Much of our inner wounding occurs before we learn language and cannot be healed by questioning and reorganizing thought patterns. In other words, we cannot think our way out of trauma. Here we are in the realm of developmental trauma.
When our ability to process unbearable terror, panic, shame and anger is overwhelmed, undigested parts of the experience are stored in the muscles and other areas of the body, inaccessible to thought.
Encouragements like “just get over it, that’s totally irrational, you can’t really believe that, you know that’s not true” and so on are experienced by an inflamed nervous system as an attack or aggression.
It is like an autonomous form of gaslighting and reflects a deep misunderstanding of trauma and how implicit memory works and only contributes to re-traumatization, in personal, cultural and collective networks.
In addition to the harrowing and unbearable experience – which is painful and frightening enough – there is a deep sense of aloneness that comes with it, the feeling that no one can understand, that there is no escort into the dark night. I am alone in this situation. This is devastating to the soul.
When the angry, alive little boy or aching little girl cries out, longing to be held, to be known, to be felt, to be heard, to be remembered… they stick their little heads out as if to say, “Is it safe now? How about now? I’ve been waiting for a companion and friend for so long. How about now?”, they are not really interested in our clear cognitive analysis, rational investigation, powerful spiritual insight and thoughts on the subject.
They are longing for something else…for you, for your heart, for your support. To know that you will stay close to them, that you will not abandon them or shame them, that you will do your best to provide a refuge and a safe path for them to come home, to allow them to come out of this frozen state and live again.
In this way, they don’t even want or need to be healed, but to be held. And to feel safe.
Author: Matt Litaca Translator: Corinna Bornhorst
Photo by Lisa Runnels