I can’t stop thinking this morning about a commenter’s words written to my post of yesterday morning. I also can’t stop thinking about an interview I read several days ago and dismissed. This ‘can’t stop thinking about…..’ process is what I need to write about now.
The interview written January 18, 2010 was written on The Salon website by Thomas Rogers about the work of a controversial woman:
“The Trauma Myth”: The child betrayed
Susan Clancy discusses her controversial theory, and how an industry designed to help children may hurt them
As I read this interview I found myself struggling not only with the ideas Clancy has presented in both of her books AND with her use of degrading (swearing) language she evidently felt compelled to use in this interview. I found that her overall concerns lost credibility to me because of her use of this (to me) inappropriate language.
Yet I haven’t been able to entirely dismiss what Clancy mentions (at the above link). I know on some level there is truth in her words, but I also trust this ‘squirmy feeling’ in my gut that tells me, “BEWARE – be wary – all is not safe in her thinking.”
I do agree with two things Clancy is saying that match my inner understandings. As an infant-child, and even as a teen, I had no perspective that would have let me even begin to know that all the torture, trauma, battering, abuse, and chronic misery I suffered during my life with my mother was not normal, was ‘wrong’, was not deserved, or even that it was possible that I could have my own reflective thoughts about ANY of my own experience.
While Clancy is talking specifically about sexual abuse of children happening in environments and within contexts that prevent the child from always being able to tell that ‘abuse’ is going on, I would NEVER say the child being sexually abused is not ‘being hurt’. Clancy is not adequately describing what ‘being hurt’ is.
When researchers tell us that nearly 100% of people with Borderline Personality Disorder were sexually abused as children, that fact alone lets us know even within this limited population that the HARM to children from being sexually abused – and yes, betrayed – is currently beyond our abilities to measure.
When it comes to my own severe infant-child abuse history, even though I have no memory of overt sexual abuse, it wasn’t until the researchers began to discuss the permanent physiological changes that happen in a traumatized little one’s developing body-brain that I began to FINALLY begin to understand how HURT I actually had been by my mother’s torture of me. In fact, I can hardly imagine a greater hurt to an infant-child than to create such terrible trauma in its life – during the most critical stages of its physiological development – that its entire growing body-brain has to change in its development to survive the abuse and trauma.
However, it is Clancy’s OTHER topic that I am stuck ‘thinking about’ this morning. Clancy does not believe in ‘repressed memory’, and I have to say on this subject that I agree with her. Whether Clancy speaks of dissociation in either of her books I do not know – nor will I ever know because I already feel far too uncomfortable with her language and her ideas to ever read her books.
Researchers clearly know that severe abuse at ANY age can change the region of our brain that processes incoming memory: the hippocampus. (Google search ‘hippocampus child abuse’, for examples of the research)
Trauma and memory combine with one another in ways I don’t believe ANYONE yet fully understands. When researchers such as Dr. Allan Schore describe how the stress hormone, cortisol can so ‘heat up’ the brain’s neurons in the hippocampus as trauma memories are being processed so that these neurons get so hot they FRY before the facts of memory are retained (emotional memory is stored in the body differently) – and that this ‘fried memory cell’ process can happen to BOTH a victim AND a perpetrator of abuse – lets me know that we have to be very careful about what we believe to be true about memory.
I have written many times on my blog that I don’t advocate ‘going after trauma memories’ for any general reason. I believe extreme caution must be used any time we choose to deal with trauma memory. On those occasions that ‘trauma triggers’ in our environment stimulate a memory that then appears where it seems we had no memory of this experience before the trigger happened, these memories (to me, in agreement with Clancy) are now NOT FORGOTTEN – in other words are now remembered. This experience has nothing to do with them being so-called ‘repressed’ before we ‘un-forgot’ them.
Now, in regard to the commenter’s words yesterday: We have not only the right to tell our stories but also the right to write them. In addition, I believe that WRITING our stories of abuse and trauma is VERY HEALING, just so long as we are wise and careful with our self as we go through this disclosure process.
Part of why I believe that wise disclosure is healing especially for those of us who are survivors of early infant-child abuse, trauma and malevolent treatment is that the treatment we received most likely changed our physiological development. When this happens, we do not ‘get to’ process information in ‘normal ways’.
When researchers tell us that the development of our right and our left brain hemisphere can be altered due to adaptations to early trauma, and that the region of the brain between these two hemispheres, the corpus callosum, also changes due to trauma during development, it then becomes one of the primary needs of our healing to find out what this means to us in our everyday lives.
Now comes the next part of my morning’s thinking. I want all of this blog’s readers to know that WordPress hosts blogs for FREE, and their blog interface is nearly perfect! Part of the perfection that WordPress has created within their blogging systems is a complete, thorough and very understandable HELP section. There is also a way to contact tech support workers directly – and they are incredibly prompt and helpful in their replies.
MOST importantly, every single word a person writes on their WordPress blog can be published PRIVATELY and not publicly. These private publications are password protected so that NOBODY without your permission can read a single thing you right.
As early trauma and abuse targets our boundaries to our body and to our self were breached, broken, invaded, violated, smashed-to-smithereens before they were ever formed.
I did respond to yesterday’s commenter that I didn’t begin to write my stories until both of my parents were dead dead dead. BUT knowing what I know today about the power for healing that writing my stories has provided me, and knowing what I know today about the complete and total privacy that WordPress provides for its blog writers, I ALSO know that there is absolutely NO REASON WHATSOEVER for ANYONE not to take advantage of the healing powers of writing ANYTHING and EVERYTHING they want to on their private blog.
Now, my experience continues to me that the more I write the more I fine-tune my recognition of how my body-brain processes my LIFE in and out of the word-world.
Turning traumas into words is one of the most empowering things a survivor can do. And, one of the most healing.
Writing builds connections between our changed-brain hemispheres in increasingly new and complex ways – something all early trauma survivors not only desperately NEED, but fundamentally DESERVE in our healing.
Finding out HOW the ocean of trauma we were swallowed up in as little tiny people HURT us is OUR right of discovery. Not Clancy, not anyone else can tell us what did or did not hurt us – or HOW.
Writing allows us to discover our self in ways that can cement the knowledge we gain into WORDS – even if what we write is never read by another soul. We decide that. Our privacy happens as we explore and define our own boundaries, as does our new levels of healing.
So even if your ‘messed up’ family would turn all shades of bruise-color should they discover YOUR truth about what YOU know about your family-of-origin experience, there’s no reason to let a single thought of THEM change how you process YOUR REALITY on your free (and completely private if you wish) WordPress blog!
And please also know that you can always use this blog’s ‘contact us’ button at the top of the site to leave me a comment with questions about your new process. Ask in the comment that it not be published and it won’t be. I will try to answer any questions if I can, and will certainly lend support and encouragement – ‘in-courage-ment’ – to any new blog writer survivor! Good luck, have fun, and happier healing!
Go write your memories — good and bad — in any words you want to, as many times as you want to. My experience has been that I am more free now from the power of my trauma because my memories are all clarified and locked-down in place so that they are OUTSIDE of me nearly more than INSIDE of me now. I like that!
GO HERE TO GET STARTED!