Being raised without a secure sense of bonding, a strong experience of being mirrored, validated and connected to at an emotional level and with fractures and deficits and feelings of grief, hyper-vigilance and fear from losses, emotional abuse and insensitivity can leave us without a secure sense of self.
It becomes difficult to trust but at the same time if we have been emotionally neglected this is what we really are used to, we are not used to healthy relationships. It may be difficult to know what we feel or even trust what we feel, we question other’s sincerity and the degree to which they can truly know us. I guess in the end only we can really know what is right for us, but if we have not been raised with a secure sense of self we may end up feeling very stuck and confused about what that is. Knowing inwardly that something is really not right we begin a long quest for healing which takes us through some very powerful learning experiences.
It is a healthy thing to seek healing and self understanding but it is also important for those of us who have been wounded in this way to have self acceptance. Today I am questioning how much our sense of there being something wrong with us is in fact a lie, something implanted into our heads by others around us who don’t get us and how much healing may actually mean just loving and affirming and accepting ourselves as we are.
I am wondering about this today as yesterday I had a session with my body work therapist which seemed to unwind some trauma but there was a point in the session where I was wanting to articulate some past trauma associated with my eldest sister’s breakdown and suicide attempt when I was 23 and she stopped me from speaking, making me aware to keep the focus on my breathing. This could have been because she felt I was leaving the body behind a bit and “getting into the story” as she has said before, but at the same time I felt blocked. There was a huge focus on grief in the session and I was given a homeopathic for grief, however when I came home I started doing a lot of reading on invalidation abuse.
I had gone to visit my mother on the way home and the subject came up of my own past trauma and the lack of support I felt, which my mother then tried to deny. “I really supported you at that time, don’t you remember?” “What I remember Mum was that you decided to go away at a time I was in deep grief, and then cried saying “I don’t think I should be leaving you”, but went anyway”. (I actually didn’t say this yesterday, I just sucked it up and left feeling angry. I’ve confronted her quiet a few times on this before and we never get anywhere, so now I just let it go.)
What hurts more is that my older sister is now getting a lot of support which she really needs as she is recovering from breast cancer. I don’t want to begrudge this but it brings up my own struggle. There was a time my sister was trying to address past neglect and her anger over it with Mum and my brother was called in to confront my sister and talk her around. This ended with her going on a so called “manic” high and then being forceably committed by her two sons. A suicide attempt followed when she was living back with Mum (I think because her real anger was not addressed.)
Anyway yesterday I read up some more on invalidation abuse which I posted here and slept for a while. (With complex PTSD I never sleep for more than four hours at a time, often only one hour to be followed by startled awakening and then much time spent in semi consciousness.) I wrestled around for a while and then I asked myself this question “How much of my grief is actually anger that I have had to turn inwards and which has become grief due to a sense of feeing confused and powerless?”
During my sessions of body work I lie on the table passively with the therapists hands on me, but I know a huge part of recovering from the kind of trauma I have experienced of being near to death and trapped in a car results in post traumatic freeze. I experience this state often during the day on the stuck days where I am twisted up on the floor and cant move with electric pain running up the channels in my legs, spine and sinuses. The healing from post traumatic freeze is to endure the fear but then take the action to kick and hit out in order to run free and escape from the powerful neurological imprint of the freeze state. This is what animals naturally do in the wild and what helps them escape being permanently frozen or disempowered.
I have not had any bioenergetic therapy but I have read a wonderful book by Alexander Lowen on Narcissism in which he explains the toll which emotional abuse and humiliation has upon our psyche and body. In the therapy he uses Lowen helps patients get in touch with the longing they felt for love which had to be repressed or frozen, as well as the anger they felt at being shamed, invalidated and humiliated. It is necessary to feel this anger and channel it in a constructive way, towards our own self care and liberation from invalidation and humiliation abuse and in his therapy he gets his patients to kick and hit out and also to reach out, often this reaching had to be repressed with all kinds of painful consequences.
I certainly know that I have carried a lot of grief from being raised in an emotionally vacant household, but I also feel there is a lot of anger too. I also feel that when I have tried to express this in both aggressive and assertive ways it has been misunderstood (and this includes with so called body work trauma therapists). The end result at times has been to repress my own protest or natural responses and then feel very depressed, even suicidal.
In the past few years I have come to a deeper understanding of all of this. I am now questioning how effective the therapy I am having is. I feel the trauma unwinding but maybe I am at the point where my understanding has grown to the degree that at times passive body work leaves me feeling too regressed. I have no answers at present only these questions.
I began today feeling really tired. I took the homeopathic and had an attack that went on for over two hours. In the midst of it I was questioning how stuck in the past I really am, how much use going back into all my trauma is and whether it might not be better to be self empowered, feeling happier stronger. Is this a denial of my true feelings? Or is it a sign I want something better for my life now than what I have had in the past.
I have done a lot of work in processing my trauma. There are so many painful things that happened to me as an adolescent and young adult that have left deep scars. I will always carry this pain and trauma. But I want something so much better than these ongoing body attacks and endless reliving of my traumatised stuckness now. They rob so much of my day which is happier for me when I concentrate in putting energy into new life and present time.
It seems to me that when I can energise myself by hitting our and erecting a strong boundary against what hurts I feel better. In trusting my gut about what it good for me instead of over questioning and self doubting and placing my power outside myself I feel stronger, more of an adult than the helpless child I was being told I didn’t feel the way I did and couldn’t do that things I wanted to do. (This included the career I chose) .
I’m also very interested in what you think of the connection between grief and anger. I know anger can be used as a defence against feeling grief but I also feel it is such an essential emotion for us to come to grips with. In astrology anger and assertion is ruled by the planet Mars and I remember reading a lecture by the astrologer Liz Greene who said that the function of a healthy Mars is to serve the Sun in the chart (our sense of self and individuality), without it we become limp like jello and certainly there are times that we need to become more passive and receptive, but we also need our fighting spirit, that gut instinct that tells us when something is wrong or right for us.
For me I am now beginning to realise there is a life for me beyond post traumatic freeze, there is also a life beyond self doubt and internalised invalidation. The more I can learn about what is and is not validating and healthy the more I can move forward in my own life with confidence. I also feel a sense of mission and purpose with this. I don’t want others to suffer endlessly the inner sabotage of invalidation. For I don’t thingk we were put on this earth to suffer endlessly on an emotional level. I believe we were put here to learn how to love and practice self love which only comes when we end abuse internally and externally and use our lively energy to overcome post traumatic freeze.