Difficult Women – Book Review

Roxane Gay’s title, Difficult Women, speaks to any woman who has felt difficult to love.  I had long since owned that title and studied the qualities that made me “difficult” in relationships.  I had searched tirelessly to identify the conditions to which I might attribute this unfortunate state of affairs.  So when my sister, the day before her wedding, gifted me this book and began to explain her intention, maybe for fear that I would feel labeled or defensive, I waved her off.  Thank you!  I told her.  I love it already.  Gay’s writing pulled me in from the very first paragraph.  Her voice captures all the ways women might be considered difficult in intimate relationships yet at the same time looks deeper at who they are and why.  We come out of this reading experience so much richer for having explored these stories with her.  They are fiction – products of Gay’s imagination.  But for me, each is a window into a rich and ornate chamber of its author’s mind.  This book leaves me so much richer, with a stronger sense of how a woman might be loved well, even if temporarily.  It leaves me with a broader vision of how a woman can allow her difficult self to be loved and why that might add value to her life.  It leaves me with a clearer personal understanding of the complexity of myself, love and relationship and the natural grit and beauty of coupling in its infinite forms.

And I feel a little less difficult after having read this book.

 

Other books by Roxane Gay I plan to read:

Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body

An Untamed State

Bad Feminist

Ayiti

& several comic books in Marvel’s Black Panther: World of Wakanda series

 

“I vigorously encourage women and people of color to be ambitious, to want and work for every damn thing they can dream of. We’re allowed to want, nakedly, as long as we’re willing to put in the proverbial work….I am ambitious because I love what I do, not simply for ambition’s sake. Ambition is what allows me to take creative risks and try things I never thought I could do. Ambition makes me a better thinker and writer. Ambition makes me.”                       — Roxane Gay

The Body Keeps The Score – Book Review

One of my favorite things to do is reading good books.  I finished reading Bessel van der Kolk’s The Body Keeps the Score some months ago, but it has taken me a while to report on it.  Besides having gleaned 25 pages of quotes, I’m feeling the need to go back and re-read the whole thing.  This was a book of serious ahas.  Van der Kolk is himself a survivor of early relational trauma – a fact of which he was unaware until well into his professional career.  Currently the Medical Director of the Trauma Center in Boston, he is also a Professor of Psychiatry at Boston University Medical School and serves as the Co-Director of the National Center for Child Traumatic Stress Complex Trauma Network.  You can read more about him here.

“Trauma,” says van der Kolk, “drives us to the edge of comprehension, cutting us off from language based on common experience or an imaginable past.”  Its effects are profound and lasting when it occurs before we have language to describe it or even hope to get the help we need.  But, “like a splinter that causes an infection, it is the body’s response to the foreign object that becomes the problem more than the object itself.”

I love this book because Van der Kolk gives me words for things I had no idea how to talk about before.  And he validates suspicions that have nagged at me for decades.  For instance, when I was 24 and had already ditched my first husband and abandoned my three-year-old son, I was puzzled by the lack of pain I felt.  What was wrong with me, anyway?  I had many explanations, some of which had to do with depression, being clueless about what I was going to do with my life, and feeling incapable of caring well for a small child while trying to do all those things that I had been taught that a husband was supposed to do.  Van der Kolk calls this “Numbing.”  In describing what one survivor of developmental trauma experienced, he says, “He desperately wanted to love his family, but he just couldn’t evoke any deep feelings for them.”

Numbing may keep us from suffering in the short-term, but long-term is another matter.  “…though the mind may learn to ignore the messages from the emotional brain, the alarm signals don’t stop.  The emotional brain keeps working, and stress hormones keep sending signals to the muscles to tense for action or immobilize in collapse.  The physical effects on the organs go on unabated until they demand notice when they are expressed as illness.  Medications, drugs, and alcohol can also temporarily dull or obliterate unbearable sensations and feelings.  But the body continues to keep the score.”

“After trauma the world is experienced with a different nervous system.  The survivor’s energy now becomes focused on suppressing inner chaos, at the expense of spontaneous involvement in their life.”

The seemingly endless path of breadcrumbs leading me back to my own trauma included my status as “stimulus seeker.”  Though I am most likely on the mild end of this spectrum, survivors of trauma don’t feel quite alive if they aren’t in the middle of some kind of chaos.  Says van der Kolk, “Somehow the very event that caused them so much pain had also become their sole source of meaning.  They felt fully alive only when they were revisiting their traumatic past.”

“That is why so many abused and traumatized people feel fully alive in the face of actual danger, while they go numb in situations that are more complex but objectively safe, like birthday parties or family dinners.”

All of this is determined at a very physical level.  “If an organism is stuck in survival mode, its energies are focused on fighting off unseen enemies, which leaves no room for nurture, care, and love.  For us humans, it means that as long as the mind is defending itself against invisible assaults, our closest bonds are threatened, along with our ability to imagine, plan, play, learn, and pay attention to other people’s needs.”

Among van der Kolk’s research-based conclusions (and things to think about as you consider this idea he’s calling developmental trauma):

  • Exposure to stress relieves anxiety.
  • Addiction to trauma may be characterized by the pain of pleasure and the pleasure of pain.
  • Immobilization is at the root of most traumas (your heart slows down, your breathing becomes shallow, and, zombielike, you lose touch with yourself and your surroundings).
  • It is especially challenging for traumatized people to discern when they are actually safe and to be able to activate their defenses when they are in danger.
  • All too often, drugs such as Abilify, Zyprexa, and Seroquel, are prescribed instead of teaching people the skills to deal with distressing physical reactions associated with repressed emotion.

Real healing, he says, has to do with experiential knowledge: “You can be fully in charge of your life only if you can acknowledge the reality of your body, in all its visceral dimensions.”  Here, EXPERIENCE, not UNDERSTANDING is what we need.

“…neuroscience research shows that very few psychological problems are the result of defects in understanding; most originate in pressures from deeper regions in the brain that drive our perception and attention.  When the alarm bell of the emotional brain keeps signaling that you are in danger, no amount of insight will silence it.”

Treatment

“Treatment needs to reactivate the capacity to safely mirror, and be mirrored, by others, but also to resist being hijacked by others’ negative emotions.”

“…the great challenge is finding ways to reset their physiology, so that their survival mechanisms stop working against them.  This means helping them to respond appropriately to danger but, even more, to recover the capacity to experience safety, relaxation, and true reciprocity.”

Mindfulness, or the ability to hover calmly and objectively over our thoughts, feelings, and emotions, is one of the primary tools van der Kolk teaches his patients.  This ability allows us to then take our time to respond,” he says, which “allows the executive brain to inhibit, organize, and modulate the hardwired automatic reactions preprogrammed into the emotional brain.  This capacity is crucial for preserving our relationships with our fellow human beings.”

Increasing “interoception,” or self-awareness, is another important feature of recovery, van der Kolk says.  “Because traumatized people often have trouble sensing what is going on in their bodies, they lack a nuanced response to frustration.  They either react to stress by becoming ‘spaced out’ or with excessive anger.  Whatever their response, they often can’t tell what is upsetting them.  This failure to be in touch with their bodies contributes to their well-documented lack of self-protection and high rates of revictimization.  And also to their remarkable difficulties feeling pleasure, sensuality, and having a sense of meaning.”

Noticing and then describing what they are feeling is a process van der Kolk helps his patients learn.  He begins the process by helping them talk about what is happening in their bodies, “not emotions such as anger or anxiety or fear but the physical sensations beneath the emotions: pressure, heat, muscular tension, tingling, caving in, feeling hollow, and so on.”  He also works on “identifying the sensations associated with relaxation or pleasure…their breath, their gestures and movements.”  He asks them to “pay attention to subtle shifts in their bodies, such as tightness in their chests or gnawing in their bellies, when they talk about negative events that they claim did not bother them.”

“…many programs (that try to help traumatized people) continue to ignore the need to engage the safety system of the brain before trying to promote new ways of thinking,” van der Kolk says.  He provides some ways to engage this part of the brain in his book.  Among them are:

  • Yoga
  • Theater Programs
  • Breath Exercises (Pranayama)
  • Chanting
  • Martial Arts
  • Qigong
  • Drumming
  • Group Singing
  • Dancing

“Our culture teaches us to focus on personal uniqueness, but at a deeper level we barely exist as individual organisms.  Our brains are built to help us function as members of a tribe….Most of our energy is devoted to connecting with others.”

 

A few more nuggets I thought you might appreciate:

  • While you need to be able to stand up for yourself, you also need to recognize that other people have their own agendas. Trauma can make all that hazy and gray.
  • (As infants) our most intimate sense of self is created in our minute-to-minute exchanges with our caregivers.
  • Children’s disturbed behavior is a response to actual life experiences – to neglect, brutality, and separation – rather than the product of infantile sexual fantasies.
  • Our lives consist of finding our place within the community of human beings.
  • Babies can’t regulate their own emotional states, much less the changes in heart rate, hormone levels, and nervous-system activity that accompany emotions.
  • Learning how to manage arousal is a key life skill, and parents must do it for babies before babies can do it for themselves.
  • Securely attached kids learn the difference between situations they can control and situations where they need help.
  • Kids will go to almost any length to feel seen and connected.
  • Traumatized parents, in particular, need help to be attuned to their children’s needs.
  • Dissociation means simultaneously knowing and not knowing.
  • Early attachment patterns create the inner maps that chart our relationships throughout life, not only in terms of what we expect from others, but also in terms of how much comfort and pleasure we can experience in their presence.
  • It’s not important for me to know every detail of a patient’s trauma. What is critical is that the patients themselves learn to tolerate feeling what they feel and knowing what they know.
  • Rage that has nowhere to go is redirected against the self, in the form of depression, self-hatred, and self-destructive actions.
  • Eradicating child abuse in America would reduce the overall rate of depression by more than half, alcoholism by two-thirds, and suicide, IV drug use, and domestic violence by three-quarters.
  • Social support is a biological necessity, not an option, and this reality should be the backbone of all prevention and treatment.
  • As long as people are either hyperaroused or shut down, they cannot learn from experience. Even if they manage to stay in control, they become so uptight that they are inflexible, stubborn, and depressed.  Recovery from trauma involves the restoration of executive functioning and, with it, self-confidence and the capacity for playfulness and creativity.
  • In order to recover, mind, body, and brain need to be convinced that it is safe to let go. That happens only when you feel safe at a visceral level and allow yourself to connect that sense of safety with memories of past helplessness.
  • Being traumatized is not just an issue of being stuck in the past; it is just as much a problem of not being fully alive in the present.
  • Antipsychotic medications such as Risperdal, Abilify, or Seroquel can significantly dampen the emotional brain and this makes patients less skittish or enraged, but they also may interfere with being able to appreciate subtle signals of pleasure, danger, or satisfaction.
  • As long as you keep secrets and suppress information, you are fundamentally at war with yourself. Hiding your core feelings takes an enormous amount of energy, it saps your motivation to pursue worthwhile goals, and it leaves you feeling bored and shut down.

I highly recommend this book.

Van der Kolk, Bessel. The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body In the Healing of Trauma. New York: Penguin Books, 2014.

Becoming Attached – Book Review

Becoming Attached: First Relationships and How They Shape Our Capacity to Love, by Robert Karen, PhD.  Oxford University Press, 1998

Robert Karen’s book, Becoming Attached: First Relationships and How They Shape Our Capacity to Love, took a while to read, but what a treasure!  It gives an overview and history of attachment theory.  Explains in depth the destructive practices that had been adopted early in the industrial revolution, as parents increasingly were called to work outside the home and nuclear families became the norm.  It connects the dots between early attachment wounds and unmet needs and patterns of relating in adulthood.  Robert Karen locates himself in the material, describing himself this way: “I believe I had an anxious attachment to my mother, which was perhaps mainly ambivalent but had certain avoidant features and looked more and more avoidant as I got older.”

After having read this book, I can better understand some of my odd behaviors as a child and young adult, and my patterns with adult partners and potential partners.  Why did I bite that girl in the bathroom in 4th grade?  I remember chomping down hard, and I felt I could have taken it off.  It wasn’t her I was mad at; I don’t even remember what she had done.  But that was a terrifying, out-of-control rage I couldn’t put into words.  Even as an adult, why did I suddenly feel so infuriated with my sister, Tracy, when I was dependent on her to step in and help; when she was all-out engaged in fixing the situation when my children were being abducted and I was so terrified I’d never see them again? What could explain my identification as “utterly uninterested in affection” and at the same time internally so utterly starved of physical and emotional connection and touch?  Why was my response to my mother “I know,” since at least age 10, and why the unmistakable force behind it?

I can better understand how I had lived so long without a secure base, and how I learned to find comfort most reliably in being alone, since being with loved ones cost me so dearly in terms of emotional and energetic expenditure.  Why I have undermined being given to “in a truly loving way… at every turn; indeed (being given to in this way) feels perversely unacceptable.”

I can better understand my disconnectedness from feelings of loss and vulnerability when it came to “close” others.  Why I have never been able to use a coherent narrative to talk about what my childhood was like, what my day was like, or even about an idea I’d like to share.  How I jump around without finishing my sentences, and am difficult to follow.  How I have difficulty recalling much of my past.  As a person recovering from intimacy disorder, I can look back over my life and notice a suspicious lack of benefitting from the highly-touted idea of companionship and comfort others seemed to be benefitting from around me; the wild vacillating between feelings of superiority to others and feeling too weak, too desperate, and too ashamed to approach anyone for love and support.

I can better understand “what went wrong.”  The origins of unhealthy narcissism, and the thread it weaves into our family and others.  In short, I can better understand to what I might attribute my intimacy problems, when my parents so clearly loved me and provided me with so much.  And among these pages, too, I have access to the scientific data that attempt to identify what children actually need to form secure attachment with their parents, and what that even looks like.

How strange, when I read the words “the usefulness of their anger.” But, as I’ve intellectually known all along, anger has a healthy interpersonal function.  Reading these words help me integrate and process so much.  Included in this book are also how addiction and enmeshment fit into the attachment puzzle, and how we can approach resolution and repair.  For me, there is clearly much to learn and internalize, but this book provides a grounded and comprehensive discussion of the attachment literature.

Below I include some of my very favorite quotes:

“There is another implication here, too, perhaps especially for the ambivalent child, whose hurt and rage and hatred are so volatile and so quickly unmanageable: He never develops the sense that mom is there to contain his overwhelming emotions; that he can have a tantrum; that he can hate her and feel as if he and mom are through, but that she will be soothing and convey the sense that the tantrum will soon pass without causing permanent damage and that even his wish to annihilate her will not have devastating consequences.  In other words, even if his extreme negative feelings are too much for him, they are not too much for her; she can (in Winnicott’s words) “hold” them, and through his relationship with her he will learn to manage them one day himself.” (Pg 222)

And this: “He doesn’t feel he can be openly angry with her, despite the fact that anger, according to Bowlby, is the natural response when a child’s attachment needs are thwarted.  Experience has taught him that his anger will only cause her to become more rejecting.  And so he has learned to turn himself off.  At the slightest hint of pain or disappointment, he shuts down his attachment system and experiences himself as having no need for love.  Unlike the ambivalent child, whose attachment antennae are always up and receiving and who seems to have no defenses to ward off painful emotions, the avoidant child, Main believes, has made himself deaf to attachment related signals, whether they are coming from within himself or from someone else.  He avoids any situation and perhaps any topic that has the potential for activating his attachment needs.”

Even later on, as a child who seems to have accepted life on the edge of human connectedness, who seems to many observers to prefer detachment, the prospect of further rejection is too terrible to risk.  The predominantly avoidant child cannot be warmly affectionate with his mother or go to her when in need. But by keeping his attachment system dampened, he is at least able to stay near her without risking more pain or ruining the connection with his disappointment and anger.  Thus, despite appearances, the strategy of the avoidant child still seems to serve the purpose of preserving proximity.  Psychologically, he is firmly in his mother’s orbit, his thought, feeling, and behavior shaped by the claims of that relationship, but, like Jupiter or Uranus, he abides at a distance that affords him little warmth (Pg 224).

Karen touches on how in our society secure attachment is more the exception than the rule, and how motherhood, as we think of it, is not the best explanation, but rather modern Western society’s growing individualism and the pressures of achievement at the expense of connection.

And as I suspected, he says that there is hope; successfully parenting one’s children, being in partnership with an emotionally healthy adult and effective therapy can all repair anxious attachment and heal attachment wounds.  Read more gleanings from this great book here, or get a copy for yourself at Amazon.com.

Closer Than You Think – Book Review

Closer Than You Think, by Trina Brunk is a practical guide to knowing one’s self and dealing with a whole host of existential questions that come with living as humans in these times.  She writes with clarity, wisdom and flow, telling the truth about intimacy and our relationship with the beloved.

But besides being practical, and serving as a guide, this lovely piece is a song – the soundtrack to the soul’s coming back into the body, after a lifetime of exile – and finally learning to stay there.   Enjoy this quote:

The skills to cultivate are not self-denial and heroism, but depth of presence, patience, and staying connected in the face of suffering, in the face of accepting that we can’t always make it better for those who suffer.

The magic and directness of this book told my story, and I suspect it will tell pieces of yours as well, in a way you have not heard it before.  It connected me more firmly with the comfort that is available to all of us, in the form of higher and often less apparent forms of guidance, assistance, and unconditional love.

Chapter 6 made me weep, but first it invited me to read it twice more.  Trina’s book, Closer Than You Think, is a wild, exhilarating ride.  It will have you holding on to your seat.  So. Much. Fun.

Buy her book here!

Are You Wired For Love? – Repost

Various similarities stand out among happy, successful couples.  These things are reflected in great literature and are assumed to be what normal relationships are made of.  Happy couples regard their unions with mutuality, deep commitment, kindness, and respect.  The culture they create together is playful, safe and nourishing.  In his important book, Wired For Love: How Understanding Your Partner’s Brain and Attachment Style Can Help You Defuse Conflict and Build a Secure Relationship, Stan Tatkin refers to healthy attachment as a tether.  He says, “Partners who create and maintain a tether to one another experience more personal safety and security, have more energy, take more risks and experience overall less stress than couples who do not.”

This tethering is the idea I’d like to talk about first, here, as the primary connection or bond that can be created between partners.  In his book, Tatkin describes what he calls a “couple bubble,” in which a couple can agree to certain principles which guide their attitudes, behaviors and priorities, and actually allow them to “build synergy in [their] relationships, such that [they] are able to operate together in ways that are greater than if [they] each lived as essentially separate individuals.”

While it’s hard to argue the advantages of such a theoretical safe haven, my concern about such an agreement is that so many individuals who have experienced relational trauma 1) do not bring their full, embodied selves to the relationship because they do not know how, and 2) do not have the social or emotional development necessary to agree on the principles and comport themselves accordingly.  One need not look far to see the relationships that create more stress than they relieve; that leave their members doubting their value, feeling unsure, unsafe, and unlovable.  The elusive bond is not experienced, and the mental constructs that support it cannot be held in place.  The couples who find themselves in this unfortunate situation match or mirror one another in their unpreparedness; neither of them can understand what is actually going on, and so it is beyond their capability to support one another and create this safe bubble.  It goes without saying that the environment of these unions is anything but safe.

In this important book, Stan Tatkin distinguishes between various attachment styles, which can describe the different kinds of dances people engage in in their relationships.  ANCHORS, he says, are securely attached.  They readily attach and are able to navigate healthy relationships.  Characteristics of the two different insecurely or anxiously attached styles are bulleted below.  See if either of these styles describes you.

ISLANDS
  • Often feel intruded upon by others
  • Feel trapped, out of control in response to closeness
  • Fear too much intimacy
  • Fear being blamed
  • Don’t believe much in the value of being soothed, comforted or protected by someone else. After all, we’ve figured out how to do that for ourselves, and others can be such a bother.
  • Prefer to have control, i.e., if I withdraw first, I don’t have to fear being abandoned
WAVES
  • Fear being abandoned by a partner
  • Fear being separated from a partner
  • Experience discomfort in response to being left alone for too long
  • Feel that they are a burden
  • Elevating someone to primary attachment status makes that person dangerous
  • Overly sensitized to the anticipation of rejection
  • Often copes with this by rejecting a partner
  • Want to be tethered, but either don’t expect it in return or are unwilling to give it in return.

As even Tatkin points out, to date there is no evidence that being in relationship is inherently better than being single.  For those of us who are “islands” or “waves,” and being in relationship is actually more stressful than not, it is probable that the couple bubble is not our best option.  We’ll look at how we might use certain pieces of the idea, however, and implement them in our other relationships so as to achieve some of the benefits that lifelong partnership provides, but not to us – yet.

I’m not denying that there is great benefit to be had in engaging the muscles that are required to maintain a couple bubble.  People universally feel and act on the need to be tethered, and this could be where your greatest potential for growth lies.  And I’ll submit, as Tatkin points out, if we do not experience the need to be in an exclusive relationship when we are generative and bodily fit, the need to be dependent on at least one other person becomes more obvious and pressing as we near the end of life.  But for others, remaining single, at least for a time, may be their potential for greatest satisfaction and growth.

For many of us, the hard-to-ignore drive to pair up seems to have a biological component, and in many ways, social forces compel us, as well, to be in exclusive, partnered relationships.  The enticement is obvious.  The benefits of being part of a well-bonded partnership include:

  • A durable sense of membership and belonging
  • A consistent go-to person with whom you can relax, feel accepted, wanted, protected, and cared for
  • A consistent go-to person for comfort and immediate care
  • Satisfaction of the human longing for a safe zone where you can let your guard down
  • Knowing that you each have an advocate and an ally against hostile forces
  • The potential for synergy, that makes two greater than the sum of its parts

For those of you who are already in committed relationships, by all means, read Stan Tatkin’s book, Wired for Love, and create a couple bubble.  Working toward this kind of relationship has the potential for profound healing and growth, even if it is never fully achieved.

But people have unique needs when it comes to safety.  What many of us could benefit from understanding, at a deeper level, is that our relationships in adulthood are completely elective.  And it is up to us to decide what works for us.  If we have tried, and have not experienced safety and comfort in intimate relationships, it is okay to admit that.  And it is okay to change up the strategy.

Maybe for some of you out there, the idea of intimacy as a trigger is a new one.  If this is the case for you, it is important to become aware of any strategies you may have unconsciously employed to protect yourself from getting too close.  Whether growing in your capacity to experience intimacy with another is your goal, or you just want to become more connected with your fully embodied self and your heart’s desires, self acceptance is the path.  Accepting yourself exactly where you are is the crucial first step.  What follows is a list of the covert strategies to avoid intimacy I have encountered in myself and through my work with clients (they are strategies because they are used to hide or distract us from our fear, i.e., fear of dependency or vulnerability):

  • Addictions and compulsions
  • Perfectionism
  • Exalting the virtues of independence and autonomy
  • Judging other people who are comfortable accepting assistance and protection
  • Judging other people as selfish when they appear to feel deserving of love and assistance
  • Judging people who do things or think differently than us
  • Exalting things such as being right, accomplishment, power, performance, money, or image over relationship

I propose that those of us who have been relationally challenged take Tatkin’s idea of a couple bubble and use it as a version of our own personal boundary.[1]  Inside this personal boundary, we can commit to forming a safe and reliable partnership with ourselves.  In all the world, we are the one person we know who will be right there with us when we are scared, in pain or excited.  But we have to make the decision to be there for and support ourselves.  Then, with the power and wisdom of our most evolved self, we can agree to work toward an internal culture of safety and comfort.  The language we can adopt might look like this:

  • I will never leave you (I will not abandon myself).
  • I will never purposely frighten you (I will be mindful and not create unnecessary chaos for myself).
  • When you are in distress, I will relieve you, even if I’m the one who is causing the distress
  • Our relationship is more important than my need to be right, your performance, your appearance, what other people think or want, or any other competing value.

In Tatkin’s bubble, the emphasis is less about helping yourself and more about helping your partner.  In this (intrapersonal) version of the bubble, the emphasis is on being sensitive to the parts of you that have been chronically dissociated, or the parts that you have kept pressed out of awareness.  When you have a more holistic relationship with yourself, you will learn to benefit from the wisdom, vision and gifts of these parts that you have been dismissing.  In this way, not only will these formerly exiled parts be accepted and cared for, but they will help you understand your needs and make them easier to meet.

Everyone experiences stress in a different way, Tatkin explains.  He recommends studying your partner and knowing the three or four things that make him or her feel bad, so you can better care for your partner.  I propose that we invest the time necessary to know ourselves this well.  Study yourself to understand the three or four things that make you feel bad.  And then do something about it.  Taking this just a short step further, we can actually work toward reducing or eliminating these four things through effective therapy, journaling, or good self care.

“It’s kind of like running a three-legged race,” Tatkin says.  “If one person falls, the other can’t go anywhere.  So you want to work as a team and hold each other up.”  When we throw our body, or “unacceptable” parts of us under the bus, we end up paralyzed, malfunctioning and stymied.  That’s why it’s important for us to include our bodies in the conversation and be compassionate with all our parts as we learn about their needs and work toward full integration.

The safety zone, or couple bubble Tatkin helps couples develop to ensure safety in their relationship is a “mutually constructed membrane cocoon, or womb that holds a couple together and protects each partner from outside elements.”  Anyone can benefit from developing a sense of committed connectedness with themselves.  It is my opinion that this is a necessary prerequisite to experiencing satisfying long-term relationships outside of us.  Here are a few things that need to happen to keep an “intrapersonal bubble” healthy and intact.

  • Take the time to re-attune after separation. If you find yourself disconnected, tense, or feeling off, check in with yourself to see if you have any pressing needs, i.e., am I thirsty, angry, triggered, tired?
  • Use body awareness to see where you are holding tension, and take steps to release it.
  • Attune to your emotional state. Becoming conscious of your emotions helps allow you to stay in the here and now, and make continual use of real-time sensory information, rather than shifting into past emotional states and essentially reliving relational or other trauma through a triggered state.  This information is readily available to you if you can stay calm enough to access it.  Simply by observing yourself, you can make assessments about your emotional state based on muscle tension, energy level, breath and voice quality.
  • Develop an up-to-date owner’s manual for your various parts. It is quite possible that a part of you is quite comfortable with the idea of meeting someone new, and another part of you is literally terrified of the prospect.  Taking some time to study these parts (or any parts you might have) and understanding what you need to do to stay connected with your larger purpose and goals, while treating each of these parts with the care and respect they deserve is a strategy that can help you stay in the here and now; to ride out a potentially overwhelming situation without needing to shut down the feelings, or to dissociate and abandon your body, and your felt sense.

As an insecurely attached child, I learned it was safer not to trust, and so my needs for belonging, safety, and support were not well met.  As an adult, I’ve found the idea of allowing another person to earn my respect, trust, and affection over time extremely seductive.  And through much trial and error, I have learned how important it is to stay conscious and connected to my felt sense, to pay attention to my physical responses to people and situations, and to refuse to turn a blind eye to things that are not acceptable to me.  I have learned to catch myself when I inadvertently hand my power over to another person, to re-member my power, and choose again.  I am learning to separate the seduction of a vague or unrealistic promise from the steady groundedness of my own felt sense, and to take great pleasure in knowing that this is what home and safety is for me.

Another question Tatkin raises is whether it is possible to love yourself before someone loves you.  He points out that we learn to love ourselves precisely because we have experienced being loved by someone.  We learn to take care of ourselves because someone has taken care of us.  Self-esteem and self-worth, he says, are developed through our contact with other people.  He is correct.  But it is not always from inside a couple relationship that we can get these things.  In fact, under certain circumstances, those partner relationships are so unsafe that the overall effect is extreme damage to the self-esteem and self-worth, in which case, we get it where we can, whether it be from authors of self-help books, the Internet, literature or less intimate friendships.  But get it we must, until healthy relating is a norm rather than that elusive panacea that continually escapes us.

Whether we can benefit from being in an exclusive relationship is not always an easy decision to make.  For some individuals, remaining single is the best option because they are wired in a way that makes committed relationships way too stressful.  What keeps people trying is the hope that experience and healing can change such wiring so that the individual can benefit from the safety and comfort of a committed union.

Here is my current checklist for relationship readiness:

  • Unambiguous desire for primary partnership
  • Self knowledge about our personal relational style, and whether having a partner makes sense for us
  • Clarity about what we desire, need and expect from our partner
  • The willingness to fight. This allows the partner to experiment with and learn through engagement how to manage one’s own power, and activates the mental and emotional muscles necessary to negotiate and advocate for one’s self.
  • Ability to attune to your emotional state and to that of another person. Emotional attunement is a state of consciousness that allows you and another person to stay in the here and now during interactions so that continual use of real-time sensory information can be made, and the shifting into past emotional states and essentially reliving relational trauma through a triggered state can be avoided.  Real-time information is readily available to you if you can stay calm enough to access it.  Simply by observing yourself and the other person, you can make assessments about emotional state based on muscle tension, breath and voice quality.
More on Fighting

Tatkin quote: “Couples who are in it for the long haul know how to play and fight well, remain fearlessly confident in the resilience of their relationship, and don’t try to avoid conflict.”  Tatkin says that while self-interests are a necessary given, they exist as part of the greater good of the relationship, such that, “when a fight occurs, nobody loses and everybody wins.”

Smart fighting, Tatkin says, is “about wrestling with your partner, engaging without hesitation or avoidance, and at the same time being willing to relax your own positon.  You go back and forth with each other, until the two of you come up with something that’s good for both of you.  You take what you each bring to the table and, with it, create something new that provides mutual relief and satisfaction.”

Emerging from a life marked by relational trauma, we each have our automatic response: the one that worked for us when we were young.  For me it was freeze and eventual flight.  Having defaulted to the freeze response so automatically, I missed out on the opportunity to experiment with and develop the other three possible responses that would have provided me with an effective fight reflex, that might have allowed me to maintain equilibrium in my relationships (the other stress responses include the cry for help, fight, and flight).

Violence and Abuse

John Gottman, of the Gottman Institute and Stan Tatkin agree that contempt is one of the biggest threats to relationships.  Contempt includes expression of disgust, disrespect, condescension, and sarcasm.  These attitudes, when directed toward the self, threaten an individual’s self-esteem and sense of self worth and severely undermine an individual’s interactions with intimate others.  Whether you want to heal your relational trauma from childhood or nurture a deep and authentic relationship with another person, you owe it to yourself to immediately eliminate all threatening behavior.  Think about this next list in terms of how you treat yourself (in a stressful situation) and past unsuccessful relationships.  Think also about relationships you witnessed as you were growing up.  Threatening behavior includes:

  • Raging
  • Hitting or other forms of violence
  • Threats against the relationship
  • Threats against the person
  • Threats against others important to your partner
  • Holding on for too long and not letting go
  • Refusing to repair or make right a wrong
  • Withdrawing for periods longer than 1-2 hours
  • Being consistently unapologetic
  • Behaving habitually in an unfair or unjust manner
  • Putting ego-based interests ahead of the relationship too much of the time
  • Expressing contempt (devaluation: e.g., “you’re a moron.”)
  • Expressing disgust (loathing or repulsion; e.g., “you make me sick.”)
Touch

Finally, lack of physical contact contributes to actual, measurable health problems.  In a study of baby rhesus monkeys, back in 1975, James Prescott found a stronger drive for physical comfort than for food.  These needs are the same for people, and they continue into adulthood.  Directly and consistently addressing one’s need for touch is an important way to clear away the fog of the seduction of pairing off before one is actually ready.  And if one is aware, he or she can take steps to meet this physical need.  According to Tatkin, a minimum of 10 minutes of close physical contact every day can make a measurable difference when it comes to stress management.  If you are not partnered, you can absolutely benefit from cuddling with yourself, or even cradling yourself as you would a baby.  Hugging, holding or being held, dancing, exercises such as yoga and tai chi, being given or receiving a massage, and so on are all ways you can nurture and care for your precious body and let it know you appreciate it.  Notice the effect any amount of physical touch and conscious, loving attention has on your level of stress and on your physical health.  If you can slow down enough, you will notice that such care and indulgence is not only enjoyable, but that it also serves to help your body heal, and as a preventive means to reduce the effects of stress and maintain your health.

In case you were wondering about the re-posts, I recently migrated my blog, and in the process lost a lot of material.  I’m going back to reconstruct the articles that seem relevant.  This one is from July 4, 2016.  thank you for your interest!

 

[1] I teach a 5-week class on boundaries called Boundaries 101: Learning to Recognize, Honor and Communicate Your Personal Limits.  You can get your copy of the study guide here.

Book Review – Developmental Trauma: The Game Changer In The Mental Health Profession – Repost

Weinhold, Barry K. & Janae B. Developmental Trauma: The Game Changer in the Mental Health Profession. Colorado Springs: CICRCL Press, 2015.

These two masters, Barry and Janae Weinhold, already had my full attention, as I found their material when I was developing Boundaries 101 and it provided a foundation for my scattered thoughts.  We are on the same wavelength in so many ways.  We are definitely hanging out in the same field of information.  In this book, they talk about how research on attachment and neuroscience is changing our approaches to mental health and they describe in detail the programs they have developed to help people, families and other systems recover from developmental trauma.  In particular they offer training to therapists and care providers, enhancing their ability to work effectively with individuals, couples and families.  In their work, the Weinholds look at the positive aspects of developmental trauma, and how it can become an asset in people’s relationships, and a force for personal and collective evolution.

I talked about developmental trauma in Boundaries 101 and I talk about it in Being in My Body (as the precursor to PTSD and dissociation).  In their book, the Weinholds describe how, in 2014, they were involved in an effort to include developmental trauma as a diagnostic category in the new Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM V).  And that is what needs to happen.  The thing is, disorganized attachments and its effects are so common, and their implications so large, that once developmental trauma is integrated into the larger picture, the whole structure of the DSM and the profession will need to change.  Needless to say, there was a lot of resistance to including developmental trauma in the DSM, despite the fact that there is ample evidence that it is at the root of so many of the mental disorders (including PTSD, OCD, ADD, etc., not to mention chronic physical illnesses) listed in there, and there is plenty of research to support it.

But as we start talking about developmental trauma as a society, we need to start talking about children as people, and somehow recognize and acknowledge the importance of how we raise our children, and how important their first three years are.  And that is a very controversial subject these days.

Barry and Janae are unambiguous on the subject.  They feel that “the long-term effects of developmental traumas caused by childhood abuse and neglect as the single most important public health issue in this country.”  And I couldn’t agree more.

Bessel van der Kolk, one of the most famous and outspoken experts on trauma, the Weinholds say, “is calling for a massive public crusade against child maltreatment similar to the model that the anti-smoking campaign begun by Surgeon General C. Everett Koop in 1982.  He said, ‘We need someone important in public life to have the courage to stand up and take a very visible stand on something like this – it has a huge impact on both science and society.’”  This is the kind of response that is called for.  In the meantime, we can work on our personal recovery, and integrate trauma awareness wherever we go.

The Weinholds have an online course called Freaked Out: How Hidden Developmental Trauma Can Disrupt Your Life and Relationships, and their website is, www.freakedoutnomore.info  Their offerings are designed to help the general public connect the dots between adverse childhood experiences and adult physical and mental health problems; to help them understand the long-term effects of hidden developmental trauma.


This is a Must-Own book for today’s competent therapists.  Get your copy on Amazon.com or on there site, here.  Here are some of my favorite quotes from this powerful, intelligent, intuitive, game-changing book:

“When parents themselves get triggered and regress, they disconnect from their children and are unavailable to help them regulate their emotions.” (Pg 19)

“The countries in Western, Central, and Eastern Europe have universal parental and maternal leave policies that are much more supportive of infants and families.  Their maternity leave periods average around 10 months and they typically provide some form of wage replacement or income supplement for both parents.” (Pg 35)

“This self-reflection (among therapists, teachers, and care providers) requires that they examine the experiences of their own early childhood and look for correlations between their personal issues with children who trigger them, and their unrecognized and unhealed developmental shock, trauma, and stress from the past.” (Pg 37)

“The way to treat psychological trauma was not through the mind but through the body.” (Pg 70)

“(Bruce) Lipton bases his biological premise on extensive research.  He draws from unified field theory and asserts that receptors on the membranes of individual cells read the ‘field’ surrounding them.  The cells’ perception of the field determines how they respond.  When the cells perceive danger, their receptors close and direct the organism into a protective mode.  When the cells perceive safety in their environment, the receptors open, and they direct the organism into a growth mode.” (Pg 105)

“Lipton’s operational model has no middle ground: cells and organisms can only be in one mode at a time.  Cells are either in a growth mode and able to give and receive information, sustenance and unconditional love; or they are in a protection mode and closed to receiving supportive information and energy.” (Pg 105)

“…(Schore) description of the mother-child relationship with quantum language such as attunement, energetic resonance and synchronization…the beating human heart generates some 2.5 watts of electrical activity with each heartbeat that creates a pulsing electromagnetic field of energy around the body.” (Pg 107)

“What children really need is a ‘time-in’ where they sit on or by you, be touched, and talked to in a calm, soothing way.  This not only helps them re-regulate their feelings, it stops the feelings of shame.

“When this happens, children realize there is nothing wrong with having these feelings and they can calm down.  Adults are much more empathetic when they understand correctly that the emotional outburst is a symptom of children needing help to re-regulate their emotions.” (Pg 176)

“Children learn to build a False Self based on what others want them to say or do, rather than focusing on what they feel inside about what they have said or done.  Parents and teachers too often use externalizing methods of praise to reward children.  It truly disconnects children from their inner experiences, causing them to grow up needing validation and approval from others.” (Pg 190)

“According to (Louise) Kaplan, the developmental replay that happens between the ages of eleven and sixteen is an opportunity to repair any developmental trauma that might have happened in early childhood.” (Pg 206)

Developmental Replay in the Teens

Prenatal11-12 yr 0 – 1 yr12 – 13 yr 1 – 2 yr13 – 14 yr 2 – 3 yr14 – 15 yr 3 – 4  yr15 – 16 yr

“…anxiety, depression and panic disorders and the freak-out episodes are NOT diseases or mental illness….these issues are caused by trauma, particularly childhood or developmental trauma…need for support and caring, and targeted tools that help clear the trauma from the nervous system and to rewire the brain.” (Pg 212)

“…relational trauma is the primary cause of the trauma, and that most of it is anchored in a child’s attachment with the mother during the first year of life….” (Pg 213)

“…all experiences of shock, trauma, or stress interfere with human development, we classify them as developmental shock, trauma, or stress.  Because all humans have experienced developmental shock, trauma, or stress that has not been recognized or healed, by definition we are all developmentally delayed – individually, systemically, and as a species.  Some of us are delayed more and some less, depending on the amount of developmental shock, trauma, or stress that we have experienced, how it was or was not addressed at the time it happened, and what we have done to heal it.” (Pg 223)

“Do snakes fear they might explode into a million pieces and disappear?  We think the primary role of teachers and therapists is to create safe containers and hold space for students and clients while they expand, split open, and reorganize themselves at a higher level of evolution.” (Pg 230)

“Clients have an inner template…that guides them towards wholeness.  The therapist’s job is to help them discover and live from this innate template….Because all human behavior represents an unconscious attempt to heal or correct something, there is always something ‘right’ about it.” (Pg 233)

“Pacing with clients leaves the power in clients’ hands and keeps the therapist in a facilitative rather than a directive role.  This self-other attunement contributes to a healing field of energy between the client and the therapist where the ‘work’ happens. Often ‘doing less is more.’” (Pg 234)

“It is possible to slow down a client’s healing process, but not to speed it up.  Hurrying clients can do two counterproductive things.  The first is skipping important developmental issues that cause them to ‘recycle.’  The second is overwhelming clients’ nervous systems with too much information too fast and re-traumatizing them.” (Pg 234)

“Abused and neglected children exhibit a variety of behaviors that can lead to any number of diagnoses.  However, the effect of early abuse and neglect on the child can be seen in several critical areas of development.  These areas include emotional regulation, behavioral regulation, attachment, neurobiology, response flexibility, a coherent integrated sense of self across time, the ability to engage in emotional attunement with significant others (empathy and emotional connectedness).  In addition, it affects self-concept, cognitive abilities and learning, and conscience development.” (Pg 238)

“The tips of human chromosomes are known as telomeres.  They serve as protective caps that shield the ends of our chromosomes each time our cells divide and the DNA gets copied.  With each cell division, the telomeres wear down over time and fray.  When telomeres fray and get too short, it causes our cells to malfunction and lose their ability to divide in integrity.  This phenomenon is now recognized as a key factor in aging.” (Pg 242)

“…research (Elissa Epel) with a study that examined telomere length in relation to self-reported Presence using a large sample of healthy, relatively low-stress women.  She and her colleagues found that greater Presence of mind was related to longer telomere length.  Conversely, more negative mind wandering – thinking about other things or wanting to be somewhere else – was related to shorter telomere length.”  (Pg 243)

“Through subtle epigenetic exchanges of information and energy between them and the container, clients are able to modify their Internal Working Model of Reality, their attachment styles, and the expression of their genes.” (Pg 243)

“Many experiences of developmental shock, trauma, and stress are caused by neglect related to energetic disconnects during the first year of life, rather than abandonment and abuse.  It is very difficult to recognize the presence of emotional, physical, spiritual, or psychological neglect because nothing happened.  Abandonment and abuse are easier to recognize and recall, because something happened.” (Pg 257)

“When two people become separate, whole, autonomous people, they no longer need to protect themselves from each other.” (Pg 279)

Learning to Mother and Father Myself

On the roof this morning I was reconnecting with myself after a day of feeling overwhelmed and ungrounded much of the day, yesterday. First thing I did this morning was write a list of things that I feel like all have to be done RIGHT NOW (which helped – they don’t). And while I was doing my stretches on the roof, with a tiny peek of the now-just-waning full moon to the west (we’ve been in full cloud cover for the past week), and the splendid sunrise to the east, I had a series of “downloads” from my guides and muses – you might call them inspiration (I keep my iPhone up there so I can listen to Trina Brunk, doesn’t matter how many times).  I e-mailed those “downloads” to myself so I wouldn’t lose them (technology can be so amazing when we use it consciously).

I cherish these nuggets of inspiration, and know that they will sit patiently in my Hotmail inbox until I can get to them. One of the downloads I got came from the realization (again) that I am fully supported, that I have all the time I need, and that when I feel overwhelmed, I can stop and parent myself. Feeling overwhelmed is actually a message from my younger self that I need some care and attention. I sometimes need to be reminded that I am held in loving arms. What occurred to me is that I could easily go back and re-read letters I had written to myself after a “playshop retreat” created by my sisters (Tami and Trina).

I’ll share the letters with you here. They are from my Inner Masculine and Inner Feminine.


From My Inner Masculine:

June 2013: My Dearest Toni,

I am so sorry I have not been fully here for you during the first part of your life. It has truly been my loss and I would like to reconnect now. I understand, now, how much I adore and appreciate you. I give you permission, now, to be all you came here to be, to be a woman in all senses of the word – to experience the joy of physical pleasure. Toni, you are the master of your experience and it is yours to explore pleasure and find what gives you joy and fulfillment. Go ahead. Take those steps. I will be here to support you if you’re not sure at first. I am here. I will continue to be here, whatever direction you decide to go. You will not disappoint me. I promise you this. Trust yourself. Your instincts are good. Your judgment, your discernment can be trusted. I am so proud of you, and excited about this work you are about to do.

I love you. You deserve deep satisfaction, contentment, and the fulfilment of your heart’s desires. You are good. You are pure. You are kind. You are enough.

Go forward. Be yourself.

Your Inner Masculine.


From My Inner Feminine:

June 2013

My Beloved Toni,

I adore you. You are a child of God. I give you permission to be all you came here to be. Take your time. Take all the time you need. I am strong enough to nurture you, while you explore who you are and what you will do next and next and next. How precious you are to me. I can’t wait to see what you next discover about yourself, your strengths, your yet unexplored gifts and qualities and potentials. I give you permission and my blessing to indulge in pleasure, to explore the world, inner and outer, to be great, to be vulnerable, to be playful, to be a beginner – to be exactly who you are now. I am holding this space and time for you while you do this very important work. Go ahead. Let yourself feel your emotions. It is safe to be in your body now. Listen to what it tells you. I will offer you guidance and direction through your sensory experience and I encourage you to enter the full expression of your deepest self, from this moment onward. You are enough. You are so precious to me. I love you so.

I will be here for you always.

Your Inner Feminine

Now Available!

web-page-bimb

Being In My Body is now available at Amazon.com

You can also get it at CreateSpace

I am in the process of scheduling a book tour for the spring, and speaking/training events for 2017.  If you’d like to get on the calendar, please e-mail me at:

e-mail address

Here’s what readers are saying about Being In My Body

“Toni has gifted us with a readable and rich handbook on how to deal with trauma. She carefully weaves well-researched information with examples and healing techniques. Toni stays with you as you read and you can feel her compassion coming through.”

David Richo, PhD: Author of When the Past is Present (Shambhala)

“Being In My Body is a testimony both to Toni Rahman’s personal work and her professional and clinical skills.  This book is not only easy to read and understand, but interesting and informative.

“Toni does an excellent job of explaining the different kinds of trauma, which is an important contribution to field of traumatology.

“I found myself feeling comfortable in my own body as I read her book, which told me that she was in HER body as she was writing it.

“Most of all, I appreciate Toni’s open-hearted writing style, and her compassionate approach towards herself, her family, her clients and her readers.”

Janae B. Weinhold, PhD LPC, Co-author of Developmental Trauma: The Game Changer in the Mental Health Profession, Counterdependency: The Flight From Intimacy & Breaking Free of the Codependency Trap

“Toni presents a unique and well-thought-out perspective on healing from trauma and attachment disorders. As a couple therapist whose business it is to put the dyad first, I nonetheless respect the importance she gives to individual healing. Toni offers a comprehensive primer on some of the key concepts for healing that are derived from neuroscience, attachment theory, and somatization/embodiment. And she brilliantly puts them together in a way that creates more than the sum of the whole.”

Stan Tatkin, PsyD, MFT is a clinician and teacher; he developed A Psychobiological Approach to Couple Therapy® (PACT), which integrates attachment theory, developmental neuroscience, and arousal regulation, and founded the PACT Institute.

Being In My Body offers a way for us to integrate with our bodies, not just to discover historic trauma, but also to obtain daily awareness of what is going on in our lives.  It seems so obvious, but we completely ignore our bodies instead of listening to them.”

“I feel like your book reached me in many different ways. So it was really a privilege to live with it over the last few weeks. I don’t think I’ll ever feel the same about or deal with my body in quite the same way (not that I disliked my body). It has opened new avenues for me to reconsider how I work with my body and perhaps bring out in the open locked memories and finally release them. Definitely serendipity for me at this time.”

– Stephanie Brooks, Business Manager, MSSD

“Being In My Body is a beautiful synthesis of powerful teachings, practices, and stories that have helped me tremendously in my still-unfolding journey towards greater self-understanding, self-acceptance, and embodiment. Toni Rahman has helped me understand the ways in which I experienced developmental trauma, how it has impacted me, and perhaps most importantly, what I can do about it in the present moment. This book has left me feeling empowered, supported, and deeply understood.  I have read many books that touch on these topics and themes, and what I found most unique about this book was Toni’s willingness to be vulnerable and open with her readers. As I read Being In My Body, I felt like I was being accompanied through difficult terrain by a gentle guide who was willing to share her own journey in the hopes that it would help others along on theirs. In my case, it certainly has, and I hope that many others will benefit as well.”

– Megan Farmer, Postgraduate Psychology Student, Calif.

Becoming Embodied, One Ache at a Time

Bringing my spirit back into my body.

That is what I’m about.

Those places that let me hear from them

Are God’s voice, calling me back where I belong.

 

So yesterday I started to notice a real achiness in my lower left back–in my ribcage when I turned my body in a particular way.  Oh no.  Now what? was my initial response.  What’s wrong now?  Why me?  I quickly ruled out travel.  I’d actually made a very long journey, but it had been kind and it had been a couple days since I had arrived home safe and sound.  I went to bed hoping that it would be gone in the morning.

No such luck.  So I made tai chi and my date with my beloved on the roof a priority.  First thing, I was on the roof with my tea in hand.  No gorgeous sunrise, though.  Not even visible stars, with Hurricane Matthew roaring off in the east somewhere.  As I listened to Trina Brunk on my iPhone, I heard her words and they penetrated my soul, opened my heart.

Remembering that my task is to live what I ask others to do, I brought my awareness to my ribcage.  Tight.  Frightened.  Abandoned.

And I realized that as my spirit enters my body, it may need to do so little by little.  And that is what is happening here, though without realizing it, I had been resisting it out of fear.

And so I made an adjustment in my perspective.  Today my spirit is entering my ribcage.  Am I going to greet it with “You are too much!”  “Go away!” “You are such a pain!”  It is asking me for my caring, tenderness, touch.  Curiosity, listening.

Yes, I think I can do that.  What else might be in order?  I could check with a couple books to see what “ribcage” might suggest.  What it means in the universal language of dreams and nature.  What I already know is that this has to do with breathing deeply, turning to the left and flexibility in the face of expanding capacity.

I can rub myself gently and be aware of this tender place in my beloved, vulnerable body.  I can slow down.  I can pause and say, “I notice you, and I’m wondering what you need.  Are you okay?  You have been protecting me and supporting me for all this time, and I have not even acknowledged you.  I am so grateful for what you do for me.  I honor your presence in my body as part of my system.  I recognize that you have needs and I am interested in understanding what you have to say.  Your pain is not so great that I need to shut it out.  I am not afraid of you.  Thank you for communicating with me.  You matter to me.

Ahhhh, that feels better.  And I can add Mantak Chia to my meditation regimen, which will encourage me to breathe more consciously and bring awareness to my organs and inner energy flow.  I realize that I am needing a little more structure to provide boundaries to my days.  I also realize I am needing a durable but expandable container that allows for movement of the whole, while protecting the vital vulnerable parts inside.  Thank you, ribcage.  Welcome, spirit, into my body.  Thank you for your wisdom that I can know with just the right timing and in just the right way that I can understand and allow this amazing, transformative process.  I am willing.  I am grateful.  Aho.

Daring to Trust

I’m sharing a quick preview tonight about a book I just finished.  As its name suggests, it’s about trust.  I love love love this one, and can’t wait to share all my gleanings.  I’m also sure I’ll be integrating these ideas into my Boundaries 101 class in December.  For now, here is an excerpt from page 37 of David Richo’s Daring to Trust:

 

pg 37: An original secure attachment is the basis of trust.  Feeling that we are lovingly held with the five A’s (attention, acceptance, appreciation, affection, allowing), that holes in trust  can be darned, that safety and security are reliably present — all these build our confidence in others.  Our trust is also in ourselves as people who are now capable both of showing trusting love and of being willing to work on repairing ruptures in fidelity.