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#437523 - 06/09/13 10:57 AM The trance of shame
focusedbody Offline


Registered: 02/03/13
Posts: 314
Loc: NY

The trance of shame (and the dance we don’t want to dance):

I would like to say that we can liberate ourselves from shame, but as I have learned here, the only way to truly confront shame and not be its master, is to feel it.

When my mother came to visit a few weeks ago, she arrived and we had the now familiar awkward moment of how to greet each other. Yes, I have made it clear to her a few times that touching is not safe for me. She has responded by complying yet apparently not letting in or considering very deeply what it actually means. So on this occasion, I ignored the impulse to embrace and went on with a conversation. As before, her disappointment is noticed by me as a physical response, a momentary collapse in her body but she moves on.

What happened later is what is both disturbing and perhaps a catalyst for further growth. Upon attending a festive gathering celebrating an accomplishment of mine, she wandered around a college campus with me. After entering a building of particularly unusual architecture, she looked around and then took a step off some stairs that sent her face first into slate. She fractured her arm and we spent the next several hours in the hospital.

What comes to mind when I tell this story is a kind of dance that I think she and I have been in since day one for me. It is one of a kind of pursuit, a pursuit of something she thought she could find in me. Something that I don’t think was ever truly there, and yet provided solace and unconscious satisfaction for her. When she fell, I was of course horrified, but it also brought to mind the ancient conflict of her collapsing and my needing to respond. Perhaps some of you know this conflict who have had alcoholic parents.

What followed as we waited in the hospital was a genuine yet painful exchange about our relationship. She characterized herself as “trouble” and acknowledged that she couldn’t make up for all the years she may have failed me. I went closer to her and said yes, but that didn’t mean that healing wasn’t still possible.

Over the next several days, I had to take care of her, as she is over 80 and needed help with things. There is perhaps more to say about this time together, but as I fast forward to taking her back to her home and saying goodbye, the dance re-emerged. I made sure she had proper in-home attention to her various needs, something she resisted and had trouble negotiating. After a diplomatic conversation between the agency, her and myself, she came to the understanding that she needed to take more responsibility for her own care. After the agency staff person left, she turned to me and said, “can I hold your hand”. It was not a highly sincere moment. It was fraught with all the usual tension. But in some ways there was an added tension. Now she senses my strength as a man and my unwillingness to let her go along for a ride in many ways. I gave her may hand. There was less of a deep connection than I expected, but it was an acknowledgment of a distance and perhaps a respect, however awkward, painful, embarrassing and whatever else. It seems to me a necessary distance, as it is an attempt to recognize that we are separate people. I cannot say that I trust this acknowledgment to always be there. It did little to relax a vigilance that only I hold the keys to. But it was a real exchange nonetheless.

As I have mentioned elsewhere, like a hen with her chicks, my mother could entrance me with one tilt of her head. Now that I feel the dance and the trance together, my whole system is both more at peace with the knowledge and yet burdened with the trauma of confusion. It is very difficult to look back and see what I did with this dance around shame for so many years. It brings to mind years of running away from something but acting like I was here all the time.

Would like to hear from anyone who this makes some sense to.

Thanks,
FB
_________________________
Lose the drama; life is a poem.

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#437539 - 06/09/13 02:24 PM . [Re: focusedbody]
JoeSmith Offline


Registered: 05/03/13
Posts: 129
.

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#437726 - 06/10/13 09:34 PM Re: The trance of shame [Re: focusedbody]
BraveFalcon Offline
Greeter
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 02/25/13
Posts: 1087
Loc: The ATL

Hello FB. Thank you for sharing this very touching and powerful life event with us. Not being an incest survivor myself, I may not be able to relate to some of this as well as those here who are but a lot of the emotions you expressed do resonate with me. I don't really have much to add other than to say that it sounds like there was healing being done in your story probably both for you and your mother. This was powerful for me to read. Take care. Peace,

Ken

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#438041 - 06/13/13 10:36 AM Re: The trance of shame [Re: focusedbody]
focusedbody Offline


Registered: 02/03/13
Posts: 314
Loc: NY
Thanks for your messages, guys.

Joe: What has been powerful for me is hearing that your father has supported you. My father is too fragile in some ways, and has been for a lot of my life. I've often thought about sharing with him my struggle with my Mom, but it's not clear yet how to help him understand. I look forward to hearing more about you and your recovery process.

Ken: Yes it was healing in a deep way. However, the underlying pain still reverberates. I hope that she and I can continue the dialogue on a constructive path. I appreciate your feedback and honesty.

Focused
_________________________
Lose the drama; life is a poem.

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#438242 - 06/14/13 11:08 PM . [Re: focusedbody]
JoeSmith Offline


Registered: 05/03/13
Posts: 129
.

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#438365 - 06/16/13 11:39 AM Re: The trance of shame [Re: JoeSmith]
focusedbody Offline


Registered: 02/03/13
Posts: 314
Loc: NY


Joe:

There have been times in my life when facing this seemed like a necessity and a probability. During my late 20s and 30s, I wanted to become aware of myself as an adult male. My father has been difficult to reach at times and it was difficult to get a healthy perspective on me through my relationship with him. At one point during this period of time, he asked me to check in with a psychiatrist he was seeing, in case it would help me. I didn't hit it off with the doc and it probably triggered a lot of associations of when my father couldn't really be there for me. Perhaps in a moment of honesty, the psychiatrist also said that my father was afraid of me "kicking him off the planet". While this was well-meaning, I think it sent my inner feelings of rage and loss to an even deeper, hidden place. It is only now that I am honoring these feelings, trying to let them be here on a daily basis.

What I'm also finding is that rage and sadness live next to each other, which can make me depressed. As a boy and man, it seems like I was asked to put these feelings aside. I protected everyone from my true self.

Originally Posted By: JoeSmith
FB:
I feel a little bit better this week than the last but it's kind of like being through a hurricane, it's a mess and you don't know where to begin.


Strong feelings can tend make me afraid of the present as well as the past. It can feel like it's one mess after another. My T describes it as trying to pick up a plate of spaghetti. You can really only pick up one strand at a time, if you want to learn anything. This is usually what is most painful. But living life numb is no longer an option for me.

As you said, facing what happened is the door to finding peace and a renewed sense of self. What's behind the door can feel like a hurricane. It can take a lot of effort to keep the door closed. It's like holding your breath until the storm's over.

The courage you are showing on your own journey is nothing short of inspiring. Best to you.

Focused
_________________________
Lose the drama; life is a poem.

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#438372 - 06/16/13 01:42 PM . [Re: focusedbody]
JoeSmith Offline


Registered: 05/03/13
Posts: 129
.

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#464548 - 04/25/14 09:30 AM Re: . [Re: focusedbody]
focusedbody Offline


Registered: 02/03/13
Posts: 314
Loc: NY
Recently I spent more time with my mother.

At some point, I feel the entrancement began once again.

This time I did not run or dance all that much. I remained in conversation with her and asked her to respond and not react.

It's interesting to look back at this post because when we said goodbye the hand holds were there again but there was enough sincerity to make me believe it was real. Still, she was anxious about things I could not completely understand. I was reminded that there have been unspoken dynamics that have kept us enmeshed for most of my life.

I'm beginning to have early memories of attempting a healthy separation from her. Each time I consider it, I am consumed by fear. I understand that in many ways we spend a lifetime trying to separate from our parents. Like many things, it is a process fraught with fits and starts. It will happen with my own children.

What remains disturbing in the midst of this, is the particular way I feel that my whole body will tilt while experiencing a need for her that seems to be coming out of the past. I feel that I am searching for her gaze.

When I try to understand it more, I enter into a kind of fog. Things shut down, I float. I listen for voices that aren't really there.

I remain committed to healing the pain that makes me go there and as always, am very grateful for all of the support I have found here.

Peace and hope for new beginnings.

FB
_________________________
Lose the drama; life is a poem.

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