I just came across an interesting article about traumatic bonding. It opened up a lot of questions about how to reconnect with trauma effectively since one of the results of being traumatised in childhood is that we are not allowed to have a true instinctive response to trauma. In addition part of trauma is that we are not actually allowed to have the very real emotion that we have at the time.
There are many ways our parents might respond or fail to respond to our emotions. The hardest being when they are ignored or punished. The end result is that of dissociation, we push out of awareness that which was upsetting and bury it into the body where the memory and also the chemicals live.
How then to get in touch with trauma since traumatic imprints are denied by the mind (in many cases trauma itself shuts off the thinking brain, trauma is stored in more primitive instinctive parts of the brain and the connection of these to the thinking brain is broken or shut down?). The only way we can truly access the trauma is later life is to actually feel the sensations that accompanied the trauma and have help from someone to make sense of them which is a very, very complex and difficult process fraught with all kind of complications.
I do know a fair bit about his as I have suffered from Complex PTSD for at least the last ten years. I had existing trauma within me from a younger age which was actually reactivated as I sought therapy with the result that a new trauma that mirrored an earlier near death trauma was catalysed when I sought healing for the original trauma.
I have had at least a dozen if not more attempts to work with trauma in both body centred therapy and psychotherapy. I was a little disturbed last week to read on one site that talk therapy is not considered effective to deal with deep trauma since deep trauma lives in the body and memory of it is dissociated from the mind. I have spent literally tens of thousands of dollars on psychotherapy and much of it has been helpful, some of it has been abusive and harmful.
I have arecently started work with a body therapist and have found that my ability to connect with the deeply repressed traumas was much improved in a situation where the therapist connected with my own body deeply through the use of touch and allowed my body trauma to speak and feelings to rise up in images, sensations and impressions which are then accessible through communication with the therapist who acts in an unconditionally supportive way.
If you think about it (and that is probably the strangest thing to write in preface to the words to follow) emotion exists in a world beyond words, most especially when we are young. So if we endure traumas or are around traumatising energy before we have developed the capacity to self reflect and find words for the experience it is going to be an exceptionally difficult thing to make sense of and find words for that which happened to us when we had not yet developed the capacity to think and reflect on what we reacted to and felt as babies and youngsters. And yet that truth will live on through as. We are resonate beings with bodies that respond reflect and mirror reactions and energies in the environment.
Its seems so essential if we have been traumatised and suffer the effects of trauma that we find a way to be with and connect to our bodies in silence for part of the day in order that we can be receptive to what our bodies have buried and what they may be trying to remember or bring our attention to in the day. However if one of the effects of trauma was to immobilise us for a time in a severe or life threatening way it may be very difficult for us to be still and quiet with ourselves due to imprints of fear and terror re-evoked by being immobile again.
One solution is that we find ways to alternate times of still, deeply connected inward tuning with movement. Feeling that we are stuck or paralysed will not help us to feel more empowered. In my own case with the trauma I experience I have times when inward focused attention on the body leads to immobilisation and flooding with trauma chemicals reactivates key times of being immobilised.
I spent an entire three months immobilised in a hospital bed at the age of 17 pinned to the bed in skeletal traction with a pin going through the left lower leg just below the knee. Now when I experiencing the spiralling of the trauma vortex which can paralyse me all the twisting is localised not in the leg that was immobilised but in the other leg (my right). At times the way to freedom rests not on fighting the feeling of being pinned and immobilised but in surrendering to the sensations that come when I choose to experience this state actively and fully consciously. At these times I am flooded with fear but I can learn to hold myself still in the middle of that fear, concentrate on the breath and give love to myself from a witness level of observation without disconnecting from feeling.
It takes a great deal of courage to deal with these flashbacks such as these and tomorrow I will post a blog I have been working on for some time on steps to help deal with emotional flashbacks which occur for those of us who have buried trauma. Our body asks us to reconnect with its messages and make sense of them, since during trauma the part of the brain that can do this is shut down and the connection between it and the trauma laden brain is disconnected. Reconnecting with the sensations in a situation in which we can be helped to make sense of them helps our life to be more full of understanding and we can learn ways to look after ourselves, so essential if we are to recover and find acceptance and love for our true predicament.