thoughts that do not seem to match the Theory of Mind that we came up with.

Our individual and collective cultural Theory of Mind is always open to learning, growth and change if we are flexible and wise enough to let this happen.  This growth requires of all of us that we allow new information to enter our thinking process, and as we do so we change who and how we are in the world. I see this as nothing more than a ‘reality checking’ process that allows us to continue to move past the childhood stage of ‘magical wishful thinking’ in some new way every day of our lives.

I believe that as we do this ‘work’ we can — individually and collectively –push ourselves further and further away from the EVENT HORIZON of trauma and the effects traumas have upon us throughout our adult lives.  The literal meaning of an event horizon has to do with what happens near a Black Hole in space.

From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Event_horizon

we read:  “In general relativity, an event horizon is a boundary in spacetime, most often an area surrounding a black hole, beyond which events cannot affect an outside observer. Light emitted from beyond the horizon can never reach the observer, and anything that passes through the horizon from the observer’s side appears to freeze in place, with its image becoming more redshifted as time proceeds.”

I believe that this image applies to our work related to healing trauma.  I believe that degrees of childhood magical wishful thinking that remain within our individual and collective Theory of Mind constructions put us at increasing risk for being sucked into the hole trauma can create in the fabric of a good life filled with well being.  The good news is that we can always learn more about what is real in the world, and each time we do learning, we are replacing an immature magical wishful thought with some new fact.  Facts are based in the real world as best we can understand it.  Continuing to grow our Theory of Mind as it informs our actions is what I think healing is all about.

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How do we know what magical wishful thinking is?  I see the image of my son when he was three to four years old as he ‘plays’ with my well used tall metal kitchen stool laid down on the floor.  His favorite ‘game’ for many moths was to sit on the floor inside it with his legs straight out in front of him between the stool’s supporting cross pieces.  His hands were constantly moving around the top round seat piece ‘as if’ it were a space ship’s steering mechanism he had to use to maneuver himself through all of his ‘imaginary’ spaceship adventures.

When adults see young children engaged in this kind of ‘play’ we know that what is happening within the child’s mind is very different than what is happening inside our own as we watch.  If we try to tell the child that their world is ‘not real’ they will look at us blankly, walk away and do something else because we have ruined their experience, or simply ignore us and go on with their game.  We cannot, at this stage of their development, actually change the way their mind is perceiving their world, though how we interact with them does influence the growth process they are involved in.

The fact that the old metal kitchen stool was not a spaceship meant absolutely nothing to my son.  In fact, my true concern eventually had nothing to do with his mental state.  I became, as the months went by and his body continued to grow larger, became worried about his body.  And I was right to worry.  There DID come a day when he wedged himself so tightly into position within the legs and cross pieces of that stool that he couldn’t get out.  I couldn’t get him out, either.

He started screaming in panic and terror.  It would not have been helpful for me to become involved in my son’s magical thinking world, even if I could have.  I needed to be in the real world of fact so I could effect a solution to this very real problem.  I left his older sister beside him on the floor while I ran for the apartment manager to help us.  It was only through a process of him using a crow bar and force to bend the legs of the stool that we were able to extricate my son from in between the steel pieces.  Obviously, that ‘game’ was over.

It had not mattered before that time what I said to my son regarding my concerns.  He had to really learn the facts by getting himself so stuck within the stool that he needed serious help to get out that he was forced to finally leave behind his much loved child’s game.  Before that time arrived he was not only perfectly capable of retaining his state of magical wishful thinking, but self determined to do so.

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How, when, where and to what degree were we able to pass through our own Theory of Mind developmental stages so that we left some part of our magical wishful thinking behind us?  How willing are we to continue in our adulthood to exercise our brain’s infinite abilities to learn, grow and change?

Nobody is going to magically appear and sweep us away from the dangers of the event horizon of ongoing effects from trauma, no matter how much we might wish that they would do so.  This is something that we all must do together.  Learning the actual facts about how trauma changed our bodies and our brain-minds during development in malevolent conditions can lead us to new facts, and is it not the truth what will actually set us free?

As long as we continue to keep magical wishful thinking a part of our Theory of Mind related to the causes and consequences of severe early abuse during developmental stages, we are NOT going to find the very real facts we need in order to prevent this disaster from occurring in the first place, or to find realistic hopes for healing once it has occurred.

+THREE PART ANALYSIS OF MY MOTHER’S STORIES

After much work I present this information in response to this comment a reader made in reference to my mother’s stories:

“Linda,  I have read your mother’s childhood stories, particularly the one where you say she has a “break” deep inside her childhood mind.  I don’t see it from a readers point of view.  Can you explain why you feel this is an important story?”

I know that my own sisters had the same response when they read ,y mother’s stories.  Perhaps nobody but me will ever see what I see in them.  I don’t know that I can adequately describe what I know about my mother through her childhood writings, but I tried…..

+MY ANALYSIS OF MY MOTHER’S STORIES – PART 1

+MY ANALYSIS OF MY MOTHER’S STORIES – PART 2

+MY ANALYSIS OF MY MOTHER’S STORIES – PART 3

+CATCHING UP ON MY MOTHER

I didn’t finish writing this section until many of you had probably already read yesterday’s post so I am including the link here because it is contains important information to my story.  Please be patient with how slow the page might load on your computer.  There’s lots of informtion on this blog and wordpress.com loads more slowly as a result.

+What I Suspect of My Mother’s Early Childhood

I also encourage readers who haven’t yet done so to read

My Mother’s Childhood Stories

I’ll write more later today……

Thank you for visiting.  Linda

+TRAUMA DRAMAS ARE A BRAIN’S REPEATED ATTEMPTS TO COMMUNCIATE

In my reply to the comment on yesterday’s post I described why I do not believe that my mother had the ability to distinguish right from wrong.

https://stopthestorm.wordpress.com/2009/05/17/dissociation-and-my-version-of-an-utopian-world/#comments

In my reply I referred to my mother’s childhood stories because I believe they include her own description of the break that happened within her own mind and the point where she became not only lost to herself but also lost her ability to connect with the ‘reality’ that most others remain in contact with throughout their lives.

My Mother’s Childhood Stories
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I believe that one of the clearest indicators that unresolved trauma from childhood continues to exist in a person can be found by looking at the ‘trauma dramas’ that  repeat themselves in adulthood.  This happens because the nature of unresolved trauma is that it cannot be integrated into the body-brain of a person who has been overwhelmed by it.

John J. Ratey, who authored the book “A User’s Guide To the Brain:  Perception, Attention, and the Four Theaters of the Brain”

(Vintage Books, 2002 —

http://www.amazon.com/Users-Guide-Brain-Perception-Attention/dp/0375701079/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1242667313&sr=1-1)

wrote the following:

“The confusing terminology that neuroscience applies to the brain and its functions will itself eventually need to change – and it will as our understanding of the brain deepens.  Scientists looking at pathology are still caught up in the unitary hunt for the broken neural component they imagine to be at fault, and are doing their best to match up specific brain functions with specific neurogeographical locations.  The sooner we replace our mechanistic model of the brain with an ecologically centered, systems-based view, the better off we will be, for such a model better accounts for much of human experience.  (Ratey, p.4)”

“…the brain is largely composed of maps, arrays of neurons that apparently represent entire objects of perception or cognition, or at least entire sensory or cognitive qualities of those objects, such as color, texture, credibility, or speed.  Most cognitive functions involve the interaction of maps from many different part [sic] of the brain at once…  The brain assembles perceptions by the simultaneous interaction of whole concepts, whole images….the brain is an analog processor, meaning, essentially, that it works by analogy and metaphor.  It relates whole concepts to one another and looks for similarities, differences, or relationships between them [bolding is mine].  It does not assemble thoughts and feelings from bits of data.  (Ratey, p.5)”

Although metaphor and analogy are unconventional in scientific circles, I am firmly convinced that a more nonlinear kind of thought will eventually supplant much of the logical reasoning we use today [bolding is mine].  Chris Langton, one of the primary researchers in the field of complexity theory, has speculated that in the future science will become more poetic…..real trust, when emotions are running high, is based on analogy, not calculation.  (Ratey, p.5)”

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I firmly believe in the truth of what Ratey is saying, and I also believe that as we move further ahead in the development of our understanding about how the brain actually works — in contrast to how we assume it works — we will know more about what the experience of mental illness actually is for people who have it.  We will also know more about what creates the experience of severe child abuse for the offspring of people with mental illness such as my mother had.

As I prepare myself to write +What I Suspect of My Mother’s Early Childhood (Please read this page, it is important!), I also think about another very important piece necessary to the understanding of my mother’s abuse of me.  Please follow this link to one of the important writings of Dr. Stephen B. Karpman titled, “Fairy Tales and Script Drama Analysis.”

http://www.itaa-net.org/tajnet/articles/karpman01.html

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Having the ability to use language means that we can assign words to bits and pieces of our experiences.  It is a commonly recognized fact that one of the symptoms of PTSD and unresolved trauma is that the language centers of the brain cannot actively participate in the integration process through verbal articulation of the traumatic experience.  I believe that leaves the right brain’s ability to process information in wordless images responsible for attempting to heal the traumas.  It does so most actively through reenactment.

Communication through bodily movements is a far, far older means of expression than words or even hand signals are, and directly links to the emotional brain through activation of the amygdala brain region.  SEE:

Bonda et al, 1996

Montreal, Canada) eva bonda, Michael petrides, david ostry and alan evans  “Specific involvement of human parietal systems and the amygdala in the perception of biological motion”  in The Journal of Neuroscience, june 1, 1996, 16(11), 3737-3744 http://www.jneurosci.org/cgi/reprint/16/11/3737

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I believe that the ‘cognitive map’ interactions that Ratey talks about become disturbed as a result of overwhelming trauma.  This matters MOST when we are talking about severe early chronic child abuse and maltreatment because the child is building its brain during these experiences that will establish what these maps are and how the brain will process information contained in the maps for the rest of their lives.  As my mother’s childhood stories indicate, she wrote these stories as her brain was actively trying to form a working Theory of Mind, SEE Google search:

http://www.google.com/search?q=theory+of+mind+development&sourceid=navclient-ff&ie=UTF-8&rlz=1B3RNFA_enUS270US307

Because the traumas of her early life had overwhelmed her abilities to resolve them, she was forever left in this unresolved state with her right brain’s dramatic, metaphoric processes trying to resolve these traumas by itself without the assistance of the left brain or higher cortical thinking.  This, to me, reflects the overriding purpose of repeated trauma dramas in adulthood.  The person is acting out and communicating with the BODY what the mind does not have the ability to process within itself.

This is why I believe Karpman’s writings are so critically important in our attempts to understand what our abusive childhood experiences were linked to.  While we might rather believe that some cut-and-dried scientific explanation will eventually appear that will allow us to place our experiences of trauma and abuse in some clinically sterile container, all sealed off and logically explained away, I do not believe such a solution will ever be possible to attain.

Life can be extremely messy, especially when unresolved traumas have to repeat themselves through trauma dramas that nobody, either inside the situation or outside of it, seem to be able to understand.  This is why I do not believe that forgiveness has anything to do with healing from the 18 years of severe abuse I suffered from under my mother.  She was simply a very big, very mean, dangerous psychotic body trying to actively resolve her experiences of early trauma through the communicative actions of the trauma drama that was her life.

We expect play among children to be their age appropriate means of coming to terms with their lives.  Yet we do not realize that when a brain-mind is forced in childhood through malevolent interactions with early environments to take a detour in its development, as adults we still continue to play in a similar way.  Where is that magic line where acting something out in childhood becomes dangerous in adulthood?  I don’t think we know exactly where that line really is, do we?  When does this tendency of the human being to act out dramas become a deadly serious game, where playing for keeps means disaster and the cost is the lack of well being for human lives?

That is why a childhood such as mine was seems like a nightmare and is as illogical and unreasonable as dreams can be.  In either case the brain is trying to process information through a left brain-right brain integration effort.  In situations where a child’s ability to process trauma is overwhelmed, there is nothing they can do the rest of their lives to resolve it.  THAT is only one part of the tragedy.

Other parts of the tragedy include the facts that we do not necessarily recognize when such traumas are overwhelming a young child, we do not actively intervene or prevent these traumas from occurring, and we sure do not make adequate and appropriate therapy available universally to those who suffered from these overwhelming traumas in the first place.

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Any time I see repeating patterns indicating a lack of well being in an adult’s life, my own included, I can now easily see the trauma drama actions of the right brain trying to resolve traumas through action of the body.  Those of us caught in these repeating trauma reenactment cycles never learned that life could be about anything other than suffering in an unsafe and insecure world.  We were never told that we would act out in our lifetime the traumas that were impossible for our brains to process and integrate in any other way, including through the natural process of sleep and dreaming.  It doesn’t take long for the very real consequences of our actual choices and actions in the real world to so encapsulate us in our lives that we have little or no hope of escape.

This is so far past judgment that I cannot even see that it applies.  If we ever encounter someone with a severed artery we don’t stop and first ponder how this accident happened before we offer life saving assistance.  Yet when it comes to recognizing repeated trauma dramas in our own and in one another’s lives we are rapidly coming to a point when these dramas are occurring so often among us that we think they are normal. This, to me, is creating a nearly overwhelming burden for those who were and are safely and securely attached in the world.  Who else is there to show us there is a different and a better way to live other than bleeding to death?

The further we wander away from our meaningful and adequate social attachment relationships with one another as members of a social species, the more at risk we become for suffering from isolation loneliness, depression, addictions, harmful conspicuous consumption, obesity and all manner of neglect of our offspring, ourselves and our environment.  We are more and more often spending our lives in a state of lack of well being trying desperately to repair what was never built right in the first place.

People such as my mother was are like the warning canaries the miners used to assess the safety of their working environments.  The demise of my mother’s mind happened because nobody was paying attention.  My own suffering in my childhood happened for the same reason.  The environment of trauma that both of us grew up in happened because we were cut off from life saving assistance from others of our species.  Isolation breeds dis-ease in a social species.

And because we are members of a social species we are innately destined to attempt to communicate within ourselves and to others the state of our reality.  Trauma drama reenactments, as unconscious attempts to communicate the reality of malevolent experience both within our own brain and to others of our species, are seldom heard and seldom understood.  The nature of the traumas simply keep passing themselves down the generations until someone at some time listens to these communications, GETS IT and offers the life saving means to resolving the traumas so that they can finally STOP repeating themselves.

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Repeated trauma dramas always indicate not only that a lack of safety and security existed in the first place, but that this same condition continues to exist in the present.  They tell us about our insecure attachments within the world we live in.

+DISSOCIATION AND MY VERSION OF THIS UTOPIAN WORLD

Every one of us begins life as a unique individual.  Through our early interactions with our caregiving environment we “come down into the world” as James Hillman describes in his book “The Soul’s Code.”

http://www.amazon.com/Souls-Code-Search-Character-Calling/dp/0446673714/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1242590259&sr=1-1

I believe that if an infant’s caregiving interactions are of a malevolent kind, an individual’s ability to grown down into the world is interfered with.  This interference will be reflected in the changes the body and brain are forced to make in adjustment to a malevolent world.  Of all the consequences that originate through these adjustments, the one I want to write about today has to do with integration.

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A person learns from infancy how to integrate their self within their environment.  This all happens through the ‘rupture and repair’ patterns that are established within an infant’s body, nervous system and brain through its interactions with its first caregivers.  Because I believe that hope is an innate hard-wired physiological ability available to us from birth, the potential for a lack of hope resulting in hopeless despair and disappointment also exists within us from birth.

If an infant’s early caregiver interactions are adequate and appropriate, hope thus becomes intertwined with this ‘coming down into the world’, or coming to live in a body in this world.  If an infant’s experiences result from inadequate and inappropriate early caregiver experiences, hopeless despair and disappointment will grow into an infant’s body as this body grows into the world.

In cases such as mine, when the pattern of early caregiver interactions occurs within the context of severe mental illness, not only will the inadequate and inappropriate nature of the infant’s experiences change the way it grows on all levels, but there will be introduced an additional, complicating factor — the insanity of the mental illness itself.

Mental illness is a manifestation of brain operations that are occurring outside the range of ‘normal’.  The ability to use the brain as it has evolved to operate in ‘best case’ scenarios has been removed and has been replaced with alternative operational patterns — most usually in response to its early formational environment of deprivation and malevolence.  In these cases REASON no longer operates correctly.  Someone whose brain operates like my mother’s did will not have the ability to think reasonably on any level.  They therefore live in a world of their own creation, a reality that is entirely processed through a brain that has not formed to operate correctly.

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I can only speak for myself about how my reality formed through my interactions with my mother from birth.  There was no possibility of my being able to discern reasonable patterns of cause and effect as my brain developed.  It is only because of the many resiliency factors that also influenced me in childhood (see previous post on resiliency) that I managed to form a brain that has a reasonable sense of cause and effect built into it.  One of the most important resiliency factors that I have to consider is that I evidently did not have the same kind of mental illness genetic combinations available to me to use in order to survive the overwhelming pain of my own childhood that my mother had.

My mother’s irrational control over my developing mind was, however, nearly as pervasive as it was chronic.  She shared in common all of the techniques used by the Chinese in the early 50s to control the minds of prisoners — and she did this to me from birth until I left home at 18.  As a result I will never be able to fully gain control of my own mind away from her brain and mind forming influence.  She made sure that her irrationality became a part of me and she was supremely successful.

But she could never actually control ME, the me that I was from conception, the me that did the interacting with her from the start of my ‘growing down into the world’.  Unfortunately that ME was prevented from integrating properly into a body in this world.  She filled so much of the space and time that should have been MINE that there was precious little left over during that 18 years for me to have experiences that were not in some way influenced by her and her mental illness.

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I write about this today in order to point out a single important aspect of how my early patterns shaped how I am in the world today.  Because my mother constantly pointed out to me through her actions and through her words that I was evil, not human, the devil’s child and BAD, I grew up absolutely believing her.  Through this process the ME that endured these experiences evidently learned that all of the world outside of my influence must be a perfect place.

That fact made logical, reasonable sense in my growing mind.  If Linda was so bad that anyone involved with me had to suffer as from a ‘curse’, then anyone whose life I did not touch must have a perfect life.

I call this today my “Utopian Complex’, and there will evidently never be a logical, rational or reasonable way that I can alter this fundamental belief that I have about myself in relationship to the world outside of my sphere of ‘influence’.  As a result, I still fundamentally believe that the world ‘out there’ is a perfect place and if it isn’t, it sure should be.  In my logically illogical mind, there is absolutely no excuse for the world not to be perfect outside the range of my own personal influence.

This, to me, is an example of how having a brain formed under the conditions presented by my mentally ill mother’s brain-mind gave me a version of what infant brain development specialists call the infant’s ‘unsolvable paradox’.  These researchers know that severely maltreated infants know on a profound level that they have to ‘go on being’ in a world that is so dangerous that possibility is not possible.

This is the consequence of a brain-mind-body that is overwhelmed by traumas outside the possibility of addressing through any known coping ability an infant has.  The paradox is formed deeply within the brain-mind simply by the fact that the infant (myself included) DID survive what was impossible to survive.

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Because I was told from the moment I was born that I caused nothing but trouble and was the cause of all the troubles in my family, and that their world would be perfect if I wasn’t in it, I simply applied logic in an incremental fashion to include my relationship with the entire world outside of myself.  I understand today that my version of building the unsolvable paradox into my being as I grew down into my body and into the world is certainly not the worst that I could have done.

But it only happened THIS way because of the consistent and pervasive psychosis my mother suffered from in relation to me from my first breath.  Infant’s crave consistency and I have to say my mother certainly provided me with that!  My understanding of cause and effect did not grow to apply to me on an ongoing personal level, but was rather accomplished on the level of the grand scheme of ‘Linda versus the world’.

This world was of course represented by my mother as my brain-mind formed, and because she formed her own brain-mind so completely into my developing one, and because I cannot extricate her from my brain-mind, I am simply left with the understanding that the world has no reason to be less than perfect if I haven’t personally done something to harm it.

I doubt that I can communicate to you that this ‘reality’ is not a ‘maybe’ to me.  In the essence of my relationship to being in this world at all, it is fact.

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Of course the other side of this double-edged sword, the other part of this paradox that formed itself into me is that it is a bad thing that I am in the world at all, and especially that it is hopeless for Linda to have a good life because Linda is in it.  Talk about a no-win predicament!  I cannot both live a life and not be in it at the same time!  This is, to me, the end result of being so told I was bad and that chance of becoming good was so hopeless and impossible, that I simply excluded myself from my own life.

This may be a difficult thought to follow because it is NOT based on reasonable logic as a ‘normal’ brain would understand it.  But I suspect that dissociation within my brain is directly connected to having been forced to live a life for 18 years from birth without ME being allowed to be in it.  Each separate experience of my childhood simply happened, but I had no ongoing sense that I was a part of those experiences or any ongoing sense that they happened to me.

It was similar to “If a tree falls in a forest and there’s nobody there to hear it, does it make a sound?”  And if the answer to that question is “No” once, then it is always so.  From the first time I dissociated myself from the ongoing experiences of the traumas that were my childhood I was being forced to live a life without ME in it.  If it happens once or happens a million times, the result are the same:  A disconnection from a meaningful fluid ongoing experience of being alive in a body in the world.

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I know I experience what attachment experts call a disorganized-disoriented insecure attachment disorder.  This kind of attachment disorder, I believe, has dissociation so built into it that the person’s ongoing life cannot be separated from it — ever.  It results from ongoing experiences from birth that were not based on logical, rational cause and effect processes and through an absence of adequately resolved patterns of rupture and repair.

In my case true hope  ‘floated’ so far away from my own personal experience of life that it ‘landed’ at the unreachable interface of where I can imagine the ‘world’ as being separate from myself.  Every infant grows into its brain a conception of where its boundaries are, of what lies on its own insides compared to what lies on its outsides.  If the early interactions an infant has as it forms these mental boundaries are based on irrationality, the boundaries themselves will not form normally.

In a normal brain, all ongoing experiences are connected together to form a ‘coherent life story’ with the person being the one living the life.  I can only artificially construct my own life story from the millions of disconnected pieces that lie alone, separated and isolated, somewhere in my memory.  And yet this fact is just one of the small pieces that I believe reflects the kind of damage that results from severe early malevolent abuse.

I will never know if someone’s intervention on my behalf, that could have resulted at least in a different pathway for me through the rest of my childhood, would have left me with less devastating damage.  I believe that it would have.   Removal would have prevented my mother from being able to consistently build her ‘case’ against me (and into my own brain-mind) over the many, many years she had control over me.   I was not given the opportunity to experience myself outside the reach of her terribly distorted mind.