Blow by Blow Description of Work with “Parts”

This is an attempt to illustrate what my work with parts is like.  I wrote in my journal exactly what was going on, when it was happening.

Sunday, July 18

I think if I can’t do anything else, maybe I should try to work with my parts.  I felt “can’t go on” earlier, so I turned that way and immediately got burning and fear in my stomach.  What’s going on for you?    I am terrified! I’m exhausted!     Sounds pretty bad.  No wonder you feel exhausted.  Do you know what you’re afraid of?      Something terrible!        Now listen to me.  what you are afraid of did happen, you did get left alone, but you survived.  You are still here.  I am the you that’s grown older.  You’ve been stuck in a pocket of time, while I’ve gone on living and growing.  I don’t like being alone much, but it hasn’t killed me.  Does that help?     Can’t go on is stopped with surprise.   Deep breath.  Stomach gurgle.  I ask would you like a hug?   The part is in a place of astonishment.    I won’t hug you until you tell me it’s OK…   She flings herself into my arms.  I hold her saying Welcome! Welcome!  She is crying tears of relief like waking from a bad dream.  I think of Edith confessing to Mary that she stole the Little Things.  Redemption.  I feel another slight chill of fear.  I think it’s not “can’t go on” but another one wanting the same.  I tell it I’m sorry, I can only manage one at a time.  I ask it to dial back and it does.  Thank you.  I want to give my attention to can’t go on.  Somewhere in there I had a big burp.

“Pocket of time” is a term Nancy Napier uses to describe the experience of a part. “Stomach gurgle” something my therapist told me is an indicator of trauma release, like a yawn that mens the nervous system is shifting from activated to relaxed.  “Burp” is another one, that’s why I write them down when they occur. “Dial it back” is asking the parts to lower the amount of emotion so I can function.

I named this part “Can’t Go On.”  Edith and Mary and the Little Things are from a novel by Elizabeth Goudge.

Now an ache in my heart, turns into a chill, I think it’s grief for all the lost parts, that there are so many of them.  Listen, dear ones, you have to dial it back.  I want to be able to be there for each of you, just as I was there for can’t go on.  I have to go on and check email, have breakfast, walk the dog.

Monday, July 19

Thinking about what happened with D.  She says I yelled at her on purpose.  I tried to explain it was a part of me that was triggered, but she doesn’t get that the part is not here now, but there then.  Maybe it was “fight” energy not flight, and she was right to say I had a lot of anger — maybe that’s even what the heat is — but that’s the reptilian brainstem, not the neo-cortex.  The only thing the neo-cortex could have done would have been to recognize the anger right away and choose not to act out.  But it’s something that happens so rarely that I don’t have any practice in catching it in time.  I remember as a child something I called “red rage,” going up the stairs in Maine, saying “Rugs, Rags, Rhubarb and Rhinoceri!”

I remember using all these R-words as swear words because the usual Damn and Hell didn’t express my feelings.  I was probably a teenager.  When we were traveling together in Europe, my friend Bettie told me I didn’t have to lose my temper.  I think I must have learned from my father because he did have explosions of temper.  But after Bettie said that, I found I didn’t have to do it.

It’s so amazing.  I’ve been continuously in my adult since I started writing — except that my handwriting is badly deteriorated.  It’s pouring rain.

I thought about parking outside 45 Lyme and felt a swell of “fear” — maybe it’s more complex than that. I started to say “What you are afraid of never happened” and realized that this was probably a different part. I asked “What are you afraid of?” Got no answer but when I started writing the feeling faded. I’m getting that this one is afraid of doing something wrong and getting rejected. I remember that Lisa was more amused than angry when I said I had trouble with the scheduling, and was totally willing to do it for me, instead of insisting that I “shape up.” I can feel scared one relax.

Lisa is a Physical Therapist who works at 45 Lyme.

I think I went back with Jeanne to her apartment…

Thinking about resilience, how she has managed.  Listened to gsig-tana-mook’s TED talk where he says how amazing that he could still speak the language his ancestors spoke.  I think how amazing that I have survived everything that happened to me, and how lucky that I had money and could afford the therapy, and maybe that’s why I am called to do this deeper work.  A wave of hope in resilience swells in my heart,  — burp —  a knowing that we are going to make it.  Maybe not save the planet but at least create a community of everyone.

Jeanne is a friend dealing with Post-polio syndrome.  She pretty much lives her life from a wheel chair.  She needed help packing to go to Maine.

gkisedtanamoogk is the correct spelling of the name of the man I learned about in the film Dawnland, and who was one of the writers in The Gatherings.

Back from walking Mocha.  While I ate breakfast I read more in The Gatherings, working to strengthen and return to the Resilient One in me.  Getting ready to walk Mocha, another big surge of fear.  I said “I have to take Mocha out, but I’ll pay attention to you.  Please tell me what you need.”  I get that it needs reassurance that it is not a weakling and a coward.  I tell it/her “NO.  You are facing and dealing with issues that D, strong as she is, has refused to face.”      — teeth chattering —      I’m wearing my Journey T-shirt and remember that I say in my monologue that I’m a weakling and a coward.  “If I weren’t I could get somebody to listen to me!”  O yes!  get somebody to listen to me.  That in some ways was the worst of my abuse.  Neither Mom nor Dad listened to me and validated what was going on for me.  I tell that one now “People don’t listen because they don’t want to face the things you are courageous enough to face.”

Resilient One is an older self, older than I am now, who has learned to live after initiation.  Teeth chattering is a trauma release I learned about from Somatic Experiencing.

Tuesday, July 20

Terror got big before I even started cooking breakfast.  I realize I hadn’t responded to C’s email about scheduling a day for her to come and help me, and I also got a bunch of emails from A about the Perseid meteor shower and other sky-watching.  I realized that I’m afraid both of them will judge me for falling apart.  So I have a part who’s terrified of judgement, and a part who’s angry at me for falling apart.  Yesterday started out with me feeling so good and solid in my real self.  The sense of resilience in my heart.  And now it’s all gone.  “Don’t think you’re so great!”  That part is angry at me for feeling good.

“Falling apart” essentially means that I can’t do something that would probably help if I could do it.  It’s the triggered fear that stops me, not the fear of actually doing the thing.  At least if it’s a thing I know I can do.  Stage fright never stopped me.  I don’t know why this fear does.  Maybe because part of it is “freeze,” and what’s triggered is a very young part not an adult.  Gosh that’s hard to explain!

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Rescuing Young Parts

My therapist and I are working with Richard Schwartz’s ideas, developed over the last 20 years as Internal Family Systems.  Instead of being able to deal with parts who can talk individually, I get flooded by parts who are desperate and terrified. I suspect that these parts are pre-verbal and so I have to “tune in” to what’s going on for them. It is very hard work just to be able to cook breakfast and walk the dog, and almost impossible to do things like call Toyota and make an appointment for a badly needed checkup for my car — which I did manage to do.  I have not yet been able to make an eye appointment.  Someone suggested I call Kirsten for help, but I haven’t even been able to do that.  I have posted about a couple of parts, and also about rescuing babies, one from as long ago as 2016.  Don’t even remember how I knew about that technique of soul-retrieval.

Here are some relevant earlier posts:

Rescuing another little jenny   oct 2016

A new part of me    feb 2020

Work with parts in the IFS model:

Work with Younger Parts of Me       June 9, 2021

Work with Stuck Energy      June 18, 2021

Angry One     June 24, 2021

 

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My Indigenous Celtic Soul

Something I’ve been discovering lately, after reading The Gatherings, is that I in fact have an indigenous soul, and an indigenous spirituality.  I realized that the traditional folk dances are indigenous, they come from people who had lived for generations on the same land.

This post is made up from excerpts from earlier posts (with links to the earlier posts) with some summations and additions.

Folk Dance as “Experiential Worship

When I was living in Brunswick Maine in 1975, I found out that there was a local folkdance group that met Wednesday nights.  I went and loved it.  A synchronicity happened that first night, a woman came in with a record under her arm and wanted to teach a simple dance.  We lined up shoulder to shoulder.  It was 3 steps moving to the left, arms go down, and 3 steps in place, arms come up.  The music started with bagpipes and immediately I was on a moor in Scotland with a bonfire and a full moon rising.  Dottie wound us into the tight spiral at the end.  It turned out the music was by Alan Stivell, a harpist from Brittany.  I had never heard of Brittany, but I immediately realized that this was the music and dance of my Celtic ancestors (Scots and Irish.)  I had always envied the Greeks and the Israelis their ethnic music and dance, and now I found my own ethnic heritage.  Within a very few years I traveled to Brittany and went to a number of “fest-noz”, night festivals, with a band and 100 people dancing in long lines.  A whole part of myself woke up and rejoiced.

In 1988, a friend told me that there was going to be “Sacred Circle Dancing” on the green in Danville Vermont, to celebrate the Fall Equinox.  “Sacred Circle Dancing, what’s that?”  So I went and found a circle of people doing a dance I already knew, around a centerpiece made of a scarf, a candle, a bowl of water, and a feather.  Well of course!  I already knew the traditional dances carried sacred energy, but here it was being acknowledged.

The Red Woman

Thinking about having this person wake up in me.  She is both me and not me, she is huge, she is a flame, a fountain, she has wings, and my life is dedicated to her service.  Is she my soul? God?  She seems much bigger than I ever imagined my soul to be, and at the same time she is much more personal and unique to me than I could ever imagine God.

The work that we do together is the geomantic healing of the planet earth.  I know the timing of the festivals and the steps of the dances, and the placement of the stones.  And I am part of that company of human beings who have chosen to take the abuse of the planet into our own bodies and heal it there.  Such a feeling of stepping into my heritage, little things making sudden sense, all the pieces of my life falling into place.

This was written in 1989. At that time I still had no idea that I was dealing with PTSD.  Once I was able to accept that I had been traumatized in infancy, I realized that trauma is a shamanic initiation.

It wasn’t until 1998 that I painted the “Red Woman” at Aviva Gold’s “Painting from the Source.”  It was a long time before I connected the two.

Francis Weller describes the difference between trauma and initiation.

From a talk published in Kosmos Journal:

In any true initiatory process, there’s three things that happen. First, there’s a severance from the world that you once knew. Then there’s a radical alteration in your sense of identity. And then there’s a profound realization that you can never go back to the world that was. In true initiation, you don’t want to go back to the world that was. Initiation is meant to escort you into a wider, more inclusive, participatory, sacred cosmos.

Trauma, on the other hand, has the inverse effect. The same three things happen. There’s a severance from the world. There’s a radical alteration of the identity and in a sense, you cannot go back to what was. But what trauma does to the psyche is it reduces it down to a singularity. I become cut off and severed from that sense of being engaged with a wider and more encompassing sense of identity. I become isolated in the cosmos. If you talk to anybody who’s gone through trauma, that’s the effect that it has on the body and on the psyche. You are torn out of that sense of being a part of the cosmos.

The basic difference is that initiation happens in a container which allows transformation to happen. That doesn’t happen in trauma.

Weller describes the container:

What distinguishes these two things is initiation, what I call the contained encounter with death. The containment was provided by the community, by the elders, by the ancestors, by the rituals, by the space itself. In a sense, you are initiated into a place, not into abstraction. You are actually initiated into the ground beneath your feet. Those are the five things that provided a containment field for that encounter with death, because all initiations require some kind of encounter with death.

Reading this, I realize that Neskaya is a container for initiation.  It totally amazes me that I somehow knew what was needed and created it deliberately. Perhaps it was my indigenous soul that knew, that led me to folk dance, that woke up when I did my first Celtic dance, that sent me to Brittany where I actually danced with a hundred Bretons in a field with live music and a full moon rising.  My indigenous soul that said “Let’s build it!” of the dance hall/dojo my husband and I talked about.  The design, a twelve sided figure made into an 8-sided one by extending the first and third sides, that mirrored the Cross-Quarter days of the Old Nature Religion of Western Europe… which I only realized when I wanted to teach a workshop called “Dancing the Sacred Calendar.” 

Neskaya Movement Arts Center was designed as “sacred space” for movement disciplines that are also spiritual practices.

In the belief that everything is connected to everything else, and that if humans are to survive the current planetary crisis, we need to recognize that we are a part of the natural world,  Neskaya offers ways of celebrating our place in the natural world thru seasonal celebrations.  In the belief that one of the ways to end war is to make our differences a reason for celebrating rather than fighting, we do dances from around the world. In times of crisis, we dance to support everyone in finding the best way out.  At the time of the fighting in Kosovo, we did dances from Kosovo, Albania, and Serbia as a prayer for this region to heal its differences.  We do “Red Rain,” played by musicians from Greece, Turkey and Armenia, as a prayer for peace between cultures that have been fighting each other for generations.

Our mission is to promote inner happiness, healthy social connections and world peace through the practice of celebrating our differences.  By offering such activities as Sacred Circle Dance and Yoga we want to heal the divisions between soul and body, between people of different cultural backgrounds and between human beings and the material body of our planet.

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Dawnland and The Gatherings

Early in January, Hanover Friends Meeting hosted a talk by Bruce Duthu about the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in Maine.  The TRC was intended to uncover the truth about child-welfare practice with Maine’s Native people.  They wanted to create opportunities for Natives to speak about their experiences and heal from them.  Dawnland, a documentary about the commission’s work, was released in 2018.  Bruce was important in the making of the film, and he arranged for us to see it before he did a talk to the members of the Meeting on Zoom.

June 18 I watched the recording of the Beacon Hill Friends discussion with the authors of The Gatherings.

A few days later I went to Kilowatt North with some friends and dogs.  A familiar looking man was seated on a bench near the water.  We started talking to him, and he turned out to be Bruce Duthu.  I mentioned The Gatherings to him, and he said he had the book on order and was waiting for it eagerly.  As a result, I ordered the book the next day, and the Norwich Bookstore called back right away with the information that they had the book in the shop.

The Gatherings is a book about meetings between Natives and Non-Natives to create more understanding about their differences.  The subtitle is Reimagining Indigenous-Settler Relations.  After two meetings, the Natives said they wanted to use a Native form, the circle with a talking piece, and also have some of their ceremonies.  A circle with a talking piece can use a stick, a microphone, a piece of pottery, any object.  The person with the talking piece is the only one who speaks, everyone else just listens.  All the Non-Natives had powerful experiences.

Shirley Hager is the Non-Native who did much work to put the book together. Her name is on the front along with the word “Mawopiyane,” which means a group gathered together for a specific purpose.  There are stories of their experiences written by seven Natives and seven non-Natives who participated.

Shirley writes “Being in those Circles was a spiritual experience, I don’t know any other name for it; as if we were doing something so right with Creation that you could feel it.” p66 “I felt a subtle shift from seeing myself as primarily a listener and learner in relation to the Wabanaki participants, to feeling that we were partners in something larger than ourselves — our shared concern for the Earth and for one another’s well-being.” p69

Another white participant, Joann, who is of Irish descent, was told by a Native “If I were you I would go to Ireland and walk the land.” p111  After spending time in Ireland, she says “You’re there to find your identity; you’re there to understand something really very deep — your original connection to the land. We need it; we absolutely need that sense of belonging in order to live. Once you have it, you want the environment to be healthy and you want to protect it wherever you are.” p112.

Dawnland and The Gatherings helped me see the importance of my own Celtic Heritage — a Scots grandmother and an Irish grandmother — and the Celtic soul in me that rose up when I first did a Celtic folk dance.

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Forgiveness

From my journal for Monday, June 28

Yesterday was a miserable day.  The low-grade fear or whatever it is in my heart is so uncomfortable.  I’ve been trying to get her to tell me what the problem is, but so far I haven’t heard anything.  I keep guessing.  Are you afraid of me rejecting you if you tell me what’s wrong?  Are you afraid of me?  I feel a pause & relief.  It’s OK to be afraid of me.  I’ve pushed you away a lot.  I’m so sorry. so so sorry.  There, there.  I’m hesitant because I’m scared of doing the wrong thing.  What comes is an image of Dana looking at me so coldly when I came back to the house to get some of my things after the divorce.        

I think there’s still some confusion and misunderstanding between us, but I’m willing to work it out.  You don’t have to do anything you’re not old enough to do.  I’ve managed to do almost all the things that needed a grown-up to do.

I feel the burning in my heart again.  It’s some kind of baffled fury at what’s happening on the planet, and my inability to take action.  There’s some intense tangle here.  We may need some further piece of information.

Yes, I really want to know what’s going on for you.  If it’s something bad or scary I’ve done or said, I’d like to be able to reassure you that it was a mistake, that I won’t do it again.  There there Little One.  I’m so sorry you’ve been hurt so badly.

Were you afraid I was sending you away when I sent “these energies” to the white light?  I feel the burning in my heart.  I know I didn’t always get the exact words right, but I never meant to send you away.

I’ve spent my whole first cup of tea working on this and I still feel the burning in my heart.  I really need some help.

Second cup of tea.  Blessed Lord Jesus have mercy on me.  Please!  Now I have to wait patiently for help to manifest.

I continued writing about yesterday.  Then, after I finished writing about yesterday, I went on in imagination and this is what happened.

Trying to reassure the one I’ve been working with that I don’t want to send her away.  I see a small child, maybe 5 yr old, crying and running frantically toward me.  I get that it’s a situation where she did something wrong and tried to apologize and mother wouldn’t accept it.  There was no forgiveness.  My heart goes out, I take her in my arms and say I’m not like that.  God’s not like that.  Of course I forgive you for giving me a bad time.

I don’t have an actual memory of Mother refusing to forgive me.  I didn’t realize that’s what happened until I saw the movie “Mommie Dearest,” and when the adopted daughter says “I’m sorry, I’m sorry!” the mother says “Just don’t do it again.”  There was no “That’s OK,” or “I still love you.”  I learned that the only thing I could have done “right” was not to have done whatever it was in the first place.  Then there was the threat to “send me back to Sears & Roebucks,” which told me that not only would I not be forgiven, but I would be sent away to some impersonal adult place where I wasn’t wanted.

I choose to trust that I am in a healing process, and that all my mistakes are forgiven.

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Angry One

Feeling desperately scared the morning of June 22, I found it really hard even to go through my well-practiced routine of cooking breakfast.  As soon as I finished breakfast and walked Mocha, I went down to the Clinic to see if anyone could see me, and to just sit there where there were people around.  They were able to arrange a meeting with my primary care person, Karen Skalla, at 10:00.  When I got there, Kirsten King, a staff member concerned with community health was there also.  They made sure that was OK with me.  I figure I need all the help I can get.  

They suggested I have a definite plan for when I first get up.  I explained that I have my first cup of tea and write in my journal, and have a definite routine up to walking the dog.  The problem is when I wake up at 4 or 5AM, too tired to get up, too scared to go back to sleep.  One of them suggested I have a tape to listen to.  I know that Nancy Napier and Belleruth Naparstek make tapes (and CD’s) for relaxation in stressful situations.  So that sounded like a good idea.  Being reminded of Belleruth Naparstek also reminded me about her book, Invisible Heroes, about trauma survivors.  I got it out and started reading — the book was published in 2004, shortly after I started Somatic Experiencing, and I found it helpful — and found it even more helpful now that I’m struggling with confusing symptoms.

From my journal for Wednesday, June 23

Went to bed last night listening to Sharon Salzberg on Lovingkindness.  This was the suggestion of the medical folks for what I should do first thing in the morning when I feel scared.  So I played the CD last night & fell asleep easily.  Then when I woke up in the middle of the night and felt the first hit of fear I put it on again and went right back to sleep.  Finally at 6, I woke up and was hit with a real jolt of heat.  I told it to go away and it got stronger.  OK, I’ve got to find out who this is.  I put on Sharon again and continued to try to find out more about where this heat is coming from, what it’s about.  I suspect it’s anger — I just got a hit, it’s very young.  That shifted everything.  The one who broke David’s windows.  Davis.  The Madwoman of Chaillot.  Earth Day.  Rewriting Genesis.  The one who has a lot to say and never got a chance.  Something like that.  The child who was validated by Dr. Asher.

The Sharon Salzberg CD is the 3 CD set on Lovingkindness put out by Sounds True.

The jolt of heat is a jolt of fear, it almost feels like I’m burning, it carried an intense sense of DO SOMETHING.

David was my boyfriend who abandoned me, and I went to his apartment and when he wouldn’t answer me I got my car jack and started breaking his windows.  Dr Asher was a psychiatrist I was seeing who, when I told him about my childhood, said “You must have been very frightened.”  The Madwoman of Chaillot was put on at the University at Davis, California.  It was a great performance with environmental overtones added by the students.  The first Earth Day was celebrated that spring of 1970.

Finally I realized that this one was ANGRY.  Angry at me for not standing up for myself.  I didn’t write down this realization, so I don’t remember where in the day it happened. Before I thought that it was very young I got the word “antagonistic” and thought it might be angry at me.  Well it was, but on my behalf, SHE was angry that I didn’t stand up for myself.  It was the first and only time I got angry enough to commit violence.

From my journal for Thursday, June 24

Yesterday, after connecting with Angry One, I felt a little high all day. Possibly energized by the anger that was finally reclaimed.  So it was a good day.

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Work with Stuck Energy

From my journal for Wednesday, June 16

“May this energy go to where it can be used for the highest and best good of all.”  I woke at about 4:20 and felt the burning energy in my heart and elbows.  I realized it’s not so much fear as stuck energy.  Trying to talk to parts was not helping, so I worked on trying to find the best words to send the energy out to do good in the world.  I saw images of very strange dark unstructured places, maybe slums and hippy houses.  I didn’t try to figure anything out, just kept saying my prayer.  The heat faded and came back many times.  Finally I began to feel empty and cool and quiet which was wonderful.  It certainly feels like this is the right thing to be doing.  In some ways “stuck energy” is the definition of trauma.  Maybe I am helping the collective trauma by doing this work.  I certainly hope so.

The heat in my heart and elbows was familiar from something I felt a lot during the Summer from Hell, after I had freaked out on Paxil.

“Unstructured” is a word used by Matt Licata.  Something I expected would make me uncomfortable, but in this work I was so focussed on sending the energy out that I didn’t pay a lot of attention to the images.

From my journal for Thursday, June 17

OK whoever you are.  I’m sorry I’ve been avoiding you by playing puzzles.  No wonder you’ve been coming on stronger.  I just got a new post from Matt.  I went there, and he’s talking about grief. he speaks of “the forgotten, broken-hearted orphans” and I feel tears come.  Perhaps you are one of those.  I wonder if you have something to do with the heat I was feeling yesterday, perhaps you are the one who lived through the summer from hell in 1996.  The words “fear is a choice” come.  I remember how the woman said that at Jalaja’s Circlework Training, and how my fear went through the roof.  It took days to talk myself down.  I feel your fear, and that you are afraid you are never going to come out of it.  I tell you that we, or I, come out of it over and over.  You, as a frightened part, may be stuck in fear.  But fear is not a choice, unless you choose to tell yourself scary stories.  You are not doing that.  Something truly fearful happened to you, I don’t know what it was because there are a number of possibilities.  Your experience was truly overwhelming, your capacity to process it was swamped, and so you experience it as present reality.  But instinct, not cognitive choice sent you into a place of frozen terror.  I am so sorry that happened to you, that the psychiatrist who prescribed the Paxil didn’t believe you when you said you were afraid.  It wasn’t until Char said “You wanted to be un-depressed so badly that you kept on taking it, even though you were scared out of your wits.”  There, there.  I hold her and rock her, tears in my eyes.  “It was not your fault.”  And because of it, you were unable to take in all the goodness that was there at the Circlework Training.  That deserves grief, it is not wrong for you to grieve that that happened to you.  You have a right to grieve all your unlived [unloved] life.

My journal writing these difficult days has been full of wrong words, left out words, mistakes that make sense…  “playing puzzles” must have been a memory of when I used to play solitaire compulsively.  The word unlived was rejected by my spell checker and replaced with “unloved.”  In some ways both are true.

Disclaimer: I usually try very hard to make sure what I’ve written is understandable. Today my brain is not working well enough to have any idea of whether this post is understandable. You could see it as an example of living with PTSD.

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Work with Younger Parts of Me

To explain to people I trust when they ask how I am, I’ve been saying: “I’m dealing with flashbacks to early trauma, and I often feel terrified.”  The reality is that I am overwhelmed with very young parts who are terrified, and working with them can be tricky.  Slightly edited notes from my journal for today, Wednesday, June 9.

Woke at 5, burning heart, heat all over body.  It was a real struggle, but I finally managed to connect with young one and to convince her that she should not have been left with younger ones to care for, that she was much too young.  She had a really hard time getting it.  I just realized that she might have thought that she just wasn’t good enough.  NO. You were too young.  It’s not that you could have done it, but you didn’t try hard enough.  It’s not that someone else your age could have done it but you weren’t good enough.  It’s wrong that you were left alone with younger children.  Young one asks “Then why did they do it?”  Because they were irresponsible parents.  It was too scary to see that when you were a child, so you had to make it be that you were the one who was not good enough.  I feel her relax with a big sigh.  I tell her I am the older one now, and I will take care of her and not ask her to do things she can’t do.

My heart gets cold.  I think it must be about the phone and all the other devices I don’t know how to take care of because I’m caught in a younger part.  I feel “I can’t go on” get big again.  I tell her she doesn’t have to, that I can find help.

Just had to reassure another little one, or a bunch of little ones, that I want to be present for each one, but if I’m overwhelmed I can’t be present, so I need them to dial back.  They do, and I feel a gush of gratitude.  Good work, you guys!  We’re managing together.

Looking for help yesterday, I went to see the Doctor, and she said it was OK to raise my dose of Buspar to help with anxiety.

I took 2 buspar at bedtime.  It felt like it took a while to go to sleep, and then I woke at 5, did all that inner work, and felt very sleepy when I finally got up.  It ’s like I’m too relaxed to function, but still terrified.

Dear little ones who are scared, you can go to the Bodhisattva of Compassion — I look at my statue of her holding a baby — if you need help.  I don’t want to send you there because you might feel rejected, but if you want help, she’s available.  I will still be available when it works out for me to be with each one of you.

It seems to me there are some major categories.  There’s the tiny baby who’s been left alone and is in a state of frozen terror.  There’s the one trying to protect me from Mom, but who shuts out everyone else too.  There’s the one who feels responsible to take care of younger ones.  Reassuring her is tricky.  If I tell her she doesn’t have to take care of younger ones any more, she might feel rejected, so I have to reassure her that I still want to be connected to her.  I also have to make sure that she understands that she is too young to care for younger ones, not incompetent.

This is such hard work!

O yes, there’s also the one who can’t go on.  I have to reassure her that Erica and I can take care of the younger ones, that I have help, that she can relax and rest, and that I still need her as part of myself.  Maybe she’s the hardest one.  To reassure without rejecting.  Well, I managed to reassure the one who is too young, that she is truly too young, and not incompetent or a failure.

God.  No wonder I’m exhausted.

Having trouble with things seeming very strange when I walk around, and feeling so overwhelmed.  I asked the little ones to use their venetian blinds.  I realized why I’ve been feeling so odd, even tho I’m doing better.  It’s because younger parts are awake in me, and they are seeing this world for the first time.

“Venetian Blinds” was a suggestion made to me as a highly sensitive person, to help me cut down on sensory input.

Sometimes I think it must be hard for these young ones to wake up in an old body and realize they never got to live the life in between.

When I think about this, I feel enormous grief.

Posted in Journal, Present Day, Trauma | Comments Off on Work with Younger Parts of Me

Bombed-Out Village, Reprise

On May 24, I wrote my “primary wound history,” following the assignment from Matt’s course. At the end of this writing I say:

At least writing this has helped make the fear fade.  I also am somewhat surprised to see what enormous hardship I’ve been through, and how well I have done just to survive.  I haven’t even begun to address the second part of the question.

From my journal for Tuesday, May 25

3rd cup. Kombucha.  Not wanting tea or coffee or caffeine.  Walking Mocha I thought of the bombed-out village, and the dreams of atomic bombs, seeing the pictures of Hiroshima in Life magazine, the possibility that in my last life I died in London during the Blitz, the truth that there are presently bombed-out villages in Syria, in Gaza, in Afghanistan…  I remembered that strange feeling at Debbie’s when I seemed to be in two places at once.  So I continue to be in the bombed-out village, aware of the 3yo who’s there too.  It feels like there’s no point in trying to talk to her right now.  But as long as I stay in the bombed-out village, I don’t feel scared.

Hiroshima was bombed on August 6, 1945.  I was three years old on August 25.  I saw drawings in Life magazine — I presume because there were no photographs — the drawings were line drawings in black ink with some swathes of red.  They showed people running and falling, buildings crumbling, fires. I knew that some disaster had happened to the world.  The earliest dream I remember, I have no idea how old I was, was that I was in the living room of our house, and the atomic bomb fell just outside the window.  I could see it, it looked like a huge bullet, it was an evil yellowish metallic color.  I turned around and tried to run away, but my knees were like rubber and I could barely move.

From my journal for Wednesday, May 26

The “bombed-out village” came to mind, and I kept it present while I walked with Mocha.  It helped calm the fear, and a bunch of other associations came to mind.

I think one reason it helped with the fear is that when I walk around with triggered trauma, I feel like I’m in a war zone, but there’s no one there with me. If I were in a real war-zone, there would be others there to validate my experience.

From my journal for Sunday, May 30

3rd cup. dandelion.  That was a surprise.  Reminding myself of what happened to me actually made me feel better.  There’s so much emphasis on not going over the bad things that happened, and I know that can keep people stuck, but in my case I need the reminder of exactly what did happen, how I had no choice about learning dysfunctional strategies, and that these dysfunctional patterns, and flashbacks to real events, are not character flaws.  Which is of course how I first defined them, because I had no idea of what had really happened.

Posted in Journal, Present Day, Story, Trauma | Comments Off on Bombed-Out Village, Reprise

Finding Help for Terror

What would be a 3rd cup writing except I’m too scared for caffeine.  Looking for help, I went to Matt’s blog, and just intuitively clicked on April 2019, then on “A Container of Holding.”  Matt reminds me that I’m not alone, that there are other empaths out there with wounded younger parts, who are feeling terror for the destruction of the earth.  I am suddenly aware of a huge crowd, and people are coming to sit down next to me.  It is comforting to know I’m not alone, I’m in the company of my peers.  

Before sitting down to write, I prayed to the Bodhisattva of Compassion, saying that I simply couldn’t handle this much fear, that I need some help with even the fear that is legitimately mine.  Then I got out the statue of the Bodhisattva holding a baby and set her up in front of the big crystal.  I intended to light a candle in front of her, but got distracted until I looked up just now, after doing this writing.

Thank You.  I still feel  little fear, but I also feel comforted.  I am not alone.  There are people sitting near me, and people all around the planet doing the lovingkindness meditation for all beings.

These are paragraphs from Matt’s blog that helped the most:

Is it my pain alone that I am feeling, my personal emotional overwhelm, my trauma, my grief, my uncertainty, my anguish? It’s so much to hold. Or is it that of the ancestors, the stories and feelings and memories and images of those who have come before, or even have yet to come? It is not always easy to tell and the weight of tending to it all can be unbearable at times. 

While recognizing our common humanity and history—and the vast relational field that we share with others who have come to know healing, wholeness, and mercy—doesn’t necessarily make the pain go away, it provides a context or container of holding in which we can find the strength, the hope, and the vision to find a way through, to discover a light that has never truly gone out.

Posted in Guidance, Journal, Present Day, Spirit, Trauma | Comments Off on Finding Help for Terror