A fellow explorer has discovered this blog and I am thrilled by her arrival. In Gertrude’s words I am finding new ways to name for myself how I experience my own life as a severe early abuse and trauma survivor. It is through the sharing of our experience that all of us are learning a new language that lets us reflect upon our unique journeys as they share characteristics most of us have felt so alone with because while we understand that we don’t experience our ongoing existence in ordinary ways we have so few people to share how our life feels to us.
Instead of sending our own voice out into what can feel to be an empty void we are increasingly hearing our reality flowing back to us in the voices of wise and informed others.
You will find Gertrude’s voice in comments listed to the right side of the home page of the blog. The ones I am referring to in this post can be found at the end of this March 6, 2013 post: +BOOK WRITING: DAMN SICK OF CARING
I was captivated this morning by her combination of words, “triggered into the traumstate.” Gertrude described my reality in those words. I know what she is saying. At age 62 I finally understand how WHO I am continuously lives in that “traumastate.”
Everything I experience is filtered through that state in one way or another one. I live in a body formed in, by and for that state. Early and continuing trauma built my body (with me in it) to withstand repeated, continued and horrendous insane abusive attacks by my mentally ill psychotic mother. My body was sculpted by trauma so profound and pervasive that the act of being alive was (and still often is) a trauma trigger.
Before I sat down at my computer this morning to open my email and find Gertrude’s (and other) blog comments waiting there I had walked outdoors into the glorious warmth of high desert Arizona sunshine only to encounter sadness at that so-familiar verge of tears. My eyes fell on the spot on one of my garden benches where for a week my brother sat to join me for morning coffee.
He is gone. He no longer is here with me. But still I can so nearly see him with me and feel his presence that I feel stuck in a present experience of myself in my life that includes my brother being BOTH physically here at the same time he is obviously not here.
Gertrude gave me new words to comprehend even this brief overlap in my experience. I am always subject to a “traumastate” perception of the passage of time. I do not remember myself in my life in ordinary ways. I remember rationally and logically that time moves forward as it continuously changes the visible “face” of my life. Yet in my heart where I experience myself in the world my body operates on a level of what I can only name as being “simultaneous” time.
My memory processes include the past in my present as if my life is “concurrent.” More than one thing happens at the same time, often exactly because I have been hyper- “triggered into a traumastate” by events that are exceptionally significant to me.
I live alone. Every family member I love lives well over a thousand miles away from me. When one of them comes to visit me suddenly my life takes on a cast of increased significance that makes every moment we are together gigantic in meaning, value and importance. Compared to my usual life and its passage of time, attachment-companionship-time is a wide universe while “usual” fits into a nutshell.
Any such comings — which never happen sooner than a year apart — are triggers from my “traumastate” to go into high gear. This state does not allow for easy transition back to my “usual” experience of ongoing life.
While in a heightened “traumastate” with its heightened sense of overlapping, concurrent, simultaneous passage of time, I am especially set up to feel “disorganized” and “disoriented.” At these times, in this state, the sensation of “depersonalization” and of “derealization” leaves me swimming in a sea without visible shores where the sense of the ordinary passage of time no longer exists. I wait for its return at the same time I know I am simply suffering from being overwhelmed by TOO MUCH INFORMATION.
That condition is how I understand living in a trauma-altered body. I know where these complications came from for me. As I lived my own ongoing life from birth forward to age 18 when I left home I was continually interrupted by the violent, overwhelming attacks on me by Mother. I was forced to let go of my own self in my own life to cope with and endure these insane attacks which could often last a long, long time.
I was therefore forced to endure the experience of living two lives at the same time as they both took place as time moved with me forward. I had all of my attention diverted from my own self experiencing my own life as I was repeatedly forced to endure Mother’s version of life as she attacked me.
Because her abuse was psychotic there was no possible way I could incorporate the overwhelming information contained in HER “traumastate” into my own experience of being alive.
“Dissociation” is a trite word to use in description of this kind of life — especially during critical early stages of infant-child body-brain development. My memory systems were permanently altered. I remember myself in my life differently, but when there is no great input coming in during “ordinary” times the changes in these memory processes do not cause me signficant troubles.
Thanks to the concept Gertrude has so succinctly, accurately and helpfully given a name to I can move forward through my life from this point forward with “this issue settled.” Yes, this “traumastate” comes from “malevolent-world” experience. But those two terms are not interchangeable.
There is no malevolency present in my sun-filled garden this morning, nor was there any present in my brother’s visit or in his return home (which my body translates into his disappearance). What IS present is this “traumastate” that I live in all of the time in this body as it has at present been hyper-triggered by my built-in Reactive Attachment Disorder.
I am reacting to powerful forces in my body — as trauma built it. How do I establish some sense of peaceful calm? I am a native to the universe of the “traumastate.” I am not an immigrant into it nor am I a tourist passing through its terrain. “Traumastate” geography is my home in my body in my lifetime. Yet now that I have Gertrude’s name for this I am better equipped to creatively and constructively work within my “traumastate” world.
Like I have done with my physical home and my garden (see: LINDA’S ADOBE PEACE GARDEN) I can look around for tools to use to improve my inner world to make it more beautiful, to make it better suit me, to give myself ways to reframe how I feel and how I live.
Thank you, Gertrude, for this gift!
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