Tuesday, January 13, 2015. Those of us who “sallied forth” into our life here on earth under horrific conditions of unsafe and insecure attachment were MADE INTO a different kind of people than those who did not. We “adjusted” in our physiology THEN in ways that need to be understood. Until they are, the concept of “resiliency” is most likely to be mis-applied to us.
I have been thinking lately about this word as it seems to be rising to the top of the proverbial pop-culture heap as it is being bandied about in regard to – WHAT, exactly? Experiences of trauma? I am not clear about what the actual meaning of this word even is. I am not even sure the word itself is clear about itself! (As if the word has any say in the matter….)
As I look at the following definitions I am feeling no less confused by what I read than I was before I took a look at dear ole Webster’s online dictionary. How can a NOUN simply repeat the definition of an ADJECTIVE and – a bit like a Winnie the Pooh diddle – turn around and come back again upon itself so that the ADJECTIVE simply repeats the meaning of the NOUN?
I BOLD and UNDERLINE some of the key word concepts that greatly trouble me in the following definitions as I try to think my way through any “conversation” I may have within my own thoughts or any conversation I may have with another person about —— well, take a look —–
NOUN – Full Definition of RESILIENCE First Known Use: 1824
1: the capability of a strained body to recover its size and shape after deformation caused especially by compressive stress
2: an ability to recover from or adjust easily to misfortune or change
“quick” definition of RESILIENCE:
:the ability to become strong, healthy, or successful again after something bad happens
: the ability of something to return to its original shape after it has been pulled, stretched, pressed, bent, etc.
What about RESLIENT? First Known Use: 1674
ADJECTIVE – Origin of RESILIENT
Latin resilient-, resiliens, present participle of resilire to jump back, recoil, from re- + salire to leap — more at sally
Full Definition of RESILIENT
: characterized or marked by resilience: as
b: tending to recover from or adjust easily to misfortune or change
— re·sil·ient·ly adverb
“quick” definition of RESILENT:
: able to become strong, healthy, or successful again after something bad happens
: able to return to an original shape after being pulled, stretched, pressed, bent, etc.
I know better. I HATE it that I do, but I know better. My mother’s horrendous literally psychotic abuse of me began at my birth. I was robbed of ANY chance to grow and develop a body-brain in this world post-birth that was NOT trauma-altered. What, exactly, within me is available to me as a human being “to return to” that was NOT trauma changed in its development?
I am among the fortunate, however, because my mother was physically very healthy as I developed in her womb. Her psychotic break happened during her difficult birthing of breech-me. There are so MANY born who did not even have the first 9 months of their life NOT influenced by some kind of trauma-connected developmental changes.
WHAT ABOUT US? WHAT ABOUT ME?
I cringe when I hear someone “in the know” use any word related to “resilient” because I know deeply that I am LEFT OUT of whatever they are talking about. Nobody can assume that they know what anybody else’s background has been. They cannot assume that “resilient” as it is being commonly used applies one bit to someone else.
Those of us with severe trauma in our early beginnings were BUILT by, within and for a world where “something bad happens” ALL OF THE TIME! That was our environment that our development was forced to adapt to at the start of our life – and nearly ALL of the trauma-related developmental changes that happened to us are PERMANENT.
Otherwise? We would have been PERMANENTLY DEAD a long, long time ago.
The way these words are being used “out there” makes them POWER-based words. Everyone needs to realize the truth of this fact and PAY ATTENTION to what that concept is really saying. Those who DID NOT experience horrendous early trauma “get to” bludgeon those of us who DID experience horrendous early trauma with shame-based, ignorant-of-the-facts ridicule no matter how well-intentioned “they” may be. The underlying yet blatant power differential comes across even in such “innocent” thoughts as “Gee whiz, what a SHAME you suffered what I did not!”
These resilient-related words are the wrong words to apply to people “across the board” – equally! I think they are in the same nonorganic, mechanistic category as words used to describe humans and their relationships such as “dysfunctional.” I am NOT a pencil sharpener! I am NOT a piece of elastic or a rubber band!
This power-based word divides the “haves” from the “have nots” at the same time it slyly APPEARS to be addressing concerns by the “haves” for the suffering of the “have nots.” This is a dangerous coupling, NOT for those who might actually be of the more safe and securely attached and therefore more privileged levels of society, but for those at or near “the bottom of the heap” who were and may continue to be unjustly neglected, abused and traumatized without protection or redress.
Nobody can “get back” or “recover” or “return to” something that was brutally stolen from them at the start of their life!
This is a BASELINE concept to understand when approaching any topic having to do with “helping” severe early trauma survivors.
If someone wishes to take a look at the research on very high ACE scores (see Centers for Disease Control’s Adverse Childhood Experiences research) with thoughts about how to HELP, they MUST understand that any concept regarding “resiliency” that they may be attempting to bring into the mix for survivors’ improved well-being is only BARELY accurately relevant because of this small area covered in definition of the words: adjust easily to misfortune or change
HOWEVER!!! My word of strong caution remains even here!! The “easy adjustment” that took place in order for me and others with severely traumatic early beginnings happened on the CELLULAR (molecular) level. It involved changes that had to be made to our physiology to keep us alive and moving forward – the best that we could – in a fundamentally dangerous, MALEVOLENT environment.
Down the road? The FIX is in the PREVENTION of conditions that create these kinds of truly MALEVOLENT environments that so change the physiological development of newly forming human beings so that “resiliency” as the word is defined has been STOLEN from them!!!
I remember this “anti-paradox” as I first began to be aware of it 35 years ago. AA says that a person can be “restored to sanity.” I knew deeply when I was first introduced to this idea that I had NEVER known sanity in my life and therefore could NOT be restored to it. My treatment therapists and other AA people told me I was “resisting my treatment” and that I was “using the defenses” of “rationalizing” and “intellectualizing” rather than facing my problems. They “bludgeoned” me through shame and guilt into “accepting” what they believed and into denying my own truth, my own knowledge, my own reality.
NOT ANY MORE, folks! I know a rat when I see one now – dead or alive! I cannot magically “get back” what I was never “allowed” to keep or to build from the start of my life, therefore resiliency is not the useful concept when applied to me that others would seem to think that it “should” be.
This is a logical kind of fact based on natural, organic, necessary kinds of “tools” available to keep little people alive in the worst of situations through changing their physiological development! This process reflects ABILITIES we used THEN to stay alive. Yes, we were able to adapt on these kinds of levels, and that process has CHANGED us so that any ordinary thinking-concept about resiliency ceased to really apply to us a LONG time ago! We do not live with the same kind of body-nervous system/brain that non-trauma changed people do.
This fact is NOT our fault! Evaluations, even the most well-intentioned ones, coming from outside of a person do not necessarily match another person’s reality! It is not healthy or helpful to “assume” that they do. In fact it can be very, very damning and damaging to others who have suffered more than most people can begin to imagine – and from extremely early ages.
Whatever FIX anyone tries to apply to survivors way down the road of their life – by definition of the resilient-based words – has virtually next to NOTHING to do with our reality! (For an example, click here – a webpage I ran across this week: Psychological Trauma and the Brain ,)
There must be another word, a different concept that would actually apply to people like me and other severe early trauma survivors. I admit it. I am still at a loss for what such a word to cover such a concept might actually be.
Is everyone free to define any word any way they want to?
A lay definition:
While there is no money for me in my mention of this herbal-vitamin supplement here, I am taking it daily now and find it extremely helpful. That means a lot to me, so I thought perhaps other readers might wish to take a look:
- Contains the amino acids L-theanine, to support relaxing brain wave activity
- Contains taurine to ease tension, as well as the calming neurotransmitter GABA
- Features magnesium to support muscle and nerve relaxation
- Contains calming holy basil leaf extract and Relora®to gently soothe away the tension in your body
- 2 tablets daily, or as recommended by your health care professional
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.