We are in unparalleled times, connected globally as never before. My son showed me a mash up of a YouTube video where a cartoon character used a pointer and a world map to tally confirmed cases for Covid19 in every country around the world. It was a geography lesson and an indication of just how small we really are as a human tribe.
In The Common Denominator Is You, Michael Schreiner discusses a tendency to repeat life and relationship patterns that are symptomatic of giving away the power we have over our lives. I am reminded of my own efforts to take responsibility for having allowed my former self to live continuously within trauma and abuse.
Schreiner references Carl Jung’s philosophy that has become a pop psyche tenet:
“Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves.”
Along my journey, I chose to accept a term that betrays the illusion of security in childhood, codependency. The stigma associated with the powerlessness and victimization inherent in such terms is ego-shattering.
It requires a journey through pain, emotional upheaval, grief, and layers of healing.
It requires trusting the space through which we cannot see.
It requires remembering to float on our backs when we are accustomed to reacting to life in fear.
When I realized this aspect of Self, I was awakened to a process whereby I was able to start shedding the impact of complex domestic violence and sexual trauma. This happened layer by layer – digging through more than five decades of trying to see. I’m a bit of a late bloomer.
With intention, I reached levels of lightness that contrasted with where I used to be. That contrast provides enough definition to light my way.
Many people attribute such a process to trusting in their system of belief. It is very similar, so I won’t bother splitting hairs. Light, Wholeness, Faith, Trust, Hope, Compassion, Forgiveness, Healing, Centering – all of the ingredients are present.
To me, it felt like a gut-wrenching spiritual process of death followed by rebirth.
I integrated trauma that was grounded as emotional memory into what I perceive as Eckhart Tolle’s pain body. Integrating in this sense means that I took what I was made of, put it through the grinder, and recreated my very being. I thought the process was scary. What I know now is that the process isn’t singular. It is like peeling an onion.
At one point in my early 20s, I slept on cardboard on the floor of an open graduate studio for days and semi-showered in the building’s restroom. I found myself secretly stuffing cellophane-wrapped giant cookies into my apron during my opening shift at Stefano’s Pizza where I earned below minimum wage – just so that I could eat something that day. My parents were married for 60 years before the first one died. I went to parochial school and private college. I won scholarships. So, this trajectory made no sense without examining deeper aspects of my life experiences.
I was too ashamed to ask for help. I also feared asking for help. My self-esteem characterized me as easy for the plucking. Indeed, I was targeted by a university professor twice my age. That is just a minor sampling of my early adulthood as a deflated young woman. When I look back, I am grateful to be in my present skin. But even in this skin I journey continuously towards elusive wholeness. This wholeness is so bright that it is often hard to keep focus with an anxious world pulsating freely.
We seek to control our spaces. But really, this free-form nature defines our existence.
I find myself having to practice yielding to the flow of circumstances as opposed to reacting from a source of complex stress responsiveness. This is one simple aspect of how choosing to raise my son in connection converges with the healing of my own inner child.
I could not deny my role in the process of allowing abuse. It is very difficult and extremely uncomfortable to live any way but authentically after that realization.
Taking this responsibility does not equate absolving perpetrators of their insidious and hideous actions and intentions. Instead, it removes me from the scene of the crime so that I may regain what I’ve lost. It brings me back to center.
Truly, when enmeshed within trauma and abuse patterns, this process of stepping outside of the abuse feels literally like pulling apart the very threads of one’s own being.
Imagine that an afterimage of Self is left behind, an imprint of sorts that enables the healing person to glance back at where she’s been. This becomes a source of information for understanding parts of herself she’s released in order to escape – in order to grow.
She has the choice to fall back into the dysfunctional normal, or to fall forward in trust without foresight of who she is about to become. I must admit, when I got to this point, I felt I’d leveled up and could afford to breathe.
There is a space for wandering where fear is integrated as we search for light within an unlit tunnel. The afterimage of the fractured, former self gives reference to reassure us that we are indeed walking away from hurt. In this process, I was carrying myself for perhaps the first time.
Even as my son stresses about what he perceives as the narcissistic behavior of a friend, I draw upon my tool box and remind him not to give away his power. Connections are everything, but we have to know how, why, and when to sever nodes in the grid. The kill switch might just begin with us.
I found it precarious to wear my identity on social media during my period of transformation. So much of who I am now is not who I was before. But I’m still me. That part is reassuring. I feared I’d lost my essence, expended during prolonged epochs of fight or flight.
Even as I resume sharing opinions and beliefs, I try to take responsibility for how my thoughts differ from others’ instead of carrying the expectation that they see what I want them to see. I had to practice this. I had to sit on my hands and zip my lips when I desired to speak out against declarations that offended my own moral sensibilities. Next, I found myself wishing others would likewise calm the fuck down. Still a slight edge. I’m still me.
So much of what I see argued seems sourced from fear – and fear is a liar. Fear projection is inherently a refusal of faith, another lesson I’ve learned raising a child in connection.
Some people have the wisdom of ages, but deny their fear. Others have integrated extreme pain, loss, and misfortune, yet sometimes glitch in fear projection when the idea of letting go challenges the very foundation of their beliefs. Fear is first gear on the stick shift. None of us is wholly exempt. I have to continuously operate the clutch. This blog provides me a space to spit myself out for self-examination. That alone can be nerve-wracking.
Fear projection is inherently a refusal of faith.