What happens to a child that has been abused, neglected or traumatised, who later in life is trying to deal with that story, remembering that what ever happened and not just what happened in those moments but also what happened around the abuse, the words spoken, the relationships to others, the stories hidden? Whether it is sexual abuse, verbal abuse, emotional abuse, they all have their stories.
Chances are that in those moments the child learned to dissociate, to lose presence and disappear. The child became ungrounded and uncentered, which might have appeared as extreme shyness, overtly confident even bullish, self centred, an inability to speak out, a need to steal, to hide, to shut oneself away, the need to self-harm.
Shame and guilt ensue
and the spiral into
those deep pits of darkness
where the pain is felt
with no way out,
no way to claw
to the rim of light,
we sink deeper
where no hunger
will ever bring us out.
Lost to a story
that no one can hear,
because we dare not tell it,
for fear of what?
In order to reclaim connection to the body and overcome the dissociation, body contact is needed. This is a physical necessity for any human, touch, verbal communication, body connection a simple hug. But who can the child trust? Certainly not the adult world for it is usually the adult world that has been the perpetrator of the abuse, or has not protected the child in the first place.
What does the child reach out to?
Something other than adult, even human. Possibly the child looks to what is innocent that he can trust, what he sees as that part of himself that is lost.
This might be other children, it might be animal and often is, the need to cuddle a kitten, or a soft toy.
The child can begin to feel again, be close to something finding that it supports that reconnection to life, to warmth to body comfort. This can help for awhile, but is not the ultimate need fulfilled. There will be a longing for more.
And then what if the child is teased for always needing something to be attached to. If she is denied those objects?
So she lets it go, hides the need away, makes it into something else that is not so obvious. Food, alcohol, sex, drugs, smoking? And sometimes possessions that are more common to others. We become materialistic, hunting for the next fix, something to buy, to own, to fill a hole we cannot fill any other way.
Over time the inner-child accumulates. Purchasing ‘things’ that are tangible, material, the objects not really needed, yet one feels a sense of belonging to something and something that can be trusted, not taken away, not ridiculed, not harmful.
She then feels alive again, the shock diminishes for awhile, she feels reconnected, she can feel her skin, her body and feel safe.
When shock arises, because it will re-emerge if the story is not remembered, understood and fully digested, then a hug from another may not feel ok, it has its demands and its conditions, ‘what will I need to give back he might ask.’ Does this come without conditions?
The child mind is unsure and fear follows and the need to understand, the need to heal, so the cycle continues, reaching out for inanimate object or something that makes him feel alive again.
The dissociation might still linger, but she can bring herself back through touch, the touch of her child’s hand, or her grandchild’s cuddles. But she cannot ‘use’ this for her own healing, it would not be right for the innocent one to be used in this way. So she reaches out for a new cushion, a new dress, an item for the kitchen, something that feeds the need to have and to hold.
What she must learn is a new way to trust, to not depend on something that she can do further harm with, or by purchasing. She can fill her home and gather possessions, and our earth can be further used as a resource for what we do not really need and the cycle turns as more and more plastic and waste is thrown into our oceans from the need to heal the child.
We are all shocked and wounded in some way, and we all have different ways of trying to stay embodied and be able to feel whole and alive.
How we find our way to do and be that depends on our own particular personality. It also depends on the wounding of our innocence.
This Middle Earth Medicine work is all about the reclaiming of our innocence, not to be that child again, but to embody the purity of spirit and not have to carry around with us the pain, humiliation and distrust that has wounded us in the first place.
And so as we step further towards our sovereignty, we begin to stop telling the story of victim-hood, the ‘poor me’ stories and we learn to find out who we were born to be, without the unnecessary baggage. It is a long journey that con not be overcome over night, it takes careful unwrapping and gentle coming to terms with the horror that may have been such a strong part of our growing up. Trying to understand it might make us fall back, for some it is totally not understandable as why we would have been treated in that way. But we are here to overcome, to heal, to make a difference in our lives and to know that the stories we hold of recovery, will inevitably be of service to others, once we have digested them ourselves and come to a healthier place with them.
What ever we experienced, we can be sure does not go without its deeper connection to ours and others healing path.
We cannot support others with our stories until we know our own and can be accepting of them. We cannot journey on the path with another, holding their hand or wanting their growth, if we are not able to share something with them that helps to bring them back, even if it is simply by sharing what it was that helped us. A shared experience is worth much more than a hundred hours in a therapists chair and I share that from my own experience.
The challenge to overcome and grow into sovereignty despite this, makes us stronger and more resilient in the end. It means we then have a tool bag of offerings for others in similar circumstances.
Our journey around the middle earth medicine wheel, supports us to find this healing, to enable reconnection to what came before the abuse, the neglect or the dysfunctions, to release ourselves from creating more harm, to ourselves and others, to drop the dysfunctional behaviour and the over-protective and hyper-vigilant aspects of ourselves, to know it was not our fault that we were brought up in some of the ways that we were and that we played no part in it as children. To then grow from our life story to start to reclaim back our creative and beautiful self, to honour it, to allow its dream to unfold and begin to create from it, until it supports us to stand fully in service to the good of all.
Then we become sovereign, then we find our wisdom and then we find the joy that means we are alive and its good to be entering the adult world free of our guilt and shame.
A Soul Free of Shame
Shame came to me as a beautiful woman,
No longer banished to an ugly tower,
She came to me as a beautiful woman
Free of the shackles and chains that would bind her,
Shame came to me as a beautiful woman
Full of her own creative wisdom,
Free to dance and sing with her own voice.
Shame came to me as a beautiful woman,
No longer cast out as a memory of dysfunction
My spirit of shame, becomes that beautiful woman.
And this is where we find the dance so supportive towards our growth. We begin to reconnect to body, our own body. We become creative with the body and we learn to allow our emotions move more freely.
Only we can dance this dance, for it is our dance to do and our healing to make matter. We become more embodied, more centered and if we so wish we begin to find that connection once more to God to Spirit, it is where the soul can reach us once again because we become free of the shackles, the limitations and the beliefs that we are not whole. But for sure, this is not an easy ride, not like it might be for others, not like how you witness those who had less abuse in their history.
In the pain of my own body I feel your eyes
Encouraging me to open more and share those dark secrets from
Searching for the unlimited stories that have lurked in the corners
Time forgotten on all sides
Ready to emerge to envelop me with shadows of dances not yet danced
And my feet move down into the ground
Spreading my roots into the earth
Saying hold me connect me support me
Here I go once more releasing the unnecessary burdens seeking fire to burn and rid me of the past and its melancholy
Surrendering to the fluidity of mighty rivers to wash away the pressure of having to live my life
To give it up is a timely and appropriate feeling
To live no more in dread of what may or may not come
My hurt, not yours, watch me yes
But do not rob me of my own power to heal myself
It is mine and given freely for me to use as I desire
Do not make yourself the rescuer do not make your self the healer
For that is you’re healing to let go of
This dance is my doing and mine alone
Simply see me and hold me in your gaze, see the darkness of me as well as my beauty
For here it unfolds onto the picture called ‘my life’
The painting rich of many colours and textures
I am maiden, mother, warrior and crone, the wise woman in each
I am all these things and will be all for you
Whenever you need the dance, the eyes of connection
The witness of our truth, I see you
“Yes I do see you, you girl, or boy who had to leave trauma behind. And I know the part of you that has been stunted in your growth towards life and living. I know the part of you who feels broken inside, that finds it so hard, at times, to let your inner light shine.
That creative life force stamped out of you, even though others say that you are talented beyond measure. You see, they simply do not know!
I know what you go through every single day, that crevice, hidden in the darkest cave; we dare not let it out. Where did that abuse come from? Sometimes we do not even know. Because at times it was so normalized and made so ordinary.”
from the book ‘Middle Earth Wisdom’ by Caroline Carey