Understanding how to live well in a body that was trauma-changed during its earliest physiological developmental stages due to abuse, neglect and maltreatment in an extremely unsafe and insecure malevolent environment is the challenge of many (if not most-all) adult survivors. While I will never find a way to live free of this challenge, the more I can learn about the kinds of trauma-related developmental changes I experienced and how those very real changes affect me every instant of my life can help me to recognize when my trauma-changed BODY has taken over the reins of my life in the present moment. Once I can recognize when I am experiencing something PHYSIOLOGICALLY I can try to apply a workable solution to live better today.
I did have a better day yesterday than I had the day before. The terrible pain of my underlying overwhelming sadness (‘major depression’) was hiding yesterday like a water monster asleep somewhere near the bottom of the sea.
And in the space away from the sadness yesterday I was able to think somewhat more clearly about the triggers that contributed to the emergence of that sadness the day before. As I tracked what had happened the ‘sadder day’ I realized the connection the triggering of that sadness had with my insecure attachment patterns (disorder).
I know enough to know that the complete absence of safe and secure attachment to any human being in my earliest years (as I at the same time experienced chronic and terrible abuse) fundamentally changed the way my body experiences life so that my so-called ‘anxiety’ (the foundation all my so-called ‘disabilities’ rests upon and stem from) can be said to ACTUALLY be an insecure attachment disorder. Whatever the ‘later’ adult names, titles, diagnosis might be that are given to me, the actual problems I live with in my body ALL stem from how my dangerous and secure attachment-deprived earliest environment forced my body to change in its development as a consequence – so that I could endure and survive into this adulthood I work so hard to enjoy today!
I can name my insecure attachment pattern ‘disorganized-disoriented’ and I am correct. I also know I can name it an adult ‘reactive attachment disorder’ and I am also correct. The nature and quality of our earliest attachment relationship environment signals our body to develop along lines designed for survival in either a mostly benevolent world or a mostly malevolent world. If especially an infant-toddler does not get to develop in a safe and secure attachment universe, biological-physiological development simply takes an alternative route. I live with the consequences of building a body-brain-mind-self along this alternative route every moment of my life.
So, what I learned yesterday about the day before yesterday is that my reaction to what is happening around me is very often exactly that: a reaction. I use activity patterns in my life today that sooth me. Because my right brain-body did not form with internal self-soothing (and flexible emotional regulatory) abilities within in it, I am extremely reactive to everything that happens in my present-day world. My gardening and my adobe-building takes the place as an external-to-me series of external activities that I use instead of internal abilities to get through my days.
I realized yesterday that what helps me feel more organized and oriented (in counterbalance to my internal patterns of dissociation-disorientation-disorganization) is to move through the projects of my day in a straightforward LINEAR way. I don’t often plan my adobe building out very far ahead of time. The next steps always seem to appear naturally as I move around the yard – transforming it into something more beautiful.
That’s all fine and good until I hit detours and snags and complications. And that’s exactly what happened to me on my ‘sad trigger day’. If I can’t dig where I want to next because the ground is far to cement-hard, and then when I soak it and discover there is no red clay there suited only for adobe work but rather there’s somewhat better (darker, browner, looser) soil that I best save for planting in – well, there’s an obstacle and a detour.
I can’t just USE this ‘better’ dirt. I will have to move it and work around a ‘saving pattern’ for it until I can sift it later to get the Bermuda grass roots out. Meanwhile I need to find another place in my yard to find the truly terrible red clay dirt – and then soak it so I can dig it, find a way to transport it – and often I have to dig in areas full of stones which is very unhappy work!
I noticed this yesterday as I closely paid attention to how I FELT – how my BODY felt – how I FELT in my body – yesterday as I began to detect a pattern: When my work is going smoothly I am organized-oriented, relatively positive, happy and NOT so terribly sad. When, on the other hand, my work hits serious (to me) obstacles I begin to disintegrate, fall apart, dissociate and become disorganized and disoriented again.
THIS state creates a wide open vulnerable space within me that seems to act like an actual arena for an ‘infection’ to set in. My WOUNDS are triggered in my body from LONG AGO because those wounds built my body at the same time they built themselves into my body. The trauma of my earliest years was so severe that it never leaves me – never never – because that trauma built me. As long as I live in this body I am at risk for experiencing full-blown detours away from well-being back to the FEELING state of Hoororville.
This self-awareness information might help me now and in the future to avoid the full slide into my overwhelming sadness. If I can notice as immediately as possible when the upset occurs (when my patterns of order and orientation in the present moment become threatened) so that I can ACT before the REACTION (‘full infection’) takes a hold, maybe I can avoid that full slide into an emotional feeling state that quite frankly – totally sucks!
Otherwise the dissociation happens in the blink of an eye – and I end up ‘somewhere’ inside of myself I don’t want to be. Then I most often don’t have a clue (a) how to get out of it, and (b) how I got into it so fast in the first place!
It seems sometimes like a gigantic Trauma Falcon just flew over me as if I were a tiny critter, snatched right out of an ‘ordinary’ day, carried me off against my will and devoured me while I helplessly did the one thing by body was formed to do best. I suffer and I survive.
Well, my mission in life is to do A WHOLE LOT BETTER THAN THAT! And to do that requires of me that I learn to do what nobody ever did for me while I grew up. I need to care-give myself. I need to pay as very close attention as I can to how patterns operate between me-myself-my body and the conditions of the external world. At the very least I could say I am fragile (vulnerable). And yet there’s a contradiction there.
I can imagine that Trauma Falcon snatching me out of ‘ordinary’ and thinking its going to get an easy meal out of me – only to find that I am TOUGH – too tough to devour, tough enough to survive – and more. I am tough enough to continue to apply myself every moment I possibly can to empower myself to be so far ahead of that Trauma Falcon that I can sense even its shadow coming at me.
I am SICK of being its wanna-be meal!!