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#462259 - 03/09/14 04:10 AM Healing the Infant Me
don64 Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 10/09/13
Posts: 670
Loc: St. Croix, USVI
While I was abused by both parents from infancy into early childhood, it was my mother's battering, torture and systematically terrorizing me into submission as her sex toy that incurred the greatest damage with me. I have been moving into the feeling level of anxiety and body symptoms for several years as a healing choice and have been very satisfied with the results.

For some time, a number of chronic symptoms have just not responded in the way I imagined they would to this approach. This morning, instead of moving my awareness into the symptom, it occurred to me to move my awareness into that part of me that is/was an infant and send love and compassion.

Amazingly, I felt an immediate peacefulness and easing of symptoms. Since my brain was substantially unformed when much of the damage was done to me, there is evidently not any cognitive work I can do here. Makes sense to me. I'm realizing that my primitive self hardwired me into fight and flight mode and eternal vigilance. It appears as though sending my own love and care back to that damaged me, with my awareness that I have the ability to make choices that keep me safe has the possibility to provide the healing I need.

This feels like a game changer.

Don
_________________________
Divine Law is not judgment or denial of self truths. Divine Law is honoring harmony that comes from a peaceful mind, an open heart, a true tongue, a light step, a forgiving nature, and a love of all living creatures. Jamie Sams & David Carson, Medicine Cards

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#462270 - 03/09/14 01:35 PM Re: Healing the Infant Me [Re: don64]
bey Offline


Registered: 01/28/10
Posts: 204
Loc: canada
Hey Don,

I was also abused physically and sexually by both parents, also from infancy until I was 16. My dad was the more obvious perp in terms of physical abuse and violence, as well as the CSA stuff, but I feel like it was the manipulation by my mother and the mother/son sexual abuse that really broke me.

I've also come to the conclusion that my CSA from a very early developmental stage means that regular talk therapy can only do so much. My base line is used to chaos, terror and survival, and if I want to do well in the "normal" world, I have to reprogram my brain to know how to react to normal! I do several therapies that address this pre-verbal, developmental and attachement damage, and I have seen subtle changes. My resting heart rate is closer to normal, my dissociation symptoms lessened, I have a greater sense of peace when dealing with normal things. My drive to create chaos and unrest is going away and I don't feel as much fear.

I have so so far to go, it seems impossible. But yeah, I think realizing that I can't talk this away has been a game changer for me too. I felt bad that therapy didn't help, I felt dumb when after years of therapy I was still a mess. It makes sense now, and I am trying to stop comparing myself to others and their recovery. I feel like I am working away at it, but it's a huge mess to untangle.

Benny

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#462280 - 03/09/14 05:33 PM Re: Healing the Infant Me [Re: don64]
don64 Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 10/09/13
Posts: 670
Loc: St. Croix, USVI
Hi Benny,

Hang in there. I didn't begin to remember my father's abuse until age 53 and my mother's abuse until age 63. I'll soon be 65, and my experience is there is just an organic process that is natural and goes at it's own pace. I am only now learning to be curious instead of controlling and live in the moment, in a reality that is of my own choosing.

Doing well in the normal world is not necessarily something to be valued, in my opinion. The normal world values striving, which I don't feel contributes to satisfaction or happiness. Making a lot of money, having certain autos or certain clothes or certain anything has ever brought me any happiness.

It's taken me until now to let go of basing my reality on an external compass instead of an internal compass. And it took all those years of therapy, personal growth, workshops, etc., for me to accumulate the tools I needed to do the work I'm doing now. I am feeling pretty optimistic these days, and glad I developed some resilience over the years.

Sending you love and support,

Don
_________________________
Divine Law is not judgment or denial of self truths. Divine Law is honoring harmony that comes from a peaceful mind, an open heart, a true tongue, a light step, a forgiving nature, and a love of all living creatures. Jamie Sams & David Carson, Medicine Cards

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#462380 - 03/10/14 11:54 PM Re: Healing the Infant Me [Re: don64]
focusedbody Offline


Registered: 02/03/13
Posts: 334
Loc: NY
Hey Don64 and Bey:

These are really great posts for me to hear and relate to.

What feels like the most painful areas of the past are the non-verbal ones. One thing that has been particularly difficult for me is that my mother began doing therapy during my childhood. While this probably had some positive effect in the long run, her ability to put words to feelings was something she also tried to teach me directly. Unfortunately, because some of the "damage" was probably already done, I sometimes have episodes where the voice inside me is desperately trying to put words to deep feelings that aren't really accessible. The result is that I "hear" a "voice" that isn't really mine.

This is of course scary. Like yourselves, some forms of therapy have not been able to address this directly. What has helped is realizing that the first thing I need to do is "hear" my own "voice", in whatever way I can. Sometimes this comes down to the tone of a voice that sounds like me, or the way I articulate something and put words together. When I recognize it as me, I feel wonderful. When I'm a little off, I slow down and attempt to find out what is going on.

Another thing I have found helpful is to look at the research on, believe it or not, other species. You might find it a little astonishing but attachment patterns have been researched among animals, particularly our evolutionary ancestors. This research was begun by Darwin, who was strongly admired by John Bowlby. Bowlby was the first to look at human attachments in a serious way. The research I'm referring to shows that bonds between parents and children are best made through affect sharing. This means that mother and child need to share a variety of emotions in order to have a healthy upbringing.

When I began to connect the infant me, what I sensed was undealt with feelings of shame. What I have come to understand is that these feelings can tend to dominate other emotions, leaving me somewhat emotionless. To stray from the experience of shame as the primary way in which I bond with my mother can seem like a form of betrayal. Much of my recovery has been in finding the range of emotions that I can slowly learn to possess in a healthy way.

Don 64:

I particularly relate to your understanding of the "compass". In a theory on dissociation and trauma, I came across the term "compass of shame". I strongly identified with this and slowly worked through the way in which I would focus on wherever shame was in my life. Moving gradually to a different kind of "internal compass" is taking a lot of patience. In order to do it, I have to be open to the emergence of strong feelings that can seem overwhelming at first. With time and an ability to pace myself, it is possible to feel, or should I say imagine, a light at the end of the tunnel.

Bey:

I think the fact that you are seeing "subtle changes" and that you can get your heart rate back to normal are signs that you have a connection to something that could be understood as "whole". As you probably know, recovery and healing do not happen overnight. In some ways I avoided any thought of healing or recovering for about 30 years because I assumed that it should and would happen overnight. These days, when things start to seem better, at first I have the feeling that life is a little boring. Then I begin to accept the possbility that I have been out of touch with the pace of real life for a long, long time.

I also completely understand the experience of things being a huge mess that seems unfathomably hard to untangle. Perhaps that is what lies at the center of dissociative symptoms. But with everyday attention given to these issues, I believe it is possible to untangle what is going on, step by difficult step.

Thanks again to you both for making room for that which may have no words at present, but which seeks to speak in the open air.

You have my continuing support,

FB
_________________________
Lose the drama; life is a poem.

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#462391 - 03/11/14 07:32 AM Re: Healing the Infant Me [Re: don64]
Landscape Offline


Registered: 01/31/14
Posts: 38
Focusedbody,
Thank you very much for your post.

I found and read an article describing the "Compass of Shame" you mentioned and I identify with it strongly. It helps me realize that while I have been (mostly) successful at a behavioral level, I have not yet successfully dealt with the underlying shame. (http://southdown.on.ca/publications/articles/Compass-of-Shame.pdf)

Your descriptions of "strong feelings that can seem overwhelming at first" and "things being a huge mess that seems unfathomably hard to untangle" also resonate particularly well. When there isn't a mountain available, it's easy to find a molehill that can be turned into one.

Working on ways to accept these feelings and not be so overwhelmed by them is where I am today, and what I'm working on.

Thank you.
_________________________
--
"And there was a kid with a head full of doubt
So I'll scream 'til I die and the last of those bad thoughts are finally out"

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#462613 - 03/14/14 03:48 PM Re: Healing the Infant Me [Re: don64]
Mr. Skipper Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 02/01/12
Posts: 4
Loc: Canada
Landscape,

Thank you for posting the link to the Compass of Shame article. It is very illuminating and highlighted some of my own defensive characteristics, mainly avoidance.

I find strength and energy when I am able to associate my behaviours with my recovery.

Benny, that fact that you are still communicating and reaching out via this forum is proof that you are not failing. I too went through decades of therapy, with no appreciable result.

Recovery is a rollercoaster, sometimes you are going up, other times down and worst is when you have no idea of where you are going!

K.

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#462616 - 03/14/14 04:56 PM Re: Healing the Infant Me [Re: Landscape]
gaatt Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 11/02/08
Posts: 116
Yes,

Thanks for the link to Compass of Shame. I found it intriguing and identified with North and East most strongly (Withdrawal and Attack Self). The solution seems challenging to me:

Originally Posted By: Compass of Shame
We can move from shame to humility when we allow ourselves to feel accepted and loved with all our flaws, all our vulnerabilities and failures. Humility can enable us to preserve our attachment to relationships and groups that mean safety and security to us.


I find this process difficult. Very few people I know are willing to talk openly and comfortably about the effects Childhood Sexual Abuse implicating mother as the perpetrator. Finding social groups that are supportive of the healing process are very rare. This on-line forum is the only one I know. I end up keeping myself generally hidden in order to avoid being retraumatized which is a form of withdrawal. Have you guys experienced this? What have you done to counter it?

I've tried many approaches to healing the infant me. The ones that seem to be most promising to me have been the ones that deal with bodily sensations as you mention. Here are a few of the modalities that I have been exploring:

1. Loving non-sexual touch through paid massage therapists helps. Iíve trained in a few forms of healing touch myself but have had trouble finding safe practice groups. Doing it for myself on my own doesn't seem to hold my enthusiasm for very long. I recently had a fellow offer Therapeutic Touch sessions while he trains. This was a big breakthrough for me. I wish there was a therapy group for male survivors locally. I think that would be a better source of safe partners.

2. There is one approach to healing for which I would love to be able to find a partner some day. The approach is described here:

http://www.reuniting.info/node/1734

and involves sleeping (no sex) with a partner for at least three weeks and engaging in bonding behaviours. The theory is that it can reverse (heal) traumatic bonding in childhood and is inspired by Bolby's work. I've pretty much given up on trying to find a partner where I live. I want to explore a Cuddle Party group (see: http://www.cuddleparty.com/) when I'm strong enough to see if that helps. A therapist warned me that it might not be safe but I figure, nothing ventured nothing gained. They talk about healthy boundary setting quite strongly.

3. Iíve also explored Peter Levine's Sexual Healing CD a little as well. It seems to be helpful even though it doesn't do much to heal the isolation I feel. He bases much of his work on the way animals recover from trauma.
Originally Posted By: FocussedBody
You might find it a little astonishing but attachment patterns have been researched among animals, particularly our evolutionary ancestors.


What approaches have you guys found most helpful?

Sincerely,

"GAATT"


Edited by gaatt (03/14/14 05:00 PM)
_________________________
"Love yourself and watch...Today, Tomorrow, Always." Buddha.

My Story: http://www.malesurvivor.org/board/ubbthreads.php?ubb=showflat&Number=468661#Post468661

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#462813 - 03/18/14 02:41 PM Re: Healing the Infant Me [Re: don64]
don64 Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 10/09/13
Posts: 670
Loc: St. Croix, USVI
Hi Benny, FB, Landscape, Mr. Skipper, Gaatt,

I have been primarily a hermit for the past 9 years. I have moved out periodically, repeated old abusive patterns, retreated to lick my wounds and regroup, and after a period of time try it again. Each foray into involving myself with group activity was painful, but I was able to tease apart the old habit strength little by little.

I'm in hermit mode at the present, but it's clear to me the problem is my own thinking, not other people. While in hermit mode I'm able to process and learn while not distracted by others. And, my pattern of dependence on others for my identity reference has slowly and consistently diminished. I'm making choices for myself that I've never been able to make before. For example, I'm involving myself in music again (my greatest love), and for the first time I feel a grounded center in myself in my considerations. ALWAYS before, my considerations were driven by what usefulness my music was to others. There was no ME in the mix. Now I am holding space open for whatever is my own personal, passionate expression. A FIRST!!!!!!!!!

So, for me, the massive time I have and do spend alone has been a requirement for me to find myself. I've always run so fast in fear and urgency there was no room for loving and supportive situations to show up in my life. So, I just kept re-creating self-fulfilling prophesies propelled by my early abuse experiences. For the first time, I'm able to just surrender and wait--wait for experiences which validate an open, healthy and loving me. I believe I've had all the experience I need racing out and recreating the old. All the work I've been doing for decades is actually paying off. There is a place of patience and love in me that is growing, and with it a knowing that I have the capacity for a level of discernment that can keep me safe and happy. Please notice that I said I have the 'capacity.' The proof will be when I'm tested by being presented with the opportunity to pursue old patterns. Even if I do some of repeating the old, I feel it will be very brief compared to the past. And, I don't know that I need to do that anymore. I have some empty space now that can be filled with new and healthy experiences. While I'm having new and healthy experiences in my inner world while being alone, doing so in the outer world in groups of people requires a much greater focus. My sense is that by simply being able to NOT repeat the old I have space for the new to show up. And, by being able to be patient for the first time the new has the opportunity to find me. I'm pretty excited about it.

This all requires me being able to continuously process out terror from my infant and toddler self. Every day, and some times a great deal of the day is spent feeling the early me saying "mama don't hurt me, mama don't hurt me," or "daddy don't hurt me, daddy don't hurt me," or hearing someone saying "donnie no, donnie no." I was called Donnie growing up. I've been doing this for years, and originally thought I would move down to explicit events as part of the clearing process. I'm not so sure about that now. For example,I "know" that I was beaten about the head with a newspaper or magazine as an infant and toddler, and know this was psychically devastating to me. I know this was instrumental in me shattering the early me and formed the ego self that has run my life. So, I can feel the terror I feel pretty much continually and connect it with the messages I feel in my body systems of "please don't hurt me, please don't hurt me" and observe a very slow and continuous process of releasing the infant and toddler traumas. The picture is not an intact physical and emotional picture. I put the pieces together from feeling the terror in the present in my body, and connect it with my "knowing" of events based on having learned to read body memory. I am able to move into chronic physical issues and connect the "please don't hurt me's" and produce a release of old energy. My sense is this slow and continuous work does heal the infant and toddler self and clears the toxicity in my body. It seems to be working for me, and I have instances of observing major changes in my thinking. So, I know my brain is re-writing the places where adaptive strategies based on the early traumas reside. It is a truly amazing and freeing feeling when I experience the marriage of new thinking with what I know is truly me.

Thank you all for being with me in this process.

Sending you love,

Don


Edited by don64 (03/18/14 02:46 PM)
_________________________
Divine Law is not judgment or denial of self truths. Divine Law is honoring harmony that comes from a peaceful mind, an open heart, a true tongue, a light step, a forgiving nature, and a love of all living creatures. Jamie Sams & David Carson, Medicine Cards

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#462864 - 03/19/14 03:04 PM Re: Healing the Infant Me [Re: don64]
gaatt Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 11/02/08
Posts: 116
Thanks Don,

for filling me in on your process. I too spend alot of time alone (my body pretty much forces it on me and social interactions have been generally disappointing).

Your approach has some similarities to what I've been exploring very recently. Paying attention to bodily felt sensation is pretty routine for me now given the intensity of my health challenges and need to turn that around. A new piece (that you seem to be doing while awake) is paying attention to my dreams, recording them, pondering them, and revisualizing them to reflect the healthy direction I'm pursuing. It's interesting work and seems helpful.

Thanks for sharing your insights and process with us.

Sincerely,

"GAATT"


Edited by gaatt (03/19/14 03:04 PM)
_________________________
"Love yourself and watch...Today, Tomorrow, Always." Buddha.

My Story: http://www.malesurvivor.org/board/ubbthreads.php?ubb=showflat&Number=468661#Post468661

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#463560 - 04/02/14 09:51 AM Re: Healing the Infant Me [Re: don64]
jas4159 Offline


Registered: 06/16/11
Posts: 278
Great progress don. I really enjoy your posts. they are enlightening and encouraging and you have taken you recovery to the depth that I did. Tough work but well worth it.


thanks for posting.
_________________________
Thanks

rich

justanothersurvivror.wordpress.com

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