One of the surprises I discovered, after leaving the controlling religious group I had joined in my teenage years, is the number of odd reactions I have to certain events. For example, why do I have panic attacks when I hear a noise while taking a shower? I am finding these triggers are part of a healthy recovery from traumatic events in the past. Peter Levine's thoughts on trauma recovery are proving to be quite helpful in this regard.
The dominate theme for my time as a member of the UBF group might be summed up with the word "training". One training in particular was labeled "ready-go-servant training". The training was a blanket term used to justify almost any interruption to your life. One Korean woman missionary, for example, was repeatedly woken up at all hours of the night just to give cash to the UBF director. In my case, such training included random wake up calls. While a college student living in the group's "common house", random missionaries would pound on the door to my apartment between 4:00 and 6:00 in the morning. This would often happen when I was about to take a shower or already in the shower, causing me to make a mad dash to unlock the door. These missionaries refused to get keys to let themselves in, and instead, I and the other shepherds were supposed to be ready-go-servants who served them. This, I am realizing, is why loud noises can cause panic attacks in the morning.
Waking the Tiger
High on my book list to read is the book Waking the Tiger, by Peter Levine. I found Levine's work through some internet searching for thoughts on recovery from traumatic events. Here are some choice quotes that intrigued me.
Thoughts on the natural reactions to trauma...
"The bodies of traumatized people portray "snapshots" of their unsuccessful attempts to defend themselves in the face of threat and injury. Trauma is a highly activated incomplete biological response to threat, frozen in time. For example, when we prepare to fight or to flee, muscles throughout our entire body are tensed in specific patterns of high energy readiness. When we are unable to complete the appropriate actions, we fail to discharge the tremendous energy generated by our survival preparations. This energy becomes fixed in specific patterns of neuromuscular readiness. The person then stays in a state of acute and then chronic arousal and dysfunction in the central nervous system. Traumatized people are not suffering from a disease in the normal sense of the word- they have become stuck in an aroused state. It is difficult if not impossible to function normally under these circumstances.” ― Peter A. Levine
Thoughts on building a new self...
"One of the paradoxical and transformative aspects of implicit traumatic memory is that once it is accessed in a resourced way (through the felt sense), it, by its very nature, changes. Out of the shattered fragments of her deeply injured psyche, Jody discovered and nurtured a nascent, emergent self. From the ashes of the frantically activated, hypervigilant, frozen, traumatized girl of twenty-five years ago, Jody began to reorient to a new, less threatening world. Gradually she shaped into a more fluid, resilient, woman, coming to terms with the felt capacity to fiercely defend herself when necessary, and to surrender in quiet ecstasy." ― Peter A. Levine
Recovering your Self?
In my case, my family has been a good "root system" that helps me gradually connect with my emergent self. Blogging (as you can see) has been a major factor for me to come to terms with the traumatic events in the past. How are you coping with trauma? What resources have you discovered to aid your journey into a more resilient person?
More quotes by Levin: