innerlight


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atonement

I had a constellation done this weekend around the school. The experience was disappointing at first, and felt somehow incomplete, as if I had wrecked it by shutting down my feelings. I wanted to have it done, but I could not show up with all my feelings to be healed.

What it ended up being was an illustration of how all the individuals and entities involved could offer nothing to me in terms of the reconciliation I seek and have sought so deeply for so many years. There were representatives for the school, the teacher, my inner child, the police, and my parents, and all hands were tied. “Sorry, we can’t do anything; go deal with it by yourself, and have a nice life. Only you can love yourself.”

And so this was the constellation that happened for me as I withheld — no, I shut down — my feelings. I went into shut down (in retrospect) because I’m ashamed of my feelings, ashamed of even my desire for reconciliation. I still doubt whether or not my feelings are justified enough to exist because everyone in the story’s “hands are tied”, so no action was taken. No action was taken, telling me that neither my perceptions nor my feelings can be trusted. I — my feelings and my perceptions — am all wrong, and not worthy of love or support or action on anyone’s part.

So it is circumstance that abandoned me, more than any one heart. So who is there to atone for this loss and injustice, this exclusion, secret, banishment, dismissal.

Such a feeling of abandonment and the need for protection. Aloneness. World-unfriendly-ness. No support. No validation. Chronically needy, wanting to be seen, causes me to act like a child, doing childish things for attention.

The other internal pattern that came out of this for me is one of doubting myself, dismissing myself, wondering eternally if my feelings are real or justified.

This confusion, this neediness, keep me in my cage. The cycle of shame that goes on and on and on, around and around and around.

So I withheld both the story and my feelings for fear that they are not real, made up, coming from an impure place; and in so doing, I wasted the moment of healing.

When I block my feelings, I block their healing.

I do this uncontrollably, over and over again. I betray and abandon myself — and others — uncontrollably, by shutting down and failing to be present to the moment.

I also feel ashamed of my feelings because I’ve done so much therapeutic work and sharing on this issue that I’m embarrassed I haven’t healed it yet. That I need to share it again, spend more time and energy on it, take more from others on it.

So then I shut down again, so then I waste the moment, and everyone’s time again. So then I feel ashamed again.

The guilt, shame, despair and hoplessness get worse every time this happens.

The agony of being trapped inside myself.

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Shame and Attachment — from Attachment Disorder Maryland

Shame and Attachment

The page linked above is talking about ‘wishing to disappear’, states of experiencing the world in slow motion, and the endless cycle of sabotage. I’ve possibly never been so relieved to identify so deeply …

Description: The feeling of shame can be described as a sense of smallness, worthlessness, and powerlessness in a given situation.  …  It is triggered by a “perceived” break in one’s connectedness to others or to oneself. This is compounded by feeling exposed and extremely concerned about another’s evaluation of oneself.  Shame can be defined as the emotional experience of another’s devaluation or disgust, real or imagined. It is a self-absorbed, self-centered, and isolating experience.  While acutely feeling shame, an individual is not considering the implications of his behavior for others, but is focused solely on the possible impact on self.  Shame essentially splits a person into both an “observer” and “the one being observed”.  The observer part witnesses and criticizes the part being observed.  Sometimes, the presence of another is not even required to generate shame.

Shame & behavior:  Shame is self-perpetuating.  Internalized shame tends to induce behavior in the future that will lead to an outcome of further shame.  This is not recognized at the time.  The original motive for the behavior appears to have nothing to do with shame.  Yet, shame invariably results, and this final outcome indicates the true, underlying motive for the behavior as being the generation of shame, rather than the prior illusory motive.  Behavioral attempts to escape shame always work this way.  This can easily lead to an upwards spiral as increasing amounts of shame accumulate within which then fuels further shame-creating behavior.  …

Systemic impact:  Shame is more than a feeling.  It is an entire organismic state that affects multiple systems in the body.  Shame operates at primitive levels below the reach of rational thinking.  Shame brings with it a subjective sense of time slowing down which serves to magnify anything that occurs during a state of shame.  It also is accompanied by intensified feedback from all perceptual modalities, particularly autonomic reactions such as blushing, sweating, and increased heart rate.  These autonomic reactions induce a state of heightened bodily awareness which combines with the slowed sense of time to produce the extreme self-consciousness that is a part of feeling shame.

Shame and trauma:  Shame both mirrors trauma and is bound up with it.  Much of the power of what we term traumatic events lies in the shame bound up with these events.  Through traumatic events, perpetrators can download their own shame onto the victim who ends up being pervaded by it.  For the victim, this becomes an experience of powerlessness or helplessness.  Perceptions of being powerless create shame, for the self is seen as being weak / ineffective.  This often leads children to vow to “do it right” the next time in an attempt to overcome the trauma and prevent further trauma.  This can easily evolve into a perfectionistic stance which, in the end, only fuels the shame, as perfectionism generally guarantees failure.

Shame signals:  In addition to aversion to all eye contact, shame can manifest as fragmented thought and speech including: pauses, repetitions, false starts, inaudible voice level, and unclear diction.  All of these are common with AD children.  Subjectively this often gets reported as “going blank”, somewhat like dissociation.

Coping Defenses: The primary defenses for handling shame are denial, dissociation from all feeling states, splitting, withdrawal, perfectionism, entitlement, externalization, rage-driven behavior, pre-emptive shaming of oneself, and inability to give or receive praise.  With repeated use, these defenses, like all defenses, can function so quickly that the child never even consciously experiences any shame….

… Attempting to counter all this with positive reassurance is potentially damaging, for it can accentuate the shame by being so at odds with the self-image, and it can make the person offering such feedback seem completely out of touch to the AD child.


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Determining factors in Recovery from Rape and Sexual assault

“The way the woman is treated as a victim may also influence her ability to cope. This includes treatment by:

  1. The police. Of necessity the police are required to question the victim thoroughly. If this is not explained to her she may perceive that she is not believed and this can reinforce feelings of guilt and self blame. If she is unable to accurately describe her assailant or recall details of the attack, this may reinforce feelings of low self worth and inadequacy.
  2. Hospital service. If the victim is treated in an impersonal manner then the feelings of depersonalization are reinforced. If hospital staff offer judgement comments on her behaviour then feelings of guilt can be produced.
  3. The courts. The above comments apply here as well. The cross examination can seem like a repeat of the rape experience.
  4. The circumstances of the assault can affect the victim’s coping capacity.”

Dr Nicholas Jenner

(Rape Trigger warning)

I was rather disturbed to read a recent newspaper article stating that certain sections of the police force in the UK had been encouraging rape victims to drop cases in order to keep statistics on the good side. READ.  This is horrifying and makes a mockery of the “serve and protect” stance taken by law enforcement.

Rape should never be encouraged and certainly not in these times where one cannot pick up a newspaper without reading about some vile act committed in one country or another. Anyone who has been raped,whether male or female will attest to the trauma experienced, the overpowering of will, the helplessness, the violation and the long, hard road to recovery. Some never recover (as I know from my clients) and spend their lives dealing with the ongoing effects of being attacked . So to have the very institution that is responsible for catching…

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Recognizing Complex Trauma | Psychology Today

Recognizing Complex Trauma | Psychology Today.

It is essential for them to understand that their symptoms come from somewhere, so they can have compassion for themselves …

Developmental Trauma Disorder, Frozen Trauma, Complex Trauma, Attachment Disorder — whatever it’s called, it’s been a long time coming for the weight and the cost of repeated childhood trauma to be given its proper weight.


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The Three Factors of Loneliness | The Emotionally Sensitive Person

The Three Factors of Loneliness | The Emotionally Sensitive Person

by Karyn Hall, PhD, at Psych Central

I simplified the wording of the actual three factors:

  1. Level of vulnerability to social disconnection.
  2. Ability to regulate the emotions associated with feeling isolated.
  3. Mental representations, expectations and reasoning of/about others.

My favourite paragraph:

Sometimes lonely people have difficulty because they view themselves as inadequate or unworthy. Shame about who you are will block making connections with others.


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Trigger #2millionfourtytwo.five:

How am I:

I’m either in crisis, incredibly scared and shaky and just barely staying out of the hospital right now OR I’m doing more wonderful than I’ve ever been. Coming to bloom in the garden of life. Experiencing enlightenment. A bright shining light of inspiration and wisdom. Enjoying summer and friends and my happy new home.

On Friday, I began the day by reaching out for help in the face of having been distracted by increasing thoughts of how to kill myself, feeling hopeless, that no one was ever going to get me. Coming up with a plan for how to stay alive over the weekend, alone in the house with my roommate gone. It was an accomplishment that this was taken seriously and I received the caring I needed in order to have a re-do.

That the doc was not treating me less seriously than the ones who act out instead of hold it all in. That I need to feel the depth of these feelings in someone else’s presence, and how hard that is. Finally, I felt got!

I went for a walk with a friend that afternoon, mentioned nothing to her of my morning or what was going on. Took her lead instead to speak about writing and indulge ourselves in simple time together in the sun by the river, feeling peaceful and content and having good conversation about creativity and healing. Feeding the creative muses in both of us.

I got home, thawed out some home-made chili from the freezer, ate it, and went to my ACA meeting.

As soon as I walked in the door, I was struck by the feeling of not knowing how I was – was I in crisis, or was I enjoying the fruits of my labour in life? I honestly did not know.

This confusion was (is) so terrifying for me that I went into shock. I felt the Dead Feeling in my body and face, barely able to rouse a facial expression, sitting slumped in my chair, unable to look at anyone. Managing to read aloud my part in the opening to the meeting, managing to function just barely enough to not disrupt the meeting or draw attention to myself, and meanwhile sliding further into shock and the Silent Panic.

By the end of the meeting, it was so intense that I reached out for help, and concluded with a close recovery friend that I should not spend the night alone, and should go to the hospital if I couldn’t get a hold of anyone else to stay with.

The recovery friend went back into the meeting room for the second part of the meeting, and I moved to my car with my cell phone to find a place to go that night. I finally cried and shook when she hugged me good night. I was really scared and not in control of myself – not myself, and feeling exposed in that state, unable to think clearly and make decisions.

I couldn’t get a hold of anyone on the phone, so I decided to show up at someone’s house. But it was near the hospital too, so maybe I should just go there. I turned around several times, driving back and forth between the person’s house and the hospital, eventually up to the hospital. But then I realized I was almost out of smokes, and didn’t want to spend the night in the emerg room without smokes. So I went home and continued my phone search. By this time, my abdomen was in pain, enough for me to be slightly doubled over and moving quite slowly. I equate this with emotional stress, as that is where it tends to be stored in my body. I spoke with a couple other recovery friends, telling them what was happening. But they were unable to put me up for the night. I had never reached out in this way before.

Finally found someone who could. As soon as I left the house, on my way to be with someone in my time of need, I felt calmer, and began to come out of the shock and panic.

By the next morning, I felt like myself again. I invited some people for a potluck, made soup, and went for a hike and a swim with the same friend as the previous day.

This friend had no idea that my visits with her had been sandwiched between near admission to the hospital.

Is this real yet? What will it take for my Child to believe that her pain is real, her feelings are real, her distress is valid. What has been happening to me?

Does this not sound insane?

It scares me that I have this range, and the capacity for such extremes.

 


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living amends

It’s not a sense of entitlement; it’s the need to make a living amends to the Child within. To do things differently than they have been done in the past — to replace the unworthiness and the unloveability, with worthiness and loveability, on the most basic of levels, which cannot be accessed or changed with words.

A living amends to me is expressing and validating all the unspoken things in a way that is un-deniably reflective of the past lack, aka abandonment. Saying to my Child, “That shouldn’t have happened; here’s what should have. Here is what a healthy response would have been.”