+IT TAKES A GLOBAL VILLAGE TO FREE THE VOICE OF HEALING

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First in this post I would like to thank each and every person who has visited my Stop the Storm blog over the years of its existence.  On this last day of 2012 the count of readers has crossed over 200,000.  More than any other accolade, any other ‘expression of approval’, the blog count itself assures me that many people are questioning the existence of trauma in their past and in their present life.  What matters most to me is that each of us is coming to the very correct conclusion that most trauma that we experience does not NEED to exist.  What continues to keep trauma present in our life is that we, as members of the great human family, have not yet learned how to make trauma stop.

It is my belief from my own abuse experience in childhood that the trauma that was passed down to me came from somewhere — somehow.  It is my best guess that this is the reality for all infant and child abuse survivors.  Where did that abusive trauma come from?  And why?

What turns along the life path of our abusers led them to return violence, violation, harm, terror, abuse and trauma to the next generation of little ones?  What alternative route did those of us who have so suffered take that led us to NOT pass down the trauma directly to our own children?  What are these patterns connected to if not to the conditions — both internal and external — that carried us each into our own future?

While it might seem silly for me to state that everyone who finds their way to this blog is alive.  This fact is true.  Obviously.  But I mean ALIVE in a very important way.  People who find their way to this blog have kept their hope alive.  They have kept their belief intact that there is some kind of underlying if not overriding reason why the suffering in their life and in the lives of those they care about ever happened in the first place.  This makes us all fellow travelers along the pathways of the villages we live in — and along the pathways that connect our villages — in a journey to understand what ongoing, unresolved trauma has to teach us.

Of all the purposes behind the writing of my book Story Without Words, it is my purpose to find a way to conduct myself most productively through my search for the origin of the horrible abuse that fell onto me from my mother that has motivated me most profoundly.  No amount of anger would have led me where I needed to go.  No desire for revenge or for retailiation, no scant idea that by exposing the flaws within my mother I could find a freedom in the least from the lifelong consequences of what Mother’s abuse did to me would have motivated me to write the exact words I did for this book.

Surviving horrible trauma, especially abusive trauma that was perpetrated by the very people in our earliest life who were supposed to love and care for us, leaves us with troubles untold at the same time it leaves us with a gift.  It was obviously not our abusers who possessed the gift to search everywhere and every way possible to find out what creates patterns of ongoing suffering in self and in families.  It is those who find their way to this blog and to all other helpful information they can find that DO have the gift motivated by a desire to find a way to MAKE RIGHT what has gone so WRONG.

We might not be able to find all the answers to the questions we are asking, but we know we are on the right track.  All the answers do not exist yet because it will take all of us to both discover the right questions and to create the solutions.  ALL of us.  That means those of us who have suffered must be joined in our concerns with those who have not suffered.  If we raise our eyes and our hearts and our thoughts up high enough to see more and more of the bigger picture our search for an end to suffering throught trauma will increasingly include the suffering of people of all ages that live all over this amazing globe we name our home.

Perhaps it is egotistical of me to say that there are sojourners along the journey to find truth who are moving in the right direction compared to people who are not interested in the truth and could not care less about the suffering of others and thus are moving in the opposite direction. 

It is therefore some kind of compassionate bond that the truth-seekers have with one another that keeps us in flow with finding ways to build a better life for ourselves and for others (including all life on this planet).  It is an honor for me to be accompanied by everyone who cares — and I know this includes everyone who has ever passed over the pages of this Stop the Storm blog.  Thank you!

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+2012 Stop the Storm blog in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

19,000 people fit into the new Barclays Center to see Jay-Z perform. This blog was viewed about 82,000 times in 2012. If it were a concert at the Barclays Center, it would take about 4 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

+WHAT TITLE WOULD YOU CHOOSE FOR YOUR 1st BOOK ABOUT YOUR LIFE?

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Perhaps at no other time in my life have I needed to focus so hard on saying exactly what I mean.  Fortunately my upcoming book is not held in the grip of a butchering big publisher who I know would not only kill my title but would kill my book, as well.  Yet while my book is not in the hands of strangers, it is under the critical editing eye of my very knowledgeable and skilled daughter, Ramona.  And she asks questions, tough questions, for which I have to dig deep to find answers.

A main question at this point has to do with my book’s title.  There are many versions flying back and forth via email right now.  I am awaiting Ramona’s response regarding these.  At the moment this is my latest version:

Story Without Words – A forensic study of my family’s unresolved trauma

(Oops?  Subtitle may be morphing again to – A forensic study of family trauma)

Is this even close to the title we will publish this book under?  I am adamant about the main title, Story Without Words.  This IS the book I have written.  I can defend my choice even to myself in many, many ways.  I know I could write an entire new blog under that title and would not run out of things to say.

If any direct reference to ‘abuse’ is dropped from the subtitle I have to ask, “Is the intention of my book being diluted?”  I don’t think so.  At this moment I think what I most MEAN to say is that it has always been exactly the unresolved trauma coming down through my family that has fed, fostered and fueled all that has gone wrong. 

Some of what went wrong turned into abuse.  Some of it turned into patterns that allowed the abuse (of me) to continue unchecked.  Some of it turned into patterns that allowed people to turn the other way (my grandmother, my father), to believe as reality the delusional madness of a psychotic Borderline Personality Disorder woman (my severely abusive mother).

Some of what went wrong turned into a frozen kind of perpetual despair that paralyzed joy in members of my ancestry.  I would be willing to bet that not one of my most immediate ancestors was able to get through their lifetime without unresolved family trauma eventually overtaking them and beating them into the ground.

I see some kind of pattern of people in my family being able to turn all the way around to look the other way while the real truth, the actual truth about what had hurt and continued to hurt people flew right on by and disappeared.  Why?  What purpose does it serve for people to IGNORE the truth about trauma in families?  Do we think ourselves weak if we name the truth when what is true doesn’t quite please us?  Even when what actually happens is that these unspoken silent invisible truths end up destroying us?

I don’t know right now what I think of the implications of my title.  I don’t need to know right now.  I know the book itself has been written and now is being turned into a book — well, whatever a book actually IS in today’s epublishing market.

Today I am honing in on my title in such a way that my wording feels right.  In spite of the 18 years of horrendous and bizarre abuse I experienced, it is not the abuse itself that matters to me at this point.  I want to understand the trauma that bit my mother in the first place, that infected her so that she became the brutal raging crazy monster she turned into.  I know she was not born that way.  Something in the conditions of her own childhood MADE her that way.

And whatever that something was, my best guess is that it had to do with unresolved trauma that had been in her family — just as had been in my father’s family — long before either one of my parents were born.

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+THE VOLATILE NATURE OF WORKING WITH TRAUMATIC ABUSE MEMORIES

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Maybe someday after these current books are published I can move on to write about related very difficult experiences I live with continually as a survivor of severe infant and child abuse.  Lack of accurate language to talk about these experiences makes writing about them most difficult.  I am left with ‘explanations’ such as ‘disorganized-disoriented insecure attachment disorder’ and ‘reactive attachment disorder’ to try to find a common ground from which I can talk about what my life is like.

This issue is foremost in my thoughts due to the many hours I spent on the telephone with my daughter, Ramona today as she works now with editing and proofing the manuscript of my book, “Story without Words,” whose subtitle is still under construction.

It is a kind of hell that I wrote that book – and cannot read it.  I don’t know that I will ever be able to read it.  That could never probably make sense to anyone who does not understand the consequences of living in a trauma-changed body.  Getting anywhere near what I wrote in my own book triggers my ‘disorganization-disorientation’ as I react to my own writing about my own life.

Someday I may walk myself through this kind of experience as I write it.

The best I can describe to my daughter now is that I live in a million-room mansion.  All the doors are closed except the doors to perhaps five rooms.  In these five rooms exist all I can safely remember and know about the trauma of the first 18 years of my life of abuse.  I KNOW in the ways that matter what lies within all those other rooms behind their closed doors.  But it is UNSAFE for me to open those doors and go poking around in any way in search of what is held in memories that do not belong as a part of my ongoing current life.

It is not really even safe for me to return to the memories I wrote about in my book.  There is a risk to my ongoing stability to venture into those memory places – or in allowing those memories to encroach upon my ongoing life now.  I did what I needed to the best that I could as I wrote what I wrote – but I cannot correct what I wrote.  My daughter understands this.

Perhaps someday in the future I will wish to describe more of what I know I know.  At present I can feel that I walked through the continual traumas of my childhood like I was walking in slow motion through explosion after explosion – that NOW would appear – should I wish to examine related memories – as if the explosions themselves happened in slow motion.

I explained it to my daughter like this:  Something hits a large pane of safety glass and it shatters into billions of pieces.  But the pieces are very small and sparkly.  I walk through the flinging shards very slowly as they explode slowly – and in this way – somehow I stayed safe as a child going through all of that.

Then, every one of those experiences became sealed away in ‘rooms’ that became instantly ‘the past’.  None of them had anything to do with me.  I just had to survive them.  To endure them.  To get through them alive.  And to live on.  To move on.  Into the future.  Because I was alive, the future always belonged to me.  (Most of it was not a pleasant life.)

So, like so many survivors understand about ‘dissociation’, these experiences as they were contained in memories, were never put together into a coherent whole.  I call these ‘bubble’ memories.  They are each like a shard of flying broken glass – still flying as long as I let them.  I don’t want to stop those memories from doing whatever it is that memories do if you just leave them be, leave them alone – and never go back for them.

But writing books about one’s abuse history requires some contact with not-nice memories.  I have evidently chosen a collection of memories (as I have explained on this blog before) that I for some reason wanted to (which includes needed to) remember.  I work with those memories ONLY –

But even working with these memories is threatening – not to get too close.  Not to get too close to all the rest of the memories that I do NOT believe I need/want.  What a lot of life force energy it takes to keep one’s own life at bay – to keep one’s self safe from one’s own past!!!

So, quite logically and rationally and reasonably it seems to me, once I write a memory in a book I have no earthly reason to go back and READ it!  Which of course seems a little strange on first glance or even upon many glances!!!  It is awkward.  A bit, perhaps, like walking along while making every possible effort NOT to walk in one’s own footsteps.

But, we survivors – we know how to do this if we want to maintain any order and orientation sense of ourselves in our current life.  If we stumble over our own trip wires – REACT!  Not a pretty picture.

So, as I tell Ramona:  This book I have written I could not write again for all the money in the world.  It has been written.  It will never be written again by the woman who cannot go back and read it.  What I know is that the book is intense, about a very difficult and dense subject.  But at the same time the book floats in the air lightly as if the whole thing is a big solid iron object floating at the end of a gossamer spider web thread.

It cannot be altered except for very little delicate alterations that improve its whole ‘self’.  It is alive in some way.  It is whole and complete.  It is ‘this way and no other way’.  We must be careful not to hurt it or break it – and adding anything to it might do just that.

Unfortunately I did not feel moved to write a description of Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) in that book – and that information needs to be in there.  My daughter and I will negotiate that addition, and an addition that describes the seven books of my mother’s writings that are also in queue waiting to be processed for publication.  All of this ‘stuff’ can hopefully be included in the back-end of the book without touching the rest of the book’s integral wholeness.

My daughter will be able to bring this book forth into the world.  I have no doubt.  No amount of gratitude I feel for her help can be put into any other word except LOVE.  As hard as the topic of this book is, it IS love that brings it forth.  I will trust exactly that.

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+”THWARTATION” – LIFELONG CONSEQUENCES OF INSECURE ATTACHMENT

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The way the world looks to me this morning as a nearly-full moon settles down behind the western mountain ridge, as the hoped for sun waits for its gate to open to the east, perhaps my only personal power lies in my words.  I feel otherwise nearly completely thwarted.  So, given the comprehensiveness of my frustration the very least I can do for myself is to invent that word:  Thwartation.

Those of us who were not loved when we came into the world, were not cared for, who were traumatized in all kinds of ways by the very people upon whom we depended for our livelihood — our very LIFE — end up lacking what we need to live our own full life’s potential:  Resources.

Sure, we have SOME resources.  We found a way to stay alive.  But how do we find ways to fulfill our potential?  Our best hopes and dreams?  I could say, “There we are sitting on a stone with our battered suitcase watching the other half of our population, those who have safe and secure attachment-built body-brains go right on by us as they live their life knowing full well how to do that — and having the resources (both inner and outer) to get the job of living their life done pretty darn well.”

I could say that, but at these moments of my life I am not sure I found that stone along the way.  I am not sure I have any kind of a suitcase.  What I have is myself — such as I am.

I am thwarted in more ways that I could count.  I also know that it will not especially enhance my life to begin to count what contributes to my ‘thwartation’.  How do I move forward with so few resources at my disposal to accomplish what I WANT to in my life?

I have currently created 8 manuscripts that sit in a que waiting for somebody’s help to proof them, scan the photographs and size them, and to format them for upload in Kindle ebook format.  I have only enough computer resources to word-process.  Nothing else or my computer crashes.

I have no photoshop skills.  I have no idea what any of the formatting lingo begins to mean.  My precious daughter is willing to help me do what I cannot do for myself, but she is absolutely overloaded and nearly overwhelmed in her own life with the responsibilities she has to meet.  She does not have time to help me in the ways I need help to get those books published.

What are my options?

Crying won’t help, even though at the moment that seems like the only choice I can make.   Cry or not cry.

Come to think of it, that was one of the very few choices I had throughout most of my childhood.  Being mercilessly beaten by my raging monster mother left me with exactly that option, and I choose not to cry, no matter how hard or how long she beat me.  My siblings wanted me to cry.  They thought if I cried Mother would stop beating me.  I probably knew better, and even if my tears would have stopped the monster, I still would not have used them.

Just like I refuse to use them now.  There has to be another way out.  There has to be another way forward.

Those of us with insecure attachment built into our body-brain know that one thing:  Survive as if your life depends upon it.  But to what end — in the end?  If I can’t find the way to fulfilling my simple hopes and dreams of being able to speak something of beauty and of value from what I have been through, from what I have understood of that whole long journey, what do I hold in my hand?

What do I have to show for my OWN life?

I think next of the bird that landed on my head the other day as I was working out in my garden.  A blessing?  Are miracles possible?  Can something else happen other than tears from absolute frustration and disappointment?  What are my options?

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+’EARNED SECURE’ VS ‘BORROWED SECURE’ ATTACHMENT

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It strikes me upon completion of my previous post

+MY ESSENTIAL THOUGHTS ON HUMAN ATTACHMENT

that I make a very clear distinction in my thoughts between what attachment is in its essence and the ways that attachment operates for human beings.

As I mentioned in an email to my dialog partner on attachment issues as they need to be presented in the series of books we are preparing for publication, I probably have one of the most unusual backgrounds regarding early attachment that any human being can have.  In consequence I do not take anything for granted that more ordinarily raised people probably can.

I was born to a Borderline Personality Disorder mother who suffered a psychotic break concerning me either during her delivery of breech-me or immediately after at the same time I took my first breath.  My mother, who believed in the psychotic half of her disturbed mind that I was not human, that I was the devil’s child sent to kill her while I was being born, did not hesitate to take care of my physical needs.  But there was NEVER any ‘love’, affection or appropriate mothering response given to me by her on any other level.

Yet I survived.

As I mentioned to Sandy I see myself primarily as an experiment.  Beginning in 2004 I began my own search to understand myself in the world which led nearly instantly to my study of human attachment relationships at their beginning as they exist between a mother and her infant.  Because my own experience with my mother was so extreme, I was left holding in my thoughtful hands only one thing I could go by:  Attachment itself exists as a process that fulfills biophysical needs.

OK.  So far so good.  I am alive.

NOW WHAT?

From its base point I soon understood that with the exception of very brief contacts Mother allowed between baby me and my father and grandmother, there was only one other possible source from which I could draw everything I needed to become a relatively healthy human being.  My brother, John, who had been born 13 1/2 months before me, loved me instantly with a full spectrum of affection.  He gave me what I needed.

From my attachment-related studies I have come to understand that ‘attachment’ as we fondly consider it is only one half of a story.  The other half of the story is ‘caregiving’.  It is only through the combination of ‘attachment’ and ‘caregiving’ as they operate in balance with one another that ‘relationship’ begins to come into existence.

From this second step in my understanding I understand that the way an attachment relationship works is this: 

ATTACHMENT needs govern attachment itself.  When we need anything such as a human might need, we seek to attach to/with someone who can meet this need.  Once the need is met our attachment system turns itself off.

CAREGIVING is possible when someone else’s attachment needs have been met — and ONLY then.  An activated attachment system negates the ability to caregive. 

The problem is that insecurely attached people cannot – or have the greatest difficulty – ever having their attachment system turned off.

An insecurely attached person has a perpetually activated attachment NEED system which prohibits them from truly caregiving anyone.  Insecurely attached mothers — as a rule — cannot adequately caregive their infants.

Without going into the wide array of patterns that these two integrally connected systems — attachment and caregiving — display in action with one another, I will simply describe their interaction this way:  There is a toggle switch between them.  When one is on the other is off.  One half cannot be both on and off at the same time, no matter how much we might like to believe that they can be.  (People with insecure attachment disorders rarely if ever experience times when their attachment system is fully off.)

I guess I might say there can be a ‘leaky’ system in which one is off and LEAKING, while the other is on and also LEAKING.  Fortunately this quasi-pattern of attachment can allow severely traumatized and essentially unsafely and insecurely attached people to manage some awkward version of a semi-relationship.  But such interactions cannot be healthy ones.

I am peripherally aware that attachment experts have named a category of ‘secure attachment’ that they call ‘earned secure attachment’.  I have not spent time investigating how this ‘leaky’ interaction pattern might operate because I know that the extreme circumstances of my infancy and childhood did not prepare me to participate in this kind of arrangement.

So I have quite simply named my own version of safe and secure attachment that allowed me to raise my three children well as ‘borrowed attachment’.

Perhaps it was exactly and specifically the psychotically split world I was raised in by my mother that allowed me to ‘borrow’ safe and secure attachment with my children.  All infants and children are born with the innate ability to safely and securely attach to their mother, then to other people, then to their own self and then to the world.  I simply had the ability (most fortunately) NOT to interfere with what my children knew how to do when they were born.

Obviously their need to attach meant that I was the one that they needed to attach to (along with other important people in their lives).  I did not stand in the way of their attachment, and by so doing I did not respond to them with my own attachment system being ON.  My attachment needs had nothing to do with raising my children.  It was their attachment needs that orchestrated the patterns of our relationship.

In this way (as I see it) I was able to do the best caregiving of my children that I possibly could.  I in no way see this as an ‘earned secure attachment’.  I did not EARN anything in relationship to my children’s needs.  In fact, I can’t even really conceive of what is meant by that term.  My children knew perfectly well how to ‘do’ attachment.  If anything, I borrowed from them the ability to do along with them what infants and children are best prepared to do:  Attach.

My little brother did not respond to me from the time I was born to get his attachment needs met.  His attachment system was turned off which enabled him to give his care to me.  He responded to me purely because he loved me.  Because THIS was my earliest attachment relationship I was able to do exactly the same thing for my own children that my brother had done for me.  My children were just as able to freely accept love as I had been when I was born.

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SEE for background: 

Nancy Collins of the Department of Psychology, University of California, University of California in Santa Barbara – Her homepage can be found at: 

http://nancy.collins.socialpsychology.org/

http://portal.idc.ac.il/en/Symposium/HerzliyaSymposium/Documents/collins.pdf

Collins, N. L., Ford, M. B., Guichard, A. C., & Feeney, B. C. (2006). Responding to need in intimate relationships: Normative processes and individual differences. In M. Mikulincer & G. Goodman (Eds.), Dynamics of romantic love: Attachment, caregiving, and sex. New York: Guilford.  (pages 149-189)

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+MY ESSENTIAL THOUGHTS ON HUMAN ATTACHMENT

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Attachment is a process of communication through which the environment communicates the kinds of resources that are available within it to sustain and promote life.  In narrowing the focus to human attachment we can see it begins as a sperm attaches to an egg and as the resulting new life attaches to the uterine wall.  The emotional responses of a mother are communicated to her unborn through biochemical signals that begin to adjust the developing embryo to the conditions of its future life in the world before it is born.

It also remains primarily the signals a new human being receives from its mother throughout the first year of its life that determine the trajectory of its development either within and for a safe and secure world of adequate resources OR within and for an unsafe and insecure world in which resources are scarce and inadequate.

Because what makes us most uniquely human is the potential within our highly complex brain, it is the body-to-body, face-to-face interactions a mother has with her newborn throughout its most important rapid brain-growing stages that literally download a mother’s brain into her infant’s.  Because we are a social species it is the right social-emotional limbic region of our brain that develops first and quickly within an infant during its first year of life.

Every newborn is equipped to both seek attachment with its mother and to communicate in ever increasingly more complex ways both what it needs AND who it is as an individual, unique person who must develop a clear sense of its own self in a body to grow up a whole, healthy person.

It is nature’s intent that it be at first primarily the infant’s mother who both receives the attachment signals from her infant and who responds back to it in adequate, appropriate ways.  The attachment relationship between an infant and its mother requires that the mother not traumatize her infant by ignoring its signals of need and intent to get all of its needs met in the best possible way.

Besides the obvious physical needs for protection and sustenance, an infant’s growing brain needs responses from its mother (along with everyone else in its caregiving environment) that regulate the quality and the intensity of its ongoing experience.

If a mother herself experienced unsafe and insecure early attachment during the essential first 33 months (conception to age two) of her own life she will most likely communicate to her infant the same or very similar patterns of her unsafe and insecure beginnings to her infant.  Her abilities to attune with the communication signals her infant sends to her and her abilities to mirror the infant back to itself appropriately and accurately will be interfered with so that her own ’emotional backlog and backwash of trauma’ will result in ineffectual response to her newborn.  The resulting emotional dysregulation rather than healthy emotional regulation will not only build her infant’s right brain, it will build itself into her infant’s right brain.

While of course the earliest attachment relationships an infant has with its father and other caregivers are important, it is the relationship an infant has with its mother that carries the burden of weight to primarily form an infant’s social-emotional regulatory right brain and the correspondingly critical development of its nervous and immune systems.  It is primarily the mother who determines her infant’s trajectory of physiological development during the most critical stages of its body-brain formation. 

It is during these earliest critical stages that degrees of safety and security will communicate to the infant what kind of a world it will live in for the rest of its life.  The infant’s development adapts and adjusts itself accordingly.  Either an infant will grow with trust that it is safe and secure as a self among members of its species in the world or it won’t.

All patterns of interactions an infant has with its mother affect every other interaction this new person will have with its own self in a body, with other people and with the world at large.  That these first patterns of interaction happen on the neurochemical and physiological (including genetic) level does not negate their power to determine the course of a person’s life.  It is in fact true that these same interactions form both the foundation and the infrastructure within an infant’s body-brain that essentially govern all patterns of interactions that require the participation of a body-brain in its life — in other words, all of them.

It is from being able to see attachment patterns in operation between a 12-month-old infant (and even a younger one) and its mother that developmental experts can name the presence of safe and secure attachment or degrees of unsafe and insecure attachment.  These patterns have not only been built into the relationship between an infant and its mother, they have BUILT the body-brain of the infant. 

Degrees of change from safe and secure attachment patterns are known as insecure attachment disorders.  These same patterns  of attachment can be observed and assessed clearly among adults by discovering whether or not an adult can tell a coherent narrative story of their life.

In essence, unsafe and insecure attachment patterns disturb an individual’s ability at any age to experience a life without trauma built into it.  This trauma stays present as ‘unresolved trauma’ that interrupts the experience of well-being in a person’s body-brain and correspondingly in their life.

Current approximations tell us that about half of our adult population has a body-brain built by safe and secure early attachment and half of us have some degree of an insecure attachment disorder because we did not experience safe and secure attachment during the early 33 months of our life.  These patterns most obviously transmit themselves down the generations through mothers.

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+BLAMING GUNS FOR VIOLENCE. GETTING REAL

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I pop onto Facebook now and then to click a ‘like’ here and there, to let people in my life (be it at a distance) know that I am interested in what interests them.  The rest of the time I do what many blog readers do:  I look, I think, and I remain silent.

I also notice that recently there are many comments appearing about ‘guns’, which is not a topic I jump into with a toe, let alone with both feet.  Except that this morning — this quite early morning — my personal shields must be up.  Or is that down?  I’m frankly not too sure because this is what I feel urged to say:  Blaming any object for any human action is childish thinking.

Or so it seems to me.

I have perhaps a rather unique take on objects and violence.  I was raised by a psychotically abusive (and I mean PSYCHOTIC) Borderline Personality Disorder mother.  I spent the first 18 years of my life being victim to her brutal verbal and physical assaults.  I know a thing or two or ten thousand about objects and violence.

I have written before on this blog – briefly at best – about the insanity of the ‘object’ portion of Mother’s abuse.  She made a long list of every item she deemed of value that she beat me with — and broke.  Wooden spoons, spatulas, wooden Stanley hairbrushes.  True, crazy.

But on this list were also placed all kinds of other items that in Mother’s world were hurt by my supposed actions.  Did she pass by the kitchen sink while I was washing the family’s dishes and see that I had left a wooden spoon soaking in the water?  Attack!  And ruined item added to the list.

Had I caused a mark across the waist of an apron from rubbing against the metal strip along the counter top?  Onto the list.  Caused a bend or a twist in the cord of the iron?  Onto the list.  Left a clothespin on the line when I removed the dried laundry?  Onto the list.

Only the wisest, most savvy readers will understand the other levels to this abuse.  By the time I was in 8th grade Mother hit on the idea that index cards with contact information could be placed around town that I could be paid for doing their ironing.  All fine and well?  Any money I earned went toward paying off my debt for broken and ruined items on Mother’s long list.

It didn’t stop there.  A month after my 18th birthday my parents ‘put’ me into the Navy.  Off I went to boot camp.  Off my paychecks went back to Mother to pay off the damages I had accrued in her universe — by growing up.

In the end, after boot camp was in my past, Mother settled up my debt by generously ‘making a deal’.  She would keep every one of my personal items left at home when I flew off to ‘freedom’ as final payment on my debt.

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OK.  So, when I went to 8th grade and had to wear one of those ugly little blue gym suits that exposed every color of bruise covering the back of my body from my heels to the base of my neck from being beaten with belts with buckles and Stanley hairbrushes and wooden spoons and shoes……..  Blame the OBJECTS?

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+VIOLENCE: THINKING ABOUT WHAT I THINK

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The word ‘reciprocate’ just came into my mind.  By itself the word does not include an indication of whether what is to be reciprocated is ‘good’ or ‘bad’ – kindness or violence.  The definition of the word does include:  1:  to give and take mutually; 2: to return in kind or degree.  In other words, there is no ‘value added’ to this concept.

However, I find it interesting that the word ‘reciprocal’ has a different definition for its first meaning:  inversely related: opposite

Again I must be thinking about ‘intention’ and ‘motivation’.  When someone hurts another person, for example, did they MEAN to be MEAN?

A second definition of ‘reciprocal’:  shared, felt, or shown by both sides.

Isn’t this what shared empathy is?

I am confused even by the origins of the word ‘reciprocal’:  Latin reciprocus returning the same way, alternating.

Is this what communication is?

Is this a paradox?  How is ‘returning the same way’ the same thing as ‘alternating’?

I don’t even know why these thoughts and questions are appearing to me right now.  What am I asking myself?  What am I telling myself?  What do I know?  What do I need to know that is connected to these word concepts?

I don’t know.  But somehow this pursuit of mine into my own ‘unknown’ must be relevant to SOMETHING that interests me right now.  I wonder what that might be……..

Hum……..

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Reciprocating meanness with kindness.  One thing.  Reciprocating meanness with meanness.  Another thing.  Reciprocating meanness with forgiveness.  Something else.

My next thought is:  “Nothing my mother did to me had anything to do with me.”

Is this a kind of understanding about the abuse my mother did to me that is unique to the context of my particular history of abuse – that because I know now how mentally ill my mother was I can begin to more deeply understand that this was true?

It relates to the questions about how abuse is passed down in some circumstances and not in others.  The most common statistic I remember hearing is that 65% DO NOT pass abuse on while 35% DO pass it on.

I told my daughter as I began to clarify how ‘the story’, the history (herstory) I am working toward publishing needed to start with my mother because she was in the exceptional 35% group:  She very definitely passed abuse on – albeit to ME as the chosen child of her six.

Pondering violence:  What makes some people VIOLENT?  What might make most or all of us violent in certain circumstances?  What is the relationship between anger and violence?  Is there always such a relationship?

Thinking about ‘reciprocal’ – how is it that the majority of abuse survivors DO NOT reciprocate with violence?  They obviously found an ALTERNATE way to be in the world.

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I have a book I have written that is parked.  Parked.  Book in waiting.  For what?  For when?

As I write at this moment I realize that I have to wait until I can READ that book.  Will I ever be able to read it?  On some levels I clearly know the answer to my own question is “NO!”

“Story without Words:  The invisible silence of my mother’s abuse of me”

I remember writing something about CHOICE in that book.  Do those who reciprocate for the abuse they suffered CHOOSE that path?  Did they CHOOSE “to return the same way” versus choosing an alternate way?

Do people who have NO HISTORY of unsafe and insecure early attachment trauma – no history of ANY abuse whatsoever – act violently?

If some people who have suffered from unsafe and insecure early attachment and other abuse do not become violent people – then it seems logical that it can work the other way around:  that those without trauma histories can become abusers.

Well, what kind of pattern IS THAT?

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I must see that the ‘issue’ of intention and motivation inevitably involves CHOICE.  In the case of my mother’s psychotic mental illness, I don’t believe she had a choice.  I therefore remove from her abuse of me equation the idea that she had any kind of intention or motivation other than the one her Borderline Personality Disorder with psychosis created for her.

Sometimes I wonder what patterns might look like when mental illness, and certainly psychosis in the abuser, were NOT in the picture.  Then I run up against my own brick wall:  Abuse only happens when mental illness is present, even if that mental illness is temporary as it causes all abuse to happen.

I must think that reciprocal peace is the norm, and that lack of peace reflects mental illness.  I must think that NOT hurting others is the norm, and that hurting others is mental illness.  I am not talking about so-called mental illness that is so-called because there is a disturbance in biochemistry.  I am talking about a kind of mental illness that is aberrant, that goes against what is GOOD — that is, what is health promoting.

Hum………………………………

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+WHEN PEOPLE TRY TO SHUT US UP

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Motives – hidden or blatant?  It is not my motive to ‘bad mouth’ my mother as I work toward publication of this story of her abuse of me – of her mental illness – of the TRUTH as I can perhaps discover and elucidate it.

Where is the truth hidden in our nation?  How is it that speaking ILL of perpetrators makes the survivor who dares to speak up — to utter the words about what happened and about how that mattered — a truth-saying villain?

My work is not about vilifying anyone, but neither is it about soft-shoeing around what SOMEONE needs to say!  There are patterns to madness – and there are patterns to abuse.  Detection and study of these patterns COULD be helpful.  I sure don’t see that this work can be HURTFUL.

But to some people — it is.  To some people, those of us who dare to think and write about and search for and discover and try to learn learn learn about what harms especially infants and children — those of us who speak the truth as we reach and work for learning — can often be told in all kinds of ways that WE are defective!

Defective in what ways, exactly?

Defective that we don’t have “A full life” (read a “good life,”  a “better than you have – what’s wrong with YOU life” – Shame shame!)?  Defective that we dare to go against THIS social rule?  “If, on the other hand you ever have anything positive to say about anyone do not hesitate to” — say it?

And how is the rest of the story supposed to read?

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