A Human Jigsaw of Hope

Complex trauma in early childhood will often lead to dissociation, an absenting of the childs self from the body. Severe trauma may bring with it fragmentation, fragmentation into many parts.

Fragmentation is not just within the mind, scattered into many pieces, often unaware of the existence of other fragmented parts (as in DID and OSDD). Fragmentation is also held within the body.

In a deep CranioSacral session last week I became aware of those jigsaw pieces within my body. Making a picture. A picture-story of complex trauma and abuse.

Yet I also had another picture. A picture of hope.

What if those jigsaw pieces could make another picture?

There is no turning the clock back on a childhood which should have been so very, very different. But a new picture can be made with those inner jigsaw pieces. A picture which can begin to come together though the work of the one who houses those pieces, and with the help of gifted therapists.

Good Friday and Easter

It has been a while since I last wrote here. A religious part of me usually, at some point, takes over, becomes very Christian during Lent. There is an urgency to immerse myself into Holy Week leading up to Easter. To delve deep into the Pascal Mysteries of death and resurrection.

This year is different. Recovering memories, allowing memories from a deeply dissociated place to surface, I now know that Ritual Abuse had a place (time-limited, and I believe one perpetrator of this form of abuse only) in my early childhood. For many survivors this time is a deeply troubling one. One which brings with it flashback memories. Deep wounds.

Easter should be a time of joy. Not the deepest and darkest pain. I ask anyone who reads this to please hold in their thoughts those who have been ritually abused, sometimes throughout their childhoods in truly horrific ways; perhaps light a candle of hope in the dark.

Ogham-Quert

Quert (Apple) is traditionally about love, healing, cleansing, the underworld. Some of these came through as I harvested the essence from my Quert Ogham stave tonight. She came to me with a beautiful lightness and grace, dancing through my body. I could smell her, sense her sweet juice washing me inside and out.

Rather than taking me to the underworld, she took me back in time to younger me – a me in shame, feeeling defiled by years of  sexual abuse. Her cleansing reached back in time – unprocessed trauma memories continue to live within us until they are processed, placed in the past where they belong. She is a gentle yet powerful ally.

I send her out now as a blessing to all who particularly need her cleansing from shame.

Be Blessed.

A Carmelite Soul

Tomorrow my stay in a Carmelite convent for this week comes to a close.  In some ways these few days have been an abbreviated version of my five years living as a Carmelite. First, something of Carmel.

Carmel is a desert landscape, yet a desert that blossoms.

Carmel is a mountain to be climbed, yet full of ravines, crevices, overhanging rock. The path is never straight, and rarely can you see the summit. For those who do reach it, the vista (I am told) surpasses all words.

Carmel is of Elijah, that fiery prophet, yet who prayed for G-d to end his life. Instead he woke up the next morning, and the ravens came to feed him, ready for his journey to Horeb. Being a fiery soul, he waited for G-d to come in the dramatic natural events. Instead He came in a whisper, that still, small voice. Carmelites of today trace their spiritual origin to him. I chose the reading of this event in his life for my first profession.

Teresa of Avila followed in the uncompromising footsteps of Elijah. In the times of the inquisition (1500s), she dared teach that women were perfectly capable of mental prayer, capable of a personal relationship with God. A heretic of her times. She reformed the Carmelite nuns. She also had the audacity to take Jesus to task, saying that she was not surprised he had so few friends when he treated them so badly. Somehow she escaped punishment in prison, escaped the inquisitors. She had no time for gloomy saints. Quite a character.

John of the Cross, who reformed the friars, was less lucky – except it was his own friars who beat him up for asking so much of them. He escaped, and his escape gave rise to some of his greatest spiritual poetry. He it is who wrote of the Dark Night of the Soul. An image which continues to speak deeply to me.

So Carmel is uncompromising. It asks everything, because God asks everything. Therein lies the paradox. We can only give ourselves (to anyone) if we first possess ourselves. We cannot give what we do not own. If we do not own all the mucky bits, the dissociated fragments, we can only give a part of ourselves.

Another paradox: Carmel is both utterly safe and utterly terrifying to be in, whether literally or figuratively. Tomorrow I must leave here, traverse 2.5 hours of holiday traffic to get home. I am screaming inside: because leaving Carmel 25 years ago was the hardest thing I have ever done in my life – along with living as a Carmelite for 5 years. Why? Because Carmel is a place which tears down every last fibre of false or incomplete self. It asks everything. There is truly nowhere to hide from that abiding Presence. Yet it is also utterly safe to be stripped spiritually naked here.

Prayer is complex for me. I am a spiritual wanderer, meandering down various spiritual paths. Yet yesterday and today I decided to take every one of the inner child parts of me which are slowly coming out of hiding and present them to Jesus – the image of him welcoming little children prompted that. They were two terrifying prayer times – yet it also felt completely safe to do that.

In Carmel all those years ago my sisters saw all the triggered parts of me in action, I suspect. Somehow I was still loved. I know I was very challenging to live with at times, especially for my fellow novices…

Tomorrow I must leave….Then I remember the note that the lay extern (outside the enclosure) passed in to me the night before I left, in which she said ‘you can take the girl out of Carmel, but you cant take Carmel out of the girl’. I guess that is still true, 25 years later, although generally expressed in more diverse ways. The language of the desert, the dark night, Presence in Silence, still speaks so deeply to me.

Life remains a desert. Life remains the challenge of climbing that mountain, falling down crevices, navigating overhangs. Somehow all this happens without crampons either. I guess I will just keep climbing (I hate heights and climbing…), with a Presence who is beyond all names, indeed is unnameable, but who reveals themselves in different, ever unexpected ways.

 

 

Childhood Trauma and Dissociation

Yesterday a link on Facebook sent me here https://lucidwitness.com/2015/09/25/peek-inside-a-classroom-jose/ – A poignant, powerful account of a young child’s dissociation during lessons on account of traumatic events unfolding in their life.

It reminded me of my own childhood in class, the ultra-quiet one, the spacey one. Working in education now, these are the children I am mindful of, the ones who are just too quiet. They may be the joy of their teachers in the midst of an otherwise unruly bunch of young people, but the extremes of withdrawal are not normal, and should be flagged up.

Children experiencing abuse at home may not even know what they are being subjected to, due to stronger depths of dissociation; one self functioning at school and in the outside world generally, while another part tries as best as a child can do to survive the abuse.

Thank you, Daun Koffman, for writing about – and caring about – traumatised children.