Posts Tagged ‘Anxiety’

Understanding why I have been a loner

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Trying to heal has given me insight into the causes of my suffering. In childhood my naricsstic father tried to control every attachment.

Actually, he controlled every aspect of my life, trying to fulfill his desire of me playing professional baseball.

Any friend or acquaintance had to meet his standards, then their influence over me would be limited or cut off by good old dad.

Assessment: This week it dawned on me that I did not attach to either parent or anyone else beyond a shallow friendship.

My father would severe any relationship that he thought diluted his control. The natural desire to connect with others was cut off for me many times.

After you tell a couple of guys you can not be their friend anymore, word gets around. Oh, having a girlfriend was out of the question around my father, he owned me.

This means my social network lacked connections and attachment was unfamiliar to me. Social emotions lacked experience in my consciousness while athletic willpower and strength dominated my development.

When my first real attachment in college betrayed me, I had no one to confide in.

This week is the first time I became aware of this. I guess it was normal facing life alone for me.

I did not feel loss, I never experienced love, or kindness in my childhood. Criticism and fear dominated my existence.

Trusting someone was a foreign emotion for me.

Being a loner was so natural for me, in fact I never felt safe around people.

I did not know why, now I do.

It will be a massive undertaking rewiring 69 years of life.

With meditation and years of healing, my empathy center is open, I am a giver at my core.

For a loner, I ran a mindfulness group. Somehow that was a safe space while around people.

A triumph in my life, I have helped others heal in spite of my suffering and fears.

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Learning in the Brain

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From Rick Hanson:

1. Experience what you’d like to develop.

2. Turn that experience into lasting change in your brain.

I call the first stage activation and the second stage installation.

This is positive neuroplasticity: turning passing states into lasting traits. The second stage is absolutely necessary.

Experiencing does not equal learning.

Without a change in neural structure or function, there is no enduring mental change for the better.

Unfortunately, we typically move on so quickly from one experience to another that the current thought of feeling has little chance to leave a lasting trace.

In working with others, we might think that something good will somehow rub off on the people we are trying to help.

It may for some, though not very efficiently,and for many there is little to no lasting gain.

As a result, most beneficial experiences pass through the brain like water through a sieve, leaving no value behind.

You have a good conversation with a friend or feel calmer in meditation– and then an hour later it’s like it never happened.

If awakening is like a mountain, in some moments you may find yourself far up the slopes– but can you stay there, on firm footing?

Or do you keep slipping back down again?

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overwhelming experience is split off and fragmented,

Pixabay: cocoparisienne

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The Body Keeps the Score

The overwhelming experience is split off and fragmented, so that the emotions, sounds, images, thoughts, and physical sensations related to the trauma take on a life of their own.

The sensory fragments of memory intrude into the present, where they are literally relived.

As long as the trauma is not resolved, the stress hormones that the body secretes to protect itself keep circulating, and the defensive movements and emotional responses keep getting replayed.

Unlike Stan, however, many people may not be aware of the connection between their “crazy” feelings and reactions and the traumatic events that are being replayed.

They have no idea why they respond to some minor irritation as if they were about to be annihilated.

Flashbacks and reliving are in some ways worse that the trauma itself.

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PTSD is a bluff, the real danger is over. Sometimes for decades

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In my life two big traumas dominate all others, childhood and a horrific assault in college.

Neither one caused PTSD until decades later, childhood trauma erupted after a family crisis triggered my panic, the latter exploded during this pandemic and quarantine.

I thought healing was complete as my childhood trauma integrated. Then isolated with this quarantine, an old horrific event surfaced with enormous energy (fear, humiliation, shame and unworthiness).

In the beginning trauma becomes real for us, I was transported back to the event with all the highly charged fight or flight drugs being dumped into my blood stream.

The neurotransmitters are real, the emotions are the same, saved then stored at the time it happened.

For me, a short emotionally charged movie plays, whenever and wherever it decides.

Remember, we can not reach our trauma consciously, it has full autonomy to come and go anytime.

If I interact with these images and judgments, my trauma grows and gets worse.

Staying present, observing this movie is the best I can do.

We all try to manipulate and change the outcome of the event, but the danger is over and the event is now implicit memory.

No real danger exists now, PTSD is a bluff, an over compensation of our defense mechanism to protect from future trauma.

If I try to influence these judgments or the movie it grows. Avoiding, denying and dissociating are jet fuel for PTSD.

Pulling back, focused on my breath, watching the judgments and movie leave my consciousness, is my goal.

I do not control how many times I need accomplish this task for healing to be complete.

Our journey has more well being when we stay in the present moment, whether we be a normal person or a sufferer of complex PTSD.

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Looking back, assessing the arduous journey

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For some of us abuse started around five, way before a little mind had developed. I did not have the skills to even discern it was abuse. Criticism replaced encouragement, achievement was expected not rewarded.

I thought everyone was raised like me. Perfection was demanded of all kids and met with harsh physical punishment when it was not attained.

Fear, anxiety and a stomach that ached and was prone to vomiting often followed me. Never figured out, it was my abuse that was the culprit. My nervous system was in survival mode quite often.

Everyday life had real danger, verbal threats, physical harm and suffering.

I was shocked to find other kids had a much different experience.

They could not relate to me and I sure as hell had no idea what love, support and kindness looked like. I did not fit in at home or school.

Looking back, it seemed I needed to suffer a tremendous amount in my life before death would grace my door.

One of the biggest joys of my life was healing (improving) the first time.

For two years life was free of intense anxiety and suffering.

At 68, I see I fought a lifetime to earn two short years. But those two years meant everything to me, a magnificent triumph.

Now another trauma has returned and upset the delicate balance between suffering and being free.

In spite of my plight, I meditate and practice as hard as ever.

For my life, I had to find some peace of mind, some happiness in my ability to endure my suffering and not slack off my effort.

That was happiness for me.

Happiness is much different for me than normal kids.

I have gratitude because I know other kids had it much worse than me.

Self pity is something I loathe and rarely practice.

This recent trauma has clarified why I am like I am.

It was not easy to sit and accept everything about myself.

How about your journey and challenges?

Never give up, never give in.

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A member of my mindfulness group schools me on my male Ego

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One of the female members of my mindfulness group, schooled me on my male Ego’s bias.

A pointed text, asks me why I was reacting so deeply, feeling betrayed, because of something that happened to another person (girlfriend). Never thought of this event in that way.

She said I was only going to heal by taking ownership over my own reactions, taking responsibility for letting the past impact today. Wow, that should of been my line.

As a male at 20, I did not realize how my judgments probably damaged my girlfriend more.

I partially blamed her for being gangraped. My hurt blinded me, seems a lame excuse for a seasoned meditator looking back, now.

We as males were indoctrinated that our significant others behavior is a reflection on ourselves, something we need to control.

I grew up without a functional attachment to either parent, this void placed enormous weight on my first girlfriends role, unbelievable unfair, I see now.

It is the opposite of everything meditation/mindfulness taught me.

The external can not touch or harm our core. Who am I can not be deminished by anything external. I lost sight of this.

We all have blind spots, this was mine.

Feeling betrayed was my mistake. I teach non judgment, feeling betrayed is a huge, inaccurate judgment.

I paid a heavy price for adopting this victim role.

For me, a students wisdom has shined a light forward.

I have always found, healing happens in a state of humility and vulnerability.

Thank you Marisia.

Please share your insight on the male Ego and women?

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The emotional Brain has first dibs on incoming information

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From The Body Keeps the Score:

The emotional brain has first dibs on interpreting incoming information.

Sensory Information about the environment and body state received by the eyes, ears, touch, kinesthetic sense, etc., converges on the thalamus, where it is processed, and then passed on to the amygdala to interpret its emotional significance.

This occurs with lightning speed.

If a threat is detected the amygdala sends messages to the hypothalamus to secrete stress hormones to defend against that threat.

The neuroscientist Joseph LeDoux calls this “the low road.

The second neural pathway, the high road, runs from the thalamus, via the hippocampus and anterior cingulate, to the prefrontal cortex, the rational brain, for a conscious and much more refined interpretation.

This takes several microseconds longer.

If the interpretation of threat by the amygdala is too intense, and/or the filtering system from the higher areas of the brain are too weak, as often happens in PTSD, people lose control over automatic emergency responses, like prolonged startle or aggressive outbursts.

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How do we handle Trauma stored in the body.

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I found trauma stored in my body and nervous system, running up and down my spinal cord.

These stored energies carry anxiety, fear and confusion.

They feel awkward, unsettling and scary when we deny or avoid them.

How do we handle this part of PTSD?

When I meditated, I was a focused detective, feeling every small sensation intently.

I would take my breath to any agitation, unrest or full blown adrenal stress response.

Learning to let the storyline go, helped me observe the physical manifestation of my PTSD.

Exploring my inner world calmed my fear.

In the end, we seem to be afraid of our own body functions.

Our bodies reaction does not carry the scary message, it is the storyline we buy into that causes the fear and panic.

Without the storyline involved, we stand a good chance of absorbing all that unrest.

Surrendering to the fear, the body sensations, settled my nervous system.

It took practice to trust, to build the courage to surrender to my fears.

It took a curious attitude to explore my body sensations thoroughly.

Even my fight or flight mechanism became a friend.

Later I learned to fire my fight or flight and then use the energy to hike.

My fight or flight mechanism held no real danger for me after surrending to its power.

Once my fight or flight mechanism settled down and the rest of the body sensations were absorbed, PTSD had lost over half its power.

Every time I felt a body sensation during the day, I would surrender to it.

I did not heal all at once, or quickly, it was a daily chipping away at the boulder of trauma.

I healed in small daily increments.

Everyday I looked to minimize PTSD’s hold on me.

It is a process, an accumulation of daily work.

I left goals alone and placed all energy into action.

Healing will take care of itself if we do the work.

Good hunting.

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PTSD Distorts time

Harrison Ford may have gotten on the marquee ‘Raiders of the Lost Ark,’ but the snake wranglers helped get him in and out of the Well of Souls safely. (Lucasfilm Ltd. & TM)

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People do not understand the mechanism of trauma, it’s abilty to bring a PTSD implicit memory back to life.

Sometimes a decades old memory can explode.

It feels like it just happened, strong emotions flow from our bodies.

Our fight or flight mechanism is likely activated.

Cortisol and adrenaline are secreted, bp, respiration and heart rate spike. Blood coagulants and opioids enter our system, preparing us for a lethal threat.

Tunnel vision, loss of fine motor skills and the inability to think clearly increase our fear and anxiety.

Fight, flight or freeze are the usual choices we face in the present moment. The cortisol and adrenaline are secreted and felt in present time.

For our adrenal stress mechanism to fire, we sense imminent danger.

I have had friends laugh at me when a trigger exploded. We do not control what our PTSD erupts over.

It happens without our permission, when it decides and where.

If they only knew, how pissed off that made me.

I digress.

Cognitively, I understood my triggers were not dangerous however my nervous system thought it spotted a lethal threat.

I thought the threat was about my ego being extinguished.

Our PTSD fear resembles the scariest thing we dread. “In Raiders of the Lost Ark” it was a floor full of snakes.

Expect people to say ignorant, hurtful things at times to you. They can not fathom the degree of suffering and terror that is involved.

My sister told me to just get over it. My other brothers and sisters deny my reality entirely. Lots of dysfunctional things happening within an abusive family.

The healing path can be lonely at times with us being criticized by family and friends.

These are challenges that few realize or talk about.

On my path, I had to ignore the noise of others on top of dealing with the constant intrusive thoughts.

No way I could explain the fear and anxiety, PTSD brings to our being.

Words are useless, experiencing a nervous system turned upside down, erupting 15 times a day, can not be known with a description.

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I have absorbed the body trauma meditating yesterday

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Yesterday, I meditated five hours total in one hour increments. A past Trauma popped up with all its emotional terror, being trapped inside my body.

Trauma is stored at the time it occurs and with the ability at that age. My 19 year old self is much different than this 68 year old self.

The power, the intensity, the sheer anger and hurt shocked me.

All my skills had not stopped this trauma from taking over for a week.

Yesterday during my meditative sets, I brought the event to the surface, then observed all the fear, shame, anger and confusion without reaction.

I learned this as titration, you bring your trauma up for a couple minutes of thought, then meditate. The goal is to settle the nervous system back to normal.

Yes, I triggered myself, so I could integrate the fear. It is the road less travelled for sure.

That’s how healing happened originally. Triggers always caused me to avoid until I realized healing goes directly through the center of our fear (trauma).

The goal is not to squash the danger, it is to do nothing, accept and surrender from a distance.

This process integrates the stored trauma from the body and amygdala.

It is a very simple process, however it takes a strong ability to focus and courage to face our fears.

As long as our trauma has these strong negative emotions to reinforce its storyline, we lose.

For a couple of days, I was a victim, experiencing the tragedy in its full power.

It takes me a while for the mind to grapple with the demon.

Today, my system has absorbed most of the stored trauma, settled closer to my normal existence. I have separation of my 19 year old ego and my 68 year old ego again.

I forgot the intensity, the confusion and the outright terror PTSD wields when aroused. It’s been five years since anything like this has happened.

What seemed overwhelming last week, has shrunk to very unpleasant.

Settling the nervous system makes PTSD much easier to handle.

Thoughts?

Writing a few post with me suffering with PTSD, was difficult sharing the last couple of days. I knew everyone would be watching to see how I would handle it.

Do I just talk the talk or walk the walk. I have an added responsibility to not feel sorry for myself or be a victim. That actually adds to my motivation to never give in, never give up.

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