When the walls come tumbling down, inner child healing , trauma , alters and disassociation.
In these early stages of a spiritual awakening we can often jump too many steps forward before we are ready, trying out various forms of meditation and spiritual practices but sooner or later we come to realise that we cannot walk another step, if we do not get real with ourselves and acknowledge that we have unresolved wounds, and healing to do on the self. This can be a crucial fork in the road there are many dead ends along the spiritual path. Some choose not to do this work, convincing themselves that if they only think positively that is enough to heal, if only that was true. These people hide in new age concepts, convincing themselves they are perfect, enlightened and awake. They live in this false persona, and hold themselves back from really walking the path. You have probably met people like this who seem to have it all sorted or so they say. It is very easy to see this is not the truth. So get real with yourself, recognise your wounds and be brave and look into your pain.
Often what happens when you begin this work is you will look at issues you already know about . Maybe you have fear around socialising and this is where you start but sooner or later you will come to realise that this issue has many layers to it and often when you track it back it brings you to a place of the wounded child. Sooner or later you come to the end of processing and healing out your known issues yet you still feel that you are not whole or truly healed. What issues and wounds are still hidden to you? How do you get in touch with wounds which your inner child has hidden from you behind walls of amnesia? When you experience a trauma when you were a child which is too painful to process the mind will protect itself by placing a amnesic wall around the memory. The energy of the trauma remains but it is now hidden and can only be detected by the symptoms it causes which have no known cause.
People who were constantly abused when they were children may experience symptoms of CPTSD -complex post traumatic stress disorder. People report the following:
difficulty controlling your emotions
feeling very hostile or distrustful towards the world
constant feelings of emptiness or hopelessness
feeling as if you are permanently damaged or worthless
feeling as if you are completely different to other people
feeling like nobody can understand what happened to you
avoiding friendships and relationships, or finding them very difficult
often experiencing dissociative symptoms such as depersonalisation or de-realisation
regular suicidal feelings.
If you have complex PTSD you may be particularly likely to experience what some people call an ’emotional flashback’, in which you have intense feelings that you originally felt during the trauma, such as fear, shame, sadness or despair. You might react to events in the present as if they are causing these feelings, without realising that you are having a flashback. The flashbacks may be of times in your childhood which you do remember but often there are no images or thoughts only intense emotions. These intense emotions are a good thing in a way, it shows that your soul is digging into your memory and beginning to dissolve those amnesic walls. However if you do not know what is going on or have the tools to support yourself it can be a scary time.
You will know when you have come up against one of these walls in your healing practices because all of a sudden your emotions will stop, you will become calm and your mind will be still. Many think they have completed their healing when they get to this point as it feels so calm and peaceful. However this is not the case you have simply hit against an amnesic wall, behind is the memory of your inner child in pain. This aspect of your inner child will be locked in time, reliving the trauma over and over, however hidden behind the wall. If you experienced the trauma when you were six years old , then your traumatised inner child behind the wall will be stuck in this time frame. Your wounded inner child is trying to get your attention so you will begin the work of breaking down the walls to rescue your wounded child. These feelings are coming from the wounded child which remains in this traumatised state behind the walls of amnesia.
When we think of abuse we often think of physical violence or sexual abuse but this is not the only way to screw up a child. The most damaging things that can happen to a child is to be abused at the hand of their parent, more particularly the mother. A mother who devalues her child and questions the validity of their feelings and emotions causes an erosion of the child’s sense of self. A narcissistic mother will cause a child to feel shame about its inner core, this will erode the self identity, causes a split in the personality of the child. A child can go two ways, when they have experienced this abuse, they will either protect themselves from the shame and become a Narcissist themselves ( as in the phenomenon of the golden child), and others will take on board the shame and live the rest of their lives with a inner feeling of not being good enough.
Childhood trauma victims will often move into a disassociated state, you are numb, all is black, no emotions, no feelings, no thoughts, it can seem like peace. It is a means of escape from an abusive situation. It was the way I protected my inner core during consistent childhood abuse. I came from an extremely narcissistic abusive family, many memories of traumas were easily accessed however I had huge chunks of missing time which I could not account for. My memory is good I can remember to when I was 2 years old, yet from the ages of 9 and 12 I had no memory what so ever. This is because I was in a permanent disassociated state. I was sort of living in the wall. The word dissociation can be used in different ways but it usually describes an experience where you feel disconnected in some way from the world around you or from yourself. If you dissociate for a long time, especially when you are young, you may develop a dissociative disorder. Instead of dissociation being something you experience for a short time it becomes a far more common experience and often the main way you deal with stressful experiences.
My experience of disassociation was to suddenly feel completely numb like I had no feelings in my body, I can remember thinking I could not move my legs, like they were paralysed and often I would drag myself about by my arms, pretending I had paralysed legs. I had no emotions , the pain and tears would suddenly stop and my mind would drift into a fantasy world which I began to build more and more concretely in my mind, often leaving my body in these flights of fantasy into the world of Wizard of OZ, my favourite film when I was a kid.
( For those of you who are interested do some research on the CIA mind control programmes and how they use the Wizard of OZ as a mind programme. Strange that was my favourite film)
Chronic traumatic events that occur early in life, before the development of the left brain structure and the hippocampus, cannot be integrated into narrative memory or encoded as verbally retrievable events or experiences of self (van der Kolk & Fisler, 1995).
These traumatic memories and self-states are stored intact as isolated fragments in the earlier-developing right brain, disconnected from the ability to organize or know about one’s own experience (Schore, 2001)
These fragments cannot be expressed in words, and often cannot be known in a conscious, verbally know-able way. They live on, though, as static images untethered to memory, behavioural re-enactments, unexplained gaps in the mind, or intense affects that both confuse and overwhelm (Davies & Frawley, 1991).
Dissociation can be understood first as an adaptation to the chronic exposure to extreme trauma, where the mind learns to turn off or disconnect in order to promote survival. This is seen in psychic instances such as trance, experiences of numbness or blankness, depersonalization and derealization, and at an extreme, gross disconnection from self or reality. Dissociation when used as a defense provides a protective cocoon from the horrors of trauma, however it also preserves the intense affects, sensory perceptions, and memories of the trauma that it tries to deflect, intact but separated in the mind (Bromberg, 1998; van der Kolk & Fisler, 1995).
Elizabeth Howell (2010), a traumatologist, describes how the child adapts to his/her experience of this overwhelming, chronically aroused affect: A traumatically abused and terrified child may deal with overwhelming affect and pain by distancing herself from the experience to such a degree that she dis-identifies with the experiences and becomes an observer (rather than an experiencer) of the event. In this depersonalized state, she then pseudodelusionally views this as happening to another child. This ‘other child’ then ‘holds’ the affects and memories that would be unbearable to the host, thereby protecting the host from being continually overwhelmed and safeguarding the ability to function.
When the child cannot fight and cannot flee, she freezes. Yet this is not precise enough: a part of her freezes, the part that holds the traumatically unbearable mental states, while another part lives on. Sensory imprints of experience are stored in memory, but because the hippocampus is impaired in its integrative function, these various imprints are incompletely unified into a whole. The experience may be laid down, and later retrieved, largely or primarily as isolated images, bodily sensations, smells and sounds that feel alien, and separate from other life experiences.
Bromberg (2011) explains that dissociation produces “relative amnesia for perceptual memory of past trauma but [leaves] bodily and affective memory intact, often horrifyingly intact” While the intention of dissociation as a mental process is to preserve continuity of the self and prevent fragmentation in the midst of overwhelming trauma, the outcome of dissociation is a hidden, but pervasive, fragmentation. There may be an apparently healthy ego, free of traumatic affect, that moves about the world, but the traumatized person will be haunted in ways beyond her conscious comprehension by the perceptual memories and affect that remain, untethered to one another or the self. When dissociation has been relied upon relentlessly as a defense against chronic trauma, the dissociative mental process becomes a dissociative mental structure. Chronic use of dissociation implies a multitude of splits in the personality.
Arizmendi (2008) explains: Dissociation leads to a disconnection between the actual event and its symbolic (verbal) representation. Thus, dissociated experiences are not symbolized and not communicable by ordinary language. When depicted as a ‘healthy adaptive function’, dissociation allows, paradoxically, for the intactness and coherence of one’s self. Under extreme conditions such as those associated with trauma, however, it can evolve from a normal process into a defense in which the person becomes ‘not me’ .
From my disassociated space I split off a personality and as my core self, I went deep inside myself to the warm, numb place of disassociation and a artificial character or alter came to the fore. This character I called Rem the Robot. Between the ages of 9 and 12 my mother had turned me into a slave, carry this, fetch that, so what better character or alter to have than one who did not feel, did not tire and was a willing slave. I can remember playing as Rem with my friends however when my friends went home I could not get out of character and remained as Rem. Rem was strong and resilient, he had no feelings, no emotions and you could kick him hard and he would not feel a thing. I had forgotten about Rem the Robot until one of my walls came tumbling down and I had emotional and memory flashbacks, Rem took over and I moved into a calm and numb place and Rem went about my day, no one would have known inside I was in a disassociated space as now I was an efficient Robot. The creating of Rem was the result of trauma which did not happen in one instance, but was a systematic program of abuse which resulted in me being in a state of depersonalisation . You cannot get much more depersonalised than being a robot.
Rem was not the only character, I also had a creature as a alter, he was like a leprechaun, he had green skin and always acted the fool. My Narcissist mother loved to ridicule and humiliate me in public, she loved nothing more than to ridicule me in front of my friends during my birthday parties. One party my friends and I were enacting the fairy story Rumpelstiltskin
and I was Rumpelstiltskin. I dressed in a green jumper and tights, I pranced about acting the fool . I created this alter because if I ridiculed myself then my mother could not, being in control of this humiliation was much easier than waiting for my mother to do it for me.
McWilliams describes the double bind the child is left in when a parent abuses a child and then acts as if the abuse has not occurred, and expects the child to do the same. “There is often a kind of systemic family collusion to deny feeling, to forget pain, to act as if the horrors of the preceding night were all imaginary” (McWilliams, 1994). They contend that the dissociation between self-states evolves from the child’s need to separate his/her perception of the caregiver as “good” from his/her knowledge of the caregiver as abusive, depriving or misattuned in some way.
Cognitive dissonance is the mental discomfort (psychological stress) experienced by a person who simultaneously holds two or more contradictory beliefs, ideas, or values. I experienced cognitive dissonance severely whilst I was breaking down my walls and rescuing my inner wounded child. My inner child found it hard to let go of the idea that all mothers should love their children and that my mother must have had some love for me, however once the memories of the abuse fully surfaced, my inner child had no choice but to acknowledge the truth. Cognitive dissonance can be a scary experience, I felt like my brain hemispheres were somehow crossing, I could really feel how I was getting my wires crossed. I felt faint, confused and as if I was losing my ability to remember even the simplest of things. I found that when I tried to talk to my partner about what I was going through I would suddenly forget everything I was talking about and he would have to remind me of the subject. This inability to remember caused by the cognitive dissonance made me frustrated and angry with myself, which happened to be the best tool I could use at the time because the frustration helped me break down the wall, retrieve the memory of the abuse and process out my feelings once and for all.
Body memories are the body’s way of remembering, storing, and telling the trauma. The survivor’s mind may have blocked out the pain and created dissociative walls around the traumatic experience, but the physical body itself can remember the trauma through cellular memory. Sometimes survivors experience the body memories separately from intellectual understanding or emotional remembrance of what happened during the trauma. Dissociative survivors will feel intense body pain and have no idea why they are hurting. The body feels the trauma in much the same as in the original incident and the various physical attitudes occur as if the trauma was happening all over again. The physical pain, shaking, trembling, jerking, physical reactions, intensity, and various body responses happen in a similar fashion as in the original trauma. Body memories are an important piece of the healing work. The body can say a lot about the incidents of abuse, and it really is impossible to re-create a body memory when there was no memory in the first place. Body memories are often helpful in breaking through the denial layers of dissociation. The body may remember moments of the abuse that were too emotionally difficult for the survivors to manage, but by truly listening to their bodies, survivors can learn a great deal about their histories.
A great place to start your self healing is to feel for an uncomfortable place in the body, it could be actual pain, or it could be simply a discomfort, butterflies and anxiety in the stomach, or heaviness or pressure in the head, an ache a pain, what ever it is for you, start there first. Your soul is guiding you ( even if at this point you have not encountered your soul consciously yet ), it is trying to get your attention with that pain, that discomfort. The energy body can bring a place in your body into discomfort to show you where you have a congestion of negative, traumatic , and wounded energy. Go into that discomfort with your awareness, what can it tell you? What does it physically feel like? If the pain had a voice what would it say? How could you tap into the emotion which is behind this discomfort and give it too a voice. It is easy to see that a headache is pressure, what are you feeling pressured about? Explore this pain, see how it shows itself physically and the symptoms it causes, dig deeper find the emotional charge which is associated with the pain. What thoughts are associated with the pain? At this point in the journey you may not have had any recognition of your soul guiding you yet, but trust that it is, you have simply not fine tuned your senses to pick up on such a subtle vibration. Call in and invite your soul to build its energy in the air around you and then breathe it into the uncomfortable place, let it share your experience with you. Let it see and feel your pain, in its physical, emotional and mental expression and keep breathing.
Your soul is of a higher energy than the negative traumatic wounded energy which your energy body is showing as discomfort in the body , it can transform this energy if you allow it to really see your feelings and emotions in true authenticity. Allow the release of these negative feelings in which ever way feels right for you, crying, screaming, shaking, groaning and moaning can all assist you in the release of these negative energies. Often your discomfort will have many layers to it, it is possible with this process to go to a core issue and remove it entirely but it takes courage, truthfulness with yourself and perseverance.