Monday, January 25, 2016


I finished my assigned reading for my trauma counselor during this weekend's blizzard. The book was "Waking the Tiger", Peter Levine's book about healing trauma.  Now I've cracked open a new book, "Healing Developmental Trauma" by L. Heller and A Lapierre. 

From the first book I learn that we're reptiles until 6 months, mammals until 5 years and homo sapiens thereafter.  O.K.... I lie.  But biologically we have all three of these in our bodies.  Maybe a little angel, too?

From the second book I pick up the term 'Environmental failure'.  I love this term!  Is it the no-fault term?  'Environmental failure' refers here, not to the polluted water in Flint, Michigan, but to anybody or anything which specifically fails children.

Both books share the same view of reptilian survival instincts, mammalian feelings, and homo sapiens cognition, all wrapped up in one delicious biped.

Now, with enough environmental failures, reptiles or mammals or homo sapiens would not grow up, but let's suppose they do grow up to nibble or hunt or write.  All three species react the same way during an environmental failure.  Fight, flight, or freeze.  After the danger, differences are stark.  Assuming one makes it through said crisis, reptiles and mammals will shake it off, then return to grazing or slithering or pouncing as if nothing had happened.  Some lucky homo sapiens children are helped to 'shake it off', and they return to play as if nothing had happened.   I think this works if the environmental failure is within an 'environmental of health'.  I can't say for sure.  Anyway, some homo sapiens children endure 'environmental failure' with no 'afterwards' until they reach adulthood.  They have a LOT of shaking off to do. 

In any case, being homo sapiens, we use our brains to attach explanations and meanings to environmental failures.  Unless helped to do otherwise, homo sapiens children will turn environmental failure into their very OWN failure.  Some grown up children are very very very good at covering this up.  You'd never suspect.

Oh. You have no failure to cover up.  This is why I'm in counseling and you are not.

Today in counseling, this reptilian,  mammalian, and homo sapiens brain of mine realizes "Goodness. No human being tries to be obnoxious."  

Don't stop loving this human being because they are obnoxious! 

(O.K. I jumped off the diving board with that last comment.)  What do you think? 


  1. I think almost every human being is trying the best they know how. I have met many who are self centered, obnoxious and after months of talking with them-- I find, they all had a damaged childhood in one way or another. I was the kind of kid who just shrugged it off--probably because I had a Mother and Grandma who thought I was the neatest thing ever invented. My Father's rejection and hurtful words only emerged when I started dating/married and, after divorce dating. Even now, when I look back on my childhood, I always think of how wonderful it was. :-)

  2. I am so touched by your words - Yes, all of us are trying the best we know how. I can tell, by your writing, how you treasure your family. : -)

  3. I can understand how dissecting one's childhood upbringing can bring healing and take the banner of failure off your shoulders and placing it where it belongs. But at some point during our adulthood we all---without exception---have to accept responsibility for nurturing ourselves going forward. I would imagine your trauma therapy is leading up to teaching you how to do that if you aren't already learning that along the way. Heal the past then put it in the past and move forward with your new toolbox.

    1. Exactly. I love the way you put it. I've learned a lot, watching how some widows like yourself nurture themselves going forward, assembling a new toolbox,and some..... THIS widow, in any case, looked in her cupboard for her toolbox and found rusty, broken tools. She tries to fix the tools, then, about four years ago, said "Oh, crap. I need all new tools." She's has trying out new tools ever since, just like you have.

      I believe we carry all ages of ourselves inside us. It's the child in us who loves to play in the studio, or make delicious new combinations of words to make her laugh. I want to heal the trauma of the past FOR the sake of my inner child, for she is a carrier of hope and delight when she feels, down to her very toes, that she will always be treasured.

    2. I take that back. I don't need ALL new tools. The spirit of adventure, with its curiosity, spontaneity, invention, persistence, tenacity, and confidence - were tools I already had and use with gusto. Now, with this work, I am finding my spirit of optimism and purpose!

  4. Thank goodness we do have a toolbox! And of course along our journey, we can get rid of some tools that we don't use anymore ... fix some that have become rusted ... and get new ones with new technology. I think you are very brave to go through all of this. And well worth it for the sake of your inner child. No one deserves to not be treasured. No one.

  5. Yes, all remarkable women, men, girls and boys here, trying new tools! As for tech tools, still haven't mastered my 3 week old smartphone...

  6. Gosh, I think I need to find a DeWalt catalog and read some tool porn.