Issue of Control

July 10

Fear came up.  The cold vibration in my diaphragm.  It didn’t fade so I stayed with it.  Tried to meditate — actually maybe I did finally hold on to the lovingkindness prayer for myself.  Somewhere along the way I realized that the fear had been triggered by being invited to join a facebook group called Being my own Best Friend.  I went to the page and scrolled down and got to one about “Falling is an accident, staying down is a choice,” and one about “I can choose to not let my life be dominated/controlled by the past.”  I immediately feel guilty.  I’m unable to make that happen, so I must be choosing to let my life be dominated by the past.  I feel totally judged and found wanting.  It’s the old old “I’ve worked so hard for so long.  Why am I not feeling better?”  It makes me just want to quit.

Went back to check.  One entry says  “Let go  Release the stress.  You were never in control anyway.”

The other says “Don’t allow your life to be controlled by these 5 things:
1. Your past 2. other people’s opinions and judgements 3. Your own limited beliefs
4. relationships  5. money” 

That left me feeling like I was failing.  It’s an invalidation just like “If you really wanted to, you would feel better.”  I’m starting to suspect that this feeling of total despair may be depression, and that depression may have more to do with how trauma affected my developing brain and nervous system than with psychological factors I can change.  This depression may not be amenable to neuroplasticity (changing my brain through deliberately not thinking certain things, and forcing myself to think something more positive).  Or if it can be changed, it may take a long time.  So I’m going to go back up to 100 mg imipramine & see what happens.

Looking at this today, I see that the two messages from the website contradict each other.  “You are not in control,” and “You can choose not to be controlled by…”  “You are not in control” is absolutely true.  It’s the basis of AA’s first step: Admitted that my life was unmanageable.  

“You can choose not to be controlled…” is much trickier.  Whether or not you can choose “not to be controlled” depends on how the controlling functions.  If you are being controlled by your thoughts, you can change your thinking.  If you are being controlled by your emotions, you can take a pause, breathe, and then examine what’s going on.  Marshall Rosenberg pointed out that someone does not “make you angry,” you are angry because of what you think about the other person.  On the other hand, if a car nearly runs you down, you are not in control of your fight/flight/freeze response.  If someone bigger and stronger drags you away to jail, you cannot choose not to be dragged away.  You can choose not to be intimidated, to start doing (or continue doing) your spiritual practice.  You can choose to feel angry at yourself for what you did to get dragged off, or for not being able to stop them.  If you are a veteran, and your body dives behind a couch because a car backfired in the street before your brain has time to say “That’s a car backfiring,” you have no choice to not be controlled by your reptilian brainstem.  After it has happened, you can tell yourself that the gunshot happened THEN, even though it feels like now, but you can’t stop your body from reacting the next time.  That takes one of the new trauma healing methods, of which there are many right now.  Somatic Experiencing and EMDR are probably the best known, but there are more.

Posted in Depression, Interesting link, Journal, Present Day, Somatic Experiencing, Trauma | Comments Off on Issue of Control

Grief about my Life

Journal entry from Friday, July 6

Grief for my life “bleeding away in hard dark places, among the cold faces…”  What would it mean to have a real life?  I think of Oliver Sacks saying “I have loved much and I have been loved.”  If I could say that.  “But no, I never loved, only the feeling of forgetting something never remembered.”  “Wanting to flower and not knowing how.”  All the people left behind as I kept running away.

“Bleeding away…” and “Wanting to flower…” are from a poem I wrote.  

Blood and Stone

“But no, I never loved…” is from something I wrote in 1959, when I was 17, and hurting from someone I had hoped would be my first boyfriend choosing my best friend instead of me.  It’s a little bit scary, reading it now, and knowing that love was something I hadn’t experienced yet.

Because I’ve had the sense that reading thrillers addictively was in an attempt to avoid something, and because phrases from my own writing kept coming up, I looked for the original quotes.  So yesterday I told Erica about that teenage pain, and read her the quote about “forgetting something never remembered.”  Then I read her all the poems I wrote around the time of Journey Into Courage.  I cried reading some of them.  I also talked about how what happened with B left me feeling that I couldn’t trust myself.  I told her about things I learned, or saw, about my ex only after the divorce.  Erica, again, turned things completely around.  She said “people are not their dysfunctional behavior,” and suggested that I gave them space to be their real selves.  What a totally amazing idea!

“B” was a friend who I was trying to help by letting her stay in my house.  When I put the house on the market, she yelled at me for being so cruel to Eleanor.  One of the hardest things about moving to Kendal was knowing that someone I loved a lot would have a hard time finding a new place to live.  I told B that she had no idea what was going on for me.  She didn’t listen to me, and kept repeating herself so I hung up on her.  When I was getting ready to put my house on the market, and asked her to remove her things, she trashed my house.  She was someone I really cared about, so I was very hurt, but now suspicious about things she had told me, one of which I found out was a lie.  I felt like the person I had cared about and wanted to help was not who she was, and began to doubt my own judgement.  How could I not have seen how dysfunctional she was?

I see now, that I allowed her to exploit me because I cared about her, wanted to help her, and don’t have good boundaries.

Session with Erica:

“You give them the space to be their best selves”
a person is not their reactive behavior
I see the best in people, give them the benefit of the doubt
“I can’t trust myself” is a mis-representation
Integrity expects integrity
Honor and recognize that I take accountability — I’m available for repair
“You take grief and turn it into guilt.”
need someone to help me get that it is grief

With this help, I saw that B was just like my mother, so of course I was vulnerable to her manipulations.

Posted in Journal, Present Day | Comments Off on Grief about my Life

Broken

from my journal for June 10

One of the dances we did was Broken Hallelujah.  When we go into the center we are reaching out to our broken parts.  I have been imagining that I don’t have any broken parts — because I’ve never been consciously cruel — but then no one is consciously cruel, they strike out because they have been hurt.  I see that the homies feel terrible about the “bad” things they have done — but those things are not what’s broken, they only show that something is broken.  When I think about things I am ashamed of, I think about losing my cousin’s bike and not even offering to buy a new one.  Not even being able to look at that because I felt so ashamed.  It wasn’t until I realized that Mother never forgave me for anything, so I learned that no apology was good enough.  No repair was possible.  No “I still love you.”  I learned that the only thing that was OK was never to have done it at all.  Suddenly I’m seeing that that is a horrible wounding.  I put my arms around my wounded self and hold her gently.  I see that my broken parts are mostly about things that were not done and so harder to see.  I’m grateful for the part of me that was searching for the truth and open to it as soon as it appeared.  I don’t suppose mother ever got that chance, her denial was too deep and solid.

As I type this up, I see that perhaps the biggest broken part of me is my lack of good boundaries, my inability to stand up for myself.  I have allowed people to exploit me, and couldn’t even see that I was being exploited.

There’s a warmth in my heart now, as I hold wounded, broken Jenny with tenderness.  I am seeing that the tight hard Jenny that I’ve been imagining was me is actually mother.

“Homies” are what the gang members of East L.A. call themselves.  Father Greg Boyle works with them.

Posted in Circle Dance, Journal, Present Day | Comments Off on Broken

Attachment Wound

Attachment wound — so deeply buried that it’s out of experience
— absence of that felt sense of support
now — felt sense of internal conversation — in there to be drawn upon
Something going on — let’s sit down and talk about it —
other attitude — rigid judgement — misrepresentation
When what’s needed is a change of belief — Byron Katie’s process works
If I take that system away I disappear
I exist in relationship by belief that I’m defective
Baby — utter annihilation — doesn’t show up as belief
Katie doesn’t acknowledge the power of the felt sense.

These are notes from a session with Erica on Tuesday, May 18.  I am just typing them up and am struck by the power of what is said here.  I sometimes have a hard time understanding what she’s talking about so I try to take careful notes.  Going back and typing it, I begin to have a sense of the depth and strength of the damage.  I’ve always known that Byron Katie’s process doesn’t work for me.  “Who would you be if you didn’t believe that?”  Nothing happens for me.  Something did happen, three times in the past, that I remember because they made such a big shift in my consciousness.

The first time was when I came to Feminism.  I thought I didn’t need feminism because I was wealthy and well-educated.  But one day — this was when I was living in the Zen House in Arlington Massachusetts — I dreamed of Lesbians.  I don’t know how I knew to not start worrying (or rejoicing) that maybe I was one, instead I saw it as what I now know was correct — a desire to explore my own feminine nature.  I took the bus to Harvard Square, went into the bookstore and straight to the shelf of women’s books.  I pulled out a book called “Women & Madness,” read the first couple of pages, bought it, sat down in Passim with a coffee and almost finished it.  I exploded with anger — I had bought the belief that women were second class.  I had in fact identified as a man.  I think that was partly a consequence of having gone to a girl’s prep school and a women’s college — I wasn’t competing with men, and didn’t have to pretend I was dumb.  I remember thinking that “they” were interested in clothes and dates, while I was interested in the things of the intellect.  I identified with “man” in so far as “man” meant “people.”  as in “Man studied the universe…”  So I converted instantly to being a fairly fierce feminist.  I even knew that it was a mistake to aspire to male values, that women had values that I saw were better than masculine ones (as simple as caring for people instead of competing with them) but were not valued in our patriarchal society.  I had seen after I graduated that I was up against problems of being in relationship that my intellect couldn’t solve for me, I had been in therapy.  As soon as I saw the belief I dropped it.  In this case Byron Katie’s process worked.

The second time this happened was when I was in a therapy group after I had bought my house in Brunswick Maine.  I had decided that my life was too flat as it was and I needed to be using my intellect.  I wanted to take a course in Geology — I had started taking geology classes when I was in a Master’s in Teaching Program at Stanford.  There were no courses in High School in Astronomy, so I was advised to get my degree in earth science.  Here I was in California in the 60’s, starting to see the world differently, and of course I dropped out.  Now, I wanted to go back to school at Bowdoin and take a geology course,  but I wasn’t managing to go and register.  Someone in the therapy group asked “Why aren’t you?” and the sentence came out of my mouth:  “If I actualize myself by getting a PhD, I will be so threatening that no man will ever marry me, and my life will be wasted.”  I didn’t know what I was going to say until it was out of my mouth, and I saw instantly the absurdity of “If I actualize myself … my life will be wasted.”  The next day, I went and registered for the course.  Little knowing that the Universe had other plans for me.  See “How I got to Stonehenge Again.”

The third time was after “Journey Into Courage” when I wanted to write a book about cutting myself and realizing it was a response to having been abused as a child.  I was calling it “Written in Blood” and creating it out of passages from my journal.  I was having a very hard time editing it.  It seems very odd to me now, that at the time I had no idea why I cut myself, except that it was a response to childhood abuse.  In my script for Journey I said “It feels like there’s some evil demon inside me.  How can I get it out?  I know, I’ll take this razor blade…”  That was the best I could do at the time.  Since doing the work with Erica, I have been able to understand that it had to do with creating a real wound with real blood, since my emotional pain was invisible to me.  Blood validated that I was hurting.  Because I was struggling, my then husband asked “If you published a book, what would you have?”  Again a totally unexpected sentence came out of my mouth: “If I published a book, it would prove that I deserve to live, even though my parents were disappointed in me.”  The whole motivation for creating the book dropped away.  It felt like a huge part of my life fell into the abyss.  I thought I might even stop writing every day, but I didn’t, it was too much established as a practice.  But I did stop typing up my journals.  This was in 1995, and I didn’t start typing again until 2000, and at that time it was only the guidance passages.  In about 2003 I started typing up more of what I had written.  Once I began the blog, my journal provided raw material, and I started typing up most of it.

I realize that this third time was not quite like the other two.  I stopped working on the book, seeing the belief that if I published it, I would gain something worthwhile, and recognizing the idiocy of the belief.  What it didn’t do was eliminate the profound belief that I didn’t deserve to live, and I continued to push myself out of that motive, but without naming it to myself.  It’s not a belief that functions, it’s a felt bodily sense of worthlessness, and since the felt sense is how I know something is true, that was not a belief but a truth about me.

This is why, when I was in a state of blind terror, I would say to myself: “The thing you are afraid of really happened, but it was in the past.  It’s not happening now.  Mother is dead, she can’t hurt you any more.”  It gave me an intellectual context to frame my feelings, but it didn’t stop the feeling.

My best description of why I cut myself is in the entry about the “Grandmother Patches.”  Since it’s a long post, you may want to go down to the WHO IF patch.

Posted in Journal, Present Day, Story, Trauma | Comments Off on Attachment Wound

“Too Sensitive”

“None of the adults in my life ever once remembered to say, “Some people have a thick skin and you don’t.  Your heart is really open and that is going to cause pain, but that is an appropriate response to this world.  The cost is high, but the blessing of being compassionate is beyond your wildest dreams.  However you’re not going to feel that a lot in seventh grade.  Just hang on.”   Stitches, Anne Lamott, p33

I was always told “Don’t be so sensitive” when I was a child.  Which made it sound like it was a choice.  But I didn’t seem to be able to make myself be different.  The first time anyone ever helped me was at a women’s retreat called “Woman’s Way.”  We had done “dream body” drawings, inside an outline of our body on large paper.  We colored pictures and wrote information on them, then hung them up on the wall.  I walked around looking at them, and I was really taking them in and starting to get overwhelmed, when Zanda said something like “You are taking in too much.  Use your venetian blinds.”  That image was a big help to me.

Much later, I read the book about Highly Sensitive People.  I answered all the questions in the affirmative.  I learned that we are 20% of the population, and that turns out to be true of many species of animals as well.  Our brains work differently, where 80% of the population would see 3 shades of red (in a garden, say) we will see 10.  So we can make much more nuanced observations, but we can also be easily overwhelmed.  Since overwhelm of the brain and nervous system’s capacity to process information is the cause of trauma, I think we will also be more easily traumatized.  Certainly the culture we live in is toxic for people who take in more information, making our lives that much harder.

Posted in Trauma | Comments Off on “Too Sensitive”

Identity Confusion/Conflict (for lack of a better title)

Friday, June 8

Don’t know how to start.  So odd.  I read what I wrote down that Elizabeth said in our phone conversation — “Identity in flux” — yes that’s exactly my experience.

“Attachment repair” — homies seeking to “re-identify”  Barking to the Choir p16  Find identity through someone who loves you, not someone who is jealous and threatened and projecting self-hate.

Saturday, June 9

Very intense session with Erica.  I read her the two blog entries about “wild and precious life.”  (April 2013, August 2010)  I cried as I read.  There was also a quote from Father Greg about the homies needing to “re-identify” as the repair for the attachment wound.  I see that I am struggling to replace the felt sense of myself as someone selfish, unkind, rigidly virtuous, with a felt sense of myself as someone worthwhile, with something to give to others.  “I have fought like a demon against oppression.”

Had a very different experience at dinner.  I sat at the long table.  I think D has had to go to the health center — he’s had too many falls, and his mind isn’t quite right.  For me, that lifts a blight.  He made lots of negative comments.  I sat next to Sabra and across from Margaret and Lorraine.  I think because my spirits had been so lifted by the narrative medicine class, and the talk with Erica, I was able to converse easily and even contribute.  I talked about the class, and also — I don’t remember exactly how we got to it — Lorraine had said something about how the teacher was important, and I started talking about Miss Hill, and assumptions, and cosmology.

Note: Father Greg Boyle wrote Tattoos on the Heart, about his work with gang members in Los Angeles.

Posted in Breakdown, Healing, Journal, Present Day, Trauma | Comments Off on Identity Confusion/Conflict (for lack of a better title)

Spirituality

“Spirituality is recognizing and celebrating that we are all inextricably connected to each other by a power greater than all of us, and that our connection to that power and to one another is grounded in love and compassion.  Practicing spirituality brings a sense of perspective, meaning, and purpose to our lives.”       Brené Brown, The Gifts of Imperfection, p64

Her definition of spirituality is one that I like very much.  I agree with it intellectually, but I rarely have a felt sense of the compassion, and a felt sense is what makes something real to me.  It’s easier to see connection in the physical universe, and of course humans are connected on on the physical level, to an extent that we have lost awareness of.  In a smaller world it’s obvious.  In our world — I once worked it out: this paper I’m writing on is made from tree pulp.  Someone cut down the trees, someone else transported them to the paper factory, someone else ran the machinery…  the man who drove the truck used gasoline from an oil field, and is connected to all the people who work there…  and he ate food grown and transported and sold and cooked by other people…  and on and on.  I am connected to all these people by this piece of paper.  Even the sun comes into it, and the rain, they helped the tree grow.  That we are also connected by fields — electromagnetic, gravitational, psychological — seems obvious to me in some ways, but I’m too habituated to individualism and isolation to be able to feel the connection.  Rooted in compassion is a little harder, but I can’t see how there would be any compassion at all if it didn’t already exist in some form at the simplest level.  In the atoms and molecules, ready to emerge as soon as the right level of complexity is reached.  There is scientific evidence, now, that compassion is “hard-wired” in humans.  I don’t believe for a moment that humans are basically selfish, violent, and greedy.  I think those behaviors are a result of being hurt and scared.

Posted in Healing, Interesting link, Present Day | Comments Off on Spirituality

Journey

This was written 10 days after I sprained my ankle on April 14.  Initially I wasn’t able to walk very far.  The walk to the dining room can take 7 minutes.  Not possible in my disabled condition.  Fortunately, I can get supper delivered.  At first I could hardly stand long enough in the kitchen to cook, but that got better pretty quickly.  It is a long walk plus two elevator rides (and I am so GLAD for all the elevators!)  In fact I’m pretty spoiled here.  The fall also made it impossible to get to the Neskaya Conference, a big event that I had been looking forward and worrying about for quite a while.

So I had felt like I was moving along fine, and then suddenly hit a brick wall.  This made me question why it happened — not because I was stupid, not because God had it in for me, not even because it was a random event — it seemed pretty clear that I was supposed to learn something from this experience.

This journal entry is an attempt to explore what possible meaning there might be in being immobilized for a time.

Journey.  I’m thinking that it will be a long journey to the top of the waterfall stairs and the elevator to the ground floor, then to the massage room.  The word “journey” resonates.  I set out on this long journey, and suddenly got stopped and immobilized.  Where am I going and why?  What’s really important?  What matters to me?  “For a great journey on the drawing tide.”  It makes me think of the Cadfael book, and the crusader whose last journey is up the river a short way, having to be carried, then rowed in a boat.  The “great journey” was Jenny going to Europe, then to California, back to Maine, crossing the country by car more than once.  More than one journey/pilgrimage to Callanish.  The summer I did both a Deena Metzger retreat and the Circlework training, and was so disabled by PTSD terror that I couldn’t get what was available.  That’s actually been true my whole life.  So disabled by early wounding that I couldn’t get what was available.  “Cuncti simus concanente…”  But I did build Neskaya.

The “Waterfall staircase” is a long staircase at Kendal that takes you from the living floors to the community area.

“Massage” — having a massage every week is part of my healing from trauma, since trauma is held in the tissues.

“…journey on the drawing tide” is from a poem by David Whyte

“Cadfael book” is “An Excellent Mystery” by Ellis Peters

Callanish is a stone circle on the Island of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides

Deena Metzger is a writer, her book that meant the most to me is called “Writing for your Life.”

Circlework” was developed by Jalaja Bonheim

“Cuncti simus concanentes…” means “Here we come singing..” and is the music for a circle dance called “The Pilgrims’ Dance.”

Posted in Journal, Present Day, Vocation | Comments Off on Journey

Learning Resilience

Woke up scared.  Still feeling a little activated, a kind of buzzing in my stomach.  I’m sure part of it was that I took Mocha to the vet, and she had two vaccinations: distemper and Lyme.  Yesterday she was very lethargic and not at all interested in food, which they said was likely, but it really made me feel scared.  The other thing was I emailed my realtor yesterday saying I was ready to sell the house and she called back so we talked about it.

I don’t like being activated.  It’s very uncomfortable.  I asked myself what I’m afraid of.  Mostly afraid of making a mistake.  Behind the fear of making a mistake is the fear that I will be thrown out and not be taken care of.  This fear is from when I was an infant left alone and afraid no one would ever come and that would mean I would die.  As a baby, I didn’t have those words, just a feeling of desperation and that I had done something “wrong” — I had no idea what — and that something catastrophic was going to happen as a result.  This is trauma, when the reptilian brain stem concludes that you will die.  As a baby, I couldn’t fight or flee, so my system would have gone into default mode, that is, freeze.

I had to sit myself down and remind me that in the long run there is no catastrophic mistake I can make.  How much money I eventually get for the house doesn’t matter.  I’m taken care of, here at Kendal, until I die.  Writing it down I feel a level of comfort I didn’t feel when I was trying to convince myself.  It’s true, I am taken care of.  It’s really amazing how much that helps.  So much gratitude to the rich people here who make it possible.  I wish I could also believe that I’m held in the hands of god.

It’s too bad, Mocha having a bad reaction to the vaccinations.  I was feeling fairly solid and clear about selling the house, but worry about Mocha “knocked me off my perch.”  Interesting phrase.  The suggestion that I had got “too big for my britches” and needed “taking down.”  That’s all the remains of Mother’s conditioning.  She thought that way — “thinking you’re so great” — I don’t think I’ve ever made that judgement of anyone else, or wanted to bring someone “down.”  I wasn’t thinking I was “great,” I’m not even sure there was any sense of “good for me.”  Just relief at having been able to take a step, a necessary step to clean up unfinished business.

Her conditioning still affects me, part of what happens to a child of an alcoholic, and I can see it and mostly don’t believe it now.  I was also taught to believe that money was more important than my comfort or happiness.  What makes these conditionings very hard to undo is that they happened to a child who was already traumatized and so they could trigger the absolute desperation of PTSD.

To try to help myself, I went back to the most recent time (February 2017) I wrote for guidance.  This is what was said:

Divine Process, please help me.    I am with you all the time, even though you can’t feel my presence.  I love you very much and I feel your pain.  You are doing very well with this extremely hard task.  You are actually healing a very deep and wounded part of yourself.  You are with her as I am with you.  I know you are scared and angry that you are not “getting anywhere.”  It’s not about “getting” somewhere, it’s about being present.  Being present to extreme pain — and the pain that baby feels is intolerable, that’s why she was traumatized — is very difficult.  You are doing well with it.  Keep on as you have begun.  Remember that you are loved and cherished infinitely and forever.
Thank You.

Posted in Guidance, Journal, Present Day, Trauma | Comments Off on Learning Resilience

Persistence

Brené Brown expresses resilience as:  “I know how to get there, I’m persistent, and I can tolerate disappointment and try again.”  ibid p 65

When I first read it I thought “That’s not me.  I don’t know how to get there, how to prove that I deserve to live, that I’m not defective, how to change myself so someone will love me…  I’m not persistent, I’ve quit over and over again…  After a disappointment I often stop dead, don’t send out the brochures or put up the flyers…”  As Dr. Rankin said to me long ago “When something goes wrong, you conclude you can’t do it.”  Then I look back only to last Saturday, when I was cast into complete despair by the diagnosis of plantar fasciitis, and the realization that I had to start all over with another healing process.  But this time I knew, from so many times in the past, yes I quit completely, but after a day or two something in me picks herself up and keeps going.  It’s not something I did by will power or decided on the conscious level, it’s something that happens, something deeper in me that keeps going.  On the conscious level I’ve completely collapsed.  My persistence comes from a deeper level.  And who can that be but the real me?  The collapse is to some extent conditioned behavior, but the persistence is not.  It’s different from pushing myself.  Pushing myself is conditioned.

When I was a teenager, I was devastated by being rejected by a boy who, I was told, was interested in me, and then fell in love with a friend instead.  But I did not blame them, and I did not close my heart and decide that I would never love again.  I think now that this is a characteristic of the real me.

Imagining that I hadn’t persisted, I saw that in the one thing that mattered, I persisted and persisted, and never quit.  What I was trying to get to, though I had no name for it or understanding what it was, was my true self or the truth about me.  For a lot of my life, until I was 42 in fact, I thought I was defective.  In 1984 the information about the effect of parents’ alcoholism on their children became public and I understood that all the “defective” stuff about me was what I had learned from alcoholic parents, not who I was.

If I had learned it, I could unlearn it.  I went to COA groups, got into therapy, worked on alcoholism and the 12 steps.  At the same time I was diagnosed with systemic yeast.  This was in 1984, while the doctors were still saying there was no such thing.  Eating a strict diet and taken yeast-killing medication, made me feel considerably better.  I felt like I came out of about 4 layers of fog, but my intuition said there were more layers to go.  My conditioned self said I wasn’t working hard enough, but another part of me knew that what I needed was some new theory or technique or method.  So I went to different alternative practitioners, and sought out different therapies.  I tried out a lot of things, even continued doing them for several years before I realized they weren’t working.  I got better at deciding something wasn’t working sooner.

Finally I understood that I had been traumatized, after a friend had tried to tell me this repeatedly — but my parents were never violent, how could I have been traumatized? — I read in Peter Levine that an infant can be traumatized by being left alone in a cold room.  The helplessness of a baby is extreme, so it’s more vulnerable to being traumatized by things that wouldn’t faze an adult.  I began to see myself as wounded, not defective, it totally changed how I worked on myself.  I kept trying to get to the bottom of the wound, the truth of how it affected my life, but still had the sense that I wasn’t getting there.

When I finally got to Erica, I got to the bottom.  Understanding how serious it is to be traumatized as a baby, and have your brain and nervous system develop under the influence of trauma, really helped me understand why I had had to work so hard for so long to get better.

As my therapist Karen has often pointed out, when I can do something, I don’t value it, thinking that everyone else can do it too.  For the first time, I’m wondering why I think that.  I’m guessing that it was because my parents criticized me whenever I got it wrong, but didn’t praise me when I got it right.  So I learned that when I got it right, it was just what was expected, not anything special.

When Erica says something like “I’m so impressed with how you handled that,” I’m surprised.  It’s taken me a long time to see that I am, in truth, a hard worker who has learned a lot of valuable things.  I look back to the time I was at a retreat on the issue of peace.  I got talking to a participant, who happened to be a therapist.  I told her how, before my work in Somatic Experiencing, I used to be disabled by my anger.  My knees would literally get weak.  After I had worked with S.E. for some years, I got angry one day about something the government was doing and I went straight to the phone and called my congressperson to register my displeasure.  I was surprised and delighted with myself.  The therapist said “What you have done is HUGE.”   Later, I gave a talk, at my friend Beverly’s UU Church, on Journey into Courage.  While I was talking, I could see a woman in the front row wiggling with excitement.  When I was finished and available for questions, she said she was a therapist and what I had done was HUGE.  Those experiences planted a seed of the idea that I had worked harder and more persistently than I thought.

Posted in Present Day, Spirit | Comments Off on Persistence