+MY NEED FOR NEW INFORMATION: READING DR. PORGES’ NEW BOOK

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

A most important sign of health for any living organism is its ability to flexibly adapt to the changes and chances that it encounters within its internal and external environment.  Now as I find myself forced by the nature of my learning-growing process to take an extended break of unknown length from my book writing efforts I realize that I need to adapt myself to the overall ‘plan’ of what I wish to accomplish.  I am choosing to now read an important book I preordered a few months ago even before its publication but decided to leave alone until my first book was completed.

I THOUGHT I had more than enough background information from my studies about how infant and child abuse changes early body-brain development.  Given the massive amount of proof that exists about how early infant-caregiver attachment relationships (conception to age two) determine the ‘kind of body-brain’ everyone ends up spending their lifetime living in/with, I been hoping that there wasn’t anything new I had to understand before I could form my own conclusions about how the attachment and developmental neuroscience information applied to what happened to me as a terribly abused child during the first 18 years of my life.

I realized yesterday that I was wrong.  I AM missing what is probably the most important information I can access about the WHOLE picture of the subjects I seek to understand and to write about.

So I am now reading this important book:

The Polyvagal Theory: Neurophysiological Foundations of Emotions, Attachment, Communication, and Self-regulation (Norton Series on Interpersonal Neurobiology) by Stephen W. Porges (Apr 25, 2011)

This is anything but an easy read, but as I work my way through its pages this first time around without taking notes or trying to write any deciphering comments about its contents I am noticing IN MY BODY how different I feel reading this book than how I felt when I read all the other important complex scientific literature that describes what trauma – especially the trauma of early abuse, neglect and overall maltreatment caused by a breakdown of attachment relationships for infants and children – does to change how a body-brain develops.   Yet I also know I could not possibly understand what I am reading now if I had not done my homework prior to reading this book.

In looking through the bibliography of Porges’ book I see all the researchers’ names I am familiar with – plus a whole lot more.  Yet unlike the pages of books I have read before now, the pages of Porges’ book are filled with his OWN words!  Very little of the ink of this book is devoted to referencing the (yes, important) work of author scientists.  Porges’ book is filled with his own critically important theory that he has spent his professional lifetime developing.

What I FEEL as I begin to read this book is excited, hopeful anticipation.  I FEEL that this man has ‘found it’.  Found what?  The truth about the whole picture of what makes humans tick in good health and what makes humans sick in bad health.  All of this is tied to how our earliest caregiver interactions directly affected how our physiology had to change or not change in order to adapt to the degrees of benevolence or malevolence that existed in our early universe.

++

I have no confidence in my competence at this early stage in my study of Porges’ ideas to even begin to explain them to myself let alone to anyone else.  The simplest mental picture I have gleaned so far from this book is that Porges’ is completely RIGHT as he describes that humans do not have a ‘simple stress response system’.  We have complex interrelated and bidirectional interactive systems that each accomplish a special part of the task of keeping us alive and healthy.

I am beginning to suspect that what Porges is saying is that the vagal nerve ‘bundles’ in our body are ‘divided’ into three parts.  The original part of our vagal nerve system exists in reptiles.  The rest of the bundles evolved as mammals found ways to exist in a world run by reptiles, with the pinnacle reaches of our vagal nerve systems lying within the special and very highly evolved capacity humans have to SOCIALLY ENGAGE.

The other two bundles (my word, mind you) are part of our ‘stop and go’ Autonomic Nervous System (ANS).  The Sympathetic Nervous System (SNS) is our GO branch leading to fight and flight responses when needed.  The Parasympathetic Nervous System (PNS) is our STOP branch that is geared to a freeze response to danger. (I remember ‘para-‘ ‘like a ‘pair of brakes’.)

Homeostasis, or the state of actively and harmoniously maintaining comfortable balance between the SNS and the PNS then allows our Social Engagement System (my capitalization) to operate with optimal interactions between ourselves and other members of our species.

If a person DOES NOT FEEL safe and secure within their body in the world the Social Engagement System does not engage optimally.  Something else will be going on – IN THE BODY – as attempts to cope with threat to life OR actual terrible danger consume the attention and energy of the individual.

Porges is explaining in detail how the BODY on an ancient, unconscious (primitive) level automatically and VERY QUICKLY receives and processes information from the environment about what is safe and what is not — and then responds.  Porges’ began his book by clearly stating that when a little person starts life in unsafe and insecure attachment-relationship environments the process of development in these malevolent conditions will CHANGE how the body perceives danger versus safety.

The body will very often chronically ‘miscue’ so that what is dangerous is perceived as safe – and what is safe is perceived as dangerous!  The BODY will react accordingly – in spite of these mix-ups in automatic and extremely fast ways!

(NOTE:  I ‘think’ Porges is saying that we have three interacting ‘systems’ that operate through their own vagal nerve bundle networks.  (1) the SNS that kicks in when we perceive risk-threat and then fight or flee, (2) the PNS that kicks in when actual, very real present DANGER leaves us no option but to freeze-feign death, and then (3) social engagement system in which we can only fully participate during times we are not perceiving threat or experiencing very real danger.)

++

Porges is also describing how we can more clearly define what stress even is by finding ways to assess the physiological state of a person’s body on an ongoing basis BEFORE any new stressing event happens.  He is talking, then, about risk and resiliency factors as they exist in a person’s body that was made in direct interaction with either an early safe or unsafe human world.

++

I have a long way to go before I will feel at all assured that I understand what Porges is saying, but my sense of his work is that he is COMPLETELY RIGHT.  Porges has answers that no other researcher has discovered about how social engagement patterns form in humans through the quality of our early attachments and about how they work – optimally or ‘pathologically’.  I cannot ignore what is within these pages if I wish to come to my own accurate/truthful conclusions about the significance of my own story of severe early trauma.

I also have high hopes that Porges’ work will suggest solutions for healing!

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

Advertisements

+I AM GRATEFUL FOR THE COMMON SENSE OF MY SOUL

+++++++

It is still hard for me to exactly track the magic of what happened to me growing up within a home of hell.  But something special DID happen to me or I would not find within myself a light that shines today.  That I can also see that light shining in others (when I am able to look around me honestly) is also perhaps the biggest miracle of my life.

I don’t think I would know what I do today about this light if I hadn’t gone back into my memories of trauma and abuse that was the first 18 years of my life to try to write my story.  As I followed the trail I have walked from as far back as I can know and remember every time I looked at ME — deep inside of ME where the person that I am was living her own life in spite of all odds against me — there I was SHINING!!

Somehow I was protected against accumulating veils of illusion that would have fed themselves with hatred, resentment, self pity or even deep confusion about who I am as a soul created by God.  On this day of Thanksgiving 2011 I cannot keep my thoughts away from God.  But this version of God that I think about is all inclusive of all that is good no matter the culture, no matter the religion, no matter if there is among the people so many who choose not to believe in God at all.

As I look back at myself as a suffering battered child I cannot find inside of me any thoughts about God other than my abiding, unquestioning understanding that God existed.  I did have thoughts about a massive angel I saw sitting at the top of a mountain peak across the valley from our Alaskan homestead.  She was my only friend.  She was my gateway to all I knew about mercy and grace, about companionship, company, caring, concern — INVESTMENT in me — that I mattered, that I existed at all.

I am most grateful in my life today at age 60 for the fact that NOTHING that has ever happened to me closed the door of my heart from being able to recognize that God exists.  This is my most great gift.  Yet just as I seem to lack the ability to deny the existence of The Great Mystery of all pervading love of a Creator Who has chosen the human species of all that live in all the worlds of Creation to love Him back, I also evidently lack the ability to imagine what my life would be like if this door of awareness had somehow been closed within me.

I am blessed to know that there is only one Creator, and that all religions on earth that have ever been each originated from this Source.  I know that the essential messages of all religions share the same goodness.  I know that whatever bad our species perpetrates comes from our ignorance, sickness and/or bad choices.

I know this Creator continues to lovingly guide humanity forward into every moment of the future.  I know the destiny of our species is to unite as the one family we are.  I know that until we recognize the purpose of our existence our species will continue to suffer.  We will not be able to adequately care for each other or our planet until we unite.  This unity will be both the sign of our maturity as a species and the fruit God intends for our evolution.

Humans can argue and bicker about what is real and what is not real until the proverbial cows come home.  We are a species, evidently, chock full of bickerers.  WOW!  That’s something to be proud of?  How mature, acting like a bunch of squabbling hens!

What on earth would happen to us if we turn a new corner and choose to find what we can all agree upon?

Doesn’t suit us?

And self-destruction and destruction of our planet’s web of life does?

We chose to name ourselves as a species Homo Sapien Sapien because we THINK we are The Wise Ones.  Well, today is Thanksgiving in the United States, a celebration of the sharing of the harvest.  Harvests come when seeds are planted and tended that grow into food we can share and benefit from eating.

As a species it is time for us to GROW UP!!  The seeds of our potential for goodness will spring forth in spite of all the efforts going on around us to tear things apart rather than to build them up to let life flourish.

I am glad I missed the indoctrination of ignorance as a child.  I was too busy surviving terrible ongoing abuse to buy into the fallacies that capture the imaginations of so many people on the side of the darkness of ignorance.  My soul evidently knew in the face of my insane mad monster of a mother’s abuse from the moment I was born that there was a clear difference between the light of truth and the darkness of lies.  I was fortunate to be able to stand on the side of truth against that darkness.

That I am able to articulate now that no matter what we name that Great Mystery all goodness comes shining from that Source while all darkness comes from its absence is the greatest miracle of my life.  And if it meant I had to endure every single instant of the terrible pain and suffering I went through for the first 18 years of my life so that I could retain intact this knowledge my soul was created knowing at the instant of my conception — then I say now I am grateful for that abuse.

For all the abuse that was done to me, my mother could never touch or break my soul.  Beyond this great gift is the fact that nothing else in this materialistic world has been able to dissuade my soul from knowing Truth, either.  Somehow I must have been born not to bicker!  I have been too busy surviving on every level of my being to waste a single precious moment of my life arguing in a field of lies.

++++

++MY CHILDHOOD STORIES

+++++++

+DISSOCIATION-DEPERSONALIZATION-DEREALIZATION FROM EARLY ABUSE: DO SURVIVORS ACTUALLY HAVE A GIFT?

++++++++++

It is certainly my hope as I sit down to write this post that the wide array of thoughts going through my mind this morning will naturally arrange themselves into some kind of meaningful order through this writing process.  Down here in the Arizona high desert the temperature is going up to 74° today and I want to be outside rather than in here at this keyboard.  So, on with this story, whatever it turns out to be!

On the topmost surface I am thinking about severe infant-abuse survivors’ frequent aftermath experience of dissociation especially as this experience involves what is often referred to as ‘depersonalization’ and ‘derealization.  It is not with hopes of intimidating, overwhelming or scaring readers who have these experiences that I suggest a quick read of a blog’s pages on the subject I discovered online at HealthBoard‘s website.  I want to talk about what might well be a very positive side to these dissociation experiences.

++

Before I do I want to mention another trail of thoughts I have this morning that I know are somehow related to what I wish to say here in this post.  Those of you who follow this blog know that I am finally at age 60 taking piano lessons (learning to read, write and play music – in that order at the same time).  I am participating in a form of music therapy with myself, which happens to now involve my piano teacher as my art therapist – an entirely new experience for him.

Dissociation is a constant experience as I work with this music.  I know it is deeply tied inside my body-brain to the abuse I suffered from birth that included maniacal screaming verbal abuse from my mother so early that I had no way to grow my brain and hearing/listening abilities without incorporating dissociation into how I process information related to SOUND.

My physical ears can obviously hear what I play, but I guess the best way I can say this is that I am very aware that my soul-self is NOT LISTENING and therefore is not hearing what I play.

The best way I know of so far to explain this experience is to relate it driving a distance in a car, and suddenly realizing one has crossed quite a distance without being PRESENT – a frequent but still somewhat scary experience.

At those times it is obvious one’s mind is occupied ‘elsewhere’.  As I work with the music most of some important part of me is occupied elsewhere.  It is a big goal of mine to find a way to bring all of myself into the present moment so I can experience the music as a WHOLE THING.

OK, now for the past three nights I have had long dreams in which music is presented to me in manuscript form.  Sometimes the music appears and I can hear it, play it, sing it.  At other times, as in my dream last night, I am writing the music but I cannot hear the music ‘into the future’.  I only hear the music as it appears on note at a time and I write it down.

Well, I also have one of my rare colds.  Although not severe, it does wake me up in the middle of the night with coughing.  I tried hard last night to ignore the coughing so that I could remain in the dream working with the music.  I knew if I woke all the way up to go get some cough syrup I would lose the dream.  Eventually this is what happened.

++

Now, this morning I sat outside in the sunshine and read some words of spiritual inspiration.  Today’s reading included a mention that every single soul has its own ‘particular aspiration.”  What is my soul’s ‘particular aspiration’?  Do I know?  Can I find out?  How?

Here comes my thoughts about what might be a positive side to dissociation-depersonalization-derealization……

As I take a much needed break from my book writing about the first 10 ½ years of my childhood’s severe abuse I am thinking a lot about what my SOUL knew from the time I was born in spite of and during the terrible abuse I suffered.

I always include what I read in the book, Care of the Soul : A Guide for Cultivating Depth and Sacredness in Everyday Life by Thomas Moore, when I think about the impact my abusive childhood had on me on the level that truly matters most.  Moore writes about how the period of our earliest years is the time during which our SOUL and our material SELF really get to bond with one another, with the world, and with the process of being alive in a physical body in this material world.

They grow together ‘down into the world’ as Moore puts it.  Or, in cases like mine – do NOT have the opportunity to follow any of these patterns normally.

As I look at myself from my earliest experiences I now understand that there really were two separate ‘mes’.  One watched and knew the truth about everything and did NOT become emotionally involved.  The other me suffered terribly, as I had to during horrible, horrible abuse.

In ordinary cases most people DO get to join their soul to their earthly self in ‘natural ways’.  The risk as this happens, however, is that in our sick lost errant material world most people can completely lose track of their soul-self.

So those of us who suffered severe early abuse (and did not end up with a physiologically-based mental illness such as my mother did with Borderline Personality Disorder which blocks the expression of the soul and nearly all ability to recognize the truth) probably have a distinct advantage in that our soul-self probably DOES make itself known – and DOES SO DURING THOSE INSTANCES WE ARE EXPERIENCING DISSOCIATION-DEPERSONALIZATION-DEREALIZATION.

Many, many times during any given day I experience these aspects of dissociation.  It is most obvious to me now as I work with the music.  My so-called Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) includes a hyper startle response to nearly all sounds, and the ‘calming down’ of this startle response is NOT happening in my response to the wave-length note sounds of the keyboard (except evidently in my dreams).

Yet what is happening when I stand at the kitchen sink washing dishes and suddenly see the hand that holds the wet sponge is separate from me – and seemingly very far away and in a different world than the me is that looks at the hand holding the sponge?

What is happening as I reach down to pet my furry dog and instantly both the hand touching the warm fur and the dog itself are suddenly in a different world than is the me that intended to pet the dog and is in fact DOING that petting?

Can I learn now to pay very close attention like I have never paid before to what is actually happening during these probably hundreds of times a day I experience this dissociation so that I can learn to see/feel/know if my SOUL is ‘a one part’ and my physical ego-self yet another part present in these experiences?

Can ‘we’ learn to dialog across these vast distances?  Can we communicate ‘across the veil’ that divides us seemingly in time and space?

I don’t know yet, but I aim to find out.  I might well possess a valuable and unique opportunity to get to know both wings of my self as I live in this body in this material world — my earthly and my soul self!  Maybe not being able to ‘grow down’ into my body in this world due to extreme infant-child abuse gave me this gift that ‘ordinary’ people are not likely to have.  Perhaps……

++++++++++

+WHAT DOES THE TRUTH HAVE TO DO WITH IT?

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

In 1980 when I was 29 years old I entered a 7-week in-patient treatment program in Minnesota where I lived for my addictions – primarily to pot which I now realize I depended upon to self medicate my depression along with all the problems my 18 year infant-childhood of abuse had caused me that I knew nothing about.  Today I am thinking about one ‘tool’ for clients to use to improve our lives that this state-of-the-art treatment program introduced:  The Johari Window.

I have been thinking a lot lately about human ‘defense mechanisms’ that everyone uses to keep on going in their lives IN SPITE of painful realities within them that seem to need to be kept hidden and unknown for survival to continue.  I have been wondering – hopefully without too much ego of my own – how it is that I can so often see not only people’s defense mechanisms in action but also see the hurts underneath that are so barely disguised they look to me like the proverbial ‘elephant in the living room’.

I find interactions with defensive people very difficult — it just seems to me that if we all could negotiate THE TRUTH with ourselves and with the help of one another everything would work out so much better!

For all the work I have done in putting together the first rough draft for a first book on my abusive childhood up to around age 10 ½ I am left with one main understanding about myself – true for as far back as I can connect with myself as a child around the age of two, true for myself now as an adult:  I have always had the ability to recognize the truth.

Some part of me from the time I was very small knew my own truth with absolute clarity in the face of the terrible abuse that my mother did to me at the same time she created massive lies about Linda – who I was, what I did, etc.  There I am as I find myself inside of memory after memory, there I am – the little person holding so firmly to my own truth that nothing on earth could shake it from me.  Of course I had no POWER over what Mother did to me.  But I did have the power to know inside of myself what was true FOR ME and what was NOT TRUE.

I was too young to UNDERSTAND what was happening to me.  I used every human power my body possessed to survive the horrors of what was done to me, but I did not possess the power to make any sense out of myself in the world.  That power began to awaken within me when I went through that treatment program to gain sobriety at the same time and for the FIRST time I began to recognize that what had been done to me for 18 years had even happened at all – and that it was ABUSE.

++

The Johari Window returns to me as a useful concept for recovery from ANYTHING humans endure –including abuse and addictions of all kinds – because it involves a method of learning how to recognize our TRUTH.  If you click on THIS LINK you will see the picture that explains this process very clearly.

It explains how human beings separate off (dissociate) parts of the truth about themselves from their own awareness and how we can grow and heal by paying attention to how truth-hiding and truth-seeking operate in our lives.  Here is a description of how the quadrant-expanding process can operate as it helps us to see what we share with ourselves, share with other people, hide from ourselves – and the secrets that we all keep together:

Open: Adjectives that are selected by both the participant and his or her peers are placed into the Open quadrant. This quadrant represents traits of the subjects that both they and their peers are aware of.

Hidden: Adjectives selected only by subjects, but not by any of their peers, are placed into the Hidden quadrant, representing information about them their peers are unaware of. It is then up to the subject to disclose this information or not.

Blind Spot: Adjectives that are not selected by subjects but only by their peers are placed into the Blind Spot quadrant. These represent information that the subject is not aware of, but others are, and they can decide whether and how to inform the individual about these “blind spots“.

Unknown: Adjectives that were not selected by either subjects or their peers remain in the Unknown quadrant, representing the participant’s behaviors or motives that were not recognized by anyone participating. This may be because they do not apply or because there is collective ignorance of the existence of these traits.

++

My personal bias is that health in self and health in relationships is directly proportional to the truth we know about ourselves – as we become stronger and more able to wisely share with others this truth.  Defensiveness is always about protecting the truth so that un-truth ends up being what we live with.  The bottom line of what kept my mother and our family so dangerously, painfully sick and abusive is that there was no truth.  There were lies instead that were acted upon as if they were the truth.

This process started for my mother during her own overwhelmingly abusive and pain-filled, inadequate childhood.  My mother’s developing body-brain changed in ways that then prevented her mind from ever discovering the truth in her lifetime.  Her entire disease (most probably severe Borderline Personality Disorder) kept her alive by keeping the truth permanently hidden from her.

I believe active addictions operate in the same way, but I also believe that there is an ability in most addicts/alcoholics to find ways to see and handle the truth.  I do not believe that true sobriety or recovery or healing will occur unless the truth is found and allowed to grow into a Tree of Life for that person.

I also have a personal bias that entry into a solid 12-Step recovery group is a necessity for this kind of major change – to turn from a life built upon buried-hidden truth into a life that allows the truth to become THE CORE of a person’s life – to happen.

“Putting the cork in the bottle” or stopping the use of drugs is NOT recovery.  It is the doorway into recovery.  Recovery is a spiritual activity, as the 12-Step programs try so hard to introduce and support.

All addictions use the same physiological body-brain chemicals as safe and secure attachment systems in the body-brain are MEANT to use.  Because so many in active addiction processes suffered terribly as little children these chemical pathways have gone WAY off track.  Twelve-Step programs offer a forum for insecurely attached wounded people to perhaps for the first time in their lives learn to live as HONEST, truth-seeking and truth-aware members of society.  Healing then can begin on ALL levels of a person’s existence.

People can argue forever about what works and what does not work to help people quit using whatever drugs (alcohol is a drug, also) that they want to.  I am simply expressing my personal opinion.  I will also say that I do disagree with one of the commonly held beliefs about addictions and 12-Step recovery group attendance.

I DO believe that some people, given at least ten years of solid dedication to attending at least one good meeting a week (at least one meeting a day for the first 90 days), working the 12-Steps continually, and utilizing the wisdom and assistance of a sponsor with MUCH quality sobriety/clean time can eventually ease away from the strictest adherence to the program itself and do just fine IF they have the commitment to TRUTH in their lives that is needed for sobriety/clean time to be continued.

++

See also:  *UNDERSTANDING AND TRUTH

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

+PAIN AND SADNESS — THE LIFELONG UNDERCURRENTS LEFT FROM INFANT-CHILD ABUSE

+++++++++++

It is time for me to remind myself of something I wish I had known a long, long, long, long time ago:  Except in the very best of circumstances in my life I AM ALWAYS HURTING!!

Especially as the winter sets in (even though I live way south now), as the temperatures drop, as the light fades a little more each day, and as the holiday season approaches — I MUST remember this fact.

I have written many times in the past upon this blog about the neurochemical often referred to as Substance P that communicates physical AND emotional pain signals to the brain.

IT IS CRITICAL TO UNDERSTAND THAT THE BRAIN HAS NO WAY TO DIFFERENTIATE BETWEEN PHYSICAL AND EMOTIONAL PAIN ON THE BOTTOM LEVEL!  Pain HURTS!!  Physical pain hurts.  Emotional pain hurts!

What matters most to me is the knowledge that when I feel chronic emotional pain IT IS NOT MY FAULT.  I do not believe I was born ‘this way’.  Chronic severe infant-child abuse did this to me.

There are situations and circumstances that alleviate my pain for periods of time.  These periods of reprieve are always temporary because the pain is chronic.  Today I remember this feeling has always been with me for as long as I can remember.  When I feel ‘down’ I need to separate the pain from MYSELF.  I am NOT my pain.

Some days are just harder than others.  Today knowing where this pain comes from so that I don’t have to ‘blame’ myself or what’s happening to me in my present life for the bulk of this sadness helps me to put the pain into perspective.  I remember to be wise, kind, gentle, positive, hopeful, patient and compassionate with myself — and realistic about what I expect of myself.

Infant-child abuse hurts — for a lifetime.

++

Some related posts:

+A WORD ON TRAUMA TRIGGERS AND FALLING APART

+INFANT-CHILD ABUSE, SUBSTANCE P AND A LIFETIME OF SADNESS

+SUBSTANCE P – IT’S OUR BODY’S BIOLOGICAL LINK TO FEELING EMOTIONAL AND PHYSICAL PAIN

++

Also Helpful – CLICK HERE

+++++++++++

+STORIES WE DO NOT TELL — WITHOUT A WHOLE LOT OF WAITING FIRST

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

2nd writing from what’s in this post:  +TRAUMA STORIES — THE TRUTH MAY NEVER BE TOLD IN WORDS about the song I wrote about my Bible camp canoe memory.  Here is the other half of that story.

++

I evidently started something unexpected for myself this week when I decided to write a song about my experience the month before my 12th birthday at Bible camp July 1963.  I wrote about part of a memory involving my lonely mid-night canoe journey in yesterday’s post.  It is with difficulty that I approach this morning the telling of the second half of that story.

I have never written about this experience before.  I struggle with myself in a conflict that tells me both that “This is such a trivial event” and that “This event was so upsetting to me that it lies close to the very bottom of the ocean of memories that have yet to be revealed.”

By “revealed” I must mean to myself that although I have never forgotten what I am going to write about neither have I yet worked my way through what these camp experiences both meant to me and did to me. I have not yet felt the healing of understanding regarding  these memories.

I realized after yesterday’s piano lesson during which my teacher and I spent the first half working with a beautiful song I wrote last week, full of melodic patterns that touch a soul in an uplifting way and then spent the second half working with the horrible-sounding song about the night I ‘stole’ the canoe that something important needs to be accomplished for me by staring my camp experiences right in the face (and gut).

I wanted my teacher to first know that I can write ‘nice’, beautiful songs.  Then came the ugly one.  Oh, watching my teacher’s body and face as he played the patterns and combinations of jarring and difficult notes in my “Nearly Twelve” canoe-stealing song was priceless to me.  No, I am not a sadist, but I experienced an empowering feeling perceiving him struggle with that song such as nothing I have ever known before.

My guess is that only someone with an early infant-child abuse history similar to mine will truly comprehend what I am going to say next.  I was a child who was singled out at my birth for horrendous, mind-bending, nearly soul-breaking abuse that lasted on a continual basis throughout the entire 18 inescapable years of my childhood.  Yes, my mother was a mad woman.  Yes, my father was worse than useless when it came to expressing a single (to use one of my mother’s words) “iota” of assistance or compassion to me.

And yes, most of what I have been through lies beyond what words alone will ever have the power to communicate to another human being.

Empathy.  A word that we like to use as human beings combined together in what we like to call a society, a culture, a civilization.  Yes, empathy is something most people share with one another to communicate experiences that we do not frame in the context of words.  But how do other people even begin to imagine what happened to children like me (and others who were the sole singled out targets of insane, brutal continual abuse)?

So, yesterday as I watched my piano teacher struggle with the tones of that song I wrote about the canoe I recognized – BINGO!  I DID IT!

In that song I communicated for the first time in my life the TONAL FEELING of my reality that month before I turned 12.  And, yes, that feeling was unbelievably horrible.

++

This is a level of reality that I struggle with in my book-writing.  How do I tell my story in its truth without brutalizing my readers?  If I don’t tell the truth, which is a truly horrific, brutalizing truth of abuse and trauma, then I am not telling my story at all.  If I don’t tell my truth – which I admit is more than most either could bear or would want to bear – even for a brief period of time while they read (or in the case of this song listen) to my truth – I am not telling my own story.

So, at this point in time I have given up book writing.

And at this point of time I am turning to the valuable media of notes and song.

A POWERFUL and EFFECTIVE medium, as I discovered yesterday.

++

Now, in line with my own ‘theory’ that nearly every single one of my memories of abuse from my childhood has been chosen by me on some level to be retained BECAUSE in each instance there was something powerfully GOOD inside of me that was remembered at the same time and in combination with something nearly overwhelmingly BAD related to severe abuse, I turn to my camp memory.

Until today I have always kept separate (dissociated from one another) two separate memories that I now recognize as being a single combined GOOD/BAD memory.

Now that I opened the secret garden hidden gate into the canoe-stealing memory I sit with the other half of that memory that I have only told two people (my daughter and of yesterday also my piano teacher).  I have never written about this memory, and it seems this morning that until I do I will not be able to bring any light of healing into what appears to be, nearly 50 years later, an area of my own being that I have left alone in darkness.  I cannot understand what happened or free myself from the weighty chains that bind me back there in time until I begin to use the power of my words to clarify for myself what happened to me.

++

I have stated repeatedly in my writings that I have no explicit sexual abuse history that I know of.  Yet on its surface, and perhaps in its depths, this experience was sexually abusive to me.

I had never been allowed to have friends, to play freely, or to even bask in the comfort of ongoing relationships with my siblings.  A huge part of my mother’s abusive psychosis about me being ‘the devil’s evil child’ was her belief that I ‘could take’ her other children ‘to the devil’.  As I have discovered in my book writing there is a massive dark side underpinning this psychosis my mother enacted in her abuse of me.  My mother HAD to confine me in hell ALONE – for many reasons.

So when I was on this one week in July 1963 let loose in the confines of a Bible camp filled with strangers without my mother being present I was placed inside a social situation for the first time in my life with adults and with my peers that I had NO experience coping with.  I so seldom lifted my eyes from the floor or opened my mouth to sigh a word at school that I might as well have been wrapped in a Black Widow’s killing web made by my mother that contained me everywhere I went.

++

And then there is THIS night.  Only now do I understand that these two experiences as they exist in my memory happened on the same night, back-to-back.

It is bedtime.  I do not know if the camp counselor assigned to manage this group of 14 girls in this cabin was present for this event or not.  I hope she was not.  What I do know is that it is night time.  It is time to get ready for bed.  Seven bunk beds against the walls surround the center of the cabin floor.  In the center are two large tables with benches.  Standing in a circle surrounding these tables with backs to the bunks stand all but one of the 14 girls.  I am the one missing.

I was missing from the circle for as long as I could manage.  Returning to the pain of this memory I want to know why I was not able to say to all these girls “To HELL with you!”  I want to know why I didn’t finish changing into my pajamas and climb inside my sleeping bag in my own assigned bunk – and do so alone no matter WHAT the rest of that group of girls was doing.  I want to know why I didn’t squeeze myself through that ring of children to find my way to freedom outside the cabin door.

I ask a lot of myself.  I find at this moment that I have not forgiven myself for not being able to resist a situation that was not only bad for me, but TERRIBLE!  Where is my own compassion for myself?  Where is my ability to grant myself permission to be an innocent?  How does a person heal from victimizing childhood shame and humiliation?

The pressure to be a part of this ‘contest’ that someone designed – perhaps the counselor, horrible as that thought is – or perhaps in her temporary absence another bossy girl with or without her ‘helpers’ – was more than I could in the end resist.  I too stripped off all of my clothes and joined that circle of undressed giggling, pointing girls who were determined to award some kind of prize I do not remember on the one of us who had the most pubic hair.

I see myself standing in that circle with my back to a bunk bed facing the cabin door.  Do I have the marks of bruises from Mother’s beatings visible on my body?  I do not know, but that was usually the case.  So thin, I stood there, the last compliant.  And I won.  No glory.  No glory whatsoever in the circle that felt like the so-familiar hell I always lived in.

Different time.  Different place.  But hell is hell no matter where it captures a child.

++

It was THIS night I now understand after writing that song, after hearing my piano teacher wince and cringe as I watched him physically (unconsciously) trying to escape its truth of feeling when he played it yesterday, that I now understand was THE SAME night.  I did not sleep after this circle from hell disbanded.  Once all those girls, enemies of my soul I was equally as powerless to escape or resist as I was my mother, were all sound asleep I got up, dressed, and went for that canoe.

++

My piano teacher and I talked about the possibility of me re-working the words of my canoe song into a ‘nicer’ melody.  I don’t know if I will do that or not.  The fact that this song communicated to somebody else what I FELT like as a child – something I finally witnessed happening for the first time in my entire life — is so powerful to me I think my song deserves to stand exactly as it is.

My teacher and I discussed that in the context of all the years of terrible abuse that had happened to me prior to the moments I slid that canoe into that dark night’s lake – and in the context of all the years abuse that followed that night – the song contains what I felt inside IN SPITE of the beauty of that glide across that water and around that island.

The fact that I was daring enough to venture out alone the way I did holds no weight against the burden in my body of the reality that abuse had forced inside of me from the instant of my birth.  Today as I explore how my exiting that cabin was a direct response to the horror of my experience being forced to expose and display myself in that icky girlish circle both pieces of my memory will begin to change.

Change, in essence, is what healing means to me.  It is having horribly traumatic experiences locked away in ‘bubble’ memories as dissociated fragments of unhealed experiences that makes truly learning about my own goodness so difficult.

++

I will leave all of this lay for now – at the surface – in the light of day.  I am writing another song now, one about something I knew when I was five that is still pure and beautiful to me.  I want THAT song next.

++

On the side of spirituality:  *UNDERSTANDING AND TRUTH

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

+TRAUMA STORIES — THE TRUTH MAY NEVER BE TOLD IN WORDS

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

There are two intriguing instances in my current life that I refer to as ‘strange’.  One of them is that I have several books to write that I cannot (currently) finish.  The other is that even though I am only now at age 60 taking piano lessons and learning to read and write and play music, I can clearly write songs that I lack the mechanical skill to PLAY.

Both situations are frustrating to me.  Yet even though I have to be patient and very cautious with myself regarding the book-writing, I am so far, quite willing and able to continue to make progress on the music!

I have a perfect piano teacher, a gift from God as far as I can tell.  He lives in the same small town I do and charges ONLY $12 per hour for lessons.  He is a wonderful man and a terrific, skilled and very gifted (and wise) musician.

Now that I can read and write the music on paper I can mirror the song notes and rhythms I ‘hear’ in my mind.  Yesterday was the first time I wrote words to music — and then found on the keyboard the tones that go with those words.

Nothing really surprises me much any more about what appears in my consciousness regarding pieces of my severely abusive infancy and childhood, so I take it in stride the song that appeared to me as my first ‘personal’ one (with words) is about an experience I have always remembered and so far have NEVER put into words.

When my teacher comes today he will be able to explain to me how the tones I wrote fit together in their bigger picture.  As far as I can tell the melody (I hesitate to call it that because it is NOTHING but dissonance to my ears/body and so far dissonance in music is very hard for me to listen to, hear or tolerate).  Not only is this pattern the core of the piece — F#, D#, C#, A#, G# — but the melody moves in and out of the sharps repeatedly and only in a very few specific places finds any rest (to me meaning beauty in harmony).

In other words, I do not ‘judge’ this song to be ‘a nice’ one!  Some part of me distinguishes between ‘noise’ and music.  This is a NOISY song!  It places the burden of distress it conveys upon the listener.  Dissonance to me is disharmony.  What about those of us who have horrendous experiences with the dissonance/disharmony of traumas, especially of early ones?  Do we not speak or sing of it because none of it feels or sounds ‘nice’?

++

The summer before my August 31st 12th birthday my abusive mother sent me to a church camp.  This week was the only one I ever was allowed to be away from her — and from home.

There is more to this story than I am going to tell here, but in regards to the song that appeared yesterday I will say that I had NEVER been swimming in my life.  Being raised in Alaska meant that all rivers and lakes are extremely cold, although some very tough children that I know of were brave enough to enter Alaska’s water for swimming anyway.

So this song is about something I did one night that has always surprised me and puzzled me as I remember it.  One night I climbed out of my cabin’s bunk bed, dressed silently, and headed outside directly to the edge of the big lake the camp sat beside.  I had seen the canoes along the beach edge.  I have no memory of ‘the kids’ taking them out.

What I do remember is the night I untied one of those canoes and pushed it along the sand into the water, climbed in, and headed out across the lake in the nearly pitch black darkness alone.  I had some kind of mission, some kind of determination, made some kind of choice — and had no fear.

No fear of tipping over.  No fear of getting caught.  No fear that nobody knew I was out there or where I went if something had happened.  No fear of getting into trouble.  I just WENT.  (This memory is about a ‘portal’ experience I had, really…  There was a ‘doorway’ I found and went through — yes, alone — but I knew no other way of being in the world.)

These are the words that appeared yesterday that found their way to their accompanying tones:

“Nearly Twelve”

Take this canoe to the island

in the middle of the night.

Who says this is stealing?

I plan to bring it back.

The bravest thing I’d ever done

alone at camp and sneaking

I and the crescent moon

slide by in whispers.

My own awakening

all others sleeping.

I ventured out to leave their noisy world

so peaceful now

behind me.

Alone in this canoe

they do not know I’m gone.

Shadows of the silent trees

so black against the sky.

I circle not stopping until

I claim this island

as my own.

++

This morning as I find my thoughts wandering into the future of this afternoon when my piano teacher will arrive, I find myself wondering if I will work toward creating a second melody for these words that I can experience as beautiful rather than as nearly excruciatingly jarring and almost impossible to tolerate listening to.

I wrote the notes to this first melody exactly as I felt/heard them in my body.  Very clearly they belong to a realm BEYOND words as they express a level of true reality to me that I have never been able to name.

This morning I am including ‘dissociation’ in my thoughts.  It is not true that I dissociated my memory of experience taking that canoe out across that wide deep very cold lake in the middle of the night alone.  I have always remembered this.

But looking ‘objectively’ at this experience I realize that ‘who I was’ as I did this action was a ‘different me’ than the one that had any contact WHATSOEVER with the world of humans.  THAT me was the me that suffered unbelievable terror, pain and sorrow.  And yet what that suffering me WANTED to do was to simply glide alone across a peaceful dark lake to circle a nearly wilderness island under a crescent moon.

I brought the canoe back after a few hours, parked it where I had found it, returned to the cabin, undressed, put my pajamas back on and climbed into my bunk.  Nobody ever knew I had been gone.

++

At the point in my book writing about my childhood prior to age 10 1/2 where I have currently frozen-in-place and cannot read a word or write one more on my 2nd draft, I suspect that I was asking more of myself in that effort than I am (at least currently) able or willing to give.

I desire a deeper level of truth, both its knowing and its telling, in my writing.  If I cannot write a book of integrity about what I knew through my abuse experiences at my core, then as far as I can tell I will be selling myself and my story too short to write it.

There is something about what I knew as THAT child in this canoe memory.  I find it fascinating that my experience of it so far seems to belong to the language of music itself rather than to a regular printed page.

Trauma has ended up a part of human experience since the time of our beginnings.  Because we have only used spoken articulated words for the past 140,000 years it is obvious that we had movement, mime, gesture, sound, pitch, rhythm, dance, music — LONG LONG LONG before that.

I surprise myself feeling surprised that the level of soul I wanted to reach and express in the final drafts of my book writing about my severely abusive childhood may very well be truly able to tell itself only in the oldest languages known to our species — leaving words merely as a scratch upon the surface of the tales.

++

Second half of this story:  +STORIES WE DO NOT TELL — WITHOUT A WHOLE LOT OF WAITING FIRST

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

+STOPPING BY….

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

This is a foreign world I live in right now without writing.  I must have reached a burnout state without realizing that was where I was headed until I got there.  All I can do now is rest my mind and wait to see what happens after the first of the new year.

I am spending a lot of time practicing on my keyboard.  I want to learn in 40 hours what I guess it needs to take five years to learn.  I am not that patient.  I will my mind and my fingers into proper action on these keys.

I can read the music now so that I can write the music for songs.  This process fascinates me.  I wrote a song today in words and sound — a very strange one.  Tomorrow I will show it to my piano teacher.  He is able to assist me to understand the patterns in these sounds.

So out-of-reach of words are some of the things I need to say right now.  Being able to describe feelings and emotion in sound without words is like entering a new universe that is so familiar yet so very strange.  Another language.  I needed that.

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

+LINES THAT ARE NOT THERE

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

I have no real idea what if would feel like to be a free being as a child of 9 or 10, but if I now were that age I would say that I found what the tone of D-FLAT – or is that C-SHARP – looks like to me.

From my adult point of view, I am pursuing music therapy.  From this point of view I can follow what I learn and experience about music like I might were I a child and I would say that I found the line that separates D-Flat from C-Sharp!  Yet there is no clear line defining this single tone anymore than there is one between myself as a child from who I am as an adult or between what I know and what I do not know.  These arbitrary lines are simply about sensing.

When I look up and see a clear blue sky that is C-Sharp.  When I can see any physical object that cuts a clear line against clear blue sky that to me is where D-Flat is.  The top stony ridge line of a mountain against the sky:  The mountain sounds D-Flat until I look at the sky instead where the two lines meet and there it is – C-Sharp – on the sky side of the line!

Then I saw those tones along rooftop ridges, fence lines, clotheslines, power poles and power lines, even bare tree twigs and branches and their leaves against the sky.  I would see it along the lines of a bird wing in flight.  I can see the lines when I hold my hand up against the sky.  (I am not at all sure that is the tone – high or low, up or down – that I would be able to see where a cloud edge meets the sky.)

How D-Flat feels to me soft and warm and very clearly a part of the close world I live in while C-Sharp feels distant and, well, SHARP?  I do not know because if nobody had named them such I would never have broken these tones apart (Yes, they are identical in vibrations, but…..).  Just like I would never have thought of my own self, body and all, as being separate from this world I live in if nobody had ever told me such-and-such is so.

This music stuff I am learning, this is not intellectual for the most part, although I am finding great thrills in being able to read and write the part I can hear that matches what others have defined for me within the range of ‘western thinking’ sound.  I do now know why D-Flat seems ‘lower’ to me when according to ‘rules’ C-Sharp is moving down the scale while D-Flat is moving up.

With my human senses I can only hear so much, can only see so much, yet I also know that my ears are designed to detect the slower vibrations of color while my eyes are designed to detect the faster vibrations of sound – all far more primitively than I imagine many other creatures can.  Yet what I practice now is to hear tones with both my physical ear and the ear of my soul.  Something happened to me in my body by severe abuse of all kinds from the time I was born that somehow broke apart my ability to listen with both of my ears to the same tones at the same time.  I am pursuing a course of healing.

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

I am reminded of these words that tell me also that some sounds also have fragrance.  There is much mystery in Creation!

“Intone, O My servant, the verses of God that have been received by thee,

as intoned by them who have drawn nigh unto Him,

that the sweetness of thy melody may kindle thine own soul,

and attract the hearts of all men. Whoso reciteth, in the privacy of his chamber,

the verses revealed by God, the scattering angels of the Almighty

shall scatter abroad the fragrance of the words uttered by his mouth,

and shall cause the heart of every righteous man to throb.

Though he may, at first, remain unaware of its effect, yet the virtue

of the grace vouchsafed unto him must needs sooner or later exercise

its influence upon his soul. Thus have the mysteries of the Revelation

of God been decreed by virtue of the Will of Him

Who is the Source of power and wisdom.” —BAHÁ’U’LLÁH

Baha’i Prayers: A Selection of Prayers Revealed by Baha’u’llah, the Bab, and `Abdu’l-Baha, Pages iv-3: gr1

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

+THOUGHT PATROL: CHANGE THE WAY WE THINK, CHANGE THE WORLD

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

I am working my way through the book, Forces of Our Time: The Dynamics of Light and Darkness by Hooper C. Dunbar.  What does it mean to me, to combat ‘dark forces’ with spiritual discipline so that I ‘refuse to think negatively’?  What does this mean to me?  “We can change the world by changing how we think.”

I find three words stuck in my thoughts as I write this post:  Love, hope and kindness.  I wonder if I discipline my spirit if I can find a way to turn every thought I have today in the direction of one, two, or even all three of these qualities.

Severe infant and child abuse survivors know as few other human beings can what living in a world filled with the opposite of love, hope and kindness feels like.  But it takes no effort at all at any given moment for ANYONE to find instances and circumstances of ‘the darkness’ in this world we look at – if this negative is what we choose to see, feel and experience.

Knowing we suffer under burdens that deplete the joy in our own life, and therefore also deplete our ‘communal’ life as citizens sharing the bounties this earth provides us, simply gives us an opportunity to choose to find a way to let those burdens go.

Yes, difficulties are very real, but those difficulties do not guarantee us misery.  Although I am also not a fan of ‘pie-in-the-sky’ messages of ‘things will be all better if you just want them to be’, I have to believe that every moment I am alive carries with it an opportunity for goodness.

++

What is this about?

Due to popular demand, we put together a series of FREE videos and resources based on the work of Dr. Emoto and David Sereda.”

WATER SECRETS REVEALEDDiscover How Your Consciousness Affects Your Health, Your Environment and Mother Earth

Who is this man, anyway?  Masaru Emoto

Masaru Emoto (江本 , Emoto Masaru?, born July 22, 1943) is a Japanese author and entrepreneur known for his claims that human consciousness has an effect on the molecular structure of water. Emoto’s hypothesis has evolved over the years of his research. Initially Dr. Emoto claimed that high-quality water forms beautiful and intricate crystals, while low-quality water has difficulty forming crystals. According to Dr. Emoto, an ice crystal of distilled water exhibits a basic hexagonal structure with no intricate branching. Emoto claims that positive changes to water crystals can be achieved through prayer, music or by attaching written words to a container of water.

Since 1999 Emoto has published several volumes of a work titled Messages from Water, which contains photographs of water crystals next to essays and “words of intent.” In addition to his books, Emoto also sells various water products from his websites and catalogs, which are purported to have healing properties derived from his research and experiments.

Emoto’s ideas appeared in the popular documentary “What the Bleep Do We Know!?“. Like that film, Emoto’s work is widely considered pseudoscience by professionals, and he is criticized for going directly to the public with misleading claims that violate basic physics, based on methods that fail to properly investigate the truth of the claims.

Humm…..  And then I found this site:

Miraculous Messages from Water  — How water reflects our consciousness — by S. Sharp

From Mr. Emoto’s work we are provided with factual evidence, that human vibrational energy, thoughts, words, ideas and music, affect the molecular structure of water, the very same water that comprises over seventy percent of a mature human body and covers the same amount of our planet.”

++

OK – so what about this?

Could Meditation Have Something to Do with Plummeting Crime Rates?

And this:

Transcendental Meditation Experiment Arrests Crime:  Study Shows Dramatic Drop in Violent Crime During D.C. Project

The demonstration project involved assembling nearly 4,000 practitioners of the Transcendental Meditation and TM-Sidhi programs from 81 countries….  time series analysis of FBI crime data…showed that violent crime dropped significantly during the demonstration period….”

++

One of my sisters mentioned both of these two ‘bodies of information’ to me several years ago.  I have no idea why it is TODAY that my thoughts turned in this direction as I watch the golden new morning’s light play among the clouds.  I do know that meditation involves the workings of the human mind.  I do know that the 18 years of terrible suffering I endured as an infant-child happened to me because my mother’s mind (and its connections in her body) was so, so sick.  I do know that the ‘comet trails’ within my own body and thoughts that came to me in direct response to my having to grow up in Mother’s hell will never entirely leave me in this lifetime.

Yet I also know that I can take action every moment of my day – even though I am not ‘a meditator’ – to place my thoughts in line with love, hope and kindness that will ALWAYS be able to counteract negative forces and their energy.

++

I am NOT a fan of whining.  Bad habit, that whining stuff.  How do I increase my discipline to be able to examine the thoughts (and actions) that originate with me so that the positive energy it takes to do this amplifies in SOME WAY in my life today?  What might be the influence every one of us can have to positively resonate with SOLUTIONS rather than with PROBLEMS all of us face on some level in this lifetime?

How can we all be members of the quiet revolution that will change our world?  “Gifts given in silence are sometimes the most powerful.”  Love, hope and kindness = PEACE!  I want more of this today, more for me, more for everyone else.

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