Friday, August 29, 2014. All-in-all I can simply say that as a result of having to develop in every way, on every level, during 18 long years of terrible abuse from birth that I have been left knowing what I should not REALLY know in a way that I should NOT know it.
Cryptic? Absolutely so. Impossible? No. Absolutely not, although the extent of trauma it took for me to be formed “this way” was so extraordinaire and so rare as to leave in its wake a way of being in the world that nearly defies description. Perhaps this is why my blog has remained so silent for so many days after so many days as that time stretches very soon into a year.
Again and yet again I refer readers to the profound neuroscientific facts about what severe early attachment relationship trauma is likely to do to the physiological development of its littlest sufferers as they are recorded clearly in Dr. Martin Teicher’s 2003 article, The neurobiological consequences of early stress and childhood maltreatment.
I am inundated with and surrounded by increasingly clear awarenesses about what severe early trauma from birth did to my development of self as I exist in this world – a world of TIME passing. I cannot say I know anything about Buddhism. I know that I take great comfort knowing that the 14th Dalai Lama is still on our planet.
I am reminded of my mention of him nearly five years ago on the pages of this blog —
A few related past posts —
Within the posts lie facts conveyed by developmental neuroscientists to the Dalai Lama about how babies born to an anxious mother rat will all come out anxious if she raises them. Babies born to a calm mother rat will all come out to be calm if the calm mother raises them.
However, if babies born to these two kinds of mothers are switched at birth all of the babies born to a calm mother and raised by an anxious one will become anxious. All babies born to an anxious mother but raised by a calm one will come out calm.
Implications for those of us within the Kingdom of Humanity? You know it….
Someone at one of these neuroscientific “learning events” hosted by the Dalai Lama asked him if people severely abused when young had the same opportunity to reach “enlightenment” as those who had not been abused do. The Dalai Lama was evidently silent for a long time before he responded with – “No. They do not.”
Again. Implications? I have my 63rd birthday in two days. The longer I live in this body on this earth the clearer I become about not only what the implications are for us as survivors, but more importantly I learn every moment about the difficulties born from the traumatic changes Teicher’s article begins to outline for us.
I have written many posts on this blog about how trauma alters the sense of the passage of time (search this blog by putting ‘peritraumatic’ in the search bar and more posts will appear) –
Past posts beginning late summer 2013 and onward through last fall and winter as they can be found along the right side of this blog tell the background story about why I am up here in Fargo, North Dakota facing the onset of another horrible windchill winter rather than being on the Mexican-American border of the high desert in Arizona that I love.
I will tell you a little story about how the efforts I am making to care for my youngest grandson who just turned two are successful. Three days ago as I sat on a chair talking to one of my sisters on the telephone Baby (as he calls himself – and who is just beginning to talk) came to stand directly in front of me.
He was smiling as he tapped the center of his chest lightly, telling me “Here it is! Right there.” And then he walked away. (It wasn’t until the next day that he first used “I” and “me.”)
I never before that moment heard him use those words, “right there.” WHO is RIGHT THERE! BINGO! Right in the center of his little body-being is his spirit-soul-self – with joy and awareness!
I never had a chance to reach that point! I don’t think many severe early trauma survivors did, either. This is a critical juncture in human development, and a necessary required one for well-being to exist in the body and between the body and self. Missing this development leaves us truly LOST in some way for the rest of our lives.
And what about time? There is a critical body-brain developmental stage through which we gain what is termed “autobiographical memory.” Without a sense of self that is true and real how can we process memory, which is our record of our own experience of passing through the time of our life, in any ordinary way?
I don’t believe that we can. Nobody tells us this.
If you do a simple online search for the terms “Buddha fingers circle” you will find images I am going to refer to next. I recently read the following in a book about a woman’s travels in Japan around 1930 as it relates to these images and the “lore” behind them:
“On another solitary jaunt, she visited the Great Buddha – “a bronze figure over forty feet high measuring some thirty-five feet across…. Surely the serenity and peace of this figure are worthy to rank with the enkindled majesty of the maimed and broken face of the Sphinx which so impressed me with its heroic spiritual ardor. The hands of the Great Buddha are turned upward in the lap, the thumbs and forefingers forming two circles and touching. In Buddhist lore this represents ‘firm faith,’ but it also signifies life as the moment between two eternities, each moment being the only contact between all that is past and all that is to come.” (p. 138 of book at above link)
Early safe and secure attachment relationships an infant has with its caregivers form the basis of building “attachment transitions” between self and the world (after they begin to form the sense of self in the first place!).
I was given nothing but terror and trauma WITHOUT being given any relationships of safety and security. I did not form into my body-nervous system-brain the required circuitry to process TIME as I live through it in anything but a dissociative way. What am I learning about what this means, how it operates and most importantly what it FEELS like to me to have been robbed of building a sense of self in passing time with attachment to others and to the world around me?
I do not REMEMBER on an ongoing basis what the past actually felt like to me. I cannot carry “warm and fuzzy” feeling awarenesses forward into and through my present moments, nor can I IMAGINE any future moments with that safe and secure information contained within them.
This is being alone. Perpetually alone. And the sadness never leaves me. It accompanies me perpetually.
That instant of the present moment between the infinities of the past and future is ALL THAT I HAVE! Yes, I can intellectually think about all these time-based, reality-based conditions in a rational way. But these thoughts are entirely separate from my body-based sense of myself in the world.
The point, as I think of it, of reaching “enlightenment” is that a person CHOOSES a pathway that takes them there. As the Dalai Lama answered that question “No,” the reality of altered physiological development on so many critical levels was being referred to. Without ever having been given what it takes to build a self to later relinquish denies a possibility of taking the step in the present moment into a consciously chosen state of relinquishment.
One cannot give up what one has never had.
Safe and secure attachment prevents so-called “dissociation” from becoming the predominant pattern of time-processing and therefore of memory-building. Without safe and secure early attachment experiences there is no clearly-delineated “past” as separated by the present moment from “future.”
What I am beginning to so clearly detect in my own experience is that what was supposedly my “past” never leaves just as the “future” never arrives. There is nothing BUT the present moment. I cannot carry any knowledge of love from others along with me throughout my life journey. I was formed terribly alone in terrible danger. That was what built me as it built itself into me.
I struggle always to be consciously articulated about love and goodness in my present moments. However, my ongoing need to be grounded in a “larger body” of physical location that provides me stability, grounding, sanctuary and what feels to me to be beauty is always “dragging with gravity” at my physical self-awareness.
Developmental experts speak of the “unsolvable paradox” abused infants and young children are faced with, as it exists on at least two distinct levels of (a) how to stay alive when to do so is impossible (how to “go on being” when to “go on being” is impossible), which is deeply connected to (b) how to avoid approaching a deadly caregiver upon whom our very life depends.
Living with this paradox has never left me. It is built into me. It built me. It has expanded itself into something more complex, really, because now as an adult I know “this is not right.” I had to be greatly harmed and in great danger and in great isolation for this paradox to have grown so immense. Simply put – and in regard to my being alive in a body passing through time – the paradox has become this:
I cannot LIVE in two “places” at the same time. I cannot carry my past with solid understanding of my safe and secure connection to others through my present moment, knowing I will “have” these safe and secure connections In the future. It is impossible for me to be “there” and “here” at the same time.
I remember very clearly what my reality felt like growing up into my teens right up to the moment I left home. I have often described my state-of-being in terms of my being a detached camera that merely recorded every split second of what happened within my awareness in each present moment. ALL I HAVE EVER HAD IS THE PRESENT MOMENT.
In the chaotic, unstable, unpredictable, brutal, dangerous PSYCHOTIC world of Mother’s that I could not escape from ALL I COULD EVER DO WAS ENDURE AND SURVIVE. And THAT – the living of the paradox of staying alive when doing so is impossible – happens in the peritraumatic present moment of time passing.
Living the paradox has expanded for me into trying to, wanting to, be able to experience connection with others in the present moments of my life (and to remember these connections, and to carry the knowledge of their existence through the present into the future) even though I physiologically do not have the capacity to DO THIS.
I doubt that most of those who advocate what might be termed “mindful” living can begin to imagine what it is like not to have any other choice but to exist within a state such as I am describing. I therefore – yet again – believe that there will be survivors reading this post who know exactly what I am trying to describe (given the failure of words to do so).
We are here. We have nowhere else to be. Our life has always been this way.
Here is our first book out in ebook format. Click here to view or purchase –
It lists for $2.99 and can be read by Amazon Prime customers without charge. Reviews for the book on the Amazon.com site are welcome.