Sunday, January 25, 2015. It is more than a human urge to desperately want to “feel felt.” It is a biological imperative that cannot be overridden. This imperative lies at the center of the wheel of who we are. The degrees of fulfillment of this imperative determine the direction of our development from the moment we are born. And our physiological development even before we are born prepares us in every way for the kind of world we are living within: Safe or unsafe, which translates within our growing body as being degrees of calm or stressful.
Some of us found that the world we were born into was not calm. It was not even stressful. It was dangerous and in all the critical ways that matter to members of a social species, our world was a threat to our survival. Our response? DISTRESS.
All of our physiological systems, to the degree that they were able, began to change the trajectory of their development to ensure our survival in a world that was NOT going to meet our basic needs. What did “top level management” understand about the risk and danger of the malevolent world we came into? It understood that we were NOT going to FEEL FELT.
Nobody was going to pay attention to how WE felt about anything that mattered to us.
If we are NOT felt, and we detect on the level of our body that this is so, then our physiological development changes accordingly to keep us alive in a dangerous world. Simple as that.
Yes, this is GRIM TALK. Grim. But here we still here. We did well at staying alive thanks to the flexible engineering of human genetics and its expression. But in many ways that matter most to human beings, especially to those born into a GOOD ENOUGH early caregiving environment, we are NOT WELL! This fact can simply be translated into – we lack the most basic abilities required for a life time of well-being. We DO NOT feel safe – EVER.
True, we can finagle our thinking in our conscious ways of interacting moment to moment to convince our self that “all is REALLY OK,” but down in the “basement” of our existence, down deep within us where the molecular process work to sustain our existence, our BODY self knows that “in great danger at the start of life = in great danger for the rest of life.”
Where do these changes due to our Trauma Altered Development show up? They show up when we try to think about OR tell our self or anyone else our life story, the narrative of our life.
Our story never lies.
Google search these terms: “stop the storm adult attachment interview” and “stop the storm coherent narrative” for a few links to past posts on this blog on this subject.
I have for years asserted that (A) healing our self heals our life story, and (B) healing the telling of our life story heals our self.
I know now from a few years forward in time that while what I thought ‘back then’ is NOT untrue, there is more to the story of story. SOMEBODY HAS TO BE THERE TO HEAR OUR STORY as we tell it – or we are right back where we started from at the start of our early trauma-filled life!
Feeling felt requires that someone HEARS us, fully HEARS us!
This is really what safe and secure attachment is ALL about – down to the essence of our physiological development, at the level of our genetic machinery and its expression. If there is nobody THERE to HEAR us, to FEEL us as in EMPATHY will all capital letters, then we are – ALL ALONE IN A DANGEROUS WORLD!
We are unsafe. We are insecure. And that HURTS us in every way.
So, what happens in cases like mine when my experiences were so terrible that NOBODY can even read my story now? What happens when our true story is so traumatic it traumatizes other people who WOULD reach in to our life to hear and feel us if it was safe for them to do so – but they cannot because our story – our truth – is too much for them to bear?
Good question. Really, really good question.
I had big hopes nearly a year ago when my daughter approached Dr. Bruce Perry at a conference she attended to hear him speak and gave him a copy of our book, Story Without Words. He accepted the manuscript and promised to read it to write a blurb about it – if he chose to. He told my daughter that he “always wants to hear what adult survivors have to say.”
We have heard no word from him. Sure, he must be incredibly busy but how long do we wait before we conclude he is not going to respond back to us?
What if reading an adult’s story such as the small segment of mine that exists in this book is more than he can afford to bear – personally? What if it is an entirely different matter to do everything in one’s power to “help” hurting kids – who are in fact quite unable to TRULY tell the breadth and depth of their story?
After all, no adult is responsible (response-able) to DO ANYTHING for anyone whose true story they cannot bear to hear. Nothing but silence reigns. A silent story. Great. Very hard to feel felt THAT way!
My siblings share the silence that contains our shared childhood story. One of my sisters spoke with me yesterday about how she wanted to write her memoirs to share with her children, grandchildren, and to pass into the future for following generations. She has found that the pain and terror that exists in that story is far too much for her to healthily bear.
I know what she means.
I asked her if she could tell her story better to her grandchildren. Perhaps they and her children could come up with questions for an interview with her. It came to me that any version of our story we felt was “good enough” and “safe enough” to tell our early-teen age grandchildren would probably be the ONLY version that was good enough and safe enough for us to tell our self.
But what about the vast, VAST rest of our TRUE story that we cannot afford to tell our self and that nobody else can afford to listen to? (I have to begin to think at this point that if Dr. Perry cannot read my story, or even get past its cover, then I have no real hope of finding ANYONE to resonate with personally. Nobody to be there to give me that essential gift of FEELING FELT.
Until I get to the next world.
My story will be no problem for ANYONE on that side, in that eternal world where only goodness exists. I bank on that world with every fiber of my being. I count on it. In that world great holy souls and angels, and my very Creator and all the earthly Manifestations of love throughout human history, will already know my story. They will resolve all the mysteries in my life. THERE I WILL be healed.
I have no doubt.
And, yes, that does seem a long time to wait….
In the meantime I make it my business to work as hard as I can to envision a world on earth as it WILL come to exist where NOBODY will have stories to tell that NOBODY can afford to hear.
NOTE: The truth is that the story my mother had to tell could not be heard by anyone, including her self. It broke her mind. Then she acted out the story through her psychosis. Her children and her husband were her “players.”
When anyone of any age FEELS FELT that means that the person/people doing the FEELING HAVE to respond appropriately. That’s the way this works. There is no other way. If the story hurts, the hearer WILL help. There is no other choice.
Here is our first book out in ebook format. Click here to view or purchase – if you can.
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.