+WE NEED NEW WORDS TO DIALOG WITH OUR BODY ABOUT TRAUMA

I am trying to think of another word other than ‘renaissance’, or rebirth, to describe what I wish was happening now among those of us ordinary people who are trying to live the best lives we can without necessarily having the kind of safe and secure attachment background we needed to get along better in life.

I am thinking especially about what little information we really have about our bodies and how they operate.  Sometime in our first year of life people begin to teach infants about their body — and most of us never progress much past that point!  We are taught to point to our eyes, nose, mouth, ears, limbs, etc.

Eventually we learn through our public education and then through osmosis over time about the major organs of our body, and make little progress past that point unless we get sick and then learn the minimum we need to in order to understand what is happening to us.  We seem to prefer to use only one syllable words to think about the only body we will ever have to live in for the rest of our lives.

Yet while we would rather leave anything more complicated than what we consider essential to the ‘experts’, at the same time I do believe our platform of information concerning our bodies is making advancements.  We hear about things through the general media and that information will eventually ‘stick’ if we hear it enough and somehow we begin to understand it is important because it applies to us.

As we are doing this learning, as unintentionally as it might be, we are at the same time expanding our vocabulary.  It’s no different than teaching an infant the word for their nose.  We are learning to name what is going on inside of us.  Yet at the same time we are learning meanings for words like diabetes, hypertension, obesity, allergies, arthritis, osteoporosis, cancer, learning disabilities, addiction, anxiety, depression, serotonin, dopamine, reward system, we less likely to learn how these kinds of ‘events’ are all connected within us to who we are within our own body.

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We all know we are dependent upon and would rather support a medical model that prefers to respond only to symptoms,  prescribe every kind of expensive test to diagnosis illness, dish out every imaginable kind of drug to treat sickness than we are to put forth the effort ourselves to learn any more complicated information about our body than we have to.

Why is that?  When and how did we learn to accept that we don’t need to learn anything more than a 5th grader could learn about how our body operates?  Did someone tell us we are too dumb to learn anything more complicated?  Looking backward, maybe this kind of thinking has worked for all of the generations that have gone before us.

Today there are more of us living longer than ever before in history.  But taking material goods out of the equation, what is our quality of life?  Particularly, what is the quality of our human attachments — our own attachment with our self included?  As a social species, it matters.  We have the desire to live our years better, last longer, and suffer less.  Understanding how our attachment system operates, what has hurt it and what can help it can help us live a better life on every level because it operates on every single level of who we are.

Those of us who suffered from extra-ordinary trauma and abuse during our developmental stages especially need to learn the words that will let us be able to understand how that abuse changed our bodies.  I see it as being no different than any healing process of disclosure. Any improvement we can make to talk about the effects our traumas had on us is empowering.  Trauma changed our bodies, and we don’t even know — on the most vital and profound levels — what that means.

We need the words.  We need them badly.  A  securely-attached-from-birth person has all that good-safe information built right into their body-brain-mind.  They don’t have to think about it.  They don’t even need to talk about it.  They just live it.

Those of us who were so abused that we are the insecurely-attached-from-birth, however, have to learn NOW what these ‘others’ learned when they were supposed to learn it — as infants and young children.  Our communication signals between our body, brain, mind and self are all scrambled up.  We have to learn NOW what those ‘others’ learned from the time they were born.  We cannot efficiently and effectively learn NOW what we have no words to talk about.

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I think at this moment how strange it seems that I, of all people, would be writing about attachment.  Looking back at the strangeness, the unpredictable, escalating, irrational violence and abuse, looking back at the extreme isolation I was forced to endure through my childhood, I can’t help but say that of all the people I can imagine writing about attachment, I can be good at it because I am so bad at it.

Suffering from the long term consequences of an extremely abusive childhood can make us feel so alienated from what ‘ordinary’ people seem to now about living ‘ordinary’ lives that we might be tempted to simply throw in the towel, give up and quit.  Yet as I work my way through the volumes of technical, even molecular research information about our own internal cannabinoid (‘cannabis’)  (and opioid) attachment systems, I realize that by my just being alive I HAVE to know there are things about my attachment system that went right from the beginning or I most simply — would not be here.

I was attached enough to life from the beginning that I was conceived in the first place, implanted onto my mother’s uterine wall, received nourishment from her body, and made it through a difficult birth — just to GET here and to BE here.  Through all the terrible traumas, through all the pain, suffering, sorrows and sadness of my childhood I was still attached enough between my inner, true self and the world to STILL be able to find, recognize, appreciate and value beauty — wherever I found it as a very small child —  even in bubble shadows reflected on the bottom of a toilet bowl, even in the shimmering reflection of water on my bedroom ceiling when I was so punished for doing nothing but being alive.

I am amazed as I work on the endocannabinoid file regarding human reproduction.  Perhaps because I cannot take any kind of safe and secure attachment either lightly or for granted I marvel at the very essence of the miracle of life that was each of our beginnings.  How can such a perfectly ordered system like our attachment system is, be sent off into such difficult directions through insufficient if not outright malevolent circumstances of traumatic early childhood experiences?

I understand that given the requirements of staying alive — if at all possible, in the very worst of situations –that we could not make the adjustments we had to make to survive THEN and necessarily be ‘ordinary’ NOW.  Yet at the same time I also understand that all of it was and is about signals of communication on the molecular and genetic level between the environment we live in and the self we live in it with.

That is the same process that happened when I was conceived, the same process that is happening in each present moment I am alive, the same process that connects every moment of my life together with me in the center of it.

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If I did not have a disorganized-disoriented insecure attachment disorder I doubt that I would have ever been motivated to go looking for the big multiple-syllable words that I know I now need to understand the ‘extra-ordinary’ way my body-brain-mind was forced to adapt, develop, and the way it works now.  It is not by looking at all the ways I am dissociated, fragmented and disconnected that will make me feel more safe and secure in my own body in this world.  It is by looking at the ways I am associated, connected and organized that helps me to know that things can never be all that bad!  After all, I am a participant in some kind of miracle here!  We all call that — LIFE!

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So maybe ‘renaissance’, or rebirth, is the word I need.  Maybe as I go back all the way to my very first beginnings I can bring a new kind of understanding about my own place in my own body in my own life into my present.  I find I need to know new things and I need to know new words to know these new things.  I am sitting in the middle of a tragic relationship breakup, not far into a new future of cancer recovery, completely unsure of who I really am, of what I want, or of what is even possible for my future.

But maybe I do not know because I cannot know.  I have to wait for the signals.  The ones I need are not going to come from anywhere else other than from within my own body.  On the most tiny, minute level of who I am — right where my own molecules are constantly interacting with my genetics — something interesting is ALWAYS occurring.  It is that inner world that guides what happens to me as I interact with this great, big wide outer world.

I want to be amazed.  I want to be more attached.  Safely.  Securely.  Peacefully.  Whatever it takes for me to get there I will try to do.  This isn’t about whatever the Buddhist concept of detachment is.  I have been forced to be detached from my own self in my own body all of my life.  Terrible, terrifying, insane abuse put me in THAT place.  I want something new and different, something I think non-abused ‘ordinary’ people can take for granted all of their lives.

I want to know, without a single shadow of any kind of doubt, that I have a right to be here and do so willingly, if not eventually happily.  That was the destiny of the fertilized egg that was me in my beginnings.  How could it be anything but my destiny today?  I did not become lost to the path of that good journey on purpose (I had a great deal of help through a great deal of harm), and while it is taking the better part of my life to find my way back, it is not a journey I am making alone!

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+MAJOR CANNABINOID – ENDOCANNABINOID FILES ARE SORTED NOW

I have been working on the ‘endocannabinoid – cannabinoid system’ (our own naturally occurring ‘pot – marijuana’ system) files and now have the HUGE original file sorted out and broken down into smaller files.  These will not be easy reading.  They are for scanning over to get a general picture of the functions of this system.  I will be continuing my work on them as I refine these sections and as I attempt to actually write something in the form of a synthesis of this information that will be much easier to read than these huge files are!

The information is fascinating.  I doubt there is any other single place on the entire web where you can find so much information about such a little-known and critically important human physiological system!

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WARNING NOTE:

I see that not a single one of the Pubmed database article links will work with the format of this WordPress.com blog!  I am disappointed!  They are all live and lovely in my computer’s files!  Please click on this:

Pubmed database

and keep a window open while you read in case you want to cut and paste the article titles.  Otherwise, you will likely encounter this dead-end message:

Ooops…Where did you get such a link ?

Nasty, I know, but there’s nothing I can do about it on this site!  If for some particular reason you want the better, live-link version, leave me a comment and I will attach whichever of these files you want to an email and send them to you.

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*Evolutionary Origins of Endocannabinoid System

*Endocannabinoids – Fertility, pregnancy, lactation, infants and children

*** This file above had been edited into this quite readable essay:

*ENDOCANNABINOID SYSTEM AND HUMAN REPRODUCTION

*Endocannabinoid Protection and Regulation

*Endocannabinoids, Pain, Depression and Grief

*Endocannabinoid System, Fear and Anxiety

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+WHAT WE DID NOT LEARN ABOUT TRUST WILL HURT US

I discovered Brainwave.org this morning, an excellent site devoted to infant brain development through the age of three.  Another excellent site, EQ:  Emotional Intelligence Central, covers a broad range of information on the human social brain that, of course, was formed through the nature and quality of early infant caregiver interactions and affects us for the rest of our lives.

My web search this morning also brought me to a page on brain development of young children written at the university in Fargo, North Dakota where my one of my daughters works!  Another site for The Childhood Affirmations Program covers a wide range of information about “How You Can Shape Your Child’s Brain and Change the World.”

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I have had to narrow my search in my attempt to find the specific information I am looking for today.  I want to know more about when and how the very young infant brain begins to be able to know the difference between who is trustworthy and who is not.  The ability to make this distinction is something that most people can take completely for granted because it is built into an infant’s growing and developing brain so early in life we will never have conscious awareness of how we learned to accomplish this critically important task.

Those of us who were raised in extremely abusive – neglectful, inconsistent, violent, malevolent – early environments could not possibly have developed a ‘trustworthiness meter’ that works in the same way as such a system will for someone who was born into the opposite kind of environment of predictability, benevolence, safety and security.  What our brain never learned as it was built in the first place leaves us with a dis-ability that will make it difficult to recognize critical information from the humans we come into contact with for the rest of our lives.  Who is worthy of our trust and who is not?

Of course humans give and receive signals on many levels that provide us with social-brain information.  If we were formed in, by and for a malevolent world, we will not identify and respond to ANY social signals in the same way as a benevolently-formed person will.  I ask this question today for myself because I know that a person I have trusted for nine years recently ‘flipped sides’ and now appears to be my ‘enemy’.  My mind tells me, “I didn’t see it coming.”

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Whatever the specifics of my history with this man who was so important to me might be, what I think about today are the risk factors that I have carried within my brain from my earliest beginnings.  When I think about all the ‘trauma drama’ that adult child abuse survivors seem doomed to keep repeating, I want to understand more about how my altered social brain knows and does not know about how to recognize in other people what ‘ordinary’ people know so quickly, automatically and unconsciously it would make my conscious mind spin and stagger.

It helps me to realize and begin to know how profoundly my altered brain can affect me at even the most deeply important levels.  I also have to understand that there are degrees of social brain dis-abilities in people that I meet if they come from early abusive environments because their brains did not develop ‘ordinarily’, either!

Unfortunately, the information researchers are providing about how social brain development affects trustworthiness can be complicated and hard to read.  It is important, however, for us to at least know this information is available to us, and that this is a subject that concerns all of us who did not get to develop an ‘ordinary’ social brain in the first place.  Thanks to the internet we can approach the learning of information about our brain’s dis-abilities from either end of the age spectrum.

By looking at information contained in links I provided at the beginning of this post we can learn about how very young infant and child brains learn the important social and emotional information as their brains are forming from the start.  Accessing the information is easier if we look at it from the ‘young’ end.  We can think about our own abuse histories and begin to think about what happened to us, how that affected us, what we might be missing, and how we can begin to change our brains consciously.

We can also look at the information from the adult end.  That information is more complicated.  We CAN understand it with effort, however.  We need to erase that magic, invisible line that we keep in place between what the ‘average’ public can understand and what the ‘brainy experts’ can understand.

We are no longer children.  We have excellent brains, even if their development was altered through our need to adapt to malevolent early experiences.  While we might not consider our need to pay attention to new information about how our social, emotional brain-minds were changed to be of life-saving importance, we can understand that everything about how our brains formed affects the quality of our life and our states of well-being for our entire lifespan!

Even though the study might be difficult, it is worth the effort!  I encourage readers to try it.  Information empowers us on every level.  Even the process of acquiring the information, of learning itself, exercises our brain in positive ways.  Go ahead!  Give it a try!  Follow some of these ‘live links’ I have included in this post.

Even if your studying of this information helps you to better determine safety in ONLY ONE situation, your effort will be worth it!  And have fun with this.  It is not as impossible or difficult as you might think!  Everything and anything that we learn about how our social-emotional brain works will help improve our attachments — to our self, to others, and to the world as a whole.  It will also take the power away from trauma and give it to us.

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+THE QUALITY OF OUR ATTACHMENT SYSTEM DETERMINES HOW WE ARE IN THE WORLD

My sister recently sent me a link to an article she wanted me to read that was posted on one of the blogs she most frequents.  In two hours of work I have yet to move past the first reference posted within that article because I needed to write my own comment.  In my own mind I cannot separate what I understand about humans as attached social beings from what does or does not adequately attach us to the wider environment of the world we each live in.  I believe it is the same quality of our attachment system that’s been with us from childhood that determines all of the attachments we have in adulthood.

I couldn’t help myself.  I had to write this response to what I have read so far this morning:  *WHEN BEING SELFISH IS TOO SMALL A CONCEPT.

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+FROM OUR DEPTHS WE NEED TO LISTEN

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Fixing things.  That seems to me to be an interesting pattern some people have when faced with another person’s life circumstances.  It makes me wonder if all the fixing work has to do with someone else’s reaction to another person’s pain and discomfort.  Ah, this social network we live in — one way or the other.

Fixing things.  Giving all sorts of helpful advice, as if I haven’t already ‘thought about that’.  It makes me wonder, because I guess I am not naturally a ‘fixer upper person’.  I don’t think I naturally give advice.  I don’t think I know what another person is feeling.  Well, looking at it from my insecure attachment disorder and nearly complete lack of socialization opportunities when I was a child, I guess I would have to pretty much say I only know what another person might be feeling by tuning into my ‘sense’ of feeling what another person feels.

I listen, but not so much with my ears.  I watch, but not so much with my eyes.  This seems to be leading into a story I haven’t written yet — and I mean — yet, because it is probably one I need to write.  So, here goes —–

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Once upon a time this really happened.  I was finishing my art therapy masters degree program’s requirements for internship at an adult out-patient chemical dependency treatment center that specialized in treating people with extremely severe child abuse histories.  I remember this one day clearly that I worked with a wispy woman I’ll call Nora, who seemed more to float across the carpet than walk upon it.

On this day she was silent as she entered the art therapy room for her hour and a half session.  I greeted her gently.  I had two 8 foot tables arranged end to end with four chairs placed evenly, one at the center of each table’s long side.  I could sense her mood when she walked in the door, so after she entered I turned the light dimmer switch down to take the edge off of the room’s brightness.  Then I stood quietly near the counter along one wall where the art supplies were laid out and waited for Nora to pick a chair and sit down.

Nora’s quietness led me to select the art medium for her, and I picked up a large glass of water I had ready, a pre-moistened tray of tempera paint cakes, a 2 inch paint brush, and several newsprint sized pieces of paper.  I made no sound as I laid the items on the empty table beside Nora.  She did not look at me or at the art supplies.  I  stepped off to the side, slightly behind her back, to watch what Nora chose to do next.

I did not jump in there, noisy or steer her with questions.  I made no demands and no other intrusions into her ‘space’ other than to lay those art supplies within her easy reach.  I watched to see if it made her uncomfortable that I was behind her.  Would she turn in my direction?  No.  She didn’t show that she recognized I was in the room at all.

Nora picked up the paint brush, moistened it with water, and began moving her arms, free from the shoulder, from paint to paper to water to paint to paper.  Her movements were slow but steady, as if her inner rhythms washed across each page without effort.  Her work was silent, but she paused when a page was filled and I stepped to the table, took each finished image and quietly laid it on the floor to dry while she started another one.

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Nora felt to me to be very young as she painted.  Very quiet, very young, so young that I wasn’t sure she could even talk yet.  Nora was diagnosed with what was then called Multiple Personality Disorder.  It was not my job to do anything other than facilitate her art expression.  I did not need to know what was what, which was which, who was who.  My job was to let her communicate with something other than words or symptoms.  And that’s exactly what I did.

I watched intently as each image was created.  I noticed which colors were placed where on the paper in what order.  There were absolutely no definable, recognizable pictures taking form.  Yet the images that she was creating began to speak to me — not to my eyes, but to my sense of smell.  As Nora swished and washed each page I began to smell the unmistakably sweet flowery smell of bath powder.  Before long I began to see a lavender colored round powder box with a smokey-clear lid with a yellow soft fluffy fuzzy powder puff inside it.

I had absolutely no idea where that smell and the image of that box of powder came from, but after awhile I could see it so clearly that I could nearly have reached out both of my hands and snatched it right out of the air.  I needed to decide whose information this was.  Nora’s?  Mine?  Did it have anything at all to do with what this art therapy session was all about?

I answered my own questions and knew that I next had to find a way to introduce this image to Nora that had come to me so clearly.  How could I introduce words and my speaking voice into this well of silence that Nora seemed to be so comfortable in?  I didn’t want to surprise her or jar her or disorient her.

I walked out in front of the table where Nora was so intently working and into her range of vision.  If I had been a bird I would have flapped my wings a bit to stir up a slight breeze to catch her attention as I settled onto the chair across the table from her.

“Nora,” I began quietly as if that one word was the most important one in the world.  “An image has come to me while you’ve been painting.  It surprised me and I wonder if it has anything to do with what you are painting.  Is it alright if I tell you what it is?”

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Nora agreed and as she listened to me she transformed into an entirely different mind-state person.  What I sensed in that silent room was important, so important that I will never forget it.   Every time I think about this it amazes me even though it happened 20 years ago.

Nora was sexually abused from a very young age by multiple perpetrators.  The only safe person in her child life was her grandmother.  It would make sense, then, that it would only be at this safe person’s house that Nora could finally act out her pain and her rage — one single time.

When I described the powder box and the powder puff to Nora it was as if I had passed it from my hands to hers.  She went instantly to a memory of being five years old when she locked herself in her grandmother’s bathroom and began screaming and shouting and tearing that room apart.  Everything thrown out of the medicine cabinet.  The shower curtain ripped down, objects  smashed on the floor, thrown hard against the walls and the bathroom door.   All this time her grandmother was pounding on the outside of the bathroom door, yelling at Nora to open the door, to let her come in.

Other adults joined her grandmother in pounding on the door.  Someone found a way to open it.  The instant the door banged open and Nora looked up and met her grandmother’s eyes was the instant she was dumping the powder, puff first, into the toilet.

The look of shocked rage and betrayal on her grandmother’s face was enough to let little Nora know that she had just lost the only ally she had in the world, the only person she ever trusted or felt safe with, the person she adored, the one that never hurt her.  She was sure her grandmother hated her as much now as the people did who hurt her.  Zing!  Zap!  Crash, bash, bang!  Done!

That was the end of the trusting girl Nora.  She disappeared to any ongoing Nora at that instant, at that toilet, with that powder box in her hand.  She reappeared at that art therapy table, in that dimly lit and peaceful room, brought back to life through an hour’s work with a paintbrush sliding across pieces of paper.

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Along with all the other difficulties I might experience about how my brain did not form under ordinary conditions and is not, therefore, an ordinary brain, I can appreciate this gift that I seem to have to pay a particular kind of attention to signals that are being communicated on the subtlest of levels.  I was not feeling threatened in that room.  It was my job to be the one providing safety, security, and an appropriate art therapy experience.

So I could have my senses open in ways that I rarely can when out in the ordinary world.  Most of the time my heightened sensitivities create clash and conflict for me in that ordinary world.  But on that particular day, in that particular setting, the gifts could fly — both Nora’s in being able to transmit that image-message and in mine for being able to receive it.

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I do believe that as severe child abuse survivors we have some amazing and particular gifts that have come to us through enduring our traumas.  Yet in this ordinary world filled with mostly ordinary people, we can feel out of step in time and place, not able to modulate, moderate, or regulate how these gifts affect us — not when, where, or why.

In spite of my best intentions, and lots and lots of work to perfect my skills in my chose profession, I cannot pursue it.  Over time more of the reality of what was done to me and how I was affected by that severe and long term trauma, settled into my awareness.  It moved from an intellectual level into a very real emotional place connected to my body.  During this process of healing, the more I realized what a risk it was for me to be working with troubled people — both for them and for myself.

I would have to be in a more perfect world to do that kind of work as employment, not in an ordinary one.  My gifts were honed in trauma and do not translate into the mundane world on a regular basis.  This treatment center I served this part of my internship in could not hire me anyway, because I was not a licensed addiction counselor (which required a high school education and special training and could then be billed at $90 per hour) so insurance would not cover my services.   But finances, in the end, have nothing to do with the work itself.

This kind of work happens in a sacred space. If we want to talk about this kind of sacred in terms of ‘religion’ it needs to be connected to the root of that word:  ‘Religio’ means to tie and bind together.  What we can truly hear if we can allow ourselves to listen to one another can amaze us, and it has NOTHING to do with fixing anything or giving advice, no matter how well intentioned it might be.

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+STILL WORKING ON THE CANNABINOID FILE

Just checking in to say I am hard at work on my wall mosaic when the rains and lightning comes and I have to stop and unplug my computer.  The rest of the time I am hard at work sorting my mega cannabinoid file.

I know one thing that jumps out at me regarding the endocannabinoid system as it applies to digestion, eating disorders, energy regulation and the gut-brain connection relates to what we call having a ‘gut feeling’ about something.  I’m still too busy sorting through my accumulation of research to stop and think about this at the moment – but perhaps readers might have some interest in thinking about how gut feelings work and I’ll get back to you on this!!

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+LEARNING TODAY FROM YESTERDAY’S SORROW

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So far, what did I learn about my falling into the abyss of sorrow yesterday?  That is one of the strongest assets I have going for me:  I always want to try to learn something new, like a tool, that I can use to ‘be better’ and ‘do better’ in the future.  Days like yesterday was, I cannot learn anything.  I was too much in the thicket of the bramble bushes and in too much pain.  It took all the resources and certainly the strength of my sister to get out of it.

Today I have a day to try to do something different.  Because I have no idea what triggered such depth of my sorrow yesterday, it is hard to know how to walk through today differently so I can lower my risk for that happening to me again.  Yet even that realization is important — how fragile and vulnerable to upset I am right now.  Because I live with an inner mine field and an inner fire swamp, the very quality of my life — if not my very life itself – means I have to learn as much as I can about my disorganized-disoriented insecure attachment disorder and how it operates.

Today I am being as careful as I can be to consciously orchestrate not only my actions, but the exact condition of both my inner mind’s environment and the external environment I am spending my day in.

I am not strong right now.  Thankfully I have some income from social security disability because of how the added stress of cancer and the complications of chemotherapy impacted me, so that I can remain within the safe and secure boundaries of my house.  Yet because my breakup with the man who owns this house now threatens my home, my inner base of safety and security is additionally threatened by the circumstances I am surrounded by.

But for today I will do everything I can to control what might potentially trigger that sorrow that nearly overwhelmed me yesterday.

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The essence of what I learned so far today from what I went through yesterday is that I cannot handle surprises.  Because I am experiencing so much attachment-related stress right now, anything that might be a minor surprise for an ‘ordinary’ (safely and securely attached-from-birth person) translates into a total shock to my entire being for me.

What would stress an ‘ordinary’ person distresses me.  What would distress an ‘ordinary’ person — like an abrupt, unforeseen major breakup and threat of losing my home with no resources to move and no idea where I’d go, etc. — translates into my dissociated PTSD inner world as nearly a state of panic.

An ‘ordinary’ person has gradually built within themselves from the time of their birth an inner platform of safety and security that ALSO means they have built a cohesive SELF that they can count on to be with them ALWAYS.  If a person’s early world was chaotic, brutal and malevolent, the basis that they were forced to build from includes an entirely different ‘operating system’.  This means, as I now know, that I do not have the same inner resources that an ‘ordinary’ person has so that I can use them in ‘ordinary’ times, let alone threatening ones.

So, again, I ask how I would have walked through my life differently starting at age 18 when I left home, if I had know that for me life would often be like walking over a bottomless abyss of pain and sorrow with nothing to stand on but a gossamer thread of spider web silk?  Given what I see NOW, but only now, and knowing about my disorganized-disoriented insecure attachment disorder — and all the difficulties of being in the world that come with it — what can I do to make my life better?

At least spider web silk is extremely strong, “five times stronger, on a weight-to-strength basis, than steel,” so I have that going for me.  But I can never take for granted that I have the kind of inner balance that I need in order to make it through what an ‘ordinary’ person can with seeming ease.  I have to be careful, ever so careful.  I cannot take for granted what I always have before — that I can go on being no matter what difficulties I might encounter.

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I am beginning to see that everything and anything that I do is actually something I have far more of an investment in than should be ordinarily so.  This holds true for the people in my life, the places in my life and for all of my chosen activities.  A person is supposed to be organized (from birth) around a safe and secure cohesive self that they can access and count on to carry them through all the variations that life might throw at them.

I don’t have one of those cohesive selves, nor do I have guaranteed access to any particularly dependable patterns of reactions — ever.  Neither do I have a being that is organized around a personality disorder, such as my mother did (and probably my ex boyfriend).  At least the personality disorders, as I see it, have a sort of second self that was locked into place so early in development — through a combination of trauma and abuse interacting with genetic potential — that all the patterns of their ongoing lives are oriented and organized by and because of their disorder.

I also believe that because of the nature of the construction and operation of personality disorders, these people are confined and defined by the structure that the disorder provides for them.  In some important ways, they are prevented from becoming consciously aware of the depths of their own pain.  I do not believe they were born this way.  They were born with the potential to take that detour should they suffer enough during their early development.

For me and others like me, who suffered from terribly abusive and malevolent early-formative experiences and did not have the genetic combination for forming personality disorders, we are most vulnerable and fragile to disruption, disorganization and disorientation BECAUSE we did not have this option available to us during our development.

I suffer from dissociation, lack of a cohesive self, posttraumatic stress disorder and reoccurring major depression along with anxiety that works to trigger all of the above.  I do not, however, have a ‘disordered personality’ that can organize all these manifestations of childhood trauma consequences for me.

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I cannot walk my tightrope blindly through life.  I cannot count on any ‘secondary personality’ to carry the weight of my actions and reactions.  I am forced TO BE HERE, right in this body, one way or the other, all of the time.  My mother no doubt suffered throughout her life, but she had no way, no possible way,  of consciously knowing why.  I fell in love with a man who is in a very similar boat.  While all of us have a disorganized-disoriented insecure attachment disorder, I do not have a personality disorder that could have jumped in and taken over control by organizing my being.  My resulting trauma reaction difficulties are consciously mine.

Do I celebrate that I have an option they do not have, to learn, to recognize, to grow?  Only at this moment for the very first time in my life I question that the ‘prize’ I got in my Cracker Jack box is anything worthy of envy.  My single qualifier at this moment is that I cannot blithely, automatically, unconsciously and devastatingly hurt and injure other people.

If given the choice, would I then choose to personally experience the full impact of my disorder over having a personality disorder that could shield me from my own inner experience of devastation?  Yes.  I have to say yes.  Because I would not want to be able to hurt other people — and not even realize it or be able to change my patterns.  I would never wish to overcome other people with my pain, unconsciously or not!  Through it all, I would rather have access to a conscience.

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In the beginning, the middle and the end of it all, all of it is about surviving unmentionable early traumas that continue to affect us one way or another for the rest of our lives.  Because I had enough people around me that wanted me to continue as a part of their lives, I went through my year of treatments for double breast cancer and am still alive to talk about it.

Some powerful inner awareness knew that nobody on the outside could possibly know what that decision to stay alive cost me.  I have no access to resources — magical though they would need to be — to change how my brain-mind and entire body developed in an intolerably traumatic, malevolent world.  While, yes, my body is still alive I still suffer from invisible-to-others damage that I am just beginning to be able to describe for myself.

Major inner collateral damage that is the consequence of severe, chronic child abuse can never be erased.  It cannot be vanquished because it lies within the very body that hosted the experience of the abuse in the first place.  Those of us so affected must continue to try to understand in real-time how our disorganized-disoriented insecure attachment disorder operates.

If it is cloaked within a personality disorder the symptoms will be more clear if we know what to look for.  For the rest of us, we know on our insides what has made our lives so difficult to live.  We cannot afford to underestimate the power that everyone and everything we organize and orient ourselves around has in our lives.  We are using external sources and resources to do what an ‘ordinary’ securely attached — or even an organized-oriented insecurely attached — person can do within their own minds and bodies.

Knowing this, today I will be as careful of myself in my world and in my life as I can possibly be.  My hope for today is that even if I cannot achieve a state of being happy, at least I must achieve a state of not being overwhelmed with unbearable sorrow, pain and sadness.  I will organize and orient myself the best I can and hope that more and more I can learn to do this — better.

At the same time I must realize and accept that the entirety of the pain of my childhood is completely stored within my body and this body will not let go of it until it is dead.  That is a fact as I experience my life.  I can find ways to circumvent triggering it, but I cannot make the pain go away.  That is part of what bothered me most yesterday.

I know it is not possible in my lifetime to cry enough tears to make anything better.  It is terrifying when the tears start and I cannot make them stop.  I know there are readers who know what I mean.  But I believe we each have enough courage, hope and faith — no matter how much the pain hurts us — to keep going through each present moment into our future or we would not still be here contemplating that fact.

We have to know that the pain is there.  It is very real.  But we have a right to build a life that is MORE THAN THE PAIN, even if we can only do that one baby step at a time.

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+BIG, OLD PAIN – WHEN IT THREATENS MY BEING WITH SORROW

The danger for those of us who suffered from long term, violent child abuse is that we can so easily be overwhelmed with sadness.  Some of us cry rivers.  Some of us slam the door to our emotions shut so fast and so firmly that we can pretend we have no emotions at all.  At the root of both reactions still lies the same thing:  an insecure attachment disorder.

It can take such applied effort to make it through a pain filled day that it can make us wonder why we bother to try to go on at all.  I know.  I had one of those days today.

I have no words of wisdom.  I have no words, either, to express how fortunate I am that I have caring friends, and a dear sister who spent hours with me on the phone today as I tried to dig my fingernails into this thing called life.

I’m still here.  I painted my bathroom through my tears today.  I cleaned out my refrigerator and my freezer.  I did laundry and hung it in the fresh air on the line to dry.  I dug and redug my compost pile.  All of it, all day, through tears I could not stop.

I know that my insecure attachment disorder is a deadly serious one.  I know at the root of it lies fundamental disorganization and disorientation.  I have to be careful.  I try to be careful.  I try to keep moving forward no matter how sad I feel.  Next I am going to make a mosaic on my wall.  Because I want to.  Because I can.  Because it will be beautiful.  Because I can leave it here behind me if I am soon forced to leave this home.

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Anything that shakes what I organize and orient myself around is going to put me at risk for deep, dire trouble.  How would I have been able to live my life differently if I knew about my insecure attachment disorder a long time ago?  Could I have understood how vitally important it is for me to have not only a home, but a home of my own?  Yet I don’t see that I’ll ever have the resources, inner or outer to accomplish this in my lifetime.  But I don’t know that for sure.

I do know for sure that the thought of having to shred my home apart yet again in my life brought me to a state of sorrow that I have so deep inside of myself I know it has no bottom.  Why today did I need so to cry, and not so yesterday?  I do not know.  I do not know what triggered my pain so badly today, and not yesterday.

I have to have hope for tomorrow.  I have to hope that these tears cried themselves out today and will not find me such a vulnerable host for them — tomorrow.  Sometimes I fear that this hurting, sad, sad Linda who cannot stop crying is the closest to the real Linda I have.  When I cannot dissociate from her, into somebody else, I can do little else but cry.

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Suicide Prevention

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+FACTS ABOUT OUR BODY’S OWN ‘POT’ SYSTEM

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New pages being added to this section:

*AMAZING FACTS ABOUT OUR BODY’S OWN VERSION OF ‘POT’

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Young people in abusive homes, or coming out of them, are prime candidates for abuse of any substance or activity that makes them ‘feel good’ or ‘feel better’.  In cases such as mine, I had never had a chance to genuinely ‘feel good’ throughout the 18 years I lived at home.  Once I found substances that eased my overwhelming suffering and pain — that I didn’t even know existed — I was HOOKED.

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Cannabinoids – our own internal ‘marijuana’ system

I want to introduce a topic I am working on.  I will notify you on my progress as I complete the pages.  I assure you, you will have a hard time believing what I am going to say.  I sure did, but all the research backs up the facts.

We have our own internal ‘pot’ system in our bodies.  Nobody ever told me that!  I stumbled onto the research as I searched for topics related to our attachment system, and the research on attachment led straight to what is called our ‘endocannabinoid’ system.  Cannabinoid, of course, relates to cannabis.  ‘Endo’ relates to ‘endogenous’ or ‘our very own, inside our own body’,

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Because our attachment systems are rooted in our own opioid (related to ‘our own opiate’ system), it really didn’t surprise me to find cannabis implicated in our attachment systems, as well.  While our own system is not about the ‘getting high’ part, it is about being alive, staying alive and being well.

Our cannabinoid system is so involved with attachment that it governs attachment of sperm to egg, and attachment of egg to the mother’s uterine wall.  It’s the system that even makes newborns suck!  You can’t get any more essential than that.  Or, can you?

I want to give you as much information as possible, but it does get technical and complex.  I will simplify it as much as I can in the pages I am working on, and I will provide the ‘hot links’ to the references for the research itself.

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I was hooked on pot for many years, and it was that chemical combination that I could not live without that led me into inpatient treatment in 1980.  Back then, nobody believed marijuana could possibly be addictive.  I sure knew that it was.  I could not find any help specifically for my addiction to my drug of choice.  I had to go through a program tailored for alcoholism and then make my own translations to make the information given to me so that it applied to what I KNEW was my problem.

I understand now that I used marijuana to self-medicate.  I had no way of knowing even that I had been abused, let alone any way to know what that abuse had done to me.  I didn’t even know what depression was.  But that is what I was ‘getting stoned’ for, to combat all the feelings including the resulting depression that overwhelmed me.  I didn’t party.  I smoked when I woke up and then ‘could get things done’ throughout the day.  Without it, I could not get out of bed.

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In my own simple way I hope the information I present can combat some of the myths about the safety of marijuana for general use.  I do NOT believe it is safe.  I suspect that when we flood our bodies with an external source of the chemicals that our body naturally produces for itself – to control vital functions within our bodies – that we have to pay a price.   I suspect that “getting high’ has a cost and interferes with our own internal cannabinoid system in many, many ways.  Looking at the facts, our internal system is far, far too important to ‘mess around’ with!

Let me give you an idea of the bodily systems that are controlled in part or in whole by our own natural ‘marijuana’ endocannabinoid system — of course without the ‘getting high’ part of the chemical mix:

Learning, memory, reward, motor regulation, pain reduction, reduces alcohol withdrawal symptoms, can elevate dopamine neurotransmitter levels, regulates growth, energy balance control, is involved with thermo regulation – hypothermia, is in our fat cells (obesity), regulates appetite, food intake, digestion, protects the stomach from stress, modulates insulin release from the pancreas, is involved with signaling in regulation of hormone secretion in the pancreas, fights breast cancer – anti proliferative, cancer fighting, signals the immune system, controls bones and the skeleton, mediates septic shock, helps skin allergies, is part of the sleep regulatory process, is cardio protective – heart protection, neuro protective (protects brain cells), is anti-inflammatory, AND is fundamentally involved in fertility, controls sperm functions, controls signaling for implantation of zygote on uterine wall, regulates fertility, is involved in fetal brain development, central control of key aspects of pregnancy and lactation.

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I will be presenting research in the simplest format I can to support this list (above).  I hope it will inspire readers to follow the links as I give them and do some serious internet searching if this issue is of special importance to you or someone you care about.  Thanks for your patience as I put the rest of the pages together!!

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*AMAZING FACTS ABOUT OUR BODY’S OWN VERSION OF ‘POT’

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