What if the only thing I am responsible for in my lifetime is to leave a coherent story of my life behind me when my body dies and my soul moves on through eternity to God’s next world?
I can’t imagine this to be a very big job overall for people who did not experience severe and overwhelming trauma and abuse in their life – especially during their most vulnerable years of infancy and childhood. But for those of us who happened to be born into families filled with inter-generational horrors of unresolved traumas, our task then becomes nearly as difficult as was the task of enduring and surviving our traumas in the first place.
As I began my day early before the crisp cutting heat of the sun envelopes this high desert land, as I trimmed off this year’s random wild growth from the single Mesquite tree at the south of my property line so I could feed the new tiny leaves on those nasty thorn-covered twiggy branches to my 5 hens for breakfast, I thought of a very bizarre image told to me in a story 20 years ago by my landlord when I lived in northern Minnesota.
This man had rented out a shack in the north woods for nearly 30 years to a family whose last member in the house had just died. When, finally after all these years, the house became empty the landlord had entered it to find — to put it most mildly — an untenable mess.
Mess? A grown man would have to stoop over to cross what should have been a normal threshold into the house and into any room within it. What must have been 30 years of garbage – and I mean GARBAGE – had accumulated so that it was wall-to-wall over three feet deep.
Attempt to rescue the house or burn it down, that was the question.
The landlord found an unemployed work crew with tough skin who agreed to the job for very little money and the digging began.
Horrors of horrors, and I apologize to sensitive readers, under many layers of stinking trash an entire litter of dead puppies was excavated in one of the bedrooms with dead momma dog included.
Oh, what horror! Yes! Also very, very real. And as this story came into my thoughts this morning as I trimmed the fresh new yet unwanted growth off of my Mesquite tree I put 2-and-2 together as I understood in words that cleaning up the horrors of an entire infancy and childhood spent in hardships of abuse, neglect, trauma and malevolent treatment amounts to a VERY similar process of cleaning out the trash.
I add the exception here: I also understand that when it comes to the work of turning our chaotic horror stories of memories from terrible childhoods into a beautiful coherent and organized life story — we ORIENT ourselves and ORGANIZE our story by understanding what we are looking for.
Imagine that there was a single diamond buried under the accumulation of unimaginable filth and trash in my old landlord’s house. This diamond being priceless and of HIGHEST value, was worth looking for!
Any trauma survivor reading this post must be willing to take what I am saying on faith if they have never yet realized that what they are doing in their healing work is healing their story which is exactly what heals us.
On faith, believe me that this priceless diamond (or any other gem of great value you might prefer) NEEDS to be found for healing to move toward completion in this lifetime.
What we are searching for is, of course, not a tangible physical object – it is, to my understanding, the essence of who we are, who we have always been and who we will forever be. We are searching for the perfect purity that IS our SOUL self.
Our soul was, is and will forever be beyond time as we measure time in our material lifetime in our body. Our SOUL can be found present within every single memory of horror, torture and trauma we can remember the facts about — or not!
When I look back at every memory my soul chose to keep of my childhood I can now exactly spot the shining pure and perfect me in the middle of each episode of hell that happened due to my madwoman mother’s terrible (misplaced and projected) absolute hatred of me.
THIS perfect gem of ME is the one that belongs in my own coherent story of my life.
Long term readers of this blog will recognize that when I write about healing our life story to heal our self that I am talking about healing the insecure attachment disorder that was built into us as our body-brain developed in the midst of terrible trauma.
The physiological damage that was done to us through adaptations to the powerful stress hormones our body generated in the midst of trauma are lasting, although they can be somewhat repaired as we do our healing work.
It is to the essence of who we are, and to the inner quality of our understanding of our self in the world, that I am speaking of being able to find and release from all the garbage we might currently have our pure perfect self buried and hidden within.
I think this morning, for example, of the day when I was almost four (see: *Age 3 – THE TOILET BOWL) when my mother attacked me under her psychotic delusion that I was attempting to drown my 2-year-old sister in the toilet. I can clearly remember this trauma from inside my little body as Mother is repeatedly and brutally smashing my head against the inner sides of the white porcelain toilet bowl. I clearly remember myself at four focusing very hard in spite of my terror and PAIN on trying to figure out how to time my breathing so that I could manage to gasp a breath of air instead of a full mouth of water as Mother violently yanked and shoved my head up and down.
I remember the whole beating that followed until this giant madwoman finally exhausted herself – etc. I can follow the entire story – I can choose what I look at, how I feel now as I honor the pure little person I was/am that endured and survived that attack.
This was one of thousands of insane brutal attacks Mother perpetrated against me during the 18 years she kept me her captive.
My job, as I see it now that I have made such fantastic progress if ‘figuring this whole thing out’, has always been to go FOR THE GLORY!! To HELL with the horror!
Literally. That’s where it came from and that’s where it belongs.
Yes, the entire event happened and the pain and suffering and terror of it was vividly real. But what is VITAL to me is to let everything go that SUCKS about this experience and ONLY keep as a real part of my life story the perfect pure person at the exact center of that storm.
Everything good was there in me then as it is now. My honor and my integrity, my love of and search for beauty, my imagination, my desire to share what I found exquisitely fascinating in the world around me with someone I loved, my ability to KNOW my own truth and to HOLD my own truth self-evident FOREVER, my courage and bravery, my strength and endurance, my patience and my pure intent not to hate, my connection with God and with His angels, my survival instincts that let me choose every millisecond through that horror how best to ‘walk forward’ into my own future as I lived my own life — and SO much more — were ALL there as a part of ME who just happened to be forced to live as a child in hell.
Because we are each ONLY ultimately responsible before God for our OWN life and for nobody else’s, we are remiss and neglectful if we leave our own self forever trapped within the horror of memories of our lifetime. It is our task in cases where troubling involvement of trauma from abuse contaminates our ability to ONLY experience the purity of our own self in the midst of whatever was done to us — to realize that all that’s horrible and negative (as I keep saying) belongs to someone else’s life story, NOT TO OURS.
As odd as this might sound, using this toilet bowl example from my own early life, if I choose to continue to keep any of the negative from that experience in my story I am actually STEALING something that is not mine to keep. The negative belongs to Mother, not to me – not in any way to me.
Even the pain, the terror – which was very real and can return to me if I return to it — actually belonged to Mother who caused it. She caused me to experience all of it. This is a very refined sorting-out process we are doing here. Very particular. Very refined. Very specialized surgery!
Violators of the innocent and vulnerable are BOUNDARY violators. They violated our boundaries. WE are the only ones who can heal by establishing as we work with our own memory-life-story where the boundary was and is!
If it is BAD in any way, it did not and does not belong to us or to our life story. Quite simple as we practice this!! If it is good and pure and wonderful – it is OURS!!
I know how complicated, seemingly overwhelming and difficult it can be to return to our trauma memories to work our way through them. In truth this process can be as clear for us as it would be to go into that landlord’s disgusting house overwhelmed with rotten filth — to do the work of finding the perfect gem buried within.
No, not fun. Yes, a task that we can approach with big-time self-pity if we have to. But through this work we set our own life story free as we set the record straight. Doing so heals us.
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