January 23, 2013 (I have no idea why the blog has altered parts of the text formating in this post!)
+BUILDING A HUMAN BEING: VERY NARROW MARGIN FOR ERROR
Insane Mother Mildred: Her Sustained Aggression and Violence Against Me: I could write a book about this title. Every word I ever write is really about this title as I ask perpetual questions for which I am forever left searching for answers.
What is it about me that I continue to search for the truth about what happened to my mother that changed her as a human being into a raging abusive monster toward me?
What is it about me that I cannot bury in insignificance the fact that I know that what she did to me when I was a baby is what torments me most? I read the developmental neuroscience as if my life depended on it to learn about her so I can learn about myself. I see where changes along similar developmental lines happened to her as they happened through her to me. Yet, I am so different from her.
Even this morning I clearly know how one part of my damage keeps me from sleep. I cannot make trite sounds as I am supposed to be able to, a consequence in my brain as it was changed in its development by her out-RAGE-ous screaming abuse. Sounds do not fade into the background for me that belong there outside the range of my attention. I cannot sort sounds out. Even voices, fingernails scraping on chalkboards.
Sounds hound me, chase me, plague me, torture me. They jump out at me. Insignificant sounds I should not hear, should not listen to, that should not capture my attention as if they are wild beasts intent on eating me alive, shredding me into pieces.
These sounds torment me. Dogs barking angrily in the distance in the middle of the night. My refrigerator humming peacefully. To me it’s a roaring freight train intent on obliterating me. Every sound as I grow older fits a pitch, a range of tone, a rhythm that belonged to the range of sound the monster made when she was going to attack – or was attacking – me. From the time I was born. For the next 18 years. These changes are built into my brain, all the way into my brain.
In my brain sounds can be in more than one place at the same time. They are always moving. I am insulted in my senses by anything above the sound of silence. Sounds intrude into my body and through it as if I don’t even exist. I am the hearing one. I am the always listening one. I am the one under threat. I am the one attacked.
I cannot tune sound out. I cannot tone it down. I cannot ignore it as if it doesn’t exist, as if it belongs somewhere else and to someone else. All sound I hear is MINE to pay attention to. I had this knowledge built into me from the start of my life. There was no safe zone between myself and sound.
Mother hurt me from the beginning of my life in ways that I am only now discovering. She hurt my forming brain, my growing body on the INSIDE of me all the way into the formation of my brainstem itself, just as this happened to her. I need to know this. I cannot turn and walk away from my search for understanding about how early trauma changed me for my lifetime. Being alive torments me. This is not what I deserved. This is not the way being alive is supposed to be. It is not what any of us early abuse, neglect and trauma survivors ever deserved.
We all have a body-brain formed in its essence by the quality of our mother’s attachment system. All that plagues me where it matters most does so because I am the victim of my mother’s flawed and faulty attachment system. Faulty. An understatement bigger than Manhattan. Disastrous is the better word for me to use to describe how what happened to Mother when she was a baby came down directly to me. But to say so now, to say that Mother’s treatment of me was psychotically pathological, puts me way ahead of my story. Just as with each life, each story must begin at the beginning. Finding where that beginning actually starts seems to me to be the essence of my story itself.
I cannot walk away from any part of my story as long as I remain in a body. I read developmental neuroscience research as others might read their Bible. I am looking for my creation story. I am looking for that story for other people who suffer in ways that I do. I search for answers as if I am called even from the beyond the beyond to do so. I am hounded by the echoes of Mother’s abuse of me in every breath I take, in every cell of all my tissue, and I know that every baby who misses out on the right kind of interactions with its mother that it needs ends up with some kind of deepest damage like I have. The kind of trauma-triggered changes that happened to my body-brain development happen to others. The difference is only a matter of degrees.
At the same time I know these researchers are speaking to me in their writings of fundamental yet rudimentary facts about what a growing baby’s body and brain need to be right in this world, I know they could not have possibly had the kinds of infant abuse trauma happen to them that happened to Mother. That happened to me. That happened and is happening to so many others. Or they, too, would lie in shambles on their insides, broken from the bottom up and from the inside out struggling to make it – barely – through one day let alone through the rest of their life.
What motivates these brilliant, dedicated thinkers to study and learn and write what they do? How can they look at the facts they know and be content to realize there is such a massive gap between they and we who suffer from the infant abuse trauma changes they so clearly describe to one another while nobody on the outside of their world has the ability to access or to comprehend what they are saying?
What light keeps burning to keep them going ever further toward the darkness of the truth about such horrible permanent irreversible damage done to babies who will be forced to endure their entire life suffering so tragically from consequences that were so preventable?
All those babies screaming. All those babies dying inside a little at a time while their bodies live and live and live. All those babies, over the edge, hanging onto the slippery wet rocks and breaking tiny twigs as they hang on, dangling over the precipice of the greatest cliffs. About to fall. Falling, falling while nobody alive stops what happened to them from happening again and again and again from sunrise to sunrise to other babies somewhere else?
I know in my body exactly what these researchers are saying. I stop my falling by believing I can read their science, eat it up until I am so clear I can transform their words – of course being bound by polite (legal) rules of publishing manners not to plagiarise – not to overwhelm readers, either, from how I say what needs to be heard and understood about molecular changes abuse of infants and trauma to them creates that can never be undone.
I seem to bear a burden of cognizance, of being able to exist in a void between the truth in the researchers’ words, within the void where tiny babies die, tumbling into oblivion while they remain alive. Screaming until they become dulled in silence. Broken. Into pieces inside. Tiny hopeless shards of humanity. And their ranks are growing.
Yet in this world where the “competitive struggle for existence” has yet to be transformed into patterns of true, heartfelt cooperation between members of our species, it is considered proper etiquette to so speak the unspeakable truth of science while obeying the rules about the ownership of words and the most important truths they contain that I feel I have had the tongue of my soul cut out while I bleed to death for myself, for my dead mother, for my dead father who had the very life and mind sucked out of him by the terrible, devastating mental illness contracted I believe by Mother exactly because she was abused, neglected and traumatized as an infant during the most critical stages of her body-brain’s development.
My soul cries, “Where is the soul in science?”
At the same time I know I endured for 18 years such a hell as few can begin to imagine. I reach for the knowledge that if I could find a way to stay alive and keep myself HERE – I can use all that strength, all that determination and excess of deep inner personal power to reach inside the pages of this icy cold book I study, whose pages are increasingly cluttered at their edges with Dollar Store sticky tags marking every important passage I must digest and somehow make my own.
I must retrieve truth for the good of every cliff-hanging baby alive but screaming or dulled into near oblivion. I must tear those words apart to find out and then explain in common language how trauma turned our very body and brain into our perpetual enemy – because that’s the best our early life could do for us: Keep us alive.
I must take the sterilized, so-owned words of these scientists across a great divide between what they know and what early trauma survivors know so I can put these two worlds together. I must pull the truth out as it exists in the facts. I must use my mental forceps to bring those words through a kind of birth canal so they can come to life where we live it, can contribute to life, no matter how agonizing and bloody this birthing process may be.
“How can they own all these words?” I want to know, “when they are genesis words? When they belong to life itself?”
I am perfectly free to use a word like “spoonful” in my writings and nobody can bash and batter me for stealing a word. Or for using (How dare I?) a word my readers do not comprehend. I could write about smut and pulp, about rise and fall, but dare I write about the actual patterns of interactions required absolutely by nature between a mother and her infant for an entire human being to be formed correctly and undamaged without falling victim to the academic clutchings of, “THOSE WORDS ARE MINE! I and I alone – well, in tandem with my publisher – discovered through science what those words contain and we own them (like Monsanto owns the worlds’ seeds). Leave my words alone” – or – What?
Those words. Cathedrals to science. These books appear to have been written upside down and backwards. Words scrunched so densely together all crunched up with no spaces between them either side to side or up and down. I swear even the punctuation in these books is written in a foreign, unintelligible script nobody but those in the Great Labs and Ivory Towers can understand!
I fight. I fight for the right to access this information and to share it with others who need to know it. I NEED to know it. I NEED to understand what happened to me where it matters most. I don’t care if I am generations ahead of the crowds. I need to understand. If I have to read even this one book by Schore – Affect Dysregulation and Disorders of the Self– over and over and over and over again as many times as there are grains of sand in the hourglass that is running out for what days are left in my lifetime, I will do so.
I will write this. I will find my images and they will find me. And then, if heaven will help me, I will use my own words because they “belong” to me to convey these obtuse weighty so-dense developmental neuroscientific facts to make sense out of a special kind of world we do not currently have words to talk about.
Words about how a baby gets made by its mother’s interactions with it either in the right, good way so it can grow a body-brain unbroken inside by distressful stress in its first year of life – or not.
I am captive to this work by choice, or am I? I spent the first 18 years of my life being the captive of an incomprehensible mad woman’s torments. I will take these words out of the pristine pages of this one book, at least, that I am studying so I can pull the facts about this madness through from the academic world into the world I live in – So help me God.
And when I am done I hope I will be able to say something people can understand. “Take your hands and interlock your fingers. Tip your right elbow up and your left one down. You have just created an image of your right brain hemisphere’s limbic system. Your top hand represents the higher order executive functions of your orbitofrontal cortex. This is the part of the human brain that, grown right, makes us the best humans we can be.
This high part of your brain is interlocked with and interconnected to every other process in your body in one way or another all the way down to your brainstem. If its development is altered due to stressful trauma? There will be shades of hell to pay for a lifetime and beyond. Without intervention these trauma changes pass themselves down the generations.
As a newborn baby, these brain regions and all of their connections form themselves directly through interaction with the patterns that happen most significantly between the infant and its mother. If these interactions are flawed and faulty, the infant will develop in response a faulty, flawed body and brain.
Mis-information about safety and well-being for the self in a body in this world is communicated through mother-infant interactions directly into the ‘fabric’ of the infant’s forming body-brain. If a mother cannot give her infant what it needs, the infant’s entire brain top to bottom including all its connections will be damaged and changed through trauma-induced stress reactions to this harm-filled environment. Possibilities for safety, security and goodness in life will correspondingly be omitted from such a developing brain. This infant will spend the rest of its life continuing to struggle and suffer from the effects that trauma had on its so-rapidly developing body and brain.
These trauma-induced changes impact the development and operation of the Central Nervous System of which the brain is a part, of the Autonomic Nervous System connected to the stress-calm response system. The immune system is affected, how genes manifest themselves, the biochemical actions and interactions in the body will be altered to the negative, and all these seemingly invisible changes will leave the infant forever gasping, grasping to create a better life somehow that is continually out of reach.”
Who is telling survivors the facts about what happened, why that happened and what that means? And what about the other half of the brain and its development in inadequate mother-infant attachment interactions? Dare I find out?
It is my greatly growing concern that increasing damage is being done to increasing numbers of babies in America directly due to social changes in our culture. Stress is stress. Distress of a chronic nature creates trauma in people’s lives. This trauma directly impacts the quality of care infants receive in families.
As economic conditions continue to deteriorate certainly for at least half of our population, increasing burdens for working mothers will mean an overall degeneration of the very quality of our population now and into the future. We cannot afford to continue to blind ourselves to the fact that stressed mothers, no matter how pure their intent may be to “do right” for their babies through the second year of their infant’s life, are at EXTREMELY HIGH RISK for unintentionally creating harmful trauma-triggered stress related changes in the development of their baby’s body and brain.
Now more than at any time in the history of our species we need to know, understand and put into meticulous practice what the developmental neuroscientists now know about the essential nature of the mother-infant and father-infant attachment system as it is designed to regulate the development of an infant. These patterns of attachment interaction literally build a human being from the ground up to match the patterns as they exist in infant caregivers. Any mistake outside the range of “good enough” mothering creates harm in an infant. We need to be very clear what “good enough” is and why that matters.
Due to the speed of early development “critical periods” of specific growth are open and then are closed in rapid order. Once traumatic stress changes begin to happen in an infant’s development they cannot be undone. It doesn’t take the special abilities my psychotic abusive mentally ill mother had to harm an infant where it matters most during its earliest development. Believe me, anyone can do it. Knowing that fact terrifies me.
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