What about Dad?
In this course, I use what might seem like erratic treatment of pronouns. Bear with me, there is some method to this madness.
We – men and women alike – were all children and we all experienced that warm physical connection with our mother. At the very least, we were protected by the design and physiology of the womb so that all our needs were met, effortlessly. Mother’s body does an excellent job of buffering the child and putting its needs first, whether she is stressed, malnourished, or abused. That is, before birth. So my intention is to include both “he” and “she” when it comes to the experience of the offspring and its perspective as a fetus and newborn. But when it comes to the adult parent that the stress or trauma is associated with, I am using “she” across the board. At this point, the bond with mother is primary, the bond with the father is at a very different stage.
This is not to hold the mother entirely responsible. Nothing could be further from the truth. It is the responsibility of the tribe to support women in their childbearing years and to help raise small children, though this relationship and responsibility has been all but erased in our society. The mother is who carries the child during gestation. There is no getting around this. The severing of that connection in violent and unconscious ways at birth is an important contributor to early relational trauma.
The father’s direct contribution comes in later, when the child is able to leave that warm womb-place of the mother. For biological reasons the father’s role during pregnancy and in those first months is to provide a safe environment, to support the mother, and to guard against predators during this vulnerable, transitional time. This is not to diminish the importance of the father-infant bond or the father-pre-infant bond. But the stresses and traumas that TVP is telling us about (through the voices I hear from clients who are in flashback) are about the rage and terror originating from the separation from mother. The bond with father is secondary until the later developmental stages and isn’t as directly or obviously involved in the co-dependent stage of development.
Many of the ways we abuse ourselves – the ego defenses we pick up – are internalized father voices, and are reflective of father wounds. But they take root in very different ways, depending on the quality of the bond and the safety we felt in the time between conception and 6 months. In this course I refer to these unresolved stresses and traumas in terms of how the infant/baby’s body responded, whether as a way to cope with lack of attunement or prolonged separations (whether they are physical or energetic), or a chronic triggered reaction from the mother in response to the child’s vulnerability and neediness.