Checking in.

The place where I am staying for the HeartSync training seminar (The Aqueduct in Chapel Hill, NC) is very beautiful, but I also get a very bad Internet connection so it’s extremely slow and I also can’t get the pictures I took to load.   The property is in a heavily wooded area.  As soon as I am able (probably when I get home on Friday) I’ll share the photos as everything I have learned–and it’s a lot.   More than I could have imagined in my wildest dreams.

I have a LOT to say about this week and what we are doing, and the unbelievable things that are happening to me, and that I have witnessed happen to others.   I understand a lot more now about why I became the way I am and what happened to me and why.   This experience is probably the most intense emotional and spiritual adventure of my life, and it was sorely needed.  It’s miraculous the way all the many obstacles were moved aside so I could have this opportunity (my being able to attend didn’t seem possible a few weeks ago), because this is where God wants me right now, and he can move mountains if need be.

It’s a lot of hard, hard emotional work.  But the benefits are more than worth it.

I didn’t realize just how much more healing I had to do, and how very broken I still am.  I am still so far away from where I want to be.

But my faith in God has strengthened tenfold if not more.    I felt Jesus’ presence VERY strongly in the training room both today and yesterday.  I became emotionally overwhelmed several times  but I also knew this was a very good thing and I was releasing pain and trauma and feeling the presence of the Holy Spirit indwelling in me.

I have very powerful “guardians” (psychological “protectors” that keep the functional/conscious part of the mind separate from the emotional/unconscious part.  With abuse and trauma, these guardians become numerous and powerful.)   Guardians aren’t in themselves “bad.”    These guardians are necessary and help us keep good boundaries, and for people who have suffered trauma and abuse, the guardians helped us to survive.  But they can also do their job too well and shut you off from being able to connect with your emotions, with others, or even with God.   They are the ones responsible for setting up protective defense mechanisms, whatever they are.

Today, one of my primary guardians apparently stepped aside long enough to allow me to drop all my normal defenses and release a motherload of trapped pain.  That happened because God can get through to certain guardians.

That experience, which happened this morning, rocked me to my core. It started as a trigger during a process called the Immanuel Approach, in which you are instructed to remember a “five bar moment” when you felt connected to God.    For some reason I misheard the facilitator and believed I heard her tell us to find a moment where we felt connected to God through a connection with another person.  I tried to think of something and just couldn’t.  All I could think of were my connections to God through nature, music, or art.  I didn’t know how to connect with people. Hell, I didn’t even know how to talk to them.   I was already feeling very emotional and triggered, and that started yesterday, but manifested at first as a lot of undifferentiated emotion, not necessarily bad or unpleasant.

But today was different.   My perceived “failure” during the exercise made me feel like I was dying or going crazy.   I realized only later that I wasn’t reacting to this small mishap (or perceived mishap); what happened instead is this “small thing” brought my abandonment trauma out in the open, and I was forced to deal with it.  But I wasn’t really alone.

I felt completely abandoned and lost. I lost any semblance of composure because I realized I’d never really had a spiritual moment or real connection with another person–and therefore I believed I couldn’t do the exercise.   I shot up out of my seat, ran out of the room and started sobbing as soon as I got out the door.  I blindly ran around the back of the building, collapsed on the steps and started sobbing like I haven’t sobbed since I was a child.    All those old feelings of being incompetent and unlovable came flooding back.  Also painful feelings of abandonment, not fitting in, being rejected, always being the odd one out, feeling “different” than others, and also feeling like no one could be trusted.  I felt like a loser and a fuckup.  I was convinced no one really liked me and I didn’t fit in here or anywhere else and never would,  and I should just leave.   I also felt a wave of hateful envy toward the people there who had a stronger “functional” side than I did (more on this later).  And then beat myself up mentally for having such ugly feelings even toward the person who had helped me get here.    What was I doing here, anyway?  I didn’t belong here.  I didn’t belong anywhere.  I never had.

But God wasn’t about to let me just leave–or leave me stranded crying into the void.    I looked up into the trees and demanded to know why he’d bring me to this place only to abandon me and make me feel like an unlovable, incompetent fool.  Was he playing some huge cosmic joke with me as the butt of his joke?   I was angry and felt the void inside me threaten to swallow me whole.    My whole body was shaking with sobs and I was hyperventilating.  I felt so weak I couldn’t even stand.  The sobs just came in uncontrollable waves.  It scared me just how much I was crying.  This wasn’t the soft crying and shedding a few quiet tears I’ve done in therapy or by myself on occasion.  This was deep, raw pain coming from a very hidden place where I have never ventured to go. The abandonment trauma was unleashed and right in my face.

The shaking was an important part of purging trauma.  All higher animals and humans do it. I remembered seeing a Youtube video about the way animals release trauma.      If an animal has been attacked and survives the attack, they will initially freeze, and then as the trauma is released, they will begin to shake and tremble as if convulsing.   I remembered and incident with my cat and a rabbit about a year ago.    My cat had caught a bunny and I managed to get her mouth opened so she dropped the bunny.  Fortunately, the rabbit was unharmed.  I put the cat inside and came back outside to try to make the rabbit run away.  But when I returned, the rabbit appeared to be having convulsions.  I though it had been mortally injured, but then it suddenly stopped and ran off across the yard.   I didn’t realize what had happened until a few months later when I saw the Youtube video explaining this phenomenon.

Finally, I asked the Holy Spirit to come and fill all the holes left in my soul by trauma and abuse.   (It’s not necessary to have a cognitive memory of the original trauma–in fact it may not be possible if the trauma was very early, because before the age of 5 or 6, myelinization in the brain hasn’t been completed yet.  But even though a cognitive memory may not be possible, you can still have an emotional/somatic memory.  More about this later).

And suddenly I “heard” God say (in my heart) that he loved me and had me exactly where I was supposed to be — releasing pain and trauma.   He told me all these things I believed about myself were lies that I’d been programmed to believe by my abusers and traumatic things that happened when I was very young.   It also turned out the facilitator had never even said anything about  having to remember a moment of connecting to another person; I heard the words wrong, so sure that I was required to “connect” with someone in order for this healing process to work.

That’s all I can say right now.   I will write a lot more about this experience and how HeartSync itself works (and the theory behind it) when I get back on Friday.  It will probably be a long post.  I have so much more to say. Although this is in no way “fun,” I have a feeling it’s going to change me in profound ways that I can only imagine right now.

I’ll explain a lot more about how this process works when I return.  Right now, I am drained emotionally and mentally but pleasantly sleepy too.  My Internet connection sucks, so a more detailed article and photos will have to wait.

 

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Diving into the Inferno.

Spirituality and therapy don’t have to be mutually exclusive.

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More often lately, I’m feeling the presence of the Holy Spirit while at church. What this feels like is an opening of my heart and a warm surge of emotion. Sometimes I even get a little misty-eyed during the proceedings, especially after taking communion. It’s hard to put the emotion into words, but it’s a sort of reverent feeling and I always come away feeling energized and ready to confront the week ahead, knowing I’m not alone and God walks beside me every step of the way, no matter how tough things might get (and my life is far from easy!)

I’ve been getting similar feelings during my therapy sessions, and I know some of this is due to repressed emotions coming to conscious awareness. A lot of the emotion, though, I have to admit, has to do with transference–which are the strong feelings some clients develop toward their therapists that can easily be mistaken for limerence or romantic attraction (but in my case lacks a sexual aspect, which is good). In actuality, you don’t know your therapist at all (or at least you shouldn’t, beyond his or her qualifications and competence). The idealization many of us experience toward our therapists are our own projections and indicate primitive attachment has been achieved, and this can become a basis of healing as you learn to work through those feelings to connect with your own emotions and eventually develop healthier relationships with other people.

So what does any of this have to do with the Holy Spirit? Why am I talking about therapy and God in the same article? Well, because the emotions I feel in therapy are often similar to the emotions I have in church. The transference I’m currently experiencing is strong, very strong. When I was 22 I developed a strong transference toward a therapist I’d been seeing for about 2 years and I couldn’t handle it; I lacked the maturity to be able to work through the almost overpowering emotions that came up and they became too painful and I eventually left. That’s okay though; I wasn’t ready.

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I couldn’t resist.

I’m a lot older and more mature now, and have learned how to be mindful and not allow my emotions to overwhelm me to the point of doing stupid things or making bad choices. In fact, I’ve almost become too controlled, since my primary goal in therapy right now is to connect more with my emotions, which due to complex PTSD, BPD and avoidant PD, have become almost inaccessible to me most of the time. Church and therapy are the two places where I feel safe actually allowing them to bubble to the surface a little bit.

But I’m still only human, and if I’m not careful, my transference toward my therapist could become inappropriate and while not likely to hurt him, could be damaging to me. Maintaining healthy boundaries and remaining mindful, while still welcoming and allowing myself to experience transference feelings toward my therapist can be a bit of a challenge.

So I had a sort of epiphany while praying this morning in church. Why not invite the Holy Spirit in during my sessions? Why not say a prayer just before each session, asking God to help me get the most out of therapy and thanking him for what I’ve already accomplished? Why not ask God to help me stay mindful but still able to experience the wonderful kaleidoscope of emotion that lies under all the fear and defenses I’ve built after years of abuse? God brought this particular therapist and I together for a reason. But he’s just a human being and imperfect like everyone else. I know this on a cognitive level, if not an emotional one. If he seems “ideal” it’s only God working through him; and it’s only me projecting my need for a perfect caregiver, a surrogate parent, onto him.

I also think that asking the Holy Spirit in during my sessions will actually enhance my ability to access buried emotions, and that’s my primary goal at the moment. I think that if I do this, I can get even more out of therapy than I have been getting, and will progress at a faster rate. so I’m going to try doing this this week and see what happens.
God and therapy don’t have to be mutually exclusive.