+BEFRIENDING CHAOS? (EARLY ABUSE SURVIVORS AND CHOICE)

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I can’t imagine that any severe early abuse survivor would say that they LIKE this feeling, the one that exists at the edge of where being OK meets ‘dissociation’.  But while I will never LIKE this feeling it is a reality of my life and my concern today is that somehow I learn how to peacefully co-exist with it knowing the feeling itself was built into my body-brain through trauma and abuse from the moment I was born.

I have written recently about my efforts to discriminate between the feeling of what I used to call continual foreboding and the one I more recently named prescience.  Today I would call it a chronic wariness state, one that is tied to chronic anxiety but that also seems to lie at an edge-line where I still retain the power of careful and conscious choice contrasted to the state that lies across this line in which full-blown stress-anxiety takes over the show.

When my personal ‘show’ becomes ruled by my body’s physiological reactions to stress dissociation is most likely to place me in a state of lessened powers of conscious choice.  I would rather have the power to choose how I am going to handle ‘things’ as my day progresses.  And, yes, all of this feels like work to me – often intangible work but work nonetheless.

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Backing up a day to yesterday…..  I went into town with my monthly income and spent nearly all of it on necessities which included material to finish my chicken pen and coop roof.  The back of my 1978 (gas hog) El Camino is filled with bags of potting soil, stucco lathe, stucco wire (which is far cheaper than chicken wire) to enclose the pen, 2’ x 4’ boards for the roof.

My kitchen floor is covered with food staples to pack away that will hopefully last me until my disability check comes in again the first of next month.  There are also bags from our new ACE hardware store containing various boxes and paper bags full of nails and screws.  There is plant food, various useful findings from the local thrift store, and many cans of ‘no sugar added’ canned fruit that was on sale at the only grocery store we have in town.

I am good to go!

Or am I?

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What is actually contributing to my current ‘on the edge of anxiety’ state is that there are TOO MANY THINGS here which places me in a state of TOO MANY CHOICES of where to go from here.

I think about this in relation to my recent posts about the work of Dr. Martin Teicher regarding the kinds of very real physiological changes that happened to my earliest developing body-brain.

Making conscious choices is an activity handled best by a balanced flow of information between my left brain (changed in its development) and my right brain (also changed in its development) ALONG WITH the assistance of the super highway corpus callosum region of my brain in the middle that is meant to send information back and forth between my two brain hemispheres (also changed in its development).

What all these changes contribute to my FEELING and to my AWARENESS states is a quality of being overwhelmed by possibilities!

“Aren’t possibilities supposed to be a good thing?”  I ask of myself.

“Yes,” I respond, “but all these possibilities sit very closely in my reality to the state I knew ALL OF THE TIME as a little person – CHAOS!”

Some say that chaos is the realm where all possibilities exist co-currently, simultaneously and that it is only by a CHOICE being made and a DECISION being implemented that a tiny piece of chaos is changed into a more useful and constructive reality.

“OK, then,” my inner dialog continues.  “I think I understand these feelings that I am caught in like a gigantic spider web a little bit better.  Because I was so overwhelmed by abuse for the first 18 years of my life, and because I was left with so little opportunity to actually make conscious self-initiated choices and decisions regarding my own self-reality-life, my decision-making left brain did not develop itself to process any of these interactions!”

From the inside of me (not from the Ivory Tower outside of me) I know what all this feels like to me right at this moment.  My body-brain has to fight its way up for air – which is to say it has to fight itself up to the conscious level where I can PEACEFULLY order and organize my own thoughts, desires, efforts, feelings and actions MY OWN SELF.  I have to FORCE my body-brain to calm itself down, to be OK, to feel safe and secure enough at this moment in time to know that I not only have the RIGHT to order and organize myself and my life the way I want to – but that also have the ability to do this!

Choice and decision making – creating organized order out of overwhelming chaos – is an activity that was SUPPOSED to grow into my body-brain from the time I was born.  This is how the SELF of a new human being becomes integrated into all aspects of its life in the world.

As this happens during ‘Critical Windows of Development ’ the substructure that allows everything to flow cooperatively together to accomplish a lifetime of tasks (large and small) is wired into the developing body-brain on the physiological level.

Severe early abuse, neglect, trauma and malevolent treatment of little people sabotages the ‘normal/ordinary’ development of these abilities.

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Enough said about all of this for this moment.  This blog is packed full of information about all of those changes in development.  What I need at the moment is to accept this reality as it exists in my body-brain (still, at my age of 59 ½) – so that if I can’t find a way to become friends right this moment with my body-brain as it was created, at least I can find ways to NOT be its enemy.

Being angry at my reality, being full of misery and suffering because of it, remaining in a feeling-awareness state of blocked mobility in my actions for the day will not help me one little bit!  How can I ACTUALLY organize and orient myself today so that I can move forward?  How do I settle this being-overwhelmed-in-the-sea-of-chaos (too many possibilities) DOWN?

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This disorganized-disoriented insecure attachment-built body-brain that I live in/with doesn’t get to pick and choose when, where, how or why it operates because it is directly built into my entire physiology.  I will always believe that it is ONLY through conscious application of new information about me that can free me from my physiological natural state so that I can experience some peaceful calm that does NOT automatically exist in my body-brain.

I relate everything I am experiencing this morning back to Teicher’s writings (recently posted) including what it IS like and FEELS like to have an apt-to-kindle right limbic brain (which is intimately tied to what it knows of our body).  I have to (in essence) take my finger out of the pot of boiling water!!  Boiling water might be what my body-brain essentially knows, but I AM here, and I CAN make different choices today rather than let this perpetual peritraumatic acute trauma-reality state rule my day.

I can tell myself that all stimulation that happens in life is NOT BAD – nor is it automatically overwhelming!  While this is the reactive state that is most familiar to me, it is not the ONLY state that exists.

Can I take my own hand and in partnership if not in friendship discover how to move forward in time as I change inner CONFLICT awareness into calm peacefulness?  Let me see………

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3 thoughts on “+BEFRIENDING CHAOS? (EARLY ABUSE SURVIVORS AND CHOICE)

  1. This blog describes for me exactly what I struggle with on a daily basis.I have been unable to manage my feelings of “overwhelm” whenever there is too much stimulation ie expectations of me. My brain seems to automatically go into a state of overwhelm,and I am filled with dread. My instinct is to run,escape…like a deer caught in headlights.
    I have found this problem whenever I am faced with physical messes.While my friends are able to just break down the steps and get cracking on organizing..I seem to be stuck. In a terrible place. Suddenly ,though I am 45 ,with no real threats around me,I feel 13 again and I am in the same chaos that I was in for most of my growing up years. I wasnt able to escape it then,and I felt completely trapped. All that was left was me myself and my body’reaction of sheer terror. I guess the body does remember, because I went through those scenes on a daily basis for years and years.
    I try so hard to give myself what I didnt have then, order, peace, calm…and yet my body doesnt seem to let me.
    Forget about family members who have no clue about what is going on inside. All they see is,”why can;t she just DO it?”

    Anger,pity,blame,offers myself nothing. I want change. I read about your trying to accept this state . To me, it sabotages so much of my life it is hard to befriend.In all situations, whenever anything resemblemes too much (stress)stimulation, I seem to shut down. This behavior is a fear response I think.Learning new tasks is a big one for me especially when it appears complicated. Again, I shut down.
    I used to think there was something wrong with my brain…like I had ADD, because I couldnt deal with too much stimulation. I got tested and I dont have ADD. I kept looking for what was wrong with me and could not find any information . I have been put on anti anxiety_depression medication for years but that really doesnt help,it sort of just takes the edge off things.So I have had the diagnosis of Generalized Anxiety Disorder. I think anyone living through daily trauma will develop anxiety in some form or another later in life. My doctors solution was always”U need to do Cognitive Behavioral Therapy”. And while I tried it and I would always bring up my feelings of being overwhelmed and stuck…nothing ever seemed to help. I find myself in the exact same place .
    I am still able to live from the outside what looks like a very normal life,I have a part time job as a social worker in a job that is very fulfilling, kids, married. home,good friends, but no matter what I do , I am always and forever stuck inside .
    I can walk into a closet thats messy and suddenly I am back there. Its always there. I am always that sad, stuck, terrified, girl who is trapped and helpless inside. Anything that even resembles being trapped in chaos makes me panic. I would love to hear how people do it…how have others managed their feelings, when they come up.Do we just talk ourselves through the fear? Tell ourselves ,this is now, that was then? Will the brain allow this?

    Thx so much for this site! This is the first place I have ever found that I can feel at home..and not want to run away.I hope you can write more on this subject.
    xo

      • Hi Linda:
        I read both your posts and follow up with great care. I feel like you..I am a detective, a detective of what REALLY happened, because everyone in my family is still in denial. I have fought for my truth for the last 22 years, and this latest round of body/flashback memories, only reminds me of how sick my family really is
        I am a detective of what happened to my body (I was able to track down my infant medical records, and much of my infant abuse was in those pages..and so validated my body memories. Doctors didn’t think a white mother in 1958 could be making her baby so sick and broken, they believed her lies) .
        I am a detective so that I can figure out what happened to my brain(and I thank you Linda for your articles and research on that subject), because it is painful to realize you have a brain/sleep disorder due to your abuse (I am a narcoleptic), or that your brain is did not develop properly, and that could be the underlying cause of some of your daily struggles in thinking and perception.
        I am a detective of TRUTH, in remembering what happened, the constant terror I lived in, and realizing now, that I can /need/want to release the agony of trauma out of this aging 53 year old body so I can continue to do the things I love in life. I lived through it then, and I keep telling myself, you can do it now. This has been lately very difficult, as I am flooded with new memories, information, and terror so bad my teeth chatter and my legs are vibrating a good deal of the time from the trauma /energy releasing itself .
        Yet I still wake up every day and have the courage to walk forward, and keep my heart open. Sometimes it is so painful in this deep remembering period I feel like I want to die, to cut myself open, to cut out the parts of me that responded to the sexual abuse part of it, even though it was torture. But I AM resilient. I know that these are feelings left behind so long ago, when my body was there, but I was not.It is so hard not to blame oneself, I am still working on totally forgiving me. I am not quite there yet. So I can have those feelings, express them through art, movement, and with my therapist ,and I don’t need to act on them. This is the face of what we are left with.
        I, too , believe you MUST be able to find the peace out of the chaos, and that is completely foreign to anyone that suffered ongoing trauma, and the changes in the brain with infant trauma make it even harder. It all is about consciousness. We had to separate from our body/consciousness then in order to survive. It was done for us, it wasn’t a conscious decision to leave. Now we have to make a choice, and the more you can catch yourself and your thought forms, the more power you have to change them. I was doing some grounding exercises with my therapist(who is trained in bio-energetic analysis) the other day after a particularly painful session with my shame, with highly charged emotion. When I stopped the exercises she asked me to check in with myself, and I felt myself leave my body… so fast, a split second! I told her I just left, she said she saw it-just a passing, so quick. So then I made a conscious decision to come back. But what was powerful was the awareness of it.
        Awareness will help you out of the chaos. Being in the chaos , sitting there, is just too familiar to your abuse patterns..some days are better than others. I have found you can get easily lulled back into the veil of denial if you don’t keep working on awareness.
        I am always in awe of your writing and your amazing story of survival Linda. You certainly have many gifts and I hope you realize how courageous you are. I think your book is a much needed body of work in this world where no one want to see or hear the truth. The work we survivors are doing is the New paradigm that so easily rolls of the tongue of many..but how many really walk their truth?
        .

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