Friday, February 28, 2014. Last night, just after my daughter came to pick up the baby and I had begun to cook my supper the electricity went out. I instantaneously thought the usual. Did something dangerous happen in my apartment? Do I need to check my circuit box?
I looked out my door into the hallway. Only the dim illumination of the backup light. The outage was wider spread than just my dark world.
Next I went to the only window in this room I spend my weekdays cooped up within caring for my 19-month-old grandson and looked out to “make sure” the outage was city wide.
It was not.
Of the 8 buildings I can see from my spot in this complex only three of them were dark while the rest were comfortably lit against the increasing subzero cold of nightfall.
What? How could THAT happen? I located my dim flashlight, stood in front of my refrigerator where I have the magnet with the apartment complex management number, and telephoned to report the darkness. I was the first caller of the at least 90 apartments without power. As I explained conditions to the woman in some other town who took my information background calls began to come in as others also found their management telephone numbers and began to complain.
I know how to make-do in darkness. I also suspect most of the other residents can do the same seeing as over 90% of the people who live in these apartments are refugees from locations across the globe.
I found my plastic bucket full of tea lights I have carried with me as emergency measures for many years. Most of them were long ago transformed into glued-together stacks through the months of homelessness I went through before I found my Arizona house. Locked within the confines of my traveling 1978 el Camino the heat of the sun had reshaped them. I found a kitchen knife, pried their little wicks out of their waxed encasing, lit and placed 10 of them around my apartment.
Sitting alone in the darkness is always a good time to think. I thought about how for probably everyone who keeps a personal blog not much happens that isn’t filtered through a verbal process that evaluates the usefulness of experiences of ongoing life for the blog’s purpose. I am never an exception to this process.
How like myself 30+ years ago it was for me last night to note that I operated for so many years – including the entire 18 years of my childhood – under the simple belief that everyone’s life was no different from mine. This is a hairline distance away from thinking “Everyone’s life is like mine.”
I just had no way to determine a single thing DIFFERENT about my life from anyone else’s, not even the difference between my siblings who were cherished and adored by my parents and I who was hated and harmed at every turn.
Last night I had no way to know what the degrees of darkness were until I looked out my window and there the comparison was! There was something different (special?) about my building and the other two randomly-placed dark buildings in this complex that matched my own.
In the light of my little candles I found my crochet hook and continued my busy work of crocheting flowers from my handspun yarn. The flowers did not arrive into the world in perfect shape but at least my productivity was matching pace with the passing of time. I was reminded of living as a child on our Alaskan mountain homestead in our canvas hut with candles and kerosene lanterns to do my homework by. (No water, no phone, no neighbor for over a mile of wilderness.)
I thought about my growing concern as I again reach across the distances of separation to try to find more current developmental neurobiological information than I currently possess. (Yet as my list of references shows I spent hundreds of hours over five years accumulating enough information to know there was something VERY different about how I am in the world than is true for most other people. Even without adding into this list what I have discovered in the past years I have had this blog this list is impressive — see: REFERENCES (main file).)
I have been asking lately “What new information is available about how severe early trauma-changed survivors can improve their well-being?”
Last night in the quiet of the waiting darkness I reminded myself to be careful. Not to sell myself or my readers short.
Siegel is by self-proclamation a kind of conciliation expert. He will look for the newest and best information about what humans share together as far as how EVERYONE can work their brain to build new and helpful relational circuits and pathways.
Well, great. It’s not that anything Siegel says is incorrect or even misleading. At the same time finding the broadest possible common ground is NOT what ever helped me heal – or even to recognize what truly happened to me through 18 years of horrendous psychotic abuse from birth.
I had to go looking. I had to search meticulously at the writings of neuroscientists themselves to find how I was DIFFERENT from nearly everyone else before I could find the first solace I had experienced in my life. “AH-HA!! So THAT is what happened to me!”
My very physiology changed through trauma exposure.
I found back in my researching days information about epigenetics before those articles even appeared online except as abstracts with up-coming publication dates included. I knew the field was ripening and that the fruits would fall – and I knew I had to wait.
I found allusions to new research about the default resting state of the brain. I found information that was also suggesting these states were connected to consciousness. I also found I would have to wait for that research to be accomplished and published.
So I found other things to do. I started this blog. I wrote ten book manuscripts. I changed all of the details of my life.
And now I look again through a magnifying glass starting with Dr. Siegel’s work about the underpinnings of attachment as it determines the course the river of our life steers off into.
I am not going to now let go of the vital knowledge that i searched hard to find and now know: for all of the accurate descriptions of brain plasticity, etc. none of that information will ever give me – no matter how hard I work at applying it to improve my well-being – anything more than the equivalent of a few salvaged tea lights to live within a very dark world of history that contains enough darkness of trauma during my infancy and childhood to put out most ordinary people’s lamp-of-soul and of body in one big-bad-wolf’s PUFF!
If we continue “only” to assuage ourselves into believing that what happens to infants and children doesn’t really matter – because science is telling us if they want to “get better” bad enough they can do what everyone can do!!!! Change their brain ‘cause EVERYONE now knows that brain plasticity is the salvation of our species.
A greatest danger exists if we continue to use the insights gained through scientific research to support the status quo of our cultural thinking about infant and child abuse. We cannot afford to be lulled by any snake charmer’s (and no, I am not speaking of individuals but rather of HOW our culture receives information within their own mental framework) melody that suggests that harm done to infant-child physiological development – nervous system/brain/stress-calm response system/immune system, etc. – not to mention the damage to SELF realization – “Can’t matter that much because anyone can FIX it” if they want to badly enough.
WRONG!! We cannot deny ourselves as survivors of the LIGHT that true realization of the DARKNESS provides for us as we learn how evolutionarily-altered we are because of the early traumas we endured (again, see Dr. Martin Teicher’s work, which Siegel also highly values. If I were Ivory Tower I would be able to freely access ALL of Teicher’s work – something I dream of in my disability income poverty!).
We must be careful when it comes to the GENOCIDE certainly of a healthy happy self that continued infant and child abuse and neglect accomplishes NOT TO FORGET the reality of the truth about the truth of its wrongness and of its harm. This is like denying the holocaust – because harm to infants and children DOES create both a form of genocide AND a holocaust.
We will not work to stop infant-child abuse and neglect by simply making it disappear in our societal mind.
I was momentarily mesmerized by “the newer findings” from science as Dr. Siegel so charmingly presents them. There are at least (my thoughts) 5-7% of us who were so harmed when we were little and young that NOTHING can ever restore us to the body we WOULD have had (including our brain) if we had been saved from harm by SOMEONE when we needed help most – and nobody was there to care or to act on our behalf.
Yes, maybe feeling lulled feels good – a little like feeling soothed – which no abused infant ever feels.
Feeling lulled is attractive. It give us a place/space within which we can rest – all survivors, my bet, are extremely TIRED on deep, deep levels by having to work so hard at being alive.
I know for myself I have to watch for that lulled state with extreme vigilance because being lulled serves me no good purpose if I am “buying into” information about “recovery” that no more applies to me than did all I was told by my therapists for the ten years I went to them for help, answers, hope and direction.
NONE of them EVER told me what I have found out for myself – the info I continue to place within the pages and posts of this blog.
“Snap out of your trance, Linda. Do not be entranced by scientifically-suggested name changes and super-solutions that hide the truth of the conditions you KNOW you live with.”
No light is going to come flood me with the truth but my own. It is my response-ability to filter every piece of trauma-related information through my own sense of what resonates with my own truth – what rings true – what increases the light I have to live with in this world, not dims it.
I did not read that material, hunt it out, do everything in my power to digest it simply to have fun in my life. I did it to SAVE my life.
I will give you an example. I spend 50-55 hours a week caring for my toddler grandson. I KNOW I love him with all of my being. I KNOW I am giving him every safe and secure attachment relationship benefit that can be given to a new human being growing into the world. He gets laughter and limits, he gets snuggles and cute whispered secrets in his little ears, he gets soul-filled lullabies as he gets rocked with a bottle for naptime, he has a WONDER-FULL life here with me and I firmly believe with my entire being that I am GIVING him his life – SAVING his life by keeping him out of a “day orphanage” during these most critically important stages of his physiological and self development.
All fine and good?
NO and there is NO NO loud enough, strong enough, clear enough to express what I say next. Due to the consequences of the severe abuse and neglect and its trauma from the time of my birth and for the next 18 years of my life – I CANNOT FEEL – AND I MEAN FEEEEEEEEEL – what any of this interaction with my grandson (or with anyone else) FEELS LIKE!!
Could I “gain awareness” and change my nervous system, my brain, my SOMETHING and have given to me in consequence the ability to FEEL LOVE as I KNOW most other humans can feel it?
Is anyone in that great Titanic of science research bothering to look at the states of someone like me?
Why – I ask you and would ask them if they had ears to hear – WHY NOT?
I trust my inner voice which immediately responded to the question I just wrote as I wrote it with the word SMUG!!! Science is TOO SMUG to truly give enough of a damn to find what really matters to those of us who suffer most.
I don’t believe that our right brain ever lies but our left brain sure does! Watch out for the 4-and-20 blackbirds baked in the scientific pie. Others can afford to be lulled – evidently – by “false security” that a view of new research findings provides. We as survivors – and those little people currently enduring what we know so well – cannot afford the luxury of pretending all is and will be well.
We have to know what we know inside of our self first and listen for the ring of resonating truth. We WILL have that response. We need to trust it. A half-truth is not the truth. Beware be-aware – our truth does not match much of THE truth from that “other” world. We KNOW this. I know that we do.
Our truth is our light that will never go out and cannot be stolen from us. By knowing our own truth we are indomitable. That is why we are still here.
NOTE: In example of what I know I can say that for all the well-intentioned and supposedly thorough research that was accomplished to build an attachment theory no one bothered to notice that NO MOTHER such as mine was could have possibly been accessed for any of those studies. No such mother as mine was and so such baby as I was ever found their way into anyone’s research lab.
By leaving THOSE findings out of research on attachment processes no finding of any of that research ACTUALLY applies to my truth. I know THIS to be true.
Here is our first book out in ebook format. A very kind professional graphic artist is going to revise our cover pro bono (we are still waiting to hear that he has accomplished this job) – what a gift and thank you Ben! Click here to view or purchase:
It lists for $2.99 and can be read free for Amazon Prime customers. Reviews for the book on the Amazon.com site are WELCOME and appreciated!
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