I cannot improve the focus in these pictures. I expanded from the originals because I wanted to see the similarities between the three pictures in terms of my body language reflected in the three of them.
AND THIS IS HOW I SEE ‘THE WHOLE BALL OF WAX IN A NUT SHELL’
— the professionals back me up!
This describes what happened to me, to my mother, and the how and why of it all — the 18 years of severe child abuse I suffered — and how my mother became ‘mad’ enough to do it.
International Society for the Study of Dissociation
Journal of Trauma & Dissociation, Vol. 5(3) 2004
Digital Object Identifier: 10.1300/J229v05n03_09 119
Please follow (above) link to read this entire article and to find the exact references the authors are referring to in this section of their article (below):
“There is no consensus yet on the exact etiological pathway for the development of dissociative symptomatology, but newer theoretical models stress impaired parent-child attachment patterns (Barach, 1991; Liotti, 1999; Ogawa, Sroufe, Weinfield, Carlson, & Egeland, 1997) and trauma-based disruptions in the development of self-regulation of state transitions (Putnam, 1997; Siegel, 1999).
Newer theorizing ties maladaptive attachment patterns directly to dysfunctional brain development that may inhibit integrative connections in the developing child’s brain (Schore, 2001; Stien & Kendall, 2003).
From the vantage point of treating children and adolescents, a developmental understanding of dissociation makes the most sense.
That is, dissociation may be seen as a developmental disruption in the integration of adaptive memory, sense of identity, and the self-regulation of emotion.
According to Siegel (1999), integration is broadly defined as “how the mind creates a coherent self-assembly of information and energy flow across time and context” (p. 316).
In other words, Siegel sees the development of an integrated self as an ongoing process by which the mind continues to make increasingly organized connections that allow adaptive action.
Children and adolescents may present with a variety of dissociative symptoms that reflect a lack of coherence in the self-assembly of mental functioning:
1. Inconsistent consciousness may be reflected in symptoms of fluctuating attention, such as trance states or “black outs.”
2. Autobiographical forgetfulness and fluctuations in access to knowledge may reflect incoherence in developmental memory processes.
3. Fluctuating moods and behavior, including rage episodes and regressions, may reflect difficulties in self-regulation.
4. The child’s belief in alternate selves or imaginary friends that control the child’s behavior may reflect disorganization in the development of a cohesive self.
5. Depersonalization and derealization may reflect a subjective sense of dissociation from normal body sensation and perception or from a sense of self.
This condition and these symptoms originate with insecure early attachments. I believe they lie at the core of many (if not most) later-developing adult-onset ‘mental illness’ disabilities.
These descriptions of childhood dissociation apply to me, except for #4. I did not have enough of a self to even imagine friendship, real or imaginary. I also believe they all apply to my mother, with a shift in #4. She developed the imaginary belief that she could CONTROL her imaginary friends — her children (me being the enemy) rather than being controlled by them.
I can see the lost, empty child in these pictures, cut off from being a member of a family, cut off from the development of a clear and cohesive self. Devoid of a connected lifetime of experience, I appeared simply as a physical body taking up space in the universe, not as an animated LIVING child present as an identity within that body.
At any given moment my exact existence was only determined by the situation I was present in at that moment. If the conductor of an orchestra points the baton at an individual with a particular instrument, it is time for all to hear that instrument play. If we place our computer cursor over a particular link and click on it, we expect and anticipate that a particular action is going to occur.
From the moment of my birth my mother determined in her profound and comprehensive control of me how Linda was allowed to be in the world. Because she never knew me as a human being, nor wished to, I existed as a puppet-fied manifestation of her inner psyche – as her projection of the BAD CHILD.
There was no room for Linda to exist at all, and I can clearly see that emptiness of personhood and of selfhood in me in these pictures. I appear as a child ‘stripped of a self’.
My emptiness, my dissociation was on an on-again, off-again condition. The few times that I was left alone to be with myself simply existed in their own dissociative bubbles that never connected themselves to the ongoing experiences of me in my own body, in my own life.
I existed in relation to myself as I existed in the world these photographs captured – isolated, cut off, alone, unanimated, empty – like a husk of a child, a shell of a child – a body that existed to be battered, shoved, yanked, slapped, hit, punched, etc. As an empty person to be screamed at, stormed at, thrown around in every imaginable way – at any time for any reason or for no reason whatsoever.
As an individual child-person, I was not allowed to exist. I was not given permission to exist. I ONLY existed as a figment of my mother’s twisted and brutalizing imagination
I no more had an identity or existed as a person (let alone as a child) than did the stone we stood on, the background trees, the tumbling rivers, the passing clouds, or the freezing snow. I was less alive and less whole than was our dog, Smokey. I was an apparition, a wraith, a mirage of a child. Linda wasn’t there at all.
I was a missing child, and nobody noticed because nobody cared. I experienced no difference between the cells of my body, the skin I wore like my clothing, the earth I walked upon or the air I breathed. Moment to moment I could not count on anything. I had always lived in an insecure, unpredictably unsafe world.
No child can for its self, its one self, if it is not allowed to. I was never given permission to exist, so I didn’t. I was as invisible and as intangible as the sound of rushing water or the wind. I was given no more permission to exist than a leaf is, and less permission to exist than Smokey the dog was. The homestead was more real to my mother, to both my parents, than I was.
If I isolate the image of myself out of these photographs what remains is an unfocused child posed in a rigid standing posture. That, sadly, is about all there was, a child existing by posing as a body – like a tree exists by posing with a trunk, limbs, branches, twigs and sometimes leaves – its root invisible beneath the soil.
But I had no roots. From moment to moment I had no history of my own. I didn’t even have the history of what mother did to me. Even those experiences were not retained, kept, stored or retrieved in any stuck-together ongoing autobiographical coherent story-of-an-ongoing-child’s- life. There ONLY existed each separate ongoing moment, and each of those moments was a likely to change into something else, something terrifying and painful, at any second. — unpredictably, unexpectedly, unfathomably.
Nothing mattered any more to me nor did I matter any more than if I was a snowflake, a scrap of cloth, or a pot to be scrubbed or pounded upon. I simply existed without a self as a body that continued to grow over time without ME KNOWING I was in it. I was my mother’s chosen ‘evil-bad’ projection, barely an object, not a person — and most definitely NOT a child. Does an object have a sense of itself?
My mother was a master magician. She was an expert at her craft.
Often she would banish me “from her sight”
— sometimes for days or weeks at a time — so I would vanish from the family all together — body and all.
In the family pictures taken of bringing in the Christmas tree in 1957 when I was 6, our first winter in Alaska, I am nowhere to be seen.
I have disappeared completely.
I am ‘missing in action’ and nobody seems to notice I am gone.
I am invisible. I don’t exist at all.
I was erased.