Not Feeling at Home in My Own Body

From The Body Keeps the Score, by Bessel van der Kolk, MD: “Traumatized people do not recognize their bodies as a source of pleasure and comfort or even as part of themselves that needs care and nurturance. When we cannot rely on our body to signal safety or warning and instead feel chronically overwhelmed by physical stirrings we lose the capacity to feel at home in our own skin and, by extension, the whole world. As long as their map of the world is based on trauma, abuse and neglect people are likely to seek shortcuts to oblivion anticipating rejection, ridicule and deprivation they are reluctant to try out new options certain these will lead to failure. This lack of experimentation traps people in a matrix of fear, isolation and scarcity where it is impossible to welcome the very experiences that might change their basic world view.”      

From my journal for October 3, 1976  Visit to an old friend

o dear. cramps this morning, now headache and tension. It helped a lot to talk to B, perhaps cramps are related to the effort to keep things in. I really am an uptight person in spite of all my efforts to hang loose (effort creating tension?) Feeling especially that way now — why? Old feelings of being criticized by B, which I recognize now as projections of my critical parent on to her. Also the experience last night, with marijuana brownies, major freak-out-unable-to-speak, old feelings of paranoia and fear. Beginning to see that thats just an intensification of how I feel anyway in a social situation: tense, paranoid, unable to express myself for fear of what? indifference, rejection, criticism? Also perhaps a feeling of wanting to be my best self with her family, wanting them to see how I’ve grown and changed, and this creates a tension, a pressure. unable to relax and be myself. Old feelings of being an unsophisticated and mannerless child.

By this time, I’ve had a major breakdown, been in therapy off & on, but I still think this is who I am, not the result of how my parents treated me as a child.

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