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Archive for March, 2011

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Although I feel it’s progress for me to have identified this feeling I live with most of the time, ‘prescience’ as described in this post

+IN MY RESPONSE TO MY MOTHER’S ABUSE: A GIFT

I also wish I could have one day, even part of one day, when I didn’t have to feel it.  It creates something almost like a loud, continual noise and therefore is always competing with my current reality for attention.  I guess that’s what it’s designed and built into me for.  Never as a child did I have a moment to simply feel happy, joyful, relaxed, safe, secure or free — and rarely do I have a chance to feel that way now.

As I pay attention to this ‘prescience’ feeling I am aware that it seems to be tied into the altered sense of the passage of time that I grew up with in the midst of trauma from the time I was born.  Peritrauma is the state in the middle of a traumatic experience, and it is known for creating this same sense of an altered sense of time passing.

I also believe that this peritraumatic sense of the passing of time collapses past and future into the present — not by leaving the past where it belongs ‘back there’ or by keeping a perspective on the future as ‘out there’ — but by bringing the full weight of ALL THREE awarenesses into each single passing instant of time in my present moment.

The state of peritrauma, existing as it does in the midst of an acute trauma experience, demands that we have at our immediate disposal EVERYTHING we might possibly know that is connected to our experience and that might (if even in the smallest way) help us survive the trauma we are in the middle of.

This acute peritraumatic condition most often happens in FAST time even though time can seem to slow down or stop completely.  This FAST condition most often relies most heavily on what our BODY remembers because that information bypasses the higher cortical regions of our more developed and ‘advanced’ brain that operate far more slowly.  (Maybe it is the competition between these two ways of operating in our body-brain that give us the mixed message at times of FAST and SLOW time happening AT THE SAME TIME!)

All of this action seems to combine for me into a state of overwhelming all-pervasive hyperawareness that I am not safe in the world at any given instant in time.  Especially when severe trauma and abuse build our body-brain in the first place from the time we are very tiny, ALL OF THAT TRAUMA was overwhelming to us.  We had no resources available to us that could help us survive and endure except for the automatic ones that are responses of the BODY and not of the consciously THINKING brain.

I find in my daily life that it is only by consciously recognizing the prescience state my body knows all of the time and by bringing verbal awareness (in thoughts) into this PTSD mix that I can back away from the noise I experience in my body-brain nearly all of the time.  This takes attention and energy and sometimes I resent that I have to constantly wage this battle for a sense of safety and security in this world.

This is directly tied into my knowledge that there was NOTHING FAIR about what happened to me in the first 18 years of my life, and there’s NOTHING FAIR about the aftermath that I live with.  And interestingly enough it is this very feeling state of resentment that gives me a handle in the present moment that I can grab onto in my efforts to turn down the volume of this noise.

Resentment IS an angry energy, a fight back energy, an active coping skills energy.  This energy is something I can WORK with, even if all I do when I feel it is STOMP MY FEET.  The Earth doesn’t mind!  I can then do something creative in THIS moment of my life with that energy — to help myself carve out a ledge to stand on in the PRESENT moment.

The more of the PRESENT moment I can wrestle out of my prescience-peritraumatic sense of a collapsed past-future into the present the more I can push back both the past and the future.  I can make space for myself to LIVE today.  I can talk to my body to let it know that ‘the sky is not likely to fall on my head today’, that I am OK!!!

At the same time this effort helps me to combat ‘derealization’ and ‘depersonalization’ one moment at a time.  It helps me to be a REAL PERSON as I let my body know I respect its efforts to protect me — but for this moment I need to make some room for ME to BE in the present moment today.

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Hard to believe there are places down here in the high desert where there isn’t enough sunshine but there are!  I am intent on growing some climbing roses that can eventually grow up their arbor-trellis into a brighter light, but to get them that far I HOPE I am giving them the assistance they need.  I would trim some tree limbs that are blocking the east morning light from the new rose bed, but I can’t do that on my own.  So, here’s my solution!

No, those aren't potatoes wrapped in tinfoil I am trying to bake - those are solar-stones nestled around the rose beside old boards, broken pieces of tile and glass all wrapped with the magic tinfoil that I hope will reflect enough sunlight toward this rose that it can grow long arms and legs to wrap around its trellis!

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Then there’s the magical adobe chicken coop growing into its future life.   From three sides the coop will look very short, but I am digging out its guts on the inside to make it tall enough for the roost, laying boxes, and ME to stand up in – of course using the dirt to make the blocks.  Today the mud has to rest — dry — strengthen, so I will be making blocks on the ground rather than pouring-patting them into place upon the wall.

There are boards sticking out that are embedded into the walls to support window boxes.

The layer on the right (west) is tall enough my next step after the blocks dry will be to begin the window opening. That will be another creative task! I will also be laying a metal pipe in at this level for the girlies' night roost. I am altering the north area next to the coop to create more plant growing space.

Inside the coop

Short wooden blocks are inserted into the wall ends as the blocks rise. I will go back and attach the door framing.

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It is another gloriously beautiful sunny day down here in Arizona where I live on the Mexican-American border line.  I am hard at work building my adobe chicken coop and its surrounding chicken run.  I am loving this work.  I make creative decisions every step of the way, and I find delight in carrying them out and making this one-of-a-kind safe home for my hoped for little birds!

But I want to pause before I go out there and play in the mud.  (Obviously I missed out as a child on something I would have absolutely LOVED to do then – and still love to do today!)  I would like to post here a comment to this blog that just came through along with my reply.  If there is a ‘nutshell’ synopsis of what the essence of my ‘work-mission’ truly is, I believe it lies in these words.

Comment was to this post:  +FORCED THROUGH ABUSE IN INFANT-CHILDHOOD TO GROW A DISSOCIATING SELF

All my life I have believed that I am not part of the human race. I spend much of my waking hours feeling that I don’t have the right to breathe, that I am a waste of good air. My mother was sadistic and manipulative. She constantly assaulted me and then used the fear of god, to control my every being, my every thought, my every action. She threatened my being so often from the beginning that I only have glimpses of being scared to death, chased and running in fear, her hand and voice reaching for me, terrifying me, ripping hair from my head, being whipped with belts, fly swatters, and coat hangers, ragging that she would beat the hell out of me, being bandaged up and warned not to tell anyone or not to air a family’s dirty laundry in public, and the family filing into the second row church pew every Sunday morning. She made fun of my adolescent body and also encouraged my brothers to laugh and do the same. She said if my brothers had a girlfriend like me, she wouldn’t let her in the house. She said if dad and her got divorced it would be my fault. I came to realize just over the last two years that she would have killed me if it hadn’t been a sin. I have learned the reason why I have no friends, why I’ve divorced several times and why I keep losing jobs, it’s because she broke me. I am 53. On the internet, I have found your blog, as well as a few others, and resources. I have hope now. I am not dead yet, I am not giving up. I have mental health insurance and I am going to use it. I like to read your writings that include anger, it helps me to place mine in perspective. Thank-you.

My reply:

I hear my own mother in your words – truly, truly, truly mentally ill and devastatingly destructive to you! I am so sorry! Please ‘shop’ for a therapist that understands how early trauma ESPECIALLY during the first two years of life changes physiological development in traumatized infant-toddlers. Because we were not protected and kept safe at ANY time, the changes our very body had to make to survive that level of stress and distress just continued right on down the road. This therapist would understand how our earliest infant-caregiver interactions form corresponding attachment patterns (‘disorders’) in our body-brain that last the rest of our life.

When you are ready (and you can Google search stopthestorm PLUS….) read anything you can find especially by Dr. Martin Teicher and Dr. Allan Schore.

You will find a link to a scan of Teicher’s important article here:

https://stopthestorm.wordpress.com/a-book-being-born/dr-teichers-article-on-trauma-altered-development/

I KNOW it is technical, but read it for the ‘meat’ of it, especially for what he says on the last page.

Here is a post on verbal abuse. Researchers are finding that verbal abuse (even for children who are exposed to parental verbal abuse of each other) is as harmful as ANY other kind of abuse:

https://stopthestorm.wordpress.com/2010/01/22/the-terror-able-consequences-of-infant-childhood-verbal-abuse/

Here is another important one by Teicher:

http://drteicher.wordpress.com/2008/12/14/hello-world/

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Here are some by Dr. Schore:

On shame:

https://stopthestorm.wordpress.com/emotions/dr-allan-schore-on-emotional-regulation-notes/dr-schore-on-shame/

On emotional regulation:

https://stopthestorm.wordpress.com/emotions/dr-allan-schore-on-emotional-regulation-notes/

On emotional dysregulation:

https://stopthestorm.wordpress.com/emotions/dr-allan-schore-on-emotional-regulation-notes/schore-notes-on-developmental-emotional-dysregulation/

On brain and nervous system development:

https://stopthestorm.wordpress.com/attachment/notes-on-schore/schore-on-brain-and-nervous-system-development/

On early relational trauma:

https://stopthestorm.wordpress.com/attachment/notes-on-schore/notes-on-schore-relational-trauma/

On the mother-infant relationship:

https://stopthestorm.wordpress.com/2011/01/04/what-matters-most-the-mother-infant-relationship/

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These articles can just be scanned to start off with. You can also Google search “stopthestorm trauma altered development” and find posts such as this one:

https://stopthestorm.wordpress.com/2009/11/29/trauma-altered-development-tad-a-new-descriptive-concept/

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I am 59. Looking back on the first 18 terrible years of my life I now believe that it wasn’t any single one (of many thousands) of actual, specific abuse actions that my mother took against me (and that my father allowed) that TRULY hurt me. It was my mother’s insane, abusive hatred of me (based on her mental illness/psychosis) as my earliest physiological development of my body-brain was CHANGED in its course and trajectory that has caused me the very specific kinds of difficulties I have had over my lifespan.

No, you are ‘not dead yet’ nor are you going to give up! We are strong and we are GOOD people, and every moment can bring us a new healing for our body-self. I believe in SELF, and in SOUL, and my mother COULD NEVER TOUCH ME – no matter what she did to me. Discovering that ME, integrating that ME joyfully into the world and into my life is what parents are SUPPOSED to do. Ours failed worse than miserably, but WE are HERE!

Thank you so much for stopping by, and for your comment. I believe in what’s called ‘quantum healing’. I believe part of how that happens results from us empowering ourselves with information about the facts of what the abuse did to your physiological development. Please stop by again — and I hope your radiance can shine EVERY moment no matter what healing work you are doing that the moment. That radiance is OURS – and our abusers did NOT HAVE THE POWER to touch our inner core self. I really believe that! Please post comments again for updates, and take care of yourself! All the best, and I see your powerful courage and determination shining through here! Linda – alchemynow

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For some reason immediately after I posted my response I thought of this Bible quotation about the work of Jesus:

Matthew 22:20-22 (King James Version)

20And he saith unto them, Whose is this image and superscription?

21They say unto him, Caesar’s. Then saith he unto them, Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s; and unto God the things that are God’s.

22When they had heard these words, they marvelled, and left him, and went their way.

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While I believe that all of live is sacred, and that our body is integral to who we are, it struck me today that all of the changes that early infant-child severe abuse and trauma caused to our developing body-brain DID NOT HAPPEN TO OUR SELF.  Our ability to live in our body in this world was changed, but NOT WHO WE ARE.  Our abuser(s) were not given the power to even BEGIN TO TOUCH WHO WE ARE, because – I believe – who we were made to be belongs to GOD and NOBODY can change that fact.

While our body came into this world and will stay here once we leave it, and thus perhaps can be said to ‘belong to Caesar’ (to this world), we as individual soul-selves belong to God!

Trauma changed how our body receives and processes the physical information we receive in this physical world.  Trauma has changed how much of what information we receive, but it did not have the power to change who we ARE as soul-selves.

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As I think about this today I see images in my mind of our healing work being like uncovering, discovering and rescuing our SELF out of the rubble that the terrors and pain of our earliest years created for us.  We are looking for a lifeline that is directly connected between WHO WE ARE NOW and WHO WE WERE THEN as we were made and created to be.

It doesn’t begin to matter to me what individual specific ‘religion’ a person finds comforting or that they adhere to.  I believe that all the miracles of all religions were sent throughout time to humankind from the One Creator.  To recognize that there is a SPIRITUAL component to all of life and to our self allows for us to begin to separate out what all of the specific, individual and actual separate traumatic experiences we suffered during our earliest development did to change our physiological development AT THE SAME TIME we can identify our OWN SELF as the most precious gem that has always radiated our ‘piece of life’ within us.

WHO did the suffering – in my case that was ME – is not the same as the situations, circumstances, experiences that surrounded me.  I was never allowed to develop ‘boundaries’ separate from my mother while I was little.  But I was never then nor am I now the horrible ‘things’ that my mother did to me.  As I work now to define my own self, to reclaim my own self from the war-torn rubble that my mother did her best to heap upon me to obliterate me, I can see how powerless she was to accomplish her aim.

Yes, she was able to torment, torture and traumatize me as I lived in my body and tried to grow up.  But she never touched ME!!

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As I wrote to my daughter following the publication of my last post (+IN MY RESPONSE TO MY MOTHER’S ABUSE: A GIFT), if she and I are going to write a book together she will need to understand her role as the translator of my words.  I am very aware after writing this last post that when I write ‘my truth’ I am doing so according to this image I can see inside of myself at this moment as if it physically exists and I can see and touch it:

I am standing alone in a world that is divided from the world that other people live in by a clear surface — like glass but more like a very slightly flexible, unbreakable membrane.  I cannot get through it, over it, around it, under it or past it in any way in my lifetime.

When I write ‘my truth’ I do so as if I am writing with a magic marker using an area of this membrane as a slate.  My words, however, appear on the other side of the surface as backward letters.  My daughter will need to be able to understand this reality, carefully consider how my words ‘get through’ to readers on the ‘other side’, and adjust them in whatever way she feels is needed so that they can be tolerated – and somewhat understood – by readers.

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As I just emailed her about what I know about this barrier, I also understand that I have a FIRST (or primary) self, and a SECOND self.

My FIRST self knows things that I hope can be recorded in a book.  My first self is the only self I had until, at age 18, I stepped onto a jet plane and headed away from home to Naval boot camp.  The world that I was leaving did not match the world I was entering, and my first self has ALWAYS known that.

Nothing except surface and only marginal bits of information about my life during my first 18 years had any relevance to the second world I moved into.

My second self figured out a way from the moment I put my foot onto the jet plane how to get along in the world where other people reside.  My second self moves around in this second world I found myself in in effect ‘acting as if’ or ‘pretending’ that I have been in this ‘normal’ world from the get-go.  Yet this second world is NOT my home.  I am an implant, an immigrant, a transposed ‘alien’ (like they call the Mexicans that enter the country down here in Arizona ‘illegal aliens’).

I act as if I am a ‘naturalized citizen’ of this second world, but I am not.  I only get along because I COULD create this second self that moves around more like a ghost than an embodied human being.

If I am going to, with my daughter’s help, write a book that actually could MATTER I will have to make an agreement with myself to let my FIRST primary self appear.  That part of me is often present when I write.  I am aware of ‘her’ presence because I can sense my inability with language — verbal and written – that I experience because my language development was so impacted and altered within the environment of early severe abuse I suffered.

I cannot go back and edit what I write from the ‘ordinary’ side of the clear membrane that encases the world that I ACTUALLY live in.  The ‘mostly normal’ suit I try to wear so that other people are perhaps somewhat comfortable in my presence only goes ‘so deep’.  I cannot truly BE what I pretend to me:  an ordinary person.

I am a severe-trauma-abuse-created person who comes from a malevolent world – who is trying to fit in the best I can in a different world.  Dr. Martin Teicher calls this world a ‘benevolent world’ and describes how it is the mismatch between the two worlds that creates most of the problems severe abuse survivors face in adulthood.  In my case, the use of verbal language is a foreign experience to me in ways that only my first self could explain.  Yet there are very few on the ‘ordinary’ side of the membrane that would even be able to begin to understand me if I tried to tell them what this is all about.

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Actually, in thinking about this, my second self is like attired with somebody else’s clothes.  I think of how I’ve seen around me – teens borrowing clothing and putting together outfits to wear from someone else’s closet.  When I left home I had nothing appropriate ‘to wear’ in the new world I stepped into.  I borrowed an ‘outfit’ =  this second self.

I had had practice being a second self when I went to school, I suppose.  But even my experience as THAT version of a second self was completely connected to the first self I always was during my first 18 years of life.

It took a severing – like cutting an umbilical cord – between my first world and the second world I stepped into for my second self to truly take her form.

I realize today, then, that when I write about ‘borrowed secure attachment’ rather than ‘earned secure attachment’ that these two concepts must be connected in my reality somehow.  But what matters to me is that even though I suspect my secure attachment to my children as their mother was a ‘borrowed secure attachment’ — it primarily worked.  I did not abuse them, I loved them, and they are fine.

I am also still alive in this second world – and that in itself has never been for me a simple or meaningless feat.

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Some days I wake up with a feeling I cannot name that seems to consume my body – nay, more like possess it.  At those times I have to work hard, and consciously as if to wrest my own body away from this feeling.  If I give a pause to this conscious work the feeling is back again and it seems that I all but disappear in its wake.

What is this feeling?  What is it that is so important my own body would rather experience just that single very limited and limiting feeling rather than open itself up to the ACTUAL conditions of my personal environment?  I can only imagine that my body, left to its own devices, has a set point within it that it returns to like the proverbial apple falling from a tree branch to the ground below.

When this feeling is here, as it consumes my body, when I as a separate person (is that even possible, to be separate from what ones body knows?) have to carve out a ‘second life’ for the day, one in which I attempt to control what I feel with my mind, I realize this feeling is one that I have run from all of my life as I try to stay just ahead of it, just ahead of the roaring monster who is chasing me, who hides around every corner, who pounces on me when I least expect it, who wishes more than anything in its existence to hurt me as if it wishes to devour me.  But I always knew from the time I was born until I left home at 18 that this monster did NOT actually want to eat me alive.  It wanted to make me suffer.  A dead child does not suffer, and to my mother, of what use would I be to her then?

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I looked inside of myself this morning for some new word I have never used before – in my thoughts or in my writing – to use as I might try to tame this beast, this devouring monster that grew itself into my body from the time I was born.  What word?  Yes, I could say this is all tied to a sense of foreboding.  But that is a worn word.  I began using that word for this feeling about four years ago.  It is obvious to me this morning that this word has no power to banish my body’s memories of the attacks of the monster-beast.

A new word.  I ask my brain-mind for a new word.  It gave me this one:

Prescience

: foreknowledge of events: a : divine omniscience b : human anticipation of the course of events : foresight

Origin of PRESCIENCE

Middle English, from Late Latin praescientia, from Latin praescient-, praesciens, present participle of praescire to know beforehand, from prae- + scire to know — more at science

First Known Use: 14th century

For pronunciation of ‘prescience’ click HERE

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“Well,” I say to myself, followed by “Thank you.”

I realize as I study this word that it has more power to help me heal myself than my old word, foreboding, could ever contain.

THIS word, Prescience, has within itself a connection to ME – to my powers, to my abilities, to my SMARTS!

I have said over the span of many years that as I went along in my infant-childhood life I was NEVER prepared for my mother’s attacks upon me.  Always they seem in my memory to have happened ‘out of the blue’, without my having seen any single one of them coming beforehand.

BUT!  Maybe (as this new word suggests) I ALWAYS saw them coming, I was ALWAYS preparing myself for the last attack at the same time I was trying to recover from the most previous one, along with those connected in the entire line of attacks upon me my mother had accomplished over the span of my entire existence up until each new attack began.

What did that mean?  What does it mean to me today?

foreknowledge of events: a : divine omniscience b : human anticipation of the course of events : foresight

Of course my body had this foreknowledge.  It had it from the time of my birthing, from the time I was born.  Never had there been a time my mother did not believe I was the devil’s child, not human, sent to kill her during childbirth.  Never had there been a time from that moment when her psychosis came awake and completely colored her relationship with me, her firstborn and perfectly beautiful daughter, that I was her enemy that she had to destroy.

Having ALWAYS had this information in my body – having it build itself into my body at the same time my mother’s traumas built my body in response to her – means that there was NEVER a time I didn’t know how in danger both of her impending attacks and of the very real possibility of my imminent destruction.  Never did I experience either a safe PRESENT moment or memory of a safe past moment so that I, in my growing body-brain could experience with anticipation a FUTURE moment in which I would be safe.

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So perhaps today as I head out to cut my 5-gallon white plastic ex-pickle buckets in half to make them each into two short buckets – so that I can stack them pyramid fashion as I create a tower to plant my new tiny strawberry plants in – I can think inside of myself, “Good for you, Linda!  Good for you that you were able to transform the certain knowledge that you lived always in such an unsafe world into the ability to move forward in time carrying your OWN self right along with you!  It is your OWN self that can see the possibility of growing luscious red happy strawberries in those (what’s the word the kids use today?  Oh, “repurposed”) buckets.”

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I don’t seem to have a way to make this feeling of ‘prescience’ go away, any more than I can continue living if I made my body go away.  This feeling is part of this body I live in.  This feeling is part of who I AM.

This feeling is different than what I have always considered it to be.  It is NOT just fear.  It is NOT just heightened awareness that any danger can lurk anywhere in this lifetime.  It is NOT just paranoia, not ‘anxiety’ and not just foreboding – although it can seem to feel just like all of these survival-based states of being combined into one.

This feeling is a special gift I have been given from the time I was born – although I had little choice other than to nourish this feeling once my monster-beast very ill abusive mother herself nourished the seed of my prescience ability in my newborn infant body.  She – and I – in interaction together formed patterns of survival within my body that will NEVER leave me until I breath my last breath.

She hurt me terribly in every way she could think of (and get away with).  I responded by enduring so that I survived her.

PRESCIENCE.  Yes, it all began before I had the ability to develop even the tiniest thought within my body-brain consciously.  Preverbally I became an expert at ‘pre-science’ – that science of being able to combine all the genetic abilities I had been born with into a professional-level science of being able to not only STAY ALIVE, but to also stay alive ON MY INSIDES where my truest soul-spirit-self lives.

I used everything my mother ever did to me to become such a PRESCIENCE professional that my prescience abilities will NEVER leave me!  “This, my dear Linda, is a GIFT!  Do not fear this fear of fear itself!  This is NOT fear.  This is NOT anxiety.  This is NOT foreboding in any ordinary sense of the word.  You, dearest charmed one, are an expert, professional PRESCIENTIST!”

And not many alive today, really only those who have had to develop this gift within their body so that they could endure the unendurable from the time they were born – those whose main enemy was the same mother who brought them into the world in the first place – have this amazing ability to NEVER lose sight of how the body and the self are so intimately connected that one knows what the other knows NO MATTER WHAT – so that BOTH can respond appropriately should any danger appear within the immediate world at any given split second in time.

ON THE OTHER HAND – knowing at the same time that the PRESCIENTIST retains its gifts that planting strawberries CAN HAPPEN ANYWAY IN A SAFE AND REASON-ABLE FASHION lets me get on with my day.  I know I want not only to endure today, endure into the future moments of my life – I ALSO know that in my future I want STRAWBERRIES!

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“The American HD [Human Development] Index is an alternative measure of well-being and opportunity, calculated from official government data; it measures the three basic building blocks of a good life— health, education, and income. Index scores enable a ranking of the 50 U.S. states, 435 congressional districts (CDs), major racial and ethnic groups, and men and women and allow for the tracking of progress over time. The American HD Index answers the question: how are ordinary Americans doing? The American Human Development Project calculates life expectancy by state and for the five major racial and ethnic groups in each state—the only life expectancy calculations at this level available today.”

Created by the American Human Development Project

The Measure of America: How is opportunity distributed in America? Are we falling behind other affluent democracies? Which groups are surging ahead and which face the greatest risks? Which congressional districts enjoy the highest—and lowest—levels of well-being?

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The report presents strong evidence that the capabilities a person has going into a crisis— ranging from a financial downturn to a man-made or natural disaster—strongly determine how fast he or she can bounce back. It concludes with a set of recommendations to boost the American HD Index scores of all Americans and to enable those left behind to realize their full potential.

“As poverty is rising and high unemployment is causing searing pain across society, we need an accurate understanding of America’s diverse and complex conditions,” said Jeffrey Sachs, Director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University. “No other publication comes close to this one in documenting and explaining America’s disparate socioeconomic realities, especially the vast differences across regions and social groups and the alarming shortfall of America’s performance compared with other high-income countries.”

Click on the title of the report for more information:  American Human Development Report 2010-2011 such as:

The wealthiest 20% of U.S. households have slightly more than half of the nation’s total income. The poorest 20% have 3.4% of total income.

The wealth of the top 1% of households rose, on average, 103% from 1983 to 2007. Wealth in the poorest 40% of households dropped 63% during the same period.

For every $1 of net worth whites have, Latinos have 12 cents, and African Americans have 10 cents.

Fact Sheets – from

The Measure of America 2010-2011: Mapping Risks and Resilience

report:

AHDP Health Fact Sheet (PDF)
AHDP Education Fact Sheet (PDF)
AHDP Income Fact Sheet (PDF)

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My daughter and I are working out the terms by which we intend to write a book for publication about the most central ideas contained on this blog.  Without my daughter’s help I cannot write a book.  The nature of the dis-abilities I live with — especially as they connect directly to my disorganized-disoriented insecure attachment disorder’ which are direct consequences of the severe infant-child abuse I endured — that dis-allows me from putting all that I know into the linear format that a book requires.  My daughter will be the guiding force of ‘organization and orientation’ needed for this project.

Without my daughters guidance I am left alone as a rudderless ship adrift in a stormy sea doing nothing but writing around in circles.  I cannot force myself to become someone I am not.  My daughter will be like my mental tugboat or like my containing canal.  She will be the director and producer of a body of written work that will represent what she and I know in combination with each other.

She, as my daughter, now with a child of her own brings to this project a unique perspective created by her place in the line of ancestral events that I write about.  Looking backwards in time as far as we are able to we have in our mental hands a picture that includes patterns that cross six generations.  Because I do not believe that the stress-distress-duress of familial trauma (which can but does not always include abuse) ever happens in a vacuum, it will be by connecting her and my experience and knowledge together that the spark of life for this book will be truly ignited.

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My daughter is about to embark on a new stage of her journey as she begins work on her doctorate in Human Relations with an emphasis on gerontology.  While this specific degree would not be her first choice, it is the only doctorate available to her where she lives that matches her interest in applied sociology.  As I send her emails with ‘ideas’ for our book for her to file away until it is time for the information to be connected to ‘the rest of the story’ I am discovering specifically how I think what I know connects both to the field of study she will be entering and the field of sociological study that she has already accomplished.

Most simply put, as measured by the Center for Disease Control’s (CDC) Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) data collection and research, those people who endured the most traumatic early infant-child traumas are also most likely NOT to reach the far end of the gerontology age range.  They are the people who will NOT be considered in her PhD studies except as they invisibly present themselves by already being dead!

Yesterday during our telephone conversation my brother mentioned an article in the most recent issue of The New Yorker magazine that synthesizes better than I will ever be able to the CDC-ACE study findings.  He is sending the article on to my daughter and I.

A Reporter at Large — The Poverty Clinic

Can a stressful childhood make you a sick adult?

by Paul Tough March 21, 2011

See also THIS LINK

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One of the stumbling blocks that has so far prevented my daughter and I from collaborating on a book is the fact that she cannot read my childhood stories.  They are too painful to her.  At the same time I have moved forward in my own thinking to the point that I say to her, “The actual specific details of any story I might tell about the abuse I suffered do not matter.  My actual story is not important.  What matters is HOW the abuse that was done to me changed my physiological development so that ‘dis-abilities’ were built into my developing body-brain that I have had to live with for my entire lifespan.”

I am quite certain that my daughter does not yet understand what I am saying to her.  Obviously she will have to eventually ‘get it’ for this book to be written.  I take this quandary as a blessing:  Whatever it takes for my daughter to ‘get it’ is exactly what we need to convey to the reading public!

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Alongside the critically important, very simply and clearly relayed information about the long-term consequences of early trauma as presented in the CDC-ACE study – which I am THRILLED to see coming to ‘lay light’ in this most recent mainstream magazine’s article on the topic – will ride the most fundamental information about how ATTACHMENT patterns created during the first 33 weeks of life direct the flow of all human physiological development.  (Good safe and secure infant-caregiver attachment = one kind of body; bad unsafe and insecure infant-caregiver attachment = a different kind of body)

These ‘kinds of bodies’ can be discerned through assessment of attachment patterns at all ages past the age of one.  I personally consider the creation of an adult attachment assessment tool that could be widely used (reliably) on the public-service level to be the single most important recommendation my writing can possibly make.  The tool currently in existence – the Adult Attachment Interview (SEE for example:  ADULT ATTACHMENT INTERVIEW PROTOCOL by Mary B. Main) has never made it into mainstream use (and no doubt never will).

Yet I still believe that assessment of attachment patterning provides the most important body of information that anyone can ever have about people (self included).  An accurate assessment of attachment patterning reflects in a different way the same information that the CDC is gaining through their ACE assessments.  I believe these two assessment processes need to be linked together, which can never happen until a simpler version of the adult attachment tool is developed-invented.

Once this simper and accessible/useable tool exists, and once these two sources of information are used in combination where it matters most, humans will be able to gather information about the source of most personal and social ills.  The picture that will emerge through these two channels of information will be about what happened during the first 33 weeks of a human’s life as it impacted their physiological development.  These patterns are what I call ‘The Source’ for most lack of well-being that humans experience across their lifespan.

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The Adult Assessment Interview is NOT gathering information of concern about the details of what happened in a person’s early or later life.  This tool is measuring HOW a person narrates their life story.  It is in the narrational patterns of the telling our life story that the underlying patterns of attachment are reflected – secure (organized) attachment, insecure organized attachment or insecure disorganized attachment patterns.  THOSE patterns in turn reflect the underlying physiological developmental trajectory a person experienced during the first 33 weeks of their life in response to an early environment of STRESS-DISTRESS or of protection from (‘too much’) stress-distress.  The CDC-ACE tool is showing the same thing.

If for no other reason than for a concern with economy, efficiency and effectiveness in regard to the dispensing of human-need resources (of every kind) we need this information FIRST and FOREMOST in order to make positive changes in life-patterns.  Anyone working to improve human well-being and quality of life is working blind without it.  This source-information needs to inform every action we take to improve our life (or in our efforts to help anyone else improve theirs).

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As I wrote to my daughter this morning, not having this source information is like trying to fill a car’s gas tank at a pump that is not connected to a fuel bank; turning on a faucet and expecting water when that faucet is not connected to a water source; trying to breath in a vacuum; expecting light to show up when we flip a switch that isn’t connected to a source of electricity.

What happens to a human during the first 33 weeks of life, primarily within the infant-caregiver interactional environment, is the source for how a body-brain physiologically develops in response.  Overly harmful attachment-based experiences during this time of life both build the body-brain at the same time they build themselves INTO the body-brain as they alter the course of development. This is true for all animals that researchers study, and it is true for us.

I believe that most human lifelong suffering can be traced back to this source.  I would like to see a run for this current March 21, 2011 issue of The New Yorker such as this magazine has never seen!  I personally believe it contains the most important article they have ever printed.

I wouldn’t give a broken twig for anything my mother ever did to me if what she did hadn’t had the power to change the way this body I live in developed.  It wasn’t having my head brutally shoved into a toilet bowl when I was four or being locked in a shed when I was sixteen that actually hurt me.  It was what my mother effectively did to me in her reign of terror before I was two years old that mattered most.   I cannot tell those earliest stories although my body can in the way I narrate everything that has happened to me ever since.

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Yesterday repaired the well-used 1st adobe block form and built two more - used wood glue, metal to strengthen corners, soaked with used motor oil so the bricks release - each block 10" x 14" (New Mexico block size) takes nearly a 5-gallon bucket of mud - need to work with triple forms for next adobe project....

First rows of adobe chicken coop/rabbit hutch!

Purple posts going in for chicken run (there's those two Mexican-American border fences again)

The native plant collection, gets covered with used glass shower doors at night, a few asapargus plants in there and if you look closely at back row, a little purple flower bloomed today! Still working on their beds.

Sturdy little pansy plants made it thru the two nights of two below zero! (Anyone have the urge to pick that weed right out of this photo?)

Love their color. They hug the soil, maybe scared of another HARD freeze? Love contrast of all flower colors against this desert soil.

Climbing rose putting on leaves with bed partner tulips.

Happy little tomatoes - Beefstake and Sweet 100 cherries - have no pots to move these into as can't put in ground for another 6 weeks, will have to be creative! Those are HOT little Chiltipin peppers there to the left.

Absolutely desperate for organic matter to compost - began to raid the poor frozen stinking dead cacti across my street today - Gardening! Gotta love it!

Four cubic yards of rotting cacti buried in the compost pile - off to get more tomorrow with the sunrise! Love making something healthy and living from the dead.

Four back beds, digging in compost, iron, phosphate/phosphorous, sulfur and gypsum. Still working on the drip irrigation lines in the back...

And my new puppy, Who Who - daughter flew her down from Fargo 'cause pup bit the grandbaby! Is Pomchi and terrible with kids - just lost all her LONG mop hair yesterday, cut now for the desert life!

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Here are a few pictures from today’s garden work in the sun – gorgeous day!  I am in the middle of a ten day stretch of soaking the entire yard as have beneficial nematodes spread over the soil that have to soak in to find and kill the nasty and garden-devastating grubs!  Still have to finish all the back drip irrigation.

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Having just written my last post, +DO EARLY ABUSE SURVIVORS HAVE THE GIFT OF QUESTIONING? and as I prepare to enter my arena of garden creation for today I had the thought:  “Can I apply what I wrote in that post to my own abuse survivor mother?  Can apply it to my father who so perfectly participated with my mother in her insane, terrible abuse of me?”

Well, I both can and can’t apply my ‘theory’ about severe early abuse survivors having the ability to ask questions!  To my knowledge my mother never questioned the rightness or wrongness of anything she ever did to me.  My father never questioned it, either.

I am not talking about minor crimes against an infant-child here — if such a thing even exists!  All crimes against little ones are major crimes – but my parents performed HORRENDOUS acts of abuse that went on and on and on for the 18 years of my early life.

This awareness of patterns of abusive realities makes me wonder if there might be something very specific about the way early abuse can combine to create trauma altered development in body and brain that completely excludes the ability to ask meaningful questions.  This seems to indicate a rigidity of harmful thought and action that could defy belief if we didn’t know that they DO happen.

My mother seemed incapable of asking questions from the OUTSIDE of her psychosis, so pervasive to her complete existence was her ‘mental illness’.  Thus, no opportunity for self-intervention of extremely damaging patterns of living could possibly exist.  Questioning would have had to come from the OUTSIDE of our family.  This did not ever happen.

It seems to me, from my point of view, that the inability to question the perpetration of the horrors of abuse especially against one’s own child might be particularly related to personality disorders including Borderline and Narcissistic.  In these patterns of survival-mode within such a trauma-altered body-brain all ongoing patterns of action are a PART OF the disordered personality — by definition as demonstrated by repeated, ongoing and unquestioned thoughts, feelings, perceptions and actions.

When ‘experts’ note that the inability to ‘self reflect’ is a key side effect of personality disorders perhaps they are at the same time describing what happens when a trauma-altered person has LOST the ability to question anything that might really matter.  Without the ability to question there will be no opportunity to find answers that can lead to critically-needed self-change.

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Of course this post reflects my bias that given the possession of the ability to question how is it possible that someone wouldn’t USE IT?  Did my mother actually possess the power to question?  If she did, could she have chosen to question and change?  Or, did she have the power to question but had lost the power to choose?  More of my questioning…….

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I could say ‘long ago and far away’ I spent a quarter of a century being around, participating with, studying from the heart, and learning about Native American Indigenous ways of being.  Yet what I learned and what I came to understand has, I most hope, become connected within my soul-self with all that I was born to be.  In this way, all of those experiences have become a integral part of who I am this moment in some important ways.

Even though I grew up a white child within a mostly white culture, the abusive environment within my home was its OWN culture.  I don’t believe, therefore, that I was ‘acculturated’ the way an ordinary child would have been.  Of course my infant-childhood left many holes within me because I was so deprived of early interactive experiences with any other world (except for my very narrow experiences at school) other than the abusive world that encased me.

Yet as I struggle to learn who I am as a person I know that my mother’s abuse of me changed my physiological development but it did not SATURATE me.  I was left with one of  my greatest gifts:  Questioning!

As time has gone by in my adult life I have used my ability to question to my advantage.  Left with huge gaps in my social development, at the same time I was deprived of any ordinary pattern of acculturation within my own ‘society at large’, my open, questioning soul-self-mind has been able to range freely to find answers to my questions.

I hardly believe that I have accepted the dominant ‘Western worldview’ that would probably have filled so many questioning gaps within me that there would have been little room (or freedom) for me to INVENT myself the way that I have.  I have been able to seek — search for — answers to my inner questions without being overly hampered by a solid mass of cultural beliefs, prejudices, and assumptions about life that COULD have automatically filled me up from the time of my birth.

In many ways the emptiness that followed me throughout the first 18 years of my life and on through into my adulthood has been my greatest gift.  That emptiness, coupled with my ability to question, has left me free to learn on my own based on a matching-up process within my own self.

I can notice things like, “Does what this person believe make sense to me?  How does what they say and what they do FEEL LIKE to me?  Do I truly believe ‘it’?”

I look instinctively for what resonates within me.  And I have evidently used my freedom to fill up the empty spaces the abuse left within me with goodness.

The Native American people were banned by national law from outwardly practicing any aspect of their Indigenous spiritual ways until they were legally given their freedom to do so in 1974.

One of the most fundamental aspects of Indigenous belief that I discovered is the understanding that every aspect of life is engaged continually in a CO-CREATIONAL process.  Humans are not only included in this process, they are prime movers on its stage.

Creation was never a static activity that some obscure and distant Creator performed alone.  Creation PARTICIPATES together at all times.

My innate desire to ‘make things’ or to ‘be creative’ is intimately tied to my desire to both ask questions and to look for answers.  These patterns within me are both intimately tied to my desire to find – and to contribute to – that which is beautiful.  Although any contributions I might make to adding into and onto the beauty that exists in this world are humble and meager, I also understand that the Most Great Picture of how everything fits together is beyond my ability to comprehend.

But because I was left without human relationships for the first 18 years of my life I am free to explore relationships on many levels that I might not otherwise have looked for them.  I wonder about the breath I just exhaled – how does it relate to the bird I hear outside my door chittering away as it pecks tiny insects off of my sidewalk.  I wonder how the action of my fingertips clicking away on this keyboard are connected to the motor that just kicked in for my refrigerator.  I wonder how my every thought connects to my past and to my future as I wonder about this great web of life that envelops this globe – and beyond.

While I try not to be prejudiced or judgmental about other people, I can’t help but often notice how so many people don’t seem motivated in any way to question!  The more complex the world becomes the more narrow I see so many people becoming in their thinking.  As if the process creates some illusion of safety in response to threats people feel helpless to combat, so many people simply takes tiny pieces of information and put it together in such a way that no questions need to be asked – and therefore no solutions need to be found.

To me, that way of being excludes opportunities for ongoing creativity.  Humans are innately creative!  Perhaps I share with many, many early abuse survivors the need, desire and ability to QUESTION in ways that ‘ordinary people’ do not have.  At this moment I would not want to miss the opportunities this gift of questioning I possess!  This ability has kept me anchored in the co-creational process of life on a conscious level.  I like that!

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