Well, the therapy center never called. I called again after waiting abut 24 hours. Then later I looked at their website–they offer to call back in 24 to 48 hours. I hadn’t realized that. So I waited 2 days after the second call, and then filled out their online form. I did that yesterday. If I still don’t get a response, then I suppose I’ll search elsewhere, but I am intimidated by searching at low-cost options. I can’t afford therapy at the usual price around here and it’s intimidating even when the world is your oyster and you can afford anything that’s a good match for you.
I really do feel like I need help though. This is so hard to keep doing alone.
I was thinking about the child’s immature nervous system. There is one neuroscientist I like to remember, who says that the human infant is born with the most immature nervous system on the planet. One of the reasons for an upsurge in SIDS in the 80s and 90s was that infants stopped sleeping in the same room as their parents, and infants do not remember to breathe on their own. That’s extreme isn’t it? We are not developed enough when we are born to even carry out autonomic functions on our own.
It’s instinct to turn to others for help. What happens when you go to your parents with your distress and what they have to offer is not competence to calm your distress, but their own state of dysregulation? You learn that’s it dangerous to turn to anyone for help.
I was getting at that in my last post. Your parents might voice to you their own distrust of the world, and convince you that no one can help you and no one wants to help you, but it starts with them.
There are all kinds of ways to connect the dots when you don’t have all the dots. The dot I had was my parents’ guilt and shame at being unable to cope with life or to take care of me. My mother especially was so angry at being unable to cope, and it manifested itself in this malevolence towards me.
You are making me unable to cope–this rage at me and my child’s needs. That was the kind of sense she made of the world. It didn’t accommodate major chunks of reality–the child is there, the child has a child’s needs–I think perhaps because that would have meant incorporating her own grief. She had been a child and her own needs had not been met. In order to connect with my unmet needs and to have compassion for me, she needed to connect to her own, and she did not have the regulation skills to manage the intense level of arousal this would mean.
She began to approach this grief and sadness and coped with it with a toddler’s regulation skills: avoidance, breakdown, total meltdown. She had an adult’s power and ability to do harm and a small child’s ability to organize her responses, and what the adult did was to protect her nervous system from overwhelming shame by blaming me for it.
My mother’s regulatory skills were immature, and the adult, conscious part of her brain formed a way of being in the world that allowed her to continue to harm me.
This is talking: of the three element of healing, the writing part is what Diane Langberg calls talking. I am trying to organize my experiences. I am linking what I know in a comprehensible way. I am using the slow, conscious system of my brain to do this. What you can’t see probably are the tears, or the emotions of it. In my mind, while I am writing, I am linking what I am saying to sensory elements, to felt experiences, to what is happening inside my body. I could do that talking, without the tears, and no healing would take place.
A major part of this is resolving the cognitive dissonance: How do I understand a world where a human being can be so malevolent? I am so angry that it happened, but I think I am also angry that I have to accept that it happened. A world in which these things don’t happen can never be restored to me.
That’s the core grief.