Needs

I have one thing wrong though.

Ruthie is there because I am not allowed to have the needs my parents weren’t meeting. I’m not allowed to be thirsty or to need to go to the toilet. I’m not allowed to have attachment needs or to communicate feelings. I am not allowed to have the need to express myself or my personal preferences—I’m only allowed to have approved ones, and snakes and spiders and insects (which is what Ruthie likes) are definitely not among them. I am not allowed to have an emotional landscape.

So, I’m not allowed to have the effects of the abuse there—I’m not allowed to have any of the reactions that come from having experienced intense trauma. But I’m not allowed to have ordinary needs either. Because these are the needs my parents weren’t meeting, and the family secret is that this is damaging me.

Integrating requires a lot of emotional skills. One of them is being able to meet my own needs as a traumatized adult. That’s just one piece of it though.

Another piece is coping with the phobia of acknowledging that these needs are there, that I am deeply traumatized, and this has dramatically affected my daily life.

A third piece is coping with the phobia of having ordinary needs: being thirsty, being hungry, needing emotional connection, needing to express my personality.

If I can do that, then I can integrate. Does it sound simple?

It might be. Simple is not easy though.

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8 thoughts on “Needs

  1. Cat's Meow May 25, 2015 / 9:48 am

    You are definitely name reality there! Simple does not mean easy! It so often seems that way with this work.

    Ugh, I was going to say something about point 2, but I can’t remember what point 2 was. My brain has been doing that a lot to me lately when trying to respond to your posts and since I am on the iPad most of the time these days, I can’t look back at the post while I am responding.

  2. Cat's Meow May 25, 2015 / 9:59 am

    Lol! The phobia of acknowledging the effects and resulting needs from the trauma. Yep. Just a couple of days ago, I finally allowed myself to seek and take in comfort from my therapist in the way that a very, very traumatized toddler part needed to and simply allow it to be what it was. My body is over 40 and parts of my mind are getting more adult, but this particular part needed to be comforted in a way that she could take in, so that she could realize that the horrible stuff was over. Being comforted and being tortured just can’t happen at the same time, after all. But it meant that I had to stop being at all resistant to taking in the comfort the way that this part needed it, even though it meant cuddling up against my therapist while I talked to her. While I still felt uncomfortable about it, it wasn’t possible for me to achieve feeling fully safe.

    Learning to deal with that phobia is so very difficult, but so essential.

    • Ashana M May 25, 2015 / 10:01 am

      Yes, and the phobia doesn’t go away just because you tell it to. After all, the phobia is one of the effects of the trauma too. It has to be managed, like everything else.

  3. ridicuryder May 25, 2015 / 8:10 pm

    Ash,

    I think I relate to the “phobia” differently as the “lie” – it doesn’t weigh so heavily on me as what you have had to maintain. Like you, I am processing things differently to move beyond the lie. I just want to say that for a while I too was “managing” to maintain that fractured husk of experience. The constant attention and trust in myself ruptured the husk further and it began to sprout (some sort of growth – I’m still not sure what). When I hear you talk about expressing your personality and integrating I see you exceeding, (letting your bloom happen) rather than just managing to cope alongside of a very dry, long forgotten seed of your experience.

    Keep watering that seed…it is near bursting! 🙂

    Love,
    Mark

    • Ashana M May 25, 2015 / 8:20 pm

      The evidence on the outside of development is pretty slight. My focus is really more on managing the trauma issues. I have realized the personality issues will take care of themselves–for a while the trauma work was a means to the end of personality. Now I don’t care. The trauma affects my life every single day, frequently all day.

      Thanks for the props.

  4. donna tucker May 30, 2015 / 9:38 am

    Only you are in control of the power that things have over you. Either it controls you or you control it, I have told this to my diabetic friends. No reason it can not apply to the emotional trauma you have endured. You are amazing in your insights and an inspiration to those of us who have no comprehension of what you have been through. Just FYI Went with Doug to that coffee shop we went to by angle flight. Thought about you and really do wish you all the best. I think I pray for you but not sure I still really believe in God ( kept typing Bob laughing as I type this) What ever. I fricken simply wish you calm and peace in your life. xoxo donna

    • Ashana M May 30, 2015 / 2:54 pm

      Thanks for popping in for a read and the kind wishes.

      I think it’s best to look at what is there and try to think what you can make out of it. What ingredients do you have? What’s missing, but you can substitute? Given the ingredients there, what are the possibilities?

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