Contact

Contact

Contact.

It’s starts when we are young and the contact and care are chaotic or disrupted or unpredictable or just not there. Maybe abuse is there instead or as well as love.

It goes underground.  On the outside a part of us functions and copes. Another whole world inside is hidden, cut off, numbed out. We lose touch with our body, our sense of self and purpose and basic goodness. Body systems go haywire and can’t harmonise. The adaptations start to cause problems – in our immune, digestive, endocrine, musculoskeletal systems. Our stress response has two modes – “I burnt the coffee, were all gonna die high alert” or ” I burnt the coffee, there is no hope and nothing more but to shut back down.

The internal flow, awareness and connection that supports good things in our life, struggles and collapses when we need it most.

Life gets hard, but we don’t know why. We are good at coping.  But life gets harder and coping gets more critical. It affect our relationships, health, finances, social support. More adapting and coping because we are resilient people. A growing sense that it didn’t or doesn’t need to be this way.

Living becomes an isolated existence, isolated from fragments of our selves, from caring others, from our body and sensuality, from the realisation of the rich full potential of who we are.

Loss of critical contact is how is starts.  Bringing back in the critical contact is how it heals. Contact with your body to start, to make it safe and bring it online.  Then contact with lost fragments, broken dreams and carefully power packs of purpose and mission in life. Contact with how frangipanis smell and how the energy in your body moves.

Contact with your deepest truest self and what it wants so desperately to experience and achieve in the world. Contact with the awareness within you that you are one with, connected to and breathing in harmony.

It states with broken contact.

It ends with contact. Deep, pure, playful, purposeful, both freeing and fulfilling your soul.

Contact.  Knowing somewhere is there, that they get you and have your back. They are your middle of the night person.

Contact.  Feeling your occupation of your own body.

Contact. With your whole self and all your parts and the soul expression that drives them.

Contact. True contact and sense of acceptance, care and validation from the world out there.

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This isn’t for everyone. This is for those of you who have fought and struggled and fallen and fought again. You may have tried a bunch of things, a string of doctors and therapists and spiritual practices. Or maybe you held it all in and pushed through, but your health is showing the signs of that and a part of you so deep inside knows it can be different, longs for a life that is more “yours”.

rewire 4 life blog

Articles, videos and resources for healing complex and relational trauma.

Crayons, drums and layers

Crayons, drums and layers

Healing trauma is a lot about working with the body’s natural rhythms, creating an environment of warm attunement, where safety is felt and a kind of natural alchemy can happen between body based trauma memory and more resourceful states.

It can be helpful to use tools and processes that directly access non-verbal brain domains and felt sense present moment experiencing.

Coloured crayons ???? on a blank page can help ground and strengthen an internal shift.

A drum ???? beat or the movement of banging it can regulate heart rhythm and bring a sense of safety and containment.

Therapy can be a very beautiful multi-layered experience of freeing, grounding and expressing your true self. ☀️☀️

rewire 4 life blog

Articles, videos and resources for healing complex and relational trauma.

Building your healing container

Building your healing container

Complex traumatic impacts got created in the first place because your environment (primarily the core people in your life, and also the physical and cultural environment) was unsafe, unpredictable, lacked genuine connection, nurture or support for your autonomy.

Healing trauma requires that you create and nurture a container for your own healing in your adult life that provides the safe connection and kind seeing needed for implicit (body based) trauma memories to experience something new and evolve.

Sometimes this can come from people and the quality of our connection with them.  It can also come from nature, animals, music, activities, movement, your creativity, your connection with the earth and your spiritual life (whatever that means for you).

Knowing and consistently applying certain key principles will help you build the strongest and most nourishing healing container for you.  In many respects, the container is the medicine.

AND the more secure and supportive your healing container, the more you can allow fragments of felt trauma memory forward to be met, healed and evolved.

This is where you replicate, tiny piece by tiny piece, the environmental attunement, support and autonomy that was needed while your nervous system was growing itself.

Your inner and outer worlds are very much connected.  This is how your original environment created the nervous system you are working with today.

Optimising your environment is central to healing trauma’s impact … and as you continue to heal, your outer world experience can come into alignment with that.

rewire 4 life blog

Articles, videos and resources for healing complex and relational trauma.

Was it trauma?

Was it trauma?

Was it trauma?

‘I don’t know if what happened to me was actually trauma’

‘Mostly my childhood was pretty normal .. Dad just drank a bit (or Mum was always with the put-downs) ..’

‘All that was a long time ago, I’m past all that, I’ve got a good job and a partner who cares, but I can’t seem to trust people / stop crying / get too angry with the kids / recover from this illness …’

Trauma’s a big word and most people don’t apply it to themselves until a therapist says at some point – ‘do you know what happened to you was abuse?’ or ‘I’d like you to understand how that was actually a traumatic experience that is impacting you still’.

Trauma is an outcome, not an event

I’d like to invite you to start seeing trauma not as an event or thing that happened, but as the impact on the nervous system of experiences that were and still can be, intensely dysregulating.  That means, sending your nervous system into hyper-arousal (too activated) or hypo-arousal (not enough activation to be present).

So the definition I’m suggesting is:

‘Trauma is the outcome of experiences that generate ongoing, intense and systemic nervous system dysregulation.”

 

There are four types of life experience that can generate a traumatic response in the nervous system.

 

1. Shock trauma

  • Specific event/s
  • Experiencing survival threat, serious injury, sexual violation
  • Witnessing or vicarious exposure to same

Shock trauma is the kind of thing more generally understood to be traumatic.  It relates generally to one-off events that were overwhelming to your nervous system to the point where you had to shut down to some aspect of life or your inner experience.  Typical events that could generate shock trauma include accidents and injury, acute illness or medical procedures, violent attack, natural disaster, unexpected death.  Being held at gun point.  Any kind of life threatening situation, especially one where you felt powerless.

When shock trauma happens in childhood, it can have a bigger impact than when it happens in adulthood, depending on a bunch of other factors including receiving appropriate care, soothing and empathic response from others after the event and having had a history of secure attachment in childhood.

 

2. Complex and developmental trauma

  • Ongoing
  • Occur whilst brain and nervous system are developing
  • People who were supposed to keep you safe didn’t or couldn’t
  • Relates to experiences of abuse and neglect that occurred during the developmental years.

It’s complex for two main reasons:

1. It’s complex because it impacted your nervous system at a time when your nervous system was growing the structures and pathways and programs it would have to work with for the rest of your life.  Trauma and abuse that happens during this time has a disproportionately high impact on the nervous system, compared with trauma and abuse that happens for the first time later in life after a safe and secure childhood.

2. It’s complex because it often comes at us from parents, adults, older relatives, sometimes teachers, church leaders, medical professional – the people who were supposed to be safe and keep us safe.  Often the abuse is coming directly from these people.  Sometimes the abuse may come from elsewhere but for some reason the adults and caregivers were unable to keep us safe or take care of us properly afterwards.

When the abuse or neglect comes from a source that is supposed to keep us safe, it messes with our wiring in a way that inhibits our ability to access safe nurturing, bonding, intimacy and attachment with people into the future and so life becomes a whole lot more difficult.  It also messes with our general sense of trust in the flow of life, trust in other people, trust in ourselves and our own feelings, needs and responses.  All this has a flow on effect in terms of the way our identity and sense of self forms.  It often means low self esteem, poor boundaries and an unclear sense of where you end and others begin and a changeable, unclear or easily disrupted sense of who you are in the world.

3. Adverse childhood experiences (an experience based window into developmental trauma)

  • Abuse or neglect
  • Challenges to household stability (eg. a parent with an alcohol, substance abuse, anger management or mental health problem)

Adverse childhood experiences are a part of the overall picture of complex or developmental trauma and refer to acts of abuse or neglect.  They also include challenges to the household stability, such as being exposed to violent behaviour, having a parent or household member with a mental health condition, a substance abuse problem, having a household member go to gaol and parental separation or divorce.

ACES have been shown to have a significant impact on the likelihood a child will develop a range of psychological, physical health and life management concerns over the mid to long term. More ACES in childhood equals higher likelihood of health, social and life problems down the track.  ACES have been extensively studied by the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention and their collaborative partners over the last twenty or so years.

 

4. Insecure attachment

  • Avoid attachment, emotionally distant, or
  • Seek attachment, but anxious and insecure, or
  • Confused and disorganised attachment

This refers to the way you learned to seek, avoid or moderate attachment bonding when you were a child, in order to best manage your nervous system activation and your access to needed resources such as love and safety.

Whilst around 50% of the population operates primarily from a secure attachment style (and this can be achieved in adulthood even when it wasn’t available as a child), it is likely that many of you reading this needed to develop what’s called an insecure attachment style when you were young.

It means that one or both parents were not attuned to you consistently enough and not able to meet your needs for care and bonding sufficiently on an ongoing basis.  So in response your clever nervous system adapted to either become very cut-off and self contained or to activate anxiously and work extra hard to try and generate connection and hence soothing from parents or caregivers.

This is not necessarily the fault of the parents – often they will have been behaving at the effect of their own unconscious or unresolved trauma and attachment patterning.

To an infant or child, having a care-giver behave in a threatening or neglectful way, is actually having their survival mechanism threatened.  It’s in our biology as human beings that we are dependent on the care of others for survival needs when we are young.  When this is not sufficiently available or is abused, it registers in the nervous system as a threat to our life and physical survival.

The two primary modes of insecure attachment are (a) avoidant or needing to withdraw from connection to moderate arousal and (b) anxious or working hard to generate connection in order to moderate arousal.

Sometimes a child will express as (c) confused and disorganised in the way they relate to attachment and would be seen as angry, non-responsive or depressed.

Each style makes perfect sense as an adaptation to a particular kind of early childhood environment, in terms of the constancy of love, care, safety, empathic attunement and rich experiences available to the child.

 

Information about therapy for healing complex trauma here.

rewire 4 life blog

Articles, videos and resources for healing complex and relational trauma.

A flicker of the old pattern – micro-dosing the pain exposure

A flicker of the old pattern – micro-dosing the pain exposure

I was sitting down by the beach at the end of the day, taking in the setting sun.  I had been reflecting on how stable my inner world had been of late, then an old pattern showed up, just as a flicker, the whole journey of it, there in a flicker.  Triggered by some uncertainty inside a friendship, unsure how trustable things were, and an old pattern that shows up as terror, abandonment and chaos flickered to life inside me.

I was able to speak to it with words of logic and allow it to feel held by the general sense of community around me and the grace of nature.  There was much more of me in a resourceful state than was attached to the flicker of the traumatic memory.

I saw my old pattern of wanting to get busy and put things in place to stop the abandoned chaos from being there, then caught myself and met the feeling sense of this pattern in my body again, round two, and allowed the rhythm and waves of the ocean and nature space around me to soothe the unsettled rhythms in my body.  Then I became very aware of the larger, calm wise whole being back in the driver’s seat.  Able to act or not act.  At choice.  Holding and soothing the traces of pain.

This is ideally how we want processing sessions to be – a microdose of the pain pattern and lots of soothing and resource to surround it.

rewire 4 life blog

Articles, videos and resources for healing complex and relational trauma.