+A COLLECTION OF LINKS ON BODY-BRAIN CHANGES CAUSED BY EARLY INFANT-CHILD ABUSE

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This post started out to be a simple accumulation of this blog’s posts on right and left brain development – but the list of links a search of the blog brought to my attention on the topic was a massive one!  I gave up trying to figure out which ones were best to highlight to help newly arrived blog readers understand the context of this blog, so here is (still only a partial) list of previous posts that form a foundation to the things I currently tend to write about on this blog related to how severe infant-child abuse and neglect can change early physiological development of the body-brain:

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+IMPORTANT NEW RESEARCH ON ‘EXECUTIVE FUNCTION’ OF THE BRAIN – AND INFANT EXPERIENCE IMPACTS THESE ABILITIES

+WHAT REALLY HAPPENED TO US: VIOLENT TRAUMA, MALTREATMENT, ATTACHMENT – BIRTH TO AGE THREE (and beyond)

+A COLLECTION OF POSTS RELATED TO — CALM — AND ABUSE RELATED COMPLICATIONS

+THE POWER OF LEARNING HOW TO SHORTCUT THE TRAUMA CYCLE

+NO REAL CHOICE: WE HAVE TO UNDERSTAND OUR DEVELOPMENTAL CHANGES FROM INFANT-CHILD ABUSE – NOW!

+A COLLECTION OF THIS BLOG’S LINKS ON DISSOCIATION AND DISORGANIZED-DISORIENTED INSECURE ATTACHMENT

EARLY TRAUMA BUILDS DISSOCIATION INTO THE BRAIN

+’DIS-ASSOCIATION’ BETWEEN RIGHT-LEFT BRAIN HEMISPHERES AND DISMISSIVE-AVOIDANT INSECURE ATTACHMENT DISORDERS

**Containment and the hemispheres

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+WHICH HAND DO YOU USE?

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+SIEGEL ON DEVELOPING CHILD’S BRAIN – ATTACHMENT

+SIEGEL – ANTICIPATION, TIME AND COHERENCE OF MIND

+SIEGEL ON MINDS CREATE MINDS

+ANTI-DISSOCIATION: REMEMBERING THE FEELING OF FEELING ONE’S SELF IN ONE’S LIFE

+DISSOCIATION: MEMORY OF ONGOING EXPERIENCE FROM THE PREY’S POINT OF VIEW

+INFANT-CHILD ABUSE: WHEN THE BOUGH BREAKS, THE BRAIN CHANGES

+INFANT-CHILD ABUSE: WHEN THE BOUGH BREAKS, THE BRAIN CHANGES

+SCHORE ON BRAIN AND NERVOUS SYSTEM DEVELOPMENT

+HOW DOES THE SELF GET FORMED? HERE’S A WHOLE LOT OF IMPORTANT INFO

+HEALING TRAUMA AT OUR BODY-BRAIN CENTER

+SIEGEL – UNRESOLVED TRAUMA – INFLUENCE SELF-ORGANIZATION THROUGH GENERATIONS

+INFO ON WINDOWS OF EMOTIONAL TOLERANCE

+OUR STRESS RESPONSE IS WHAT WE PASS DOWN TO OUR KIDS

+INFANT-CHILD TRAUMA CHANGES THE VAGUS NERVE’S DEVELOPMENT

+CALM THE CRYING BABY — IMMUNE SYSTEM STIMULATES VAGUS NERVE TRAUMA ALTERED DEVELOPMENT

+MY MOTHER’S VAGUS NERVE: THE MAKING OF HER PERFECT BORDERLINE STORM?

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+IT WASN’T FUNNY: THE BUZZARD THAT ATE MY MOTHER

+SOMETHING WENT TERRIBLY WRONG WITH MY MOTHER’S PRECUNEUS

+ABUSIVE PARENTS HAVE THE WEAKEST SELVES POSSIBLE

+THE TOPIC OF TEASING: TOO HARD TO CONSIDER?

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

+THE ‘TERROR-ABLE’ CONSEQUENCES OF INFANT-CHILDHOOD VERBAL ABUSE

+IN THE PRESENCE OF LAUGHTER WE ARE SAFE, SECURE AND FREE

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+REALLY COOL WEBSITE ON THE BRAIN

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+LEFT BRAIN, RIGHT BRAIN — ‘WHO’ HAS THE TRUTH?

++LIMBIC SYSTEM

++NOTES ON RIGHT BRAIN DEVELOPMENT

++SCHORE ON DEVLOPMENT OF RIGHT BRAIN

++NOTES ON SCHORE – RIGHT BRAIN

+SIEGEL ON LEFT BRAIN DEVELOPMENT

+SIEGEL ON RIGHT BRAIN DEVELOPMENT

+SIEGEL – LEFT BRAIN – REASON

+SIEGEL ON BRAIN INTEGRATION PROCESSES – SELF ORGANIZATION

+SEIGEL ON BRAIN LATERALIZATION

+SEIGEL ON LATERALIZATION (more)

+SIEGEL ON BRAIN HEMISPHERE CONSCOUSNESS

+SIEGEL – DISORIENTED MIND

+SIEGEL ON EMOTIONS

++NOTES ON SCHORE – EMOTIONS

+SIEGEL – EMOTIONAL REGULATION

** Schore – Notes on Developmental Emotional Dysregulation

**Dr. Allan Schore on Emotional Regulation – Notes

*Notes on Schore

+SIEGEL – DEFINING EMOTIONS

+SEIGEL ON EMOTION AND BRAIN REGIONS

+SIEGEL – EMOTIONS AND A SENSE OF TIME

+SIEGEL ON MINDSIGHT

++SCHORE ON MATERNAL-INFANT MIND SHAPING

+SIEGEL – EMOTIONAL REGULATION AND DISORGANIZED ATTACHMENT

+SEIGEL ON EARLY TRAUMA, I CALL A BROKEN HEART

+SEIGEL ON RESPONSE FLEXIBILITY

+EXTREME STATES AND BRAIN REWIRING

+LEFT, RIGHT, CENTER AND HIGHER BRAIN: MY RIGHT TO WRITE!

+GENDER AND THE BRAIN — DIFFERENCES AND EARLY TRAUMA

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+HAVE FUN WITH THIS SOCIAL-EMOTIONAL BRAIN BUILDING EXERCISE!

+WHAT WE MOST NEED TO KNOW: HOW MOTHERING BUILDS THE INFANT BRAIN

+MOTHERING: WHEN IT’S RIGHT, WHEN IT’S WRONG

+ATTACHMENT – HOW WE ARE WHO WE ARE

+TO BE OR NOT TO BE A TRAUMA-CHANGED HUMAN — THE QUALITY OF MOTHERING HOLDS THE ABSOLUTE KEY

+”MOTHER! WHERE ART THOU?” — RESPONDING TO AN INFANT-CHILD’S CRY OF NEED

+PLAY AS AN INDICATOR OF SAFETY AND SECURITY IN A BENEVOLENT WORLD

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+THOUGHTS ON THE TRIGGER POINT OF SHAME

++ DR. SCHORE ON SHAME

 ++

+PTSD AND SEVERE CHILD ABUSE SURVIVORSHIP – PART ONE

+PTSD AND SEVERE ABUSE SURVIVORSHIP – PART TWO

+PTSD AND SEVERE ABUSE SURVIVORSHIP – PART THREE

+PTSD AND SEVERE ABUSE SURVIVORSHIP – CONCLUSION

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+EARLY ABUSE AFFECTS OUR REACTION TO ADULT TRAUMA EXPOSURE

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+DISSOCIATION AND THE TRAUMA-SPECIALIZED BRAIN

+DISSOCIATION FROM CHILD ABUSE NEVER LEAVES US

**Dissociation

*FURTHER UNDERSTANDINGS ABOUT DISSOCIATION

+SCHORE ON DISSOCIATION

+CHILDHOOD DISSOCIATION, DEPERSONALIZATION, DEREALIZATION – I NEVER HAD A CHOICE TO BE OR NOT TO BE

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+ALL OF ME. I DON’T HAVE ‘A CHILD WITHIN’

+RETURNING WITH AGE TO HOW I HAVE ALWAYS BEEN AND DIDN’T KNOW IT: DISSOCIATED+I WILL NEVER BE ORDINARY. IT IS TIME FOR ME TO KNOW THIS TRUTH.

+BEING MY MOTHER’S IMAGINARY SWORN ENEMY

+CRY FOR THE NIGHTBIRDS – SOME CHILDREN NEED TO BE SAVED FROM THEIR PARENTS

+THE COMPLEXITIES OF SECURE AND INSECURE ATTACHMENT – DO-IT-YOURSELF STUDY LINKS

+BELOW THE SURFACE – THE CONNECTION BETWEEN SEVERE EARLY CHILD ABUSE, EAGLES AND BUZZARDS

+BEING HUMAN, ANIMAL OR OBJECT?

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+SECURE AND INSECURE ATTACHMENT AND THE CHILDHOOD NARRATIVE

+THE POWER OF JOURNALING – ASKING A QUESTION THAT HAS AN ANSWER

*THE ADVANTAGES OF DISCLOSURE

+WRITING ABOUT OUR SEVERE EARLY TRAUMAS FROM THE INSIDE OUT

+WHEN OUR TEARS TAKE AWAY OUR WORDS – WHAT IS THE TRUTH ABOUT OUR TRAUMAS?

+WE NEED NEW WORDS TO DIALOG WITH OUR BODY ABOUT TRAUMA

*BEING WITNESS TO MY OWN ABUSE

+HOW DO WE LIVE WELL WHEN WE HAVE TOO MUCH TRAUMA INFORMATION

+MARCHING ON TO VICTORY OVER TRAUMA

+EARLY CHILDHOOD ADVERSE EXPERIENCES

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+OUR DISTURBED NATURAL INTERNAL OPIOID (OPIATE) SYSTEM

+PANKSEPP ON BRAIN OPIOIDS

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*DAMASIO NOTES – feeling of what happens

**DAMASIO ON NEUROLOGY OF CONSCIOUSNESS

**DAMASIO ON CONSCIOUSNESS

**DAMASIO ON CORE CONSCIOUSNESS

++CONSCIOUSNESS AND ATTENTION

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+A COLLECTION OF IMPORTANT EARLIER POSTS ON ATTACHMENT

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Here are a collection of links to important posts on attachment from this blog, October 22, 2009:

*Attachment Simplified – Secure Attachment (Organized)

*Attachment Simplified – Our Infant Attachment Systems Organize our Brain-Body-Mind-Self

*Attachment Simplified – Disorganized Insecure Attachment – Disorganized-Disoriented

*Attachment Simplified – Organized Insecure Attachment – Preoccupied-Ambivalent

*Attachment Simplified – Organized Insecure Attachment – Avoidant-Dismissive

*Attachment Simplified – Attachments in Therapy

*Attachment Simplified – The More Complicated Yet CRITICAL Information

*Attachment Simplified – Still More Complicated Information Including ‘Feeling Felt’ and ‘Healing in Solitude’

+THE COMPLEXITIES OF SECURE AND INSECURE ATTACHMENT – DO-IT-YOURSELF STUDY LINKS

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Other related posts:

*Introduction on attachment disorders

*EMOTION AND ATTACHMENT

+SIEGEL – DESCRIPTION OF ATTACHMENT STYLES

+SIEGEL – EMOTIONAL REGULATION AND DISORGANIZED ATTACHMENT

+SIEGEL ON ADULT UNRESOLVED ATTACHMENTS

+SIEGEL ON DEVELOPING CHILD’S BRAIN – ATTACHMENT

**Further notes on attachment

**NOTES FROM FIELD ON ADULT ATTACHMENT

**Notes on Schore – Development of Attachment

*ATTACHMENT (chapter 5 notes)

*Ambivalent Attachment

*Empathy preschoolers

+SECURE AND INSECURE ATTACHMENT AND THE CHILDHOOD NARRATIVE

+WHAT REALLY HAPPENED TO US: VIOLENT TRAUMA, MALTREATMENT, ATTACHMENT – BIRTH TO AGE THREE (and beyond)

+’DIS-ASSOCIATION’ BETWEEN RIGHT-LEFT BRAIN HEMISPHERES AND DISMISSIVE-AVOIDANT INSECURE ATTACHMENT DISORDERS

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+’CLEAR AS MUD’ – DISCOVERING WHAT WE NEED TO KNOW

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I ask myself at the start of this post, “What’s my point in writing it if I can’t say that I know what I hope to accomplish by doing so?”  There can only be one point to this post and that is to begin to illustrate how complex the topics are that this blog discusses and that its readers are personally concerned about.  At this point in the history of science, and correspondingly to this point in the evolution of the human species, not one persona actually has ‘the answer’ to the questions we ask.  So what this post simply intends to do is to present the results of one most-recent research study about Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) in its ‘purist’ state as connected to the operation of these people’s brain.

I am not going to try to decipher the findings of this research.  I am not going to try to distill it into some kind of format any one of us lay people could begin to wrap our thinking around.  I am going to present here the link to this article.  Interested readers can follow this link and then spend some time trying to plow their way through it!  I don’t believe any of us can begin to understand what is being said here except in these simplest of terms:  Borderline Personality Disorder includes within it changes in brain operation that are beginning to be narrowed down as they are discovered.

I would guess that any one of the many brain changes that researchers can now SEE and detect in BPD would be enough to change the way a person operates in the world.  The particular brain change that is highlighted in this research I mention today has to do with regions of the brain that are being found to concern the brain’s physiological relationship to and with what we commonly refer to as ‘the self’.

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When you click on this link you will be taken to a readable version of this entire research article:

[PDF] Aberrant connectivity of restingstate networks in borderline [personality disorder]

this article is written by a team of psychiatrists from Germany and Italy.  It was early-released on March 15, 2011 and is probably the most current research article on this topic.

Most of the terminology used in this article will be foreign to lay readers.  The basic premise is that any human brain shows various patterns of operation depending upon what it is doing.  There are regions – “the default mode network” — that normally-ordinarily show up in combination with one another as being at REST when the person-brain is not being called upon to respond to a specific task that demands action.  Researchers are discovering that these resting brain regions ‘seem’ to correspond to the brain’s perception of a ‘self’.

All that this information really tells me is that for all the current attempts being made to define, diagnose and treat many so-called ‘mental illnesses’ current science is mostly shooting at a hoped-for target in the dark.  The importance of this suggestion for me personally is that my efforts to understand how maltreatment during the first 33 months of life (conception to age 2) creates traumatic stress in little ones that in turn changes body-brain development comes the closest to providing me information that can matter most – both in terms of coming to glimpse what happened to ME at the same time it begins to tell me what happened to my mother to turn her into the abusive monster that she was.

All the information that science can glean about what maltreatment of infant-toddlers (in particular) is and about what it does to alter physiological development of the body-brain of survivors directly relates to the best-of-the-best in human attachment research and its findings.  In my thinking any research about BPD and about all so-called ‘mental illnesses’ including Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) that does not include in its considerations the quality of the earliest caregiver-infant attachment environment will be missing the point and will NOT connect directly to the ‘bigger picture’ that we all need to understand.

Most research I am alluding to is in effect studying a glass turned upside-down.  The characteristics of the bottom of the glass are meticulously observed and described.  What is seen of an individual, in effect its phenotype, has to be connected to the forces and influences in an individual’s earliest life that set in motion the direction of physiological development that can be observed (and is experienced) at the end of this earliest developmental process.

When the proverbial glass is placed correctly with its bottom on the bottom, this bottom rests firmly on the platform that is the environment that influenced its formation in the first place.  Everything that is put into this glass and that comes out of it throughout the lifespan of an individual is actually connected to how this glass itself was created in the first place.

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I mention this today in part because of two books on trauma that a post reader found in the library and is reading.  I found the titles for sale at Amazon.com:

I Can’t Get Over It by Aphrodite Matsakis and A. Matsakis (Nov 1996)

and

Unchained Memories: True Stories Of Traumatic Memories Lost And Found by Lenore Terr (Feb 24, 1995)

I am not familiar with these books (have not read either one), but I notice immediately the date range of their publication and know that all current developmental neuroscientific information will be missing from their pages.  While I would suspect that they both contain good and helpful information, I also know that this information will not be presented specifically for adult survivors of early infant-toddler neglect, abuse, maltreatment who suffered Trauma Altered Development at the start of their life and during the most critical body-brain formative stages.

Any book that survivors of extreme stress, maltreatment and trauma during especially the first 33 months of life reads will NOT contain the information we most need to know unless the early infant-caregiver patterns of attachment are included within the book’s covers.  This does not mean that these ‘other’ books are not useful.  It just means that there are monstrous holes in the information they present.  It is within these holes and within the missing information these holes contain that our truest understanding about our own self and the self of our abusers is most likely to be – NOT found.

This missing information, for the most part, is still being discovered.  What we do know still lies mostly within the fields of study of attachment and developmental neuroscience.  That information is still being translated into terms that the lay public (including survivors) can begin to comprehend.  This means to me that we survivors know as much about what really matters as any expert does because our trauma-changed body-brain is living the consequences of what the researchers are attempting to discover and describe.

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A human body-brain is designed (one way or the other) to process information through the equivalent of our two brains – our left brain and our right brain.  Information that is NOT jointly and cooperatively processed by BOTH of our brains is not WHOLE information.

Any attempts we might make to understand our self in our own reality by reading information presented by ANY source outside of our own self has to be processed this same way.

I consider ‘outside’ information to be the equivalent of left brain information (most often presented in words that the left brain assumes to comprehend).  This information means NOTHING if it is not EQUALLY considered by our right brain – and I mean OUR RIGHT BRAIN.

We are the only person who can do this task of understanding for our own self.  No matter what any other human being tells us about ANYTHING – it has no meaning to us personally until we ‘eat it up’ with BOTH of our brains.

The other important point here is that it is mostly our RIGHT BRAIN that gives us the information that our BODY knows about anything we consider in our lifetime.  In other words, when we read what anyone else has to say we HAVE TO listen to what our body tells us!!

We can call this body information our ‘gut reaction’.  Our body-based reaction (which is intimately connected to every memory of every experience we have ever had) will (I believe) appear as feeling translated into images that our right brain will attempt to ‘put on the table’ for the left brain’s edification (enlightenment).  (These images can be body sensations, smells, senses of movement and motion in time and space, music, etc.)

So in essence, outsider information will mean nothing to us any more than information presented just to our left brain will.  For information to make sense to us it has to ALWAYS be processed in its whole form as we take our left brain-right brain-body factors into consideration.  I don’t care where we find ‘facts’, who wrote them down as they discovered them in the first place, or how ‘scientifically valid’ and up-to-date the source is.

I do believe that ‘truth has a ring to it’.  I believe when we hear/read something that is true for us our body will tell us, not just our intellect.  It is that resonating ring-of-truth that I found when I discovered attachment and developmental neuroscientific research such as Siegel’s, Shore’s and Teicher’s (all mentioned frequently on this blog).

Reading ‘self-help’ information that left me feeling befuddled and muddled felt entirely different to me in my body.  I am very happy that I now know the difference!

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But I have work to do outdoors now finishing the roof of my chicken coop.  It is a beautiful day!

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+HOW I HATE THIS WIND (THAT REMINDS ME OF MY MOTHER!)

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Yesterday was a beautiful, quiet (still) warm and gentle day, and I loved it!  I could be outside working in the garden without impediment, without interference, without struggle.  BUT TODAY?  The sound of the raging wind against my house woke me this morning well before 5 a.m.  And here I am closeted against its force here on the inside of the four walls of my house — and I hate that!

There is something different about the winds that are tormenting us down here in southeast Arizona this year.  Coupled with the dryness that is also unusual, the winds bring with them clouds of dirt-filled dust and irritating pollens.

But for me?  The wind is somehow MORE than ‘just the wind’.  I sat down to write here because I am realizing these winds are a ‘trauma trigger’ to me because they remind me so much of my first 18 years of life with my mother!

Now darkness.  One can bring light into the darkness.  Too much sunlight?  There are choices about coping with that, too.  Find shade!  Rain?  There are always umbrellas and awnings.  Cold and heat?  There are ways we can deal with those conditions, also.

Of course any time we can seek shelter from weather conditions that are overwhelming us we can try that option.  Whether we can actually locate and access such shelter might be another matter.

Extreme weather (and I have to say this wind is not THAT extreme – just chronic!) very often causes trauma to people and to the ‘environment’ it impacts.

And then there is THIS wind, this frequent fitful threatening predatory wind down here this year that howls and roars, whines, bellows and gasps, shoves and bangs and pounds and batters.  This wind tosses things in the air and chases them while it shakes and tears at whatever else it can’t get loose as if to rip everything apart.  It changes directions nearly all of the time.  It rarely pauses.  It pulses and twists and turns.  It blasts the world it enters and the only way I can cope with it is to close my doors and windows and hide inside my house.

Which I HATE to do!

Yes, I myself frequently whine against these winds, but I NEVER win.  I cannot fight the wind (though I have a good friend who got so mad at wind one time she threw a cast iron lawn chair at it).

But however I feel about these winds and whatever I think about them, I realize today how much these winds, THIS wind (they always seem on each new day’s attack to be a different wind with its own personality) reminds me of my first 18 years with my mad abusive mother!

There was never a way to truly escape her.  Her madness permeated every molecule of the world she ruled (pretending to be nice when it suited her, becoming a raging monster when that mood suited her) just as this wind does.

This wind is NEVER quiet when it is here.  While I am certainly glad it is not double or triple (or more) its strength, the way it is behaving out there is NOT nice from my point of view.  And there is nothing I can do outside today in spite of its force.

So I am trapped in the house today — and being TRAPPED is exactly how I feel.  This feeling of being trapped always corresponds for me to a feeling of being sick and not-well.  I can still hear the wind.  It has a continual presence.  There is no true escape from it until it stops — and nobody can control the wind any more than anyone could control my mother!

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+WHAT IT TAKES TO SURVIVE (LONG POST ABOUT RESILIENCY-IN-HELL)

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This post is being written directly in reply to the comment left this morning at the end of this post:  +BEFRIENDING CHAOS? (EARLY ABUSE SURVIVORS AND CHOICE)In order to write this I find myself going into the proverbial ‘closet of my mind’ to look for a well-filed box that contains something I will now label (when I find that box) ‘specific resiliency factors of my survival during the years of my abusive infant-childhood’.  I know that’s a long title for this box, but within it sits a massive chunk of my early experience during the first 18 years of my life.

Perhaps I’ve been watching too many Netflix episodes of the British television detective series, “A Touch of Frost’, because this morning I see an entire ROOM of boxes, files, folders and assorted collections of filed-together papers as if I am in a vault of stored police crime reports – because I AM!

Yet in this particular box I reach for today I find not only a recorded history (both remembered and forgotten) of events during those 18 years of severe abuse that contain within them both the seeds of disaster at the same time they contain an equal proportion of ‘salvatory’ resiliency factors.

What on earth am I talking about?

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For the many years I have been practicing ‘recovery’ – 30 years to be exact – I have often found myself wondering what the impact of the isolation my mother forced upon me actually was.  After nearly every single major physical attack on me from as far back as I can remember the NEXT STAGE of the abuse was always some form of confinement out of the ‘mainstream’ of life-as-the-rest-of-the-family knew it.

Once my mother had physically exhausted herself through her rage-filled attacks on my body, which always included massive verbal attacks of rage-filled horrible screaming, she would (these are the words that come at this moment) ‘throw me away’ (like I was being tossed into the garbage).

This being thrown away happened when she ‘put me to bed’, sometimes for days at a time, weeks at a time, as continued ‘punishment’ for one of the crimes she believed I had committed.  At other times the ‘thrown away’ happened when she forced me to stand in some corner she found – again for hours, for days – often from before the rest of the family arose until long after they were back in bed at night – allowing me to leave my confinement only to sleep in my own bed until the following morning when back into the corner I went.

I can remember two far more creative confinements she invented during my older teen years – the one where she force me to spend the night sitting in the front seat of the family car with my head bent over under the steering wheel and the time I was confined in the ‘shed’.

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All of these past 30 years I have wondered about the impact the thousands and thousands and thousands of combined hours of forced isolation and solitary confinement HAD ON ME.  As my inner self-state begins to disintegrate-disorganize-disorient at this moment as I begin to approach the ‘too close for comfort’ region of looking back on these ‘crime reports’ I find in this box of mine, I pull myself back at this point.  I don’t want the memories to awaken.  I only want to look at these events and my experiences of them from a distance – quite a distance, I might add.

I remind myself mentally, “What are you looking for, Linda?  Exactly?”

I am looking for NOT what these experiences did to HARM me but rather I am looking for what these experiences did – as strange as this seems to me at this moment – to HELP ME!

In response to today’s comment I mention and am replying to in this post, I know something NEW about another level of impact all the combined isolation and confinement I experienced had on me.  I am beginning to understand how (and this is not a realization easily gained) that these periods of time I spent out of the ‘mainstream’ of life were physiologically times that were RESILIENCY TIMES.

These were times where the nature of the confinements themselves protected me.  At these times the physical assaults (including the screaming-verbal abuse) ceased and stopped all together.

During these times I could LISTEN for my mother’s impending return to me to resume her active physical attacks.  I could hear her being involved with the rest of the family.  I could hear what she was elsewhere occupied with.

I did not exist as a part of the wider universe of reality at these times.  And during these times of reprieve my BODY could find ways to repair itself.

Without these extremely distorted (and yes very harmful but in my life harmful was VERY RELATIVE) patterns of ‘rupture and repair’ I perhaps could not have survived my early years at all, and probably would have come out of them far more broken than I actually am!  (NOTE:  The cycle of trauma and of the physiological stress response patterns involved demand that at some point the trauma STOP so that the body can orchestrate some version-degree of repair.  All abuse survivors have made use of whatever opportunities for ‘repair’ they could manage to find or they would NOT have survived.)

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I close my inner and my outer eyes at this moment and return back into that vault of stored criminal histories of my early life.  I stretch out my hands and allow my fingers to gravitate on their own to two more boxes of collected reports.  I pull these two boxes from their storage spots and carry them, now with my eyes wide open, to the place where I have opened the box containing the history of solitary confinement and forced/enforced isolation.

I know that what I find as I open these two other boxes is directly connected to the first box.  What is in ONE of these other boxes does not surprise me.  I have never lost sight of the fact that every personal interaction I had with the mountain upon which our Alaskan homestead boundaries were contained operated for me as a powerful resiliency factor.

But in the other box I find something that again until this moment I have not seen before in the resiliency-factor light I am seeing it right now.  This box contains my history of experiences of FORCED LABOR that my mother included in every abusive way she could manufacture as a major component of my childhood.

True, it has never been difficult for me to understand that my having learned how to WORK as a child included some benefits for my ongoing adult life.  But never before this moment have I realized quite so deeply that during the times I was physically involved in the work-jobs themselves I was in a state of ‘protection-repair’ (from the more physical and violent attacks).

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Again, I distance myself from the actual memories that are recorded in the history contained in these boxes.  It is not what might have led up to (say) the meticulous floor-scrubbing and waxing on any particular day that concerns me.  It is not anything that my mother might have said or done to be prior to such an experience – or anything that she might have said or done afterwards that is my concern today.

What I am understanding today is that DURING THE TIME I might have been washing the family’s dishes after a meal, or making school lunches, or making the beds, or cleaning the outhouse, or removing all the linens from the hall closet and refolding them as perfectly as a human being possibly could, or during the time I might have been doing any one of the myriad of tasks my mother demanded that I do (and that my siblings DID NOT DO) – during the performance of these tasks themselves I was NOT under direct attack any more than I was during forced confinement and isolation.

I find included in this box an interesting history that I would not have thought of as being a part of my ‘work’ history in childhood.  My artistic pursuits, such as I could invent them (and also as they were on occasion provided and allowed by my mother directly) – any time I could ‘make something with my hands’ that was connected to beauty operated for me as did the calming-protected (safe) passage of time during which I could ‘work’.

I include box three here because this same pattern of being not under attack also happened at times I was in direct relationship with nature on the mountain.  These times during which I could escape the house and my mother to be outside were of course very limited, but they did occur.  During these times I was ALWAYS in a state of ‘repair’ rather than ‘rupture’, and these patterns were and ARE resiliency factors..

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These three versions of being in a state of ‘repair’ rather than of ‘rupture’ continue for me today.  Being ‘with nature’ outside, working and being alone away from people sooth me.  Being ‘inside’, having idle time and being in close proximity-contact with people taxes me and contributes to my feeling ‘overwhelmed’, disorganized and disoriented (along with the ‘anxiety’ amplification).

All the histories I am describing today allowed me to in one degree or another to pull together a ‘body’ of ‘focusing’ myself that I could NOT accomplish during my mother’s frequent and severe direct assaults upon me.  All of these histories COMBINED together in such a way that a very small semblance of ‘Linda separate from her mother’ could exist.

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I am, of course, not describing anything ‘normal or ordinary’ here in this post.  I was raised (essentially) within a concentration camp of hell.  That does not mean that I was not able to obtain something I desperately needed for my survival within the confines of that hell.  Obviously I DID or I would not be here today as the amazingly wonderful (though far from ‘perfect’ or ‘ordinary’) person that I am.

I am going to take a little detour here to describe the pattern of my thoughts at this point because I am specifically talking about my infant-childhood of terrible abuse suffered from my mother who I believe was a VERY disturbed woman with Borderline Personality Disorder.

THE MAJOR COMPONENT of the hell my mother lived existed in exactly this descriptive word – BORDERLINE.  There were no defined BORDERLINES!

My detour is this:  Yesterday I spent the afternoon with a group of very nice people I had not met before.  At one point I was in conversation with a gentleman  as I drew a map on a piece of paper to describe to him where I lived.  I first drew the Mexican-American borderline as it exists at the back of this property.  Yet as we continued to chat I began to include drawings of my adobe garden building projects.

The more I included sketches of my yard, the more my drawing extended OVER the national borderline I had first drawn.  So I did the easy thing.  I simply kept drawing what exists in MY life as I continued to MOVE the line I had drawn to indicate the national boundary.

I found it interesting that it was this gentleman who pointed out to me that I was ‘encroaching’ the expanding drawing of my yard into ‘Mexico’.  I had not noticed!

++

Looking back on the history of my first 18 years I realize that as I describe the experiences I had (above) that happened when my mother was at SOME KIND OF PHYSICAL DISTANCE from me that allowed me periods of ‘repair’ time when I could focus my own self (though never consciously at the time), it was during those times that I was defining MY OWN BORDERLINE as separate from my mother’s.

Yes, to use Alaskan terms I was ‘staking a claim’ to my own homestead of my self.

In relation to the commenter I am replying to here I will say that I received a benefit from the patterns of my insanely abusive infant-childhood I am describing that someone who was continually ‘on display’ in the world of a Borderline mother did not have.  Yes, obviously, I did not ACTUALLY escape into a world that was not of my mother’s making, but within the concentration camp of my time with her – even though for the most part it was HER who dictated EVERYTHING about my childhood – I STILL had opportunity to escape her DIRECT influence upon me into a (perhaps very tiny) universe of my own experience within my bigger experience.  (If this makes any sense!)

++

So perhaps IN SOME WAY every survivor of a truly Mad Mother found some way to escape into their own reality at some time!!  In doing so, no matter how we did it, WE were in fact drawing a borderline around our own self beyond which our abuser could not travel (in a similar way to how I could define MY SPACE on that piece of paper yesterday by expanding it PAST the ‘external’ boundary line).

So my question to today’s commenter would be this:  “At what times and in what ways did you define for your own self some kind of space within your own self that DID NOT INCLUDE your mother? “

I never knew until I wrote this post today that the experiences I am describing in this post were extremely beneficial to me during my life with my mother BECAUSE they allowed me time to exist NOT ONLY outside the range of her direct physical (including auditory) attacks – but because they most importantly allowed me TIME in SPACE to ‘repair’ myself, to organize and to orient my own self within SOME region my mother did not penetrate.

++

If anyone were to describe their ongoing life in a concentration camp or in a prisoner of war confinement there would be nothing ‘normal or ordinary’ about the frame of reference they would use.  Obviously.

Yet within the environment of our extremely traumatic earliest years we DID find ways to ‘consult only with our own self’ as being separate from the horrors of our environment – just as all survivors manage to do.

It is a beneficial challenge to us to find where we have stored our collection of memories that relate to THESE TIMES because within those memories lie some of our most potent and positive resiliency factors that we used to survive in hell.

True, it would be wonderful if we didn’t need to rely on memories from a life in hell to look for these wonderful factors that we found and used to survive.  But that IS where they are – because that WAS where we were!

And again, I would not suggest that we dwell on any single memory.  I advocate KEEP YOUR DISTANCE!  Do not climb into any one of these ‘boxes’, pull the lid shut and then retreat into the memory storage vault along with the memories in these boxes and slam the door shut on yourself.  That is NOT the point!!

What I look for are the PATTERNS!  We do not have to become a drawing on a piece of paper to see its patterns.  We do not have to become a piece of cloth or some architectural wonder to see patterns.

True, our experiences ARE a part of who we are, but when it comes to actual experiences and the memories we might retrieve/reawaken about them we DO have the power to establish our own SELF today in relationship to these memories of experience.  We have the RIGHT and the ability to NOT allow ourselves to be overwhelmed by them.

What we are seeking relief FROM is the sense of being overwhelmed.  Those are the patterns I looked for today – the times when I was NOT being directly overwhelmed by my mother (even though I was being punished, confined, isolated and MISERABLE during most – but not all — of the times I mentioned).

++++++++++

By the time my conversation with the gentleman I mentioned was completed yesterday I had moved the Mexican-American borderline behind my home and yard completely off the edge of the paper I was drawing on.  What was left was my expanded and radiating visual description of MY SPACE.

We can do that today.  We can move our insane abusers right off of the paper upon which we delineate and describe OUR OWN LIFE, our own self!  But not only can we do that as we draw the picture of who we are NOW, we can go back and expand the spaces-places in our early life when we ACTUALLY did this same thing THEN.  Those are the times-spaces-places when we actually claimed our own self and our own power – within our own boundary – that did NOT include our abuser.

FIND THOSE TIMES!  I believe they DID exist and they DO exist – or we WOULD NOT BE HERE TODAY to even consider this topic.

While we may not be able to rewrite our own early history, we can sure rewrite what we know of it and how we feel about it.

It is extremely empowering to me to continue to rip the veils of darkness OFF OF MYSELF as I heal from my mother’s abuse of me.  I find even more so today that the version of my own self and the version of my own childhood that I ACTUALLY wrote was not the one my mother wanted me to write.  I found ways to BUILD and CONSTRUCT myself exactly within the same events that my mother used to try to destroy me.

I am no longer at all concerned with looking specifically at/for that which was intended to destroy me.  I AM concerned with looking at/for the ways I found NOT TO BE DESTROYED.  Those things are MINE.  The rest of it belongs on the other side of the ‘borderline’ – they were and still are my mother’s.

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+I HAVE BEEN ‘DOING THIS WORK’ SINCE BEFORE I WAS BORN

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I began my day today thinking still about the post I wrote yesterday.  Comments that two people I am closest to about this post helped me to further clarify my experience as I described it in that post.  One person immediately responded, “SOUNDS TO ME LIKE DEPRESSION SETS IN AND GETS THE BEST OF YOU.”  The other person mentioned that it might in part have been rooted in the fact that I spent $100.86 at the feed store yesterday (getting the chicks, their food, cat food, straw bales, etc.) which is a HUGE amount of money for me on my limited fixed disability income.

My body (again through my overly developed yet trauma-altered in its development) RIGHT brain fed to me both another specific word along with another image this morning related to my feelings of yesterday – which are still very much lingering within me today.

First, the image:  A person can look at a great northern lake in the dead of winter and say, “Look at all that ice.”  Perhaps that is where that person’s observation ends:  There is all that ice!

This would not be an erroneous observation, but what about all that lies beneath the ice?  There would be an entire world of life in all its forms and stages existing beneath the surface that, yes, IS ICE – but is so much more.

When we survivors consider the nature of our ongoing experience in life we cannot afford to simply observe the ice, or what appears most easily on the surface of our ‘problems’.  We HAVE to include in our observations all that lies beneath what might be most easily detected by looking only at the surface.

For us, trauma is both our history of the past at the same time it is most usually the history of our present and the prediction of our future.  This is because (as I say over and over) our body-brain had to change its physiological development in direct response to the traumatic stress that our earliest environment surrounded us with.

Why my right brain didn’t feed me an image today, say, of a tree with its roots underground I do not know.  The image was specifically about ICE on a lake.  The ice is part of the lake.  It is made by the lake in response to the conditions of the environment at a specific point in time – winter and much coldness.

Winter is a natural state.  Ice is a natural state in response.  The motion and movement of water is held in a frozen state when its surface has been transformed into ice.  There must be something very specific about this particular image that applies to what I need to know today.

++++

The word that came to me, again from my right brain, appeared just before the lake-ice image appeared.  That word is DISHEARTENED.

I much prefer to allow my own unique self-body-brain to inform me about my experience with words and images that are specific to ME at any given point in time.  The word ‘depression’ tells me NOTHING about my reality.  It lacks richness, depth, creativity – spirit or life.

These qualities, interestingly enough, are included in the meaning of the word ‘disheartened’, found especially in its synonyms:

chill, daunt, demoralize, discourage, dismay, dispirit, frustrate, unman, unnerve

AHHH!!  How interesting!  There it is – CHILL – right along with all those other words!

++++

Now I look back specifically at these words I wrote in yesterday’s post:

This is a need for, a desire for, a craving for a state of nearly absolute quiet and peacefulness.  It is a state where there is no ‘rise to the fight’ left in me.

Here I can see and consciously think about that state I spent the first 18 years of my life so trapped in – a state that is directly related to one of the ‘arms’ of the physiological stress response:  The state of being frozen!!

Duhhhh!!

How obvious is that?  Frozen, like the ice of a lake in the dead of a very cold winter.  Motion stopped.  Still, silent, immobilized on all but the most essential molecular level (where even the ice appearing upon a lake must be incredibly active!)

Being frozen.  Being DISPIRITED – along with all those other word-description states that are included in the synonyms for ‘disheartened’.

Ahhhh!  The wonder of words as we find them NOW to describe not only how we feel in the present, but how we felt in the past – as they can help us to clarify our feeling states so much more eloquently, beautifully and meaningfully rather than relying upon those worn-out, lifeless, sterile and empty ‘psychological’ terms like ‘depression’.

++++

Of all the words floating around me today it is the word ‘dispirited’ that comes closest to me like a fearless butterfly that wishes to befriend me.  A dispirited horse is not a well horse, is not a horse in its natural condition.  It is a horse that has been broken, abused, misused and traumatized.

“There I see that horse – over there.”  I don’t want to remain stuck in being THAT horse.  My spirit, of all ‘things’ in my life, is MINE.  Nobody and nothing outside of myself can touch it.  I will reclaim that spirit today the best that I can.  I will acknowledge all the forces and influences that can affect my spirit – the essence of ME, but I do not wish to stop with that acknowledgment.

I am grateful for the commenter this morning that stimulated my reply to include links to my posts on how early trauma changes the set-point of our body-brain (SEE HERE).  My mother’s maltreatment of me for the first 18 years of my life made sure that the middle set point of my body was not at safe and secure peaceful calmness.  My set point is at despair, frozen at pain, suffering and sadness.

My mother ‘despirited’ me.  But I CAN find ways to ‘respirit’ myself today!  I don’t believe that anyone’s spirit is entirely reliant upon the conditions of the physical body that it is connected to in this lifetime.  The spirit that is the essential me is far greater than my body – and certainly did not belong to my mother and could not be touched by her!  I, in my essence, was entirely beyond the reach of my mother, and I am today entirely beyond the reach of any circumstance I might find myself reacting to today – if I can consciously realize this fact.

Being ‘in touch’ with my essential self is about love, not hate.  That love is warm.  That love thaws out the ice of the lake that can feel so frozen within me.  Along with gentle thawing today comes a gentle resurgence of a sense of my life force.  Like a gigantic physiological magnet my internal nervous system-body-brain set-point of great sorrow can act to force into a dense feeling-center (like a powerful magnet will attract a big pile of metal filings) all that I know about myself in the world at any given time.

I work to break the force of that magnetic force so I can release myself from that inner state that is the OLDEST one I know.  I have known it I believe since my mother’s labor to bring breech-birth me into this world.  During that time of near-death is when my mother’s psychotic break happened that put me at the center of her terrible, terrible illness.  At the same time I understand why I feel so inwardly worn out and tired!  I have been doing this work of healing myself ever since that time – and I will continue to do so the rest of my life.

++

At the same time, I have always know this:

I am reminded yet again of the Beauty known by the Dine (Navajo) People. I found a reference posted at this link

http://earthangels1111.blogspot.com/2009/05/walking-in-beauty-navajo-prayer.html

Walking in Beauty, A Navajo Prayer

Closing Prayer from the Navajo Way Blessing Ceremony
In beauty I walk
With beauty before me I walk
With beauty behind me I walk
With beauty above me I walk
With beauty around me I walk
It has become beauty again
It has become beauty again
It has become beauty again
It has become beauty again

Hózhóogo naasháa doo
Shitsijí’ hózhóogo naasháa doo
Shikéédéé hózhóogo naasháa doo
Shideigi hózhóogo naasháa doo
T’áá altso shinaagóó hózhóogo naasháa doo
Hózhó náhásdlíí’
Hózhó náhásdlíí’
Hózhó náhásdlíí’
Hózhó náhásdlíí’

Walking In Beauty (Blessing)
Today I will walk out, today everything unnecessary will leave me,
I will be as I was before, I will have a cool breeze over my body.
I will have a light body, I will be happy forever,
nothing will hinder me.
I walk with beauty before me. I walk with beauty behind me.
I walk with beauty below me. I walk with beauty above me.
I walk with beauty around me. My words will be beautiful.

In beauty all day long may I walk.
Through the returning seasons, may I walk.
On the trail marked with pollen may I walk.
With dew about my feet, may I walk.

With beauty before me may I walk.
With beauty behind me may I walk.
With beauty below me may I walk.
With beauty above me may I walk.
With beauty all around me may I walk.

In old age wandering on a trail of beauty, lively, may I walk.
In old age wandering on a trail of beauty, living again, may I walk.
My words will be beautiful.

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+THIS COULD BE PUZZLING – BUT I UNDERSTAND….

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Drained.  Nearly completely drained.  That’s how I feel right now.  While there was nothing traumatic about my outing this morning to pick up the baby chicks at the feed store 15 miles away, how my body (and I, right along with it) reacted to this excursion could seem beyond belief to me if I didn’t know myself as well as I do now.

There’s a feeling the body has after an encounter with an acute traumatic stressful-distressful experience.  After all the emergency reactions have taken place, and after the threat has passed, the body goes into a ‘relief’ stage that almost feels like the stellar opposite of the acute trauma state.  I am in that state now — even though nothing happened TODAY to trigger it!

I know it does me no good to judge the state I (and my body) are in right now.  I simply document it.  I feel like the only thing I want right now — no crave right now — is nearly absolute stillness.

This need for stillness is past ‘quiet’.  It is passed ‘tired’.  This state seems related to one where even the action of breathing demands more than I (and my body) wish to expend.

Spent.  I feel spent.

I am not going to try to ‘figure this out’.  There is no figuring, I figure!  Somehow (at age 59) my body seems to have spent so much energy just to survive the first 18 terrible and traumatic years of my life, followed by what it took of me to make it through the next 40 years of being ‘relatively OK’, there is just very little left in my ‘get on with living’ category of expenditures.

This is a need for, a desire for, a craving for a state of nearly absolute quiet and peacefulness.  It is a state where there is no ‘rise to the fight’ left in me.

As I write this I find myself remembering a state that I imagine was very close to the one I am in right now that I have called in my adulthood ‘The Watching State’.  During those first 18 years when I was so viciously and brutally abused, it seems that all that I could really manage to do in between my mother’s attacks on me was to simply WATCH.

I was never allowed to PARTICIPATE in the life of my family in anything more than a very marginal way.  Much of what my mother did to me in between her direct physical attacks of me was to confine and isolate me — alone.  THAT state I found myself in wasn’t even a Watcher state.  Those times I was in a Listener state.  And that Listener state began when I was born as my mother isolated me alone in my crib away from all things human.

++

So, thinking about it as I pay attention to how I feel at this moment, I realize that how I feel even lacks the energy required of me to be either a Watcher or a Listener.  Both of those states required that I be attuned to the activities of a world outside of my own body.

I don’t even have the energy, or the motivation, or the passion at this moment to do anything more than breath.

That’s OK.  It has to be.  This is the way I get to be on occasion at this point in my life.  This state will pass.  In the meantime I need to be very care-full and respect-full of myself.  Patient.  Kind.  Accepting.  Compassionate and understanding.  Encouraging.  Positive.

The image I see/feel from my right brain-body is of a lake with a dam whose water has been let out to replenish life elsewhere.  The dam is back in place, but it will take time for the lake-of-myself to fill back up again.

Time is hence my ally — as is waiting.  As is not demanding or expecting or punishing or shaming myself right now.  The last thing I need is to pressure myself right now.  I had enough pressure during the first 18 years of my lifetime to last a hundred lifetimes.  So I am gentle with myself — the tide that has washed out will wash itself back in again.

++

Looking back at what I just wrote I find it interesting how many times I said ‘right now‘.  There would be a clue in this fact — if I had the energy to even think about it!

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+ADOBE MOMMA NEWS: GREETING THE MEMBERS OF THE HENNY PENNY CLUB

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Welcome into my life the seven members of the Henny Penny Club!  All seven of the newly hatched Rhode Island Production Reds are alive and well post traumatic transport from Texas to the feed store to my house!

Oh what a tiny racket they made traveling beside me on the car seat in their little box.  Safely stashed away in my guest room, sealed off from predatory cat and curious dog visitors, their peeps have calmed as they eat, drink and sleep under the warmth of their light bulb substitute for a cuddly mother hen.

"Home! Home! In a box....."
Amazing how they all know exactly how to be chickens from the moment they hatch
Very original -- I think I will name them the seven days of the week
I am a little worried about the smallest baby perched there on the bucket lid -- grow baby grow!

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+TENDING

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As I walk around my growing garden before sunrise, noticing how each new plant is faring I dig out the tiny weeds before they become troublesome.  I tie at an angle each main shoot growing from the base of the climbing roses.  I look for signs of stress for each plant and then find a way to alleviate it so the plant can thrive in the place I planted it.

I think about the word ‘tend’.  I am tending this garden to the best of my ability.  Yet I also think about the fact that as I grew up nobody tended me.

Infant-child abusers are consumed with their own existence.  I can’t even say that they are truly consumed with their own self because much of the time their connection to their self is NOT what is operating in their life.  Their Trauma Altered Development that most of them experienced in their own earliest stages of life interfered with the development both of their self – and with the development of their healthy connection to this self.

What we who were abused in the early times of our life had done to us was anything but a reflection of being ‘tended’.  I took a glance at this word ‘tend’ and immediately found that it is connected to ‘attend’ and to ‘attention’.  What most strikes me is that all of these words are related to the action of COMPANIONSHIP.

And here immediately with the word COMPANION is the connection to FOOD – to sustenance – to the mutual sharing of nurturing.

Infant-child abusers are NOT the companions of their offspring.  As I wander around the many adobe pathways I have created as I built my garden, as I tend to the plants that are growing along the way, I am actually in companionship with each one.  We are sharing this life.  They, each according to their nature, are sharing their life with me and are helping to sustain me just as I am doing my best to help each one grow into the best plant possible.

++

As we survivors participate in our own healing from abuse and trauma we are always mutually sharing a life journey with all life around us.  We can make choices and decisions now about how we wish to be in the world that we could not make when we were little.  Certainly any physiological trauma-related changes that we experienced have altered the body-brain we live with in this world, but those changes DO NOT exclude options for healing every step of the way along the garden path of our lifetime.

A plant cannot usually eliminate the weeds beside it that are competing for its nourishment.  It cannot get up and walk away from the base of a tree that is blocking its sunlight.  We can pay attention to what we need, take a look at what is blocking our best growth and development in the present, and make positive changes to the best of our ability.

++

There are both passive and active ways to make changes in life.  A cactus by nature preserves moisture within its structure.  A snapdragon cannot.  Some plants in my garden amazingly survived our 2 below zero deep freezes of last winter.  Others did not and vanished.  All abuse survivors are strong and resilient, capable and clever at surviving.  The question I ask myself right now is, “What are you going to do today to TEND to yourself in the best way you can today, Linda?”

I am going to pick up my seven newly hatched soon-to-be hens this morning!  I can hardly wait to see their fuzzy tiny bodies hunting and pecking around like they know exactly what they are doing – even without having a mother around to show them!

There are many, many things I know that I certainly DID NOT learn from my mother.  Any attention she ever paid to me was of the harmful and abusive variety.  But that never stopped ME from growing into an amazing and wonderful person.  I just need to remember this and get on with tending – something I am pretty good at!!

Soon I will have seven more little ones to attend to!  Off I go into the sunshine to get them!

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+PITY HURTS, COMPASSION HEALS: KNOWING THE DIFFERENCE

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There is something somewhere in my thoughts after writing my last post (+CREATING A TIMELINE OF OUR EARLIEST LIFE – PUTTING ORDER/ORGANIZATION TO TRAUMA/CHAOS) that is connecting that topic to a consideration of the difference between ‘compassion’ and ‘pity’.  It does not serve ours or anyone else’s desires toward healing to apply an ointment of ‘pity’.  Compassion, on the other hand, I see as a most healing balm.

++

PITY

I can see how my inner sense of conflict and irritation at the word is connected to my preference for the word ‘compassion’ just by looking at this in relation to PITY:

Synonyms: disgrace, crime, shame, sin

COMPASSION

This word has one single definition:

: sympathetic consciousness of others’ distress together with a desire to alleviate it

Synonyms: commiseration, sympathy, feeling

++

Compassion operates ONLY when it is actually built right into our body-brain.  It is connected physiologically to our Autonomic Nervous System (ANS) and our vagus nerve system.  Compassion is a physiological reaction that can perhaps be pantomimed or mimicked but is only genuine when it is directly connected to ‘correct’ wiring within our body-brain.

Trauma Altered Development that happens in infant-childhood earliest growth stages due to stress from trauma, maltreatment and abuse can prevent the wiring of compassion.  This happened to my mother.  Compassion, which by definition is genuine or it doesn’t exist at all, was missing within her.

Pity is what I call a ‘secondary’ reaction that is NOT based on or connected to physiology within our ANS or our vagus nerve system.  It is nothing more than an intellectual construct that does not (in my opinion) help anyone or carry any power to help or to heal.

++

I mention this today because I suspect it can be very hard for those of us who survived terrible infant-childhoods to be able to FEEL in our BODY the difference between these two conditions.  Compassion is a feeling body-based state.  We can FEEL this one.  Pity offers us nothing in the way of genuine feeling.  It is a relative of the abuse we suffered and does nothing but auger (dig) us deeper into despair rather than lift us up into increasing joy and well-being.

Compassion is connected to ‘company’ and is meant to operate within us to help draw us to others of our social species.

Pity separates people from one another and does the opposite from what compassion is designed to do.

These patterns also exist within our self toward our self.  Compassion draws us closer to our genuine self.  Pity alienates us from our self.

Compassion offers us ways to reach out to our self and to others and helps us delineate (clarify) our true priorities.  Pity puts up walls and barriers, keeps us from knowing the truth about reality and perpetuates (continues) our inner confusions.  Compassion carries within it the light of attachment.  Pity carries the darkness of being – and remaining – broken.

I believe we can know the difference between compassion and pity most simply by paying attention to where in our body we feel the feeling connected to each word.  Compassion heals.  Pity hurts.  Compassion is connected to hope and trust.  Pity is connected to fear, anger and shame.

While there is no shame to ‘thinking’ pity, I believe it is a waste of time to remain stuck within this intellectually-based condition.  Finding the TRUE feelings that pity hides and helps us avoid takes us to the truth of our body, and in that process we are practicing compassion.

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