+MOST AMAZING MOVIE — HOW WE CAN EASILY FEED THE WHOLE WORLD!

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I was able to watch this absolutely amazing and inspirational movie about how to feed the world:

MOVIE:  Establishing a Food Forest

Join Geoff Lawton on a Permaculture adventure as he demonstrates how to grow a food forest from start to finish. Over 90 minutes of quality information to get you on the right track in creating your own garden of Eden.

You can ORDER THE MOVIE HERE.

The movie really comes alive once Geoff leaves the classroom where he spends a few minutes explaining how a forest builds itself before he heads out to the land — where you won’t believe what you see and learn!

Here’s the TRAILER – check this OUT!

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+MORE MUD WORK — ADOBE CONTINUES

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Here are a few pictures of my adobe work moving to the northwest and west part of the yard.  It was an overcast day, not too hot and perfect for this work:

Blue 8' posts for the rose arbor -- this job is currently on hold awaiting more funds for more 2' X 4' boards -- rose seems happy with its new drip system! (Pardon the warping boards - not kiln dried, sun dried and BENDING!)
The north bed - not 'fine tuned' finished yet
Far top left of picture is a honeysuckle and a jasmine -- that corner of yard is bone dry! Still awaits its dripline, need to see how the new beds form up. I am going to try to figure out how to channel rainwater from the roof over to that corner of the yard - eventually!
New little 'patio' and lower walkway forming - due to rainwater coming off this roof-line, this soil is perfectly moist for 'deep digging'!
Built adobe planter around the Pompas (looking due west)
Looking northeast, new spot being dug for another climbing rose beside the blue arbor - pile of dirt will make bricks on west of house, entire area there will be dug out and removed down 2' - 3'
Step down from sidewalk, lower walkway below it is forming

Started walkway on west side of house today -- soil lies one block depth below the sidewalk -- BIG pile of dirt being excavated in center of front yard will be used to make these bricks
west walk continued

Just to remember, this was how it looked in the beginning

The nasty Bermuda grass roots and runners DO go down 2 feet! Thus, added need to dig, dig, dig -- and shaking roots and picking out tiny pieces is SLOW work! Along with picking out the earth worms (YAY!) and watching out for little frogs in the moist dirt!

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+ANOTHER MENTION OF OUR NATION’S ‘UNFIT YOUTH’

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I mentioned this study before in previous posts, but here are the facts about our nation’s unfit 17-24 year old population.  Will our children be improving in the most recent generation?

Mission: Readiness, an organization of retired senior military leaders,
recently released a report stating that 75% of Americans aged 17 to 24
years old are unable to join the military for one or more reasons.
Alarmingly, being overweight or obese is the leading medical reason why
applicants fail to qualify for military service.

*        27% are too heavy to serve in the military;
*        25% have not graduated from high school;
*        10% have criminal records; and
*        13% have other disqualifiers, such as asthma or drug use, or
multiple reasons they are unable to join.

To read the full report, please visit
http://cdn.missionreadiness.org/MR_Too_Fat_to_Fight-1.pdf.

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Editorial: Army tries new drills for unfit recruits

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WASHINGTON (Nov. 3, 2009) — Are America’s youth too fat, dumb or dishonest to defend the nation against its enemies?

The latest Army statistics show a stunning 75 percent of military-age youth are ineligible to join the military because they are overweight, can’t pass entrance exams, have dropped out of high school or had run-ins with the law.

So many young people between the prime recruiting ages of 17 and 24 cannot meet minimum standards that a group of retired military leaders is calling for more investment in early childhood education to combat the insidious effects of junk food and inadequate education.

“We’ve never had this problem of young people being obese like we have today,” said Gen. John Shalikashvili, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

He calls the rising number of youth unfit for duty a matter of national security. “We should be concerned about how this will impact this overstretched Army and its ability to recruit.”

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Study: Most city youth deemed unacceptable for military service …

Jun 15, 2010 the military because they’re undereducated, too physically unfit or “We’re looking for [early education programs] to be level-funded

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+SOME PRIMARY LINKS ON INFANT VERBAL ABUSE

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A reader passed through the pages of this blog last week using these search terms to get here:  NEW MOTHER VERBALLY ABUSING INFANT.  According to recent statistics, 1 in 50 infants suffers from nonfatal abuse.  Even in reports from 2005 – 2006 our nation had almost a million children experiencing malevolent interactions with their caregivers that reached the attention of child protection services.  We are not talking about a problem to sneeze at!!

TAKE INFANT VERBAL ABUSE EXTREMELY SERIOUSLY!  These links below explore some of the permanent consequences of verbal abuse to tiny, growing and developing people!  In my opinion there is very little RIGHT in the life of an infant who is being verbally abused – and physical abuse is simply the other ‘hand’ of the problem:

Scholarly articles for verbal abuse brain development

The Effects of Verbal Abuse on a Fetus | eHow.com

Verbal abuse in childhood may result in brain abnormalities

Childhood Abuse, Brain Development and Impulsivity

Providentia: Does Child Abuse Affect Brain Development?

Early verbal abuse may reduce language ability

Annual Research Review: Parenting and children’s brain development: the end of the beginning

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What is Infant Mental Health?

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Child abuse: How to tell if something’s wrong

Recovery from Abuse · Prenatal and Infant Abuse

Child Abuse Prevention During Infancy: Intervention Implications for Caregivers’ Attitudes Toward Emotion Regulation

Scholarly articles for infant abuse intervention

Home Visiting as an Intervention in Infant Mental Health

Intervention with infants at risk for abuse or neglect.

From Science to Public Policy:  Early Intervention for Abused and Neglected Infants and Toddlers

MultiCare > Child Abuse Intervention

(2005)  Preventing Child Abuse in Infants

IMPORTANT from the American Humane Association:  LINK ON INFANT-CHILD EMOTIONAL ABUSE

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Scholarly articles for infant abuse risk factors

Stressed parents with infants: reassessing physical abuse risk factors (1999)

INFANT EXPOSURE TO DOMESTIC VIOLENCE PREDICTS HEIGHTENED SENSITIVITY TO ADULT VERBAL CONFLICT

World Association for Infant Mental Health

Defining infant mental health as the ability to develop physically, cognitively, and socially in a manner which allows them to master the primary emotional tasks of early childhood without serious disruption caused by harmful life events.  Because infants grow in a context of nurturing environments, infant mental health involves the psychological balance of the infant-family system.”

WAIMH Handbook of Infant Mental Health, vol 1, p.25

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Center on Infant Mental Health and Development

The mission of the Center on Infant Mental Health and Development (CIMHD) is to promote interdisciplinary research, education and practice and advance policy related to the social and emotional development of all children during the first five years. This work is framed within a universal awareness of the importance of these early years and is aimed at supporting relationships between caregivers and young children.”

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Because the First Three Years Lasts a Lifetime

Who We Are

Vision

Every child has the right to the early nurturing relationships that are the foundation for life-long healthy development.

Mission Statement

The Center on Infant Mental Health and Development promotes interdisciplinary research, education and practice and advances policy related to the social and emotional development of all children during the first five years.

Goals

  • To advance knowledge about infant mental health and the centrality of early relationships to the healthy development of young children.
  • To promote collaborative university-community partnerships for infant mental health education and training, advocacy, and clinical research;
  • To offer educational opportunities in infant mental health at the undergraduate and graduate levels;
  • To promote the mental and emotional health of young children and their families through effective preventive approaches to children’s emotional, social and behavioral problems;
  • To conduct longitudinal and clinical research to increase our understanding of the development of vulnerable children, and effective community and family intervention efforts on their behalf;
  • To devote special attention through research, education and services to improve the social and emotional health of vulnerable children who already exhibit developmental delays, and those whose families experience risk factors such as domestic violence, extreme poverty, homelessness, absence of social supports, substance abuse or mental illness.

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Why is Infant Mental Health Important?

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ZERO TO THREE – HOMEPAGE

OUR MISSION

ZERO TO THREE is a national, nonprofit organization that informs, trains, and supports professionals, policymakers, and parents in their efforts to improve the lives of infants and toddlers.

Our mission is to promote the health and development of infants and toddlers.

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RESOURCES —  Early Childhood Mental Health, Social-Emotional Development, and Challenging Behaviors

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All kinds of helpful links will appear if you do a Google search for the terms:  INFANT VERBAL ABUSE

Even more with a Google search for the terms:  INFANT ABUSE

The most important information you can arm yourself with – either as an infant caregiver committing or at risk for committing verbal and physical abuse of an infant – or as a person concerned about the well-being of an infant not your own, please begin to inform yourself further by following links that come up with a Google search on these terms:  INFANT ABUSE BRAIN DEVELOPMENT as well as with INFANT ABUSE ATTACHMENT

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+BEING PROACTIVE TO TRAUMA TRIGGERS: WHAT DOES OUR BODY AND OUR TWO BRAINS KNOW?

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Something on my blog’s admin page under ‘Top Searches’ has again especially caught my attention:

how to proactively look for triggers from abuse

My first response was, “What an excellent question?”

That this searcher at least temporarily made some kind of contact with my blog in response to these search words make me wonder if I have anything here that actually answered any part of this question in any way.

Of course I have no idea what part of the ‘abuse’ spectrum this searcher was inquiring about, but the question itself tempts me to believe that because the word ‘triggers’ is included in the search, the abuse was severe.  At the same time, this searcher did not use the word ‘trauma’, so the field of inquiry was obviously limited to ABUSE rather than to any other kind of overwhelming and negative event.  Yet a concern with ‘triggers’ would be the same whether a person thinks in terms of a specific abuse or in the more general terms of ‘trauma’.

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To me, abuse and difficult traumas share an important underlying condition — that of feeling (and/or BEING) overwhelmed by an event that is harmful to one’s well-being.  Therefore the issue of competence to counteract the event as it happened comes into play along with degrees of POWER and POWERLESSNESS.

This searcher’s question alerts me to a very positive relationship with these issues.  Our work toward learning how to be proactive involves both an effort to improve our competence and our ability to have as much power over our lives as we can healthfully manage to have.  This is resource management.

To be most healthily prepared for our entire lifetime in this world we need to be as flexible (not rigid) and as resilient as we possibly can.  TRIGGERS can interfere with both of these well-being aspects because what happens to us inside of our body in response to any trigger most often happens in our body — automatically — and without our conscious effort.

We need to increase our conscious ability to MANAGE all the inner resources including our responses to the world we live in.  In order to increase our conscious participation in our life we MOST need one very critical resource — INFORMATION.

When our body is receiving and responding to information without our having the ability to consciously manage its (our) response, our body is having access to information that our BRAIN-mind-self is missing.

I think about above ground and below ground information-getting and information-responding.  Above ground information that moves through our conscious awareness by nature requires the involvement of what might be called our ‘higher brain’s involvement’.  Below ground information is received and processed by our body automatically WITHOUT these ‘high brain regions’ being a part of the information-gathering or the information-responding loop.

When we introduce abuse and trauma into the topic, it is critical to remember that involvement of our higher brain abilities is SLOWER.  Much, much slower, and far, far more efficient as well as most-likely-to-succeed in response to immediate threat to our well-being and our life.

Automatic below ground processing is VERY VERY FAST.  Our body has evolved over many generations and throughout many cycles of difficulties as a part of our species to USE this below ground immediately available, rapidly generated and unconscious response-ability to maintain the life of our species.

If our body has in the past been told through abuse and trauma encounters that we are not safe and secure — enough — in the world, the balance of power in our body will automatically — and very naturally shift toward the unconscious immediate response end of our competent-response spectrum.

WHY?  Because in the majority of cases, these rapid automatic unconscious responses are far more likely to SAVE us than are the slower, pondering (in comparison) conscious ‘higher brain’ responses.

Plain and simple.

So, if we have experience with overwhelming abuse and trauma under circumstances in which there was nothing at the time we could do to THINK OUR WAY out of the situation or to THINK OUR WAY past the horror as it immediately happened to us, our fast responses kicked into play — and they are far more likely to do so in the future than if we had never experienced severe abuse and trauma in the first place.

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So if we introduce on our own behalf the idea that we wish to take back control over the mutineers of our body who usurped our conscious power — in our own best interests — we have to begin to gain information that BOTH levels of our SELF can work with.

First of all, we must work on the level of having a safe and secure attachment to the world, in our body, and within our own mind.  This will NOT happen easily if we had an unsafe and insecure early beginning as an infant-child that built trauma response into our growing and developing body-nervous system-brain.

Early trauma survivors have a much greater task to accomplish if they wish to gain increasing ability to be PROACTIVE — and therefore increasingly CONSCIOUS — about how they are responding to ALL aspects of being alive in a changeable world.

The more conscious INFORMATION we can gain about who we are, how we are formed, how our body operates, about the nature of the abuse and traumas we experienced, and about how our body thinks it is BEST PREPARED to respond to threat and danger — the more power we will have to apply to our efforts to be proactive in response to possible abuse and trauma triggers that we may encounter in ‘the future’.

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One of the key and central consequences to trauma reactions as they build themselves into our body is — as I mentioned recently — an altered sense of time in the body.  Once we have experienced trauma that forced us to experience ‘a peritraumatic altered sense of time’, on some level our body has learned a critically important piece of information:  Trauma can happen ANY TIME, ANYWHERE!

If we are working toward being prepared to live a proactive life, we MUST understand that our body has only two ends to its sense-of-time continuum:  Being alive or Being dead.

In between these two ends of the time spectrum the body has come to understand that there is only one very long (hopefully – because being DEAD greatly shortens this line!) ongoing experience — BE CONSTANTLY PREPARED BECAUSE THE THREAT IS CONSTANTLY PRESENT.

The more severe the traumas we have experienced (including the younger we were when they started) the harder it will be to convince our body that our ‘higher brain’ part of who we are is capable of protecting us.

The automatic trauma responses that our body is continually preparing itself to carry out happen in a very FAST world where trauma can happen again out of nowhere INSTANTANEOUSLY.  The body is not going to let go of its competence in being emergency-prepared.  The body lives on this very FAST time track, and to gain increasingly conscious powers to determine the ACTUAL course of our life we have to learn how to be a TIME bandit.

The body has usurped the power to experience time and all possible responses within the span of the time of our lifetime.

If our higher conscious brain wants some of this power over time for its own needs and purposes, it has to negotiate with the body (in my opinion) over this most central issue — TIME, which is our lifetime.

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In essence, this negotiation has to happen in a cooperative environment — between our RIGHT brain which is the spokesperson for our body and all that it knows, and our LEFT brain which is the spokesperson for our higher (slower) thought and reaction processes.

The ONLY way this negotiation process is going to move toward positive ends is IF a person has the lowest possible level of overall stress and reactivity in the environment of their life.

Nobody can ever control for all the possible unforeseen traumas that might pop up out of nowhere at any time.  BUT being proactive is to recognize this fact at the same time life can slow down and be ENJOYED, not only endured and survived.

In order for this negotiation between the time bandit of the body with its automatic and unconscious immediate response, and the time bandit of our slower conscious brain abilities to steal back some ‘control’ over how the time of our lifetime is actually spent, is for a PERSON on all levels to be living in an inner state where they can access peace and calm — both consciously felt and physiologically experienced.

That happens when safety and security that fosters a safe and secure attachment to and in the world, is present.  Safety and security along with access to states of peace and calm are the antidotes to trauma and abuse.

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Our most ancient body responses happen to keep our body alive so that we can procreate and/or take care of our offspring.  Our most ancient body memory doesn’t care a HOOT if we are peaceful, calm or happy — just that we survive.

If we want ‘control’, or the ability to consciously manage our reactions to our environment, we have to understand with the deepest possible admiration and gratitude that our very fast automatic body-based responses are our most powerful asset.  Our body is not our enemy.

Cooperation and negotiation happens where and when mutual respect and appreciation exist.  This is where peace and calm lie.  And when we think about what our right brain knows and does, and what our left brain knows and WANTS us to do, I find it helpful to think about these two brains we have as if they are each a great and powerful nation — neither one to be taken for granted or tampered with.

We talk about our two brains in terms of the right hemisphere and the left hemisphere.  I find it useful to add into my consideration about what each of these two hemispheres evolved to best accomplish in keeping us alive thoughts about the two distinct and different CULTURES that each hemisphere lives with.

If we wish to become more proactive in our life on every level, and especially if we wish to become more proactive regarding our response both to trauma and to its triggers, it is ALWAYS helpful to investigate these two cultures.  The more information the entire brain, our entire self has about our two brain hemispheres the better!

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Our two brain hemispheres each have TIME terms within them that are vastly different from one another.  The left brain has regions devoted especially to sequencing actions.  That is the area of our entire brain that had to be highly developed BEFORE we could begin to make good use of the FOXP2 gene that we carried for a long time before it could be activated for our verbal language abilities to appear about 140,000 years ago.

That sequencing part of our left brain is what we rely on to make good of our intentions to be proactive about anything.  Being proactive means that we are taking control over TIME along with TIMING.  It allows for things to be put into the perspective of past-then, NOW, and future-then.  Proactive is about accessing information from the past as it applies not only to our present but also as it helps us to proactively prepare for the future.

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NOT SO within the culture of the right brain hemisphere.  EVERYTHING IS ALWAYS PRESENT in that world.  The right brain is friends with chaos because it was designed by nature to hold within it ALL POTENTIAL FOR ALL POSSIBILITIES.  And because life can be so unpredictable, the right brain is also friends with trauma (trauma being such a close relative to chaos).

That might seem to be a strange concept, but without having an ability to ‘stay friends with the fact of trauma’ we could not have evolved.  While nobody has ever LIKED trauma, everyone knows it continues to exist just like we do.

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I am going to pause here and throw in something my right brain hemisphere wants to mention.  Yesterday morning I had a friend over to visit who works at our local thrift store.  The store is connected to a very well-established local effort that supports low-cost housing.

I have a collection of indoor aloe vera plants that cannot survive outside in the winter’s cold.  They have spent the entire summer multiplying in pots under the shade of my plum tree.  Yesterday’s plan was to have my friend help me divide all these babies so we could plant each one in a little paper cup.  They will be taken into the thrift store and sold.

All fine and good.  We were out there with our chairs under the shade of the plum tree’s leafy umbrella, armed with our spades, cups, and big dish of moist sandy soil.  I pulled out one full tray of confused plants.  We divided and potted away until suddenly the potential for trauma appeared.

Key word:  suddenly the potential for trauma appeared

This blog’s readers know I spend as much time as possible outside.  I dig and work and landscape.  In the back of my mind I HAVE to have known that such a potential for trauma MIGHT appear.  But after yesterday’s event, believe me I am going to have caution much more up-front in my body and brain.

I pulled out the fourth big tray of plants from under the tree, and suddenly there on the moist dark ground coming right for my friend’s feet was the largest scorpion I have ever seen.  I have lived here in this high desert going on eleven years and never have I seen such a large scary critter with legs.

In the four years I have been in this house, I haven’t seen even ONE scorpion.  But there it was!

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One of the most important steps we can take in our efforts to increase our ability to be proactive regarding trauma and its triggers it to pay very close attention to HOW we react.  I can scrutinize my response yesterday, while at the same time being aware of the ‘shoulds’ and the ‘should nots’ that are naturally a part of the scrutinizing process.

The scrutinizing process is SLOW!  ALWAYS it is slow!  And when it comes to baseline survival reactions, SLOW is DANGEROUS — and we need to let our body know this.  We need to ALWAYS give our body permission to step in FAST with its lifesaving abilities when that is our best course.

AND, as the body knows, when in doubt — let the right brain with its deep roots into our body have the ball.

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So, what did I do?  The scorpion stopped its movement about two feet from my friend and I.  As soon as I saw the critter (about 2 1/2 inches long in its body with its nasty toxic tail swung in a high arch over its back), I FROZE.

TIME again.  Think TIME.

Dissociation, one of the major consequences of long-term, early trauma exposure, is NOT necessarily EVER our conscious choice.  It scares me that my own dissociation is NOT predictably and dependably my strongest asset when it comes to reacting in the moment to a threat.  (This is what a disorganized-disoriented insecure attachment style-pattern-disorder can do to sabotage effective survival strategies.)

My brain hemispheres took the time to think about how I was going to respond.  Here was this dangerous predator, small as it was compared to us humans, way too close for comfort.  Yes, it had a right to live.  Yes, on some level it was a ‘bad thing’ for me to kill it.

Where was the wisdom in this situation?

How much TIME — and therefore increase risk of harm — did my LEFT brain need to decide how I was going to respond?

Yes, this is a small illustration of the topic of trauma and trauma response, of preparedness and the power of being proactive, but I did respond.  I told my friend to lift her feet off the ground and onto her chair as I slowly — not to startle the critter into movement — walked between the scorpion and my friend’s chair to grasp my long handled shovel.

I then returned with shovel poised in the air — and experienced my instant of self doubt knowing that I cannot trust  my aim to ever be entirely accurate because of the interference of my own self-doubts — as I brought the end of the shovel (hopefully) straight down on the body of the scorpion.

I caught its head under that edge, but so fast I could hardly detect what it was doing the scorpion used its front legs to dig down into the soil, under the shovel edge, so that it could lower its head into the dirt and escape.

My next response WAS as fast as it was instinctive and automatic.  Up down up down up down I raised the end of my shovel and slammed it into the soil as the scorpion turned and ran backwards.  Yes, I chopped it into little tiny pieces and killed it.

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My newly reawakened proactive lesson from this?  No more being care-less stupid in sticking my ungloved hands in amongst my plants to move them, to pull weeds, to try to define root structures so I can try to pull the Bermuda grass out of them.  The experience also brought into my clear conscious awareness the fact that diamond back rattlesnakes are giving live birth to their pencil-sized offspring this month.  It is a dangerous time, and because we have been blessed with amazing amounts of rainfall much of the soil is moist, damp and cool.  Critters in this region — along with their potential for harm — can be hiding anywhere.

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In other words, considering that the name we have given to our own species means ‘The Wise Ones’, the more we can learn about not only potential traumas, and about their triggers, but also about how we are patterned both as a species and as individuals to both prevent where possible and to survive traumas, the better off we will be.

There is a TIME and a purpose to all of the abilities we possess.  What so often happens through exposure to abuse and trauma is that our BALANCE between the wise use of our resources for self-protection has been upset.

That, again, is where the healing balm of peace and calm has its OWN power to help us.  Peace and calm, the state that was SUPPOSED to be built into the center of our body-nervous system-brain-mind-self is the state in which we can examine our self, our reactions, and think about the environment we live in.

The state of peace and calm is the middle ground between our fast and our slow reaction abilities.  It is the state where negotiations between the cultural hemispheres of our left and right brain can come together and converse.

The state of peace and calm corresponds to the STOP arm rather than the GO arm of our autonomic nervous system (ANS), and is the place where true REST occurs.  In this state TIME is not acting to put pressure on any part of who we are.

This state of peace and calm is vital to our ability to repair ruptures and to restore our self from the demands of continuing to move forward in our life.  It is a place where risk, direct action, threat, active harm and consequence only come into play as we pay attention to anything we think or feel that is connected NOT to the present moment where our state of peace and calm resides, but EITHER to the past or to the future.

And when push really comes to shove, it is during the time of rest while we are asleep and dreaming that the two cultures of the two hemispheres of our brain have the TIME to process information they each have accumulated while we are awake.  To also learn how to let our two brain hemispheres work together while we are awake is a very good thing.

To live a life of increased well-being we can begin to more consciously understand the balance we need between the SLOWER and the FASTER reaction potential that lies within us.  This is how our highest brain functions can help us live an increasingly proactive (offensive) — rather than reactive (defensive) — life.

NOTE:  Now that it has been written I realize this post is about our reaction to trauma and its triggers, not about “how to proactively look for trauma triggers.”  I need to think about that separately.

(It is important to realize that over the time span of our specie’s evolution nature dictated that our growing and evolving brain NOT duplicate the ability to accomplish tasks because it was efficient and vital that our brain not get too BIG!  Our two brains didn’t each get their own separate house.  They reside together in a duplex!

Between these two living areas is a common space, called the Corpus Collosum, where under the best circumstances information is freely transmitted between our two hemispheres to be processed and understood equally by both regions of our brain – and thus our whole self.)

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+TRAUMA DRAMA: WHEN IS THERAPY MORE OF THE SAME?

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I would like to highlight a recent comment-reply about ‘therapy’ that is at the end of this post:

+THOUGHTS – INCLUDING DISMISSIVE-AVOIDANT INSECURE ATTACHMENT DISORDER

I have said this before on this blog, and it’s time to say it again.  If you are in therapy, there is nothing about the experience that means you need to set aside what you know about yourself.  “Listen to your gut.”

It is a fact that our earliest forming right social-emotional brain is the part of our brain that gathers all the information our body has to tell us about ‘its’ experience in the world.  When you hear the expression, “I had a gut reaction” or “I knew it in my gut,” the right brain with its physiological roots in our body experience and awareness is what the ‘gut’ truly is.

The other, more accurate way to say this is, “I am having a visceral reaction.”

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VISCERAL

Date: 1575

: felt in or as if in the viscera : deep <a visceral conviction>

: not intellectual : instinctive, unreasoning <visceral drives>

: dealing with crude or elemental emotions : earthy <a visceral novel>

Definition of VISCERA

plural of viscus

1  : an internal organ of the body; especially : one (as the heart, liver, or intestine) located in the great cavity of the trunk proper

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We are taught that ‘feelings’, including the identified physical ones like touch, heat, physical pain, are not ‘reasonable’.  That is a myth.

What we all need is for the information our right brain knows to be passed over the ‘wall’ to our left brain so that they can — TOGETHER — cooperate jointly, equally and in a balanced way with our living.

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I meant what I said in the reply to the comment I mentioned above.  There is nothing particularly extraordinary about therapists.  Most of them, I would guess, come from troubled pasts of their own.  If they have not explored the new research about the formation of our ‘attachment’ circuitry from birth — especially as it is altered through traumatic early infant-child conditions of unsafe and insecure with our caregivers — a therapist really has no REAL (and therefore reason-able) idea what ‘attachment’ really is, what it does, what it is meant to do, what it does NOT do if our early development was changed by trauma, or how to FIX our attachment ‘problems’.

Simply being told that we ‘won’t make progress’ or ‘won’t get better’ if we don’t ‘form an attachment with them’ belongs — in my thinking — to the trauma drama side of the fence.

With these simplified, often inaccurate demands often made by therapists clients are left believing there is ‘something wrong’ with them that they can’t or won’t or don’t want to form one of these illusive ‘attachments’ to their therapist.

Your gut (your viscera) will tell you when the trauma drama wheel is in full motion in your therapy.  There is nothing more important in my thinking than for a ‘client’ to be allowed to trust the information their gut (through their right brain and in cooperation with their left brain) is telling them.

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True, most clients in therapy today probably have had traumatic pasts.  If the trauma happened early in their life, if they were born into trauma drama, they will be caught in the web of trauma drama in their own life at the same time that they have an unrecognized, unexplored, and unexplained INSECURE ATTACHMENT DISORDER.

Telling a client whose physiology was changed early in their development because their entire body-brain-mind-self had to change and adjust to survive trauma that what will ‘fix’ them is the formation of an ‘attachment’ with their therapist is like telling that same client that, like Dumbo, all their problems will get better if they only do what it takes (being told “You can do it if you want to and are willing”) that they can FLY.

HOGWASH!

If, as I mentioned in my reply mentioned above, any therapist has not thoroughly studied current developmental neuroscience about human attachment, in my book they do not know what they are talking about.

CONSUMER BEWARE!  CONSUMER, BE AWARE!

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What I have been writing about in my recent posts about insecure attachment styles-patterns-disorders, resentments, Grice’s maxims and trauma drama applies here.

If our body, through particularly the experience of our right brain, is telling us that we are NOT feeling peaceful calm, then at the same time we are not feeling safe and secure (the essence of secure attachment).

If we do not have peace and calm built into the center of our nervous system-brain because of our altered development in infant-child environments of trauma and abuse, having someone, even a therapist telling us to ‘get there’ – form ‘an attachment’ – ‘feel safe and secure’ – feel peace and calm — will NOT magically make this state appear in our body, our brain, our nervous system, in our mind — or in our self!

What, in my opinion, so often happens in therapy IS a continuation of trauma drama if

(1) there is too much of the wrong information given

(2) there is not enough of the right information given

(3) the information being given is not REALLY (or reason-able) accurate to what is really important and is therefore ACTUALLY IRRELEVANT

(4) the TRUTH about the facts is MISSING

When this happens a client’s BODY will tell this this is the current state IF peace and calm is not an increasingly more present state between the client and the therapist.

True, there are many therapeutic theories and strategies that encourage what is called PROJECTION — whereby the client explores feelings from the PAST in therapy as if they are connected to the therapist rather than to the person who actually committed the abuse and harm in the first place.

These same schools of thought (and therapist thinking and action) also ASSUME that if a client forms this mysterious ‘attachment’ to the therapist this entire process will not only HAPPEN — but effectively help a client to ‘heal’.

I am not going to argue with these thoughts.  What I am going to say is that if no one — not the therapist, not the client — REALLY knows what human attachment is PHYSIOLOGICALLY — what it does and why — the core difficulties within the client are not going to be changed in the way both the therapist and the client hope that they will.

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Anyone who is reading this post has access to relevant information necessary to become — most of the time — more educated about attachment than their therapist is likely to be.  Simply Google search attachment and child abuse, or attachment and brain development, or attachment and ANYTHING and begin to educate yourself by exploring what pops up on your screen.

In my book, it is critically important that trauma survivors, especially infant-child abuse survivors, find and learn this information.  All of our physiology is affected by our human attachment system — no matter how it was formed.  Please follow the links presented in the comment-reply cited above!  To be in therapy to resolve trauma drama difficulties while being exposed to more of the same patterns in the therapy itself is NOT helpful — in my book.

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+POWERFUL DREAMWORK WEBSITE – CHECK IT OUT!

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I would like to mention an important website that has just come to my attention that might be helpful to anyone, especially severe trauma and abuse survivors, for gaining new information that can assist us in our healing work:

North of Eden – Dreams Illuminate the Soul

About Archetypal Dreamwork

Every dream has an intention.

Every dream has a plan.

Every dream wants to lead you back to your heart, your core, your essence, the very fiber of your real being-ness. We forget our real being-ness. We forget our pure child hearts.

We forget who we are.

Every dream wants to lead us back to the soul within that remembers who we are.

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I also highly recommend this NOVA program – What are Dreams?

Watching this show was the first I learned that there are two different kinds of dreaming that happen during two different stages of sleep – and depression (and probably all other anxiety difficulties) seriously interferes with both of them.

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+THE POWER OF LEARNING HOW TO SHORTCUT THE TRAUMA CYCLE

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Over the past thirty years since I first encountered the 12-step program’s emphasis on the absolute necessity of ‘letting go’ of resentments, I have until this past week always considered that what made resentments tick is anger.  Buried anger, sideways anger, justified or unjustified anger, recognized or unrecognized anger — any way I have looked at resentments from the viewpoint of my interpretation of what the 12-steppers say about resentments is that they carry within them the seed-kernel of anger.

From my recent experiences of having to re-look at the topic of resentments, it is NOW clear to me — from my own inner knowing place — that what I can tell about other people’s continuing resentments is that they do not carry anger.  They carry hurt from deep, unrecognized, undealt with, unhealed wounds.

Looking again at Grice’s Maxims as several of my recent posts have mentioned, I realize that the misinformation being communicated when a person expresses a resentment — the information that is OVERLY focused on in the expression, the irrelevant information that is expressed, and the truthful, powerful, important information that is NOT being expressed all end up pointing toward a wound that is too big to cope with in any other known way.

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Yes, resentments APPEAR most often to be anger focused and anger driven.  Anger holds a very specific (and special) place on the full circle of the stress-not stressed nervous system-brain survival response system.

I see peace and calm as being what we need at the center of this system.  Anger is at the “GO” area of the ‘fight’ stress response.  When anger is connected to good, effective, manageable, known tools for improving the chances of continued survival it is useful.  It is tied to both confidence in known abilities to solve problems and to competence.

In effect, anger says, “I have seen this problem before and kicked its butt.  This is how I did it, and I know if I use these same tools and abilities THIS time it will lead to the same positive results.  The problem will be solved and the ‘threat’ will be beaten.”

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If the stress-calm response system is operating effectively, when it is seen that the anger-fight response was NOT successful, a person automatically moves into the next quadrant of the response system — FEAR.

Fear, of course, can be tied to continual experience of anxiety.  What matters is that fear lead forward into something effective for solving the threat-conflict-challenge.

Fear is designed to give us the information that what we tried before to solve a similar problem was NOT effective this time around — on this particular problem we face.  The fear is the body’s response to the recognition of lack of competence to overcome and ‘beat’ the challenge, and thus to the feeling state of lack of confidence.

Fear says, “Uh Oh!  THAT sure didn’t work!  Now I am in big trouble!  I better learn something new here, and learn it fast or I am Bye Bye!”

It’s great if a person can jump off of the twirly stress-calm response carousel right here by learning something new from the situations surrounding THIS particular trauma.  They can simply take a shortcut back to the anger quadrant of the circle and get to work — and WIN — whatever that entails — so that they can as quickly as possible return to the center point of peace, calm and well-being.

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But what if nothing can be discovered to cope in a new effective way with the immediate challenge?  What if one tries their darnedest and comes up with — ZIPPO?  Oh, dear, and you guessed it!  The person moves on to the next quadrant of this response circle into sadness.  And oh this can be just as big a problem as ending up stuck in either of the previous two spots of anger or fear.

BUT — and this is something I thought a lot about about a year ago.  SADNESS is one of the most positive points on this circle a person can reach because if any particular problem that has not responded to all known attempts to apply what is known fail, this is the most productive spot for learning something very new, very different, very creative — and very productive.

At the same time in our current culture sadness can be the most difficult state to move out of.   It is like finding oneself stuck in a giant pothole or trying to get over a giant hill.  When in sadness, our life force, our energy, our confidence, our sense of competence to solve problems in a great way so we can get back to peace and calm are at its lowest.

And it is at THIS point on the stress-calm response system circle that I think resentments lie — not at the anger spot.

Resentments, though they do not usually seem to concern themselves directly with a REAL problem, only some fantasized version of an irrelevant problem, are actually probably about sadness — hopelessness — despair.  What is lacking at this particular point on this system-wheel is most often the ability to access the needed external support and encouragement from other people.

Tossing resentments around at others does not quite motivate them to step in with warmth and compassion to lend a willing helping hand.

Resentments thrown at others is most often (in non-trauma drama conditions) to bring this response.  “I have no idea where you are coming from and I am not remotely interested in finding out.  When YOU figure it out, let me know.  I am NOT going to join you in THAT misery.”

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I haven’t yet mentioned what I see as the 4th point on this survival wheel.  While it is a response point that is BEST entered FIRST when a challenge appears to ongoing life and/or well-being, it can also very commonly be the LAST point we enter.

But no matter whether we get there first when we receive a challenge, or last if we are faced with something we have no effective first response for, it is the one that benefits us as do no others.

If a challenge does not overwhelm our abilities to respond to it effectively, we simply leave our center point of peace and calm into the quadrant of confident competence — and deal with it.  From there, once the problem has been solved, we can take the very simple and very short step back to our center of peaceful calm.

I used to include joy and happiness in my thinking about this survival response wheel, but I no longer do.  Feeding my suspicions is the physiological fact that our ‘happiness center’ resides in a particular very small area in our later forming LEFT brain, not in our earliest forming, directly-body-connected, more ancient emotional-social RIGHT brain.

All the processes I am describing within the stress-survival wheel happen in connection with perceived threats that are fundamentally challenging our well-being on a deeper level than do those that simply challenge our more peripheral ‘happiness center’.  This state of happy joy is, in my thinking, a more highly evolved condition that relies upon all the other systems in our body to work profitably and effectively.

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If a person has ‘learned’ adequate responses to solve problems and knows how and when to use these responses, the ‘fight’ or anger quadrant of our survival response never needs to be entered.  Neither does the fear one, or the sadness one.

But few of us are so fortunate to ‘win’ in every situation first time around.  We are left in vulnerable bodies feeling vulnerable and have to WORK and LEARN as we go on through life.  Getting stuck in any place around the wheel means that we are deprived of the benefits of spending the majority of our time in the life-nurturing center of peace and calm.

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So, when I think about some of the resentments other people who are important to me tossed in my direction lately, I do agree that their resentments do not accurately follow Grice’s Maxims of reasonable conversation or ‘polite speech’.  The resentments are not ‘on topic’ for the situations that stimulated their appearance.  The resentments are NOT providing enough of the right, accurate, truthful information about what the problem that person is facing REALLY is.  Hence, the resentments are not relevant.

Resentments are fantastic.  They are tied into a fantasy that by tossing out these particular ‘words’ nobody will really detect the true state of hopeless sadness that is, in fact, feeding the real problems.  Resentments are a cover-up for missing confidence and actual competence for solving problems that have created wounds that are not healing.

So, yes, it would appear that genuine empathy and compassion would be the most accurate response a resentment-receiver could make.

Not so simple as it might sound.

Because resentments are themselves signals that there is unresolved ongoing trauma in a person’s life, it can be very difficult to negotiate a non-trauma drama response in feeling, thought, word and action.  How to relate to a person who has just thrown the glove of combat while NOT responding in kind — and while avoiding stepping into the quicksand of ongoing trauma drama?

As far as I can tell the first step is for me to recognize that a problem-challenge has presented itself.  The second step is to try to accurately define what the challenge ACTUALLY is.

These two steps must be taken on some level every single time we are challenged with a problem, large trauma or not.

The third step is for me to assess my abilities to respond effectively and appropriately.  That I am having to stop and do this step AT ALL lets me know I lack the confidence in my competence to immediately solve the conflict-problem for myself (1st or is it the 4th point on the survival wheel?)

Well, in my case this won’t be the first step on the wheel.  I have to work through my anger, my fear, my sadness — and arrive hopefully at the fourth position of appropriate and effective response IN TIME.  It is not happening instantaneously.

I could be stuck in anger at the person, at the situation, at myself for not knowing how to actively cope with it effectively.  I could be stuck in fear that I did something wrong, that I am stupid, that I am going to lose this relationship forever.  Then I could be stuck in hopeless sadness.

OR, I can take the benefit from being in movement around this wheel which is — I am presented with the opportunity to LEARN SOMETHING NEW that will be effective THIS time, and possibly in the future as well.

If I CAN learn something new that works and might work in the future, I can possibly spare myself all this trouble next time!

What I do know is that because there is a problem-challenge (rupture) to my abilities that my known responses did not resolve (repair) I am left NOT feeling peaceful and calm.

While I am not responsible for how other people ARE or for what they DO, I am responsible (by choice) for finding new ways to process my way through life that do not involve me jumping into the quicksand of trauma drama — not my own, not anyone else’s.

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What I suspect is most devastating about not having the RIGHT response to a problem-challenge immediately available (known and tested) is that as we then enter into the stress response wheel we lose our connection to that center place of peaceful calm.  What I want to explore here for myself in this new opportunity for learning that has been presented to me is this:  “Is there a way to allow myself to move around this very natural wheel of what it takes to learn something new to repair a rupture while I STAY CONNECTED to the powers that the/my center of peace and calm provide to me””

Because I have trauma altered development due to growing up from birth in an insanely abusive, traumatizing, malevolent world, I at the same time have two related ‘disabilities’.

(1) I have a disorganized-disoriented (dissociating) insecure attachment pattern built into my physiology — which includes my nervous system-brain-mind-self AND my stress-calm response system.

(2) I have co-occurring emotional regulation difficulties.

So what I want to practice is how to stay in contact with my peace and calm center, which lets me know that I am safe and secure no matter what at the same time I allow myself to feel all the other emotions that exist in my body, as they are processed, and as the information about how I feel is fed to my attention from my right brain.

In other words, how to I peacefully and calmly experience this state along with the other multiple and difficult emotional states at the same time — and ALSO continue to work my way through the stress circle to come out with a non-trauma effective solution?

Good question.  Very good question.  And I don’t yet have the answer but I have confidence at least that my efforts are positive.

I am also aware that I am working on the level of my physiology as I apply myself to this effort.  That alone is great progress for me, to know that I cannot live my life without my body being a part of every experience that I have!  I cannot simply try to THINK my way through this without feeling all of it also.

The other most important point for me to realize is my commitment to working my way through these present conflicts without dissociating.  It seems like a lot to ask of myself — like believing I could pick up 40 gallon milk jugs and begin to juggle them through the air like some imagined pro would.

Nope, wrong information.  Right brain, wrong image.  That’s as silly a thought and as useless and irrelevant as any resentment is.  I cannot resent myself for not knowing how to do everything perfectly.  It is not productive for me to fault myself for not knowing all the answers.

Rather I can encourage myself and think about all the things I have done competently.  And I can know that no matter what the problem-challenge, all of us can always learn something new, useful and effective!  And as we do this learning work we are wearing an ever deepening rut around the stress-trauma-calm response wheel so that every next time we are challenged we can move around it faster (or skip it all together) so that we spend less time in the difficult states and more time in the center state where peace and calmness supply us with our well-being.

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+WHAT DOES OUR BODY KNOW ABOUT TRAUMA DRAMA?

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One of my close friends, I call her Marge, telephoned me this morning with news she is leaving town to head out to the Seattle area next Tuesday for a week to attend a funeral.  Marge’s sister’s 29 year old son is dead from an overdose.

Marge has been estranged from her only sister for 15 years, and from her only brother for over 35, not because Marge carries any animosity toward either one of these family members, but because on the other end of her relationships, her siblings do.

I headed over to online Webster’s after my conversation with Marge and looked up the word Marge used, ‘estranged‘.  I find it rings with meanings related to two other words I explored last week:  wrong and pariah (outcast).  Both of these words relate to ‘what is the same’ and what is ‘not the same’.  I find that ‘estranged’ really shares the stage with these words because of its origins with the word ‘strange’.

Origin of STRANGE

Middle English, from Anglo-French estrange, from Latin extraneus, literally, external, from extra outside — more at extra-

First Known Use: 13th century

Origin of EXTRA

probably short for extraordinary

First Known Use: 1757

Origin of EXTRAORDINARY

Middle English extraordinarie, from Latin extraordinarius, from extra ordinem out of course, from extra + ordinem, accusative of ordin-, ordo order

Date: 15th century

1 a : going beyond what is usual, regular, or customary <extraordinary powers>

b : exceptional to a very marked extent <extraordinary beauty>

c of a financial transaction : nonrecurring

2 : employed for or sent on a special function or service <an ambassador extraordinary>

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In my previous post I talked about the relationship between trauma and chaos.  Chaos by its nature lacks any kind of order that can be understood in ordinary ways.

To find a connection in word roots between ‘estranged’, ‘strange’, ‘extra’ and ‘extraordinary’ led me right back to this link between trauma and chaos, or lack of order because of the direct connection in English between the root of ‘extraordinary’ in the concept of order:

Origin of ORDER

Middle English, from Anglo-French ordre, from Medieval Latin & Latin; Medieval Latin ordin-, ordo ecclesiastical order, from Latin, arrangement, group, class; akin to Latin ordiri to lay the warp, begin

First Known Use: 14th century

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The idea of being ‘wrong’ is connected to the idea of ‘same versus different’, and in its origins to ‘homos‘.  We are here again, when considering ‘extraordinary’ discovering that word’s connection also the idea of ‘same versus different’ related to order.  What order does this or that fit into?

I know that the idea of ‘extraordinary’ is intimately tied into the experience of trauma.  Traumas ARE traumas because they are events that are outside the range of ordinary experience — they are EXTRAORDINARY.

Trauma’s connection to chaos and to a lack of order signal us to the fact that experiences of trauma are difficult to classify, categorize, or place into any usual pattern, or ‘order’.  Traumas are in a class all of their own — except for one thing:  Traumas fit into the class of trauma along with any other experience that is ‘extraordinary’ and does not fit into the ‘class’ or ‘order’ of the usual, normal or ordinary.

Therefore when estrangement happens between people it does so because underneath whatever specific ’cause’ of the breach (rupture without repair) there ALWAYS lies something STRANGE and outside the range of ordinary experience:  Trauma = chaos = lack of order = extraordinary = strange.

In other words, down in the roots of English being estranged comes from making a determination on some level and a distinction between experiences that lets us know that trauma DOES NOT BELONG.  It is ALIEN.  It is STRANGE.  It is NOT THE SAME as what benefits us, helps us thrive, or to what promotes our well-being.

WE KNOW THIS, even if unconsciously, and WE CAN MAKE THESE DISTINCTIONS.

I believe this ability to know what is good for us and what is not good for us comes to us along with our DNA coding.  This lets me know that any time we CANNOT MAKE THIS DISTINCTION it is because ongoing trauma of some kind has — itself — tampered with our ability to know the difference.

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There are certainly many places where ongoing trauma and threat of trauma so infiltrates people’s lives that a LACK OF TRAUMA would be outside the range of ordinary — not the other way around.  We can all think of many conditions where this reverse of ‘ordinary’ is true — including what goes on in abusive homes.

Trauma is a close partner and ally with malevolent and an enemy to benevolent and benign.  Where there is one the other is mostly or completely absent.

When the experience of being ‘estranged’ from members of our family, or even from members of our society is closely scrutinized, we will ALWAYS find both trauma — and trauma drama.  At the same time we will always find that some level of distinction has been made.  The question becomes, “From which side of the trauma-malevolent versus non-trauma-benevolent side of the line was the distinction made from?”

If the decision to ‘estrange’ ourselves came from the trauma drama side of the line, the estrangement is not about eliminating trauma so much as it is about maintaining and continuing it.

If the decision to ‘estrange’ ourselves came from the non-trauma-benevolent side of the line, the accompanying decision has been made to lessen the presence and impact of ongoing trauma in our lives.

HOW DO WE KNOW THE DIFFERENCE?

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Many of us who come from abusive-trauma drama-malevolent backgrounds spend out entire life teetering along the line that separates what promotes our well-being from what does not at the same time we are continually trying to define which is which.

Had we come from safe and secure benevolent, benign backgrounds I don’t believe we would have been forced to spend so much effort trying to distinguish between the two.  We SHOULD have been able to know clearly and distinctively which was which.  The ability is in our DNA.

But this ability has been tampered with by overwhelming experiences with extraordinary trauma exposure.

So on we trauma drama participants and survivors go, continually teetering, teetering, teetering along the line between what promotes our own well-being and what does not.  AND between WHO promotes our own well-being and WHO does not.

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My family of origin was riddled with ‘estrangements’.  My mother’s divorced mother hated her ex.  She was estranged from him.  She contaminated my mother and her brother with her hatred so that they were estranged from their father.

My mother hated my father’s family and together they arranged that my father DISOWN his entire family so that all their offspring were estranged from our paternal relatives.  My mother became estranged from her brother.  I eventually disowned my mother and became estranged from her (and “Good Riddance” — that was finally, at age 34, my very good idea).

Now coming down the line my parent’s offspring are estranged from my mother’s brother’s side of the family, including from our uncle and both of his children.  After nearly 60 years of living, even the relationships between the six of my parents’ offspring are teetering dangerously close in some cases to estrangement, as well.

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Now, talking to my good friend this morning I hear similar stories from her side of the line.  In both of our families alcoholism ran rampant — and still does.  Along with alcoholism (and all other addictions) runs the SYMPTOM of resentments.  If there is one clear indicator of the presence of intergenerational trauma drama it is RIGHT THERE:  RESENTMENTS.

With one critically important distinction!  When it comes to determining which side of the trauma line an estrangement originates from, the presence or absence of LIVE resentments seems to be the key we can use to determine whether the estrangement is coming from the malevolent “Keep the trauma drama fires burning!” side or the “Damn it!  Let’s live a better life!” side.

Without resentments, choices to distance ourselves from certain people and situations can be an act of freedom.  With resentments, choices to distance ourselves from certain people and situations is a further step into chaos, disorder, and trauma.

NONE of the estrangement decisions that my family of origin made were free of resentments.  Some of them, like my siblings’ disconnection with our cousins just happened as a result of decisions that were made earlier by the people in power in our lives.  We have hence lived with that status quo.

But what about NOW?

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Few of us would willingly choose to stick our hand blindly into a hat that contained both a check for a billion dollars and a venomous snake whose bite would guarantee us instant death while we simply HOPED for the good outcome and not the bad one.

Yet the complexities of human relationships very often contain degrees of life-promotion of relationships along with degrees of life-destruction of relationships.  We make decisions for our actions on a constant basis as we go on through life sharing our life with other people.

And sometimes the transition points between promoting these relationships in better ways versus destroying them happens while we are blind about what really matters.

My friend, Marge said something interesting this morning as she talked about how she is preparing herself to go spend a week in Seattle with her estranged sister who is in grief and crisis.  “I am pro proactive.”

She is pre preparing her own self to be as ready as she can be to glide her own self as benignly as possible through what might be traumatic and troubled waters.

And in this process she is instinctively examining where the resentments lie, and as she does so she is clarifying for herself where the ‘strangeness’ actually lies.  As she walks as much as possible on the side of non-trauma, she at the same time looks within herself and finds that she is NOT the one holding resentments or making any decisions that are powered by this fuel.

That means to me that she is on the side of both freedom and increasing well-being.

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When we come from trauma-drama abusive backgrounds it can be hard for us to figure out what is actually true and what isn’t, what is relevant and what is not.  That is part of what my last post about Grice’s Maxims describes.

Resentments exist because information that is not true, not backed up by accurate information, are held to BE the absolute truth.

Resentments exist because what is ACTUALLY true and important is being ignored and denied.  People are “painting their bathroom wall while their house is burning down.”

Trauma drama thrives where resentments are present.  Resentments thrive where trauma drama is present.  Find one, you find the other.

Lessening trauma drama lessens resentments, and also here the other happens at the same time.  Less trauma, less trauma drama, fewer resentments.

As we begin to turn (I don’t say return for those of us who have never lived without trauma drama since our birth) away from the line that separates what promotes our well-being (and others’) toward what DOES promote well-being, the trauma drama and the resentments begin to fade away.

And in this process what is happening is that ORDER and REASON-ABLE-NESS are replacing disorder and the madness of the chaos of trauma.  Trauma and the disorder of chaos do not promote well-being.

Finding what is ACTUALLY true for us means that we are finding what is ACTUALLY relevant.  We begin to operate with FACTS (even the subjective ones of what we are truthfully feeling) rather than with illusions, delusions, fantasies and lies that exist in the topsy turvy disordered chaotic universe that trauma and its drama create.

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And how do we find our own center point from which we can begin to more accurately make this critical distinctions?  At the one place that severe infant-child abuse survivors are least likely to possess because our trauma altered development deprived us of it in the first place.

That point, that unequivocally accurate place within us is — A CENTER POINT OF PEACE AND CALM.

If we didn’t get to have this state of peace and calmness built into our center, right into our physiology, into our nervous system and brain, we have to LEARN what it is, what if feels like, how to begin to establish it — and how to keep it.

Once we begin to make this move toward peace and calmness, we begin to recognize both trauma drama and the resentments that so feed it — along with the inaccuracies regarding true facts that are relevant to what is REALLY going on.

Sooner or later, as we begin to alter our own patterns of living, our actual body — our physiology itself — will begin to change.  Our BODY will begin this turn around which means that we are stepping ever more willingly away from the line that separates malevolent trauma drama from benevolent peace and calm that promotes well-being.

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Here again I will say that we ALL, no matter how abused we have been, no matter to what degree and in what way our actual physiological development was altered as we grew up in terrible trauma — have one asset that NOBODY can remove from us if we are willing to access it.

Deep within the center of our DNA we KNOW the difference.  We KNOW what peace and calm is, and we know what it is not.

Way down deep, under all the quivering, quaking, rocking and rolling that trauma drama has created in our life and in our body, we PHYSIOLOGICALLY KNOW what promotes well-being — peace and calm — and what does not — because our body feels it and will tell us if we pay attention to its signals.

And on this level I firmly believe that no matter how difficult it might be for any of us to ACTUALLY begin to listen to our body for its signals about what peace and calmness ACTUALLY feels like — ALL OF US ARE FREE.

When I make this statement I most of all test my idea against all that I have learned about my mother.  In spite of all her meanness and madness, I DO BELIEVE absolutely that if she had known what to look for, and had exercised her FREEDOM to CHOOSE to increase the feeling of peace and calmness in her BODY, it would have increased within her life at the same time.

ALL OF US MUST KNOW THAT WE ARE FREE TO MAKE THIS CHOICE.  NO MATTER WHAT OUR PRESENT PHYSIOLOGICAL CONDITION.  And I make this statement knowing absolutely that so-called mental illness is nearly always connected to trauma-altered early developmental changes of some kind, at some level, that tampered with our ability to have peace and calmness established at the center equilibrium balance point of our existence.

Having peace and calm NATURALLY built into our body HAS to happen under early conditions of safe and secure early caregiver attachment in a benevolent environment.

But no matter what, we can locate that feeling inside of us today and begin to make as many choices as we can manage to notice so that we — and our body — can move in this life-promoting direction.

Resentments DO NOT include a center point of peace and calm.  They thrive on the opposite.  Once we are willing to recognize the truth of this, and begin to make choices toward peace and calm, the resentments we carry will have nothing left to life on.  We will deprive them of our attention and our life force and resentments will literally starve themselves to death.

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So we are NOT blindly reaching into a hat containing good and bad choices if we pay attention to our body’s peace and calm signals.  We will not blindly choose to estrange ourselves from people in our lives if we have the peace and calm at our center information.  We will be using our DNA birthright that guarantees that as long as we are alive our body knows the difference not in the intellectual battle between right versus wrong, or good versus bad, but rather knows the difference between what promotes peace and calm and our center (well-being) and what is a move toward the opposite.

And briefly I will mention that I do not rely on the 12-step word ‘serenity’ here because ‘serenity’ to me invokes an intellectual concept and not the physiological reality that peace and calm actually are.  The ability to experience peaceful calmness is our physiological birthright.

Peaceful calmness is the place where order begins.  It is the antidote to trauma.

Being serene is the end result of the entire process I am describing here.  Being serene is a state of being that does not exist without the presence of peaceful calmness in the body – first!

Origin of SERENE

Middle English, from Latin serenus clear, cloudless, untroubled

First Known Use: 15th century

Life is not often ‘clear, cloudless, untroubled’, yet as we learn to feel peace and calmness in our body, and as we become clear about what we need to KEEP that feeling in our body, and as we decide to pay attention and to value what it takes to feel this way, and as we begin to make choices and to take actions to increase this state of well-being, we will naturally know more states of serenity that we have known before no matter WHAT else is happening around us.

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I believe the 12-step emphasis on serenity as a goal provides the counterweight to the power that resentments have to destroy the lives of alcoholics and addicts.  The effort to improve one’s state of serenity happens along with the effort to release resentments.  Like fire and water — resentments and serenity do not mix.

Yet what I am talking about is more on the “How do I get there from here?” level for trauma drama participants and trauma drama (abuse) survivors.

Peace and calm, though they be but mere words and therefore are by definition ‘intellectual concepts’, are actual feelings in the BODY that are physiologically based.  Our BODY (including of course our nervous system-brain) was SUPPOSED to be formed, as I have described, with peace and calm at its physiological center point of balance from which ALL other feelings originate.

Survivors don’t have it there, so we have to learn to identify both the feelings and the life actions that PUT THEM THERE at our center.  THEN we can begin to manipulate all our actions so that they foster serenity, well-being and a depletion of trauma drama in our lives.  I believe that it is a natural body-based fact — and therefore a truth —  that the more well-being we feel in our life (and the less trauma drama), the more we will crave it.  As a species, we evolved that way, and ALL of us can benefit from that fact.

And as we follow this life promoting pathway trauma drama will begin to feel increasingly strange, foreign and unpleasant to us.  We will learn how to take steps to avoid it like the quicksand it is.

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+HOW NICE TO SAY, “BYE! BYE!” TO TRAUMA DRAMA

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I have had some serious reason this week to contemplate — yet again — what trauma drama is and what it feels like to be stuck in one.  There are two links here to posts that I would not have previously especially linked to the topic of trauma drama, but in this post I am going to take a look at something my intuition is telling me about how, in fact, both of these previous posts hold information within them that bears directly on my topic.

I searched this blog for “Grice’s Maxims” and these are the posts that appeared as a result:

+ATTACHMENT – HOW WE ARE WHO WE ARE

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

It is time to revisit Grice’s Maxims as they are presented very clearly in this attachment post link:

Grice’s Conversational Maxims

Maxim of Quantity:

1. Make your contribution to the conversation as informative as necessary.

2. Do not make your contribution to the conversation more informative than necessary.

Maxim of Quality:

1. Do not say what you believe to be false.
2. Do not say that for which you lack adequate evidence.

Maxim of Relevance:

Be relevant (i.e., say things related to the current topic of the conversation).

Maxim of Manner:

1. Avoid obscurity of expression.
2. Avoid ambiguity.
3. Be brief (avoid unnecessary wordiness).
4. Be orderly.

These maxims are considered to be reflected within rational ‘cooperative discourse’, and have been incorporated into the rating structure of the Adult Attachment Interview (AAI) used clinically and in research to assess adult (secure and insecure — please follow links above) attachment.

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It struck me today as I was working on some fresh adobes for the little wall forming as I come in my gate — (which was just mashed to smithereens tonight by my neighbor’s giant bull mastiff who is out of her yard without her owner’s at home to tend to the problem while she romps freely in anyone’s yard she can get into — and she can get into mine — and yes, I called the sheriff, finally, and complained.  The dog has been getting out all week, the owner’s have been told and did nothing about it.  The dog is fortunately not a mean one, except to cats.  I had one disappear this week, and just chased the dog out as she was after the other two, trampling my flower beds — I am MAD!) — anyway, I was thinking that if ‘breaking the rules of polite conversation-rational discourse’ can be used to assess adult insecure attachment difficulties, and if early infant-childhood abuse, neglect and trauma are so closely linked to insecure attachment difficulties, there MUST be a correlation I can find between what Grice’s Maxims (rules for polite conversation) are actually saying and longterm, repeating patterns of trauma drama in adult survivors’ lives.

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Looking at these maxim’s head-on to discover their possible ability to describe trauma drama I find:

Maxim of Quantity:

1. Make your contribution to the conversation as informative as necessary.

Include appropriate information.  When I read this I immediately think about all the trauma drama I have lived through in my life.  I see trauma drama patterns repeating themselves endlessly, over and over and over again.

I had no idea when I left my insanely abusive childhood what an ordinary life even began to look like, and I certainly didn’t know the difference between a life that operates in sane ways where once a pattern is seen as NOT working, and therefore is not helpful, it is discarded because the information learned through the experience is used to move on in a different and better direction — and pattern.

In healthy people with secure attachment patterns, the experience of life itself is a conversation — a dialog between self and self and self and others that actually makes sense.  There is no need to suffer needlessly.  In trauma dramas, the ‘actors’ know no other way to live OTHER than in suffering!  They do not even begin to realize that all the trauma drama IS NOT NECESSARY!

Nor are those of us who were formed in the midst of outrageous and extremely harmful trauma dramas since our earliest life likely to easily be able to determine who is contributing WHAT to the ongoing patterns of disruption, upheaval, insecurity, and downright trauma while it is happening.

(I just spoke with the sheriff’s deputy who arrived to check out the dog situation.  He could do nothing.  Animal control is not available until Monday.  I am NOT a happy camper.  My neighbor is responsible for this, but so am I.  I trusted that when I dealt with this dog all day yesterday and DID NOT call the sheriff’s office to report the problem and instead told my neighbor that her dog has figured a way out of the fence, that she would take her responsibility seriously and fix the problem.  I should NOT have taken the route I did — and I have learned never to do it ‘the cooperative neighborly way’ again!  I and my adobe work and my flower beds, along with my cats and my little dog when I put him out, along with my destroyed fences are proof of that fact!)
2. Do not make your contribution to the conversation more informative than necessary.

Here again, trauma drama as a dramatic expression of nonverbal communication offers us far more information that what a healthy, securely attached person would need to get the point and make the required changes so life can get back to an ordinary normal.

Trauma drama participants and survivors don’t know what normal even is, so the information aspect of learning from life is left in the ditch as we whiz through life pell mell without glory.  We really DO have enough information to adjust.  The information is there.  But we cannot recognize the facts, are powerless to understand them, and don’t have a clue most of the time that we even CAN make things better — make the trauma drama STOP — let alone HOW to do this!
Maxim of Quality:

1. Do not say what you believe to be false.

Looking at these two maxims together I can clearly see where trauma drama participant-survivors have blind spots that prevent us from knowing the difference between the lies that our early lives were and the truth.  We have no clear idea of the difference between living a FAKE life of trauma drama that we mistake for a real life, and living a REAL life that has an absolute minimum of trauma drama in it.

We experience a backwards reality where we have difficulty speaking up for ourselves and telling our own truth, even if we can figure out what our own truth is.  (Can I actually tell my neighbor how disappointed I am she didn’t fix ‘the problem’ and didn’t even come home to feed the dog tonight?  Can I tell her how angry I am at the destruction her dog has caused in my yard?  I don’t think so!)

We just really don’t know how to take appropriate healthy care of ourselves, especially in situations that are unpleasant (a vast understatement for most of us!).

2. Do not say that for which you lack adequate evidence.

Oh, so OK, “Mother, it is just plain RUDE to claim that your daughter was sent by the devil to kill you while she was being born, and that she is a nonhuman curse upon your life because she lived to be born.”

All kinds of so-called guesswork and mind-reading goes on in trauma drama infant-childhoods where violence, neglect, insanity and abuse are the fare for the day — every day — and many nights — year after year.  And most of us could never SAY anything, no matter how much ‘adequate evidence’ WE knew.  Did anyone who could have helped us have this same ‘adequate evidence’?

We learn that ‘adequate evidence’ means exactly — NOTHING!  How do we come to get our bearings in our adulthood to survive on equal grounds with all the people who passed through their development without being terrorized and abused?  The ‘adequate evidence’ of what we know happened to us, was real real real to us (and to adults who suffer abuse), remains in the tombs of silence.  Ours is a topsy turvy, whacky world where even beginning to say ‘that for which we do have evidence’ is nearly impossible.

What most commonly happens is that our very lives, trapped in trauma drama, is that our lives become the ‘adequate evidence’ that something terrible happened to us and we are still suffering.
Maxim of Relevance:

Be relevant (i.e., say things related to the current topic of the conversation).

I doubt that I was unique among survivors when I left my horrible childhood and entered an adult world that was so different from what I knew that I could tell nobody about my past — not even myself.  My childhood was NOT RELEVANT.

Ordinary people tend to have conversations that exclude trauma unless it relates to a shared experience known by many.  At the same time, ‘experts’ know that it is the sharing of trauma with other people that MOST strongly heals trauma’s effects — the sooner after a trauma occurs the better.

The rules of polite society require that we DON’T speak about what is not relevant to those around us.  And even in our horrible homes we could not speak because of trauma’s own inherent rule of silence.

Again, as we continue to live our trauma drama lives our lives also become ‘irrelevant’ to the mainstream.  Being caught in a web of trauma we often do not reach our full potential in ANY way.  Being ‘mentally ill’, poor, homeless, in trouble with the law, in battered shelters, and just plain sick does not make a person MATTER much to the bigger social whole.  We become as irrelevant as our truthful trauma topics are in a world where so many people at least had a ‘good enough’ infant-childhood.

But what I wonder about most when it comes to ‘relevance’ for survivors is related to what we emphasize in our lives as SO IMPORTANT in contrast to what we ignore (deny).  Putting major emphasis, attention and energy on things that do not REALLY matter will not help us.  Painting the bathroom wall while your house burns down is not a relevant act.
Maxim of Manner:

1. Avoid obscurity of expression.
2. Avoid ambiguity.
3. Be brief (avoid unnecessary wordiness).
4. Be orderly.

By the time I get down to these maxims, I can already clearly tell that the confusing, chaotic, cloudy, muddy, shaky, often very ugly trauma dramas many survivors remain captive to in their lives leave us in a state of social obscurity at the same time the actual source for our troubles remains as obscure as the solutions we need to escape them.

Life is ambiguous to us.  The cause of our suffering is ambiguous unless we can become strong enough and clear enough to stare the roaring giants down to less than the size of a pea.  We can spend our entire lives in this state of ambiguity.

And, we have one hell of a story to tell — often many of them — and often, also, our stories are never told except through the dramatic expression of the trauma drama lives we live in.  How do we briefly formulate the facts to tell our stories when most of the time we have no words at all that belong to the facts of our lives?  Trauma drama reenactments serve this purpose if we can understand this.  They communicate terrible realities that cannot (yet) be talked about in words.

And, our stories are extremely complex.  The DEMAND not only SOME words, but truly require MANY words to convey accurately.  Who cares to listen to us?  Who takes the time?  Where do people’s tragic stories actually reside?  In the drama — in the action — in the trauma dramas of our lives.

And I KNOW trauma drama is NOT an orderly affair.  Trauma’s closest relative is CHAOS, plain and simple.  What stops chaos, and heals its effects is ORDER that tames the chaos of trauma.

What I know from doing my little exercise here is that when an adult is assessed with an insecure attachment pattern-disorder through the tools that have been created based upon Grice’s Maxims, what is AT THE SAME TIME being revealed is the presence of trauma drama in the beginning of that person’s life as their body-brain-mind-self was forming.

If the maxims cannot be met in the telling of the narrative on one’s life story, it is because that person has BOTH an insecure attachment pattern-disorder AT THE SAME time they live a life of trauma drama.  We do not have one without the other.

In other words, putting all these thoughts back together again and looking anew at these actual maxims, I find myself wondering how helpful it might be to just copy what follows into a Word document so that it can be printed and then kept handy SOMEWHERE — and referred to daily, or many times a day, for guidance.

I say this because whether we are trauma drama survivor-participants or not, we all employ conversation with our own self in the form of our thinking as well as with other people.

Our thoughts are tied into our lives.  Our thoughts are tied into the presence or absence of trauma drama.  Some version, some degree of either using these rules to live a reasonable life — or breaking these rules because our lives have been dominated by the chaotic unreason-able disorder of trauma dramas all along the way — happens for everyone.

When in operation — in thought, verbalized conversation or in trauma drama reenactments — these simple maxims have the power to accurately portray the degrees of safe or unsafe, secure or insecure attachment in our body-life.  By studying them carefully I suspect we can begin to learn how to apply the HEALTHY side of these maxims (being used reasonably).  As we do this, the UNHEALTHY patterns that we have been forced to accept as normal and ordinary for us will begin to diminish in every way so that we can say, “Bye!  Bye!” to a little more trauma drama in our life every day.

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Grice’s Conversational Maxims

Maxim of Quantity:

1. Make your contribution to the conversation as informative as necessary.
2. Do not make your contribution to the conversation more informative than necessary.
Maxim of Quality:

1. Do not say what you believe to be false.
2. Do not say that for which you lack adequate evidence.
Maxim of Relevance:

Be relevant (i.e., say things related to the current topic of the conversation).
Maxim of Manner:

1. Avoid obscurity of expression.
2. Avoid ambiguity.
3. Be brief (avoid unnecessary wordiness).
4. Be orderly.

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