The more I think about it as I reflect daily on what my experience of being a self in a body is like in the world, the more I realize that what others might choose to attach individual labels to seem to operate as a single ONE THING.
I am referring to (1) Disorganized-Disoriented Insecure Attachment Disorder (DD), (2) Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) (again, an insecure attachment disorder, (3) dissociation which is an integral part of the physiological operation of both these two (which are probably the same Insecure Attachment Disorder in my thinking), (4) and Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (complex or otherwise).
When an infant and young toddler, not to mention a child pursuing growth and development through all its further stages, is repeatedly attacked, abused, terrorized and traumatized — that little person’s ongoing reality of self-in-the-world is disrupted and turned into chaos with each attack.
Such a little person does not get a chance to develop what I am thinking about today as being a smoothly functioning transmission system that would allow the child to be able to transition between different states of being — especially between one traumatic state to and through the next one — OR between a state of child-reality interest and peaceful calm while pursuing their life into and through a state of terrorism and trauma.
I had another rather innocuous experience yesterday while in conversation with a good friend in which I was asked a question ‘out-of-the-blue’ that required of ME some amount of time passing so that I could look within myself to sort through the vast amount of information that appeared within me in response to this question. The question surprised me, thus I was not prepared to answer instantaneously – so I could not.
This other person, not being a person that was overwhelmed with early traumas was a person that appeared TO ME to be exceedingly impatient wanting a response from me ASAP — which meant in ‘ordinary person time’. This person did not – and probably could not – possibly understand that in my body I have to MANUALLY shift my gears! I have to work my way through what appears to me sometimes – and what would appear to most other people — as WAY too much information!
Today, thinking about this interchange, I realize that how ordinary people process sudden shifts in being must be so smooth, so practical-for-ordinary-existence, so hidden and automatic — that they simply never have to pay attention to HOW they respond – to anything (much).
I picture a state of acute trauma that might happen to someone on a (hopefully) rare occasion such as having to react to a vehicle at full speed on the highway swerving into one’s lane — HOW does someone react – in response to all possible outcomes of actions that COULD be taken?
This, to me, is a far more similar example of what ongoing life is often like to severe early trauma survivors. The reaction of the ‘rest of the world’ to us does NOT help us. NOW is what ‘they’ want. Super NOW!!
We don’t have a super now in those situations when some kind of inner deliberation of information being presented by our environment is needed. We operate in ‘acute trauma time’ which might oddly seem to be very SLOW time compared to other people’s very RAPID time.
Yes, most frequently when a traumatic threat actually appears and is very real RAPID reaction is what is going to save the day rather than long ‘higher cortex’ higher thinking which is very slow compared to the automatic reaction of the stress response system.
But our body-brain never got to develop a ‘transmission’ appropriately to be able to distinguish between our physiological reactions. We are always in a mode of operation that is accumulating A WHOLE LOT OF INFORMATION – more than ordinary people can imagine — so that we can ALWAYS be prepared to survive in worst possible situations — whether they really exist in the present moment or not.
There was absolutely nothing in my friend’s question yesterday that was threatening or traumatic. But the way my body-brain was built in the midst of 18 years of terror and trauma — does not know the difference because it did not get to build within me an ordinary response-to-life.
The worst insecure attachment disorders (DD and RAD) (which again are probably the same thing) were built into us because we were developing within extremely harmful, toxic, traumatic and malevolent environments. We cannot go back to the beginning of our life and build a different body-brain. We have to make it through ALL situations we encounter for the rest of our lives with this trauma-altered body we were forced to develop.
If the world around us, meaning ordinary people, cared enough to learn what life is like for us, and then gave us the time we need during those times we are presented with our too-much-information to sort it all out consciously so that we could DECIDE and CHOOSE the way were were going to respond-react — our own experience of life would be a whole lot easier – and smoother.
But ordinary people run the world here, for the most part. This is a very good thing, actually. This means that the REST of the world around us was NOT malevolent – as ours was and appears to be on some level for us the rest of our lives.
So, to me, it is vital that when at all possible especially in relationship with our intimate friends and family members, that we be able to identify when these overwhelming moments happen to us verbally or in some other way using signals that communicate I NEED TIME to process what you have said to me, what has happened here, what is being asked of me, sort through the information I just received in this situation, etc. so that I can find my OWN way through this as smoothly as possible.
What overwhelms our ‘systems’ and when will never truly make sense to non-survivors. Yet their empathy and compassion, care and patience can help US — and therefore our relationships with others — much easier. But this will require a different standard of time-passing that will allow us to find our way out of our automatic and often extremely confusing traumatic stress reactions into actions that come from our inner place of peaceful calm.
We are worth this!
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