IT’S IMPORTANT TO KNOW –
where I come from, the pluses & the minuses!
PREVIOUS: In the Beginning (Part 1)
CONSIDERING Family Inventories: We need to start at the beginning of our life – what was happening inside & outside that effected us.
• Most people don’t remember their first few years of life, altho a few do. However, all our early experiences, even those we lived thru before we could talk, are still in our unconscious and in our physical body. If those circumstances were stressful or harmful – in order to heal we need to access them (as well as later life traumas), to clean them out. All the fear, anger, loneliness & desperation of our infant & toddler self may seem ‘forgotten’, which makes it hard for most people to acknowledge that such emotions ever existed. BUT they remain locked in our nervous system & affect us in subtle ways for decades to come.
• All the emotional & energy impressions we experienced pre-verbally are harder to access – but not impossible. The way to get at them needs to be visual & experiential, which includes dreams, drawings, visualizations & experiential therapies such as Gestalt, Primal & Core work. Using these techniques help us re-experience those sounds & sensations, even without having a complete ‘explanation’ for them
EXP: When one client was asked to picture her conception, at first she was resistant – how could she possibly know what happened? But with some deep breathing & quiet, she gradually formed an image: her parents lying side by side on a bed, as a small spark of light floated towards them – her life-force arriving!
Pre-Birth: All humans are affected, long-term, by the positive or distressing events a mother experiences while pregnant. For ACoAs, our mother may have suffered one or more of these while carrying us:
• a major illness, accident or crime
• alcohol &/or drug abuse, food allergies, medications
• death of a loved-one, lengthy separations, divorce
• long-term fighting, or physical & emotional battering
• living thru a big move, natural disaster, war….
Birth: this is traumatic at best, but some of us also had:
• an especially difficult birth, causing us to be injured in some way, or to almost die (breach, cord around the neck, not enough oxygen….)
• and/or our mother was given birthing drugs, which got passed on to the us, making us sluggish…..
A possible result: If a temporarily drugged infant is at first unable to respond to the mother in its first few hours or days of life, an unhealthy parent will take it personally & reject her child at the crucial time they should be bonding. She will consciously or unconsciously blame the baby for the lack of connection & love she feels, which will create a life-long wound between them & often results in ongoing child abuse
All children are vulnerable to the feelings & expressions of their first caretakers, and will be severely injured by having a Wounded Mother. Every day the infant absorbs her fears, worries, anger, overwhelm, as well as joys, interests, attitudes & reactions. For many ACoAs, she was one or more of the following”
Presenting: — fearful in general, especially of parenting responsibility – often alone
— self-hating, overwhelmed, with severe abandonment issues
–– demanding, ruthless, controlling // — self-absorbed & narcissistic
— distant, emotionally cold, perfectionistic
— passive, flaky, irresponsible
— rageful, verbally, physical & emotionally abusive
— un-nurturing, unsympathetic, judgmental, cruel
–– use child to make up for her own lack of love
— demand child be perfect, self-sufficient & NOT need much
Developing Child: At birth, the nerve cells in a child’s brain are not fully developed, growing & expanding continuously until about age 25. As infants we do not have verbal language, only emotional & physical signals for communication. We are highly impressionable – hungrily absorbing all the sights, sounds & touch we are exposed to
• The child’s brain grows in complexity & therefore ‘intelligence’ according to how much stimulation it receives, which can be any kind of beneficial movement, such as having a colorful & interesting environment, being touched, held, massaged, talked to, played with, sung & read to….
• Because babies imprint onto all this info via our emotions & 5 senses, all helpful & hurtful events stay with us forever, some even in modified form, after much ‘work’. For ACoAs, the wounding experiences need to be inventoried & slowly detached from, as much as possible, but it’s not fair or realistic to expect them to all disappear, if only we did it right!
PS: We know now that we never have to stop learning & growing – that brain plasticity is possible even into old age, by practicing new & difficult tasks, but that is not the maturation of our early years.
NEXT: Inventories – In the beginning (Part 3)