From the first breath we need, crave, ache, cry for love, connection, nurturing, life fulfilling attachment, for our needs to be met. More than that, we will wither away and die without attachment to another; our Mother, Caregiver, the source of our life and if our body doesn’t wither away, surely our Soul does, our Spirit.
We hear the songs, the poetry… We will die for love, fight for love, walk miles for love, throw ourselves on a grenade for love, give up all that we have for love, swim the oceans for love, give up our Soul for love.
It is the juice of Country songs.
Look into the eyes of a newborn, there is a question, a searching for the truth, “will you care for me? Will you love me? Can I trust you?” It is Instinctual, built into our Survival tool box; babies are cute and cuddly, wonderful to hold, we coo and babble and make fools of ourselves for those little bundles of joy.
That is a survival mechanism hard wired into our humanness, into creation.
However, let me tell you a story, perhaps several stories in blogs to follow. They may resonate for you, they may take your breath away, they may make you cry or question the basic nature of humanity, they may give you pause but they will ALL offer hope and healing.
Be aware, these are stories of love and hope and spiritual connection, of grace and courage and dignity, these are stories that may make you cry and laugh and celebrate and perhaps find your own connections and purpose.
So please allow me to give you this gift, of love, belonging, acceptance and purpose…the basic needs of every human spirit.
Not an uncommon story- a little boy, 4 years old, he and 2 older brothers, 6 and 8 years old abandoned by a single mom taken by child protection, separated and left to the foster care system.
We read it in the newspapers, see it on the news. So sad! And we move on.
Well, like all such children, that abandonment becomes the most devastating trauma, the separation of siblings painful beyond understanding. As trauma is measured, abandonment and neglect far outweigh all others, even the most violent of traumas.
The message is clear. You are nothing, zero, you are a throw away child, you have no value, not worthy of time or attention OR they are battered daily with the messages….”I wish you weren’t born, you ruined my life, you are stupid, fat, worthless, lazy, ugly, helpless” and a litany of other messages that become ingrained in our conscious and our spirit and drive all future choices and behaviors. If you can unravel the trauma story all the behaviors and choices make sense…follow me and I will show you.
For one little boy, let’s call him Jacob, the message created a craving for love, for nurturing, for caring, a hunger for human touch that overwhelmed his whole body.
Can you relate? “Skin hunger ” is an ache for touch, not sexual touch but loving, connecting touch, touch that validates our worth. Infants die without touch. Adults wither without touch, rage without touch, become depressed or anxious or seek touch, any touch, in unhealthy, dangerous ways.
For Jacob, the little boy it was a craving as intense as any addiction.
He was taken into a Catholic orphanage with other boys cared for by lay caretakers of the church. Sexually abused between 4-7 by a male caretaker. This attention gave the message you are special, even though it was brutal and came with so many other negative messages; it was attention that Jacob craved.
Jacob was 7 year old and very ill with pneumonia and was taken to the hospital where the nurses really, really cared for him. Bathed him, fed him, touched him, talked to him, listened to him, comforted this little boy in ways he had never experienced before. They showed basic care and concern as would any good human being- Jacob was “hooked”.
There were many, many trips to the hospital. Much care and concern by the nurses and doctors. Everything felt like love, he had nothing to measure it against.
The Medical folks could not understand the bruises, the clotting, and the wounds on his legs. It was unfathomable that they could be self-inflicted but for Jacob the tradeoff was worth the pain. His need for love, attachment, connection was so huge that for many, many years he purposely hurt himself, beating his legs with hammers and bats and creating wounds and clotting that brought him repeatedly to the loving arms of the Nurses.
When we met Jacob, a large strapping man of 28, it was very clear how physically he had damaged himself and how emotionally and spiritually he had been damaged by others.
So this man- 6 feet tall, built like a stevedore – reacted in every other way like a 7 year old broken, wounded and very needy little boy.
The healing of Jacob and any other Jacobs requires clinicians to be loving, compassionate, empathetic, non-judge mental, patient and most of all to “listen” and “witness”. The process of trauma resolution is often slow with many steps forward and back, like a Magical dance.
Next week, we will talk about the Dance of Trauma resolution in its many forms. Sometimes a Cha Cha, sometimes a Waltz, sometimes a Quick step or a Tango but always, always a partnership and often with many different partners. I look forward to discussing the steps, the healing of Jacob and others.