Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Trauma Journey

Moving through Trauma in Body-Minds

At home our dog didn't know she was shivering
Licking my fingers, her butt auto-quivering
In her defense her body split, a centaur arose
Her front loving human, her rear comatose.

The Blue Angels scared her, her shaking said
Afterburners abounded, echoed in her head
Reminding her of past danger, when feal and wee
My roommate said it was doggy PTSD.

Fear and paralysis, intertwined
Body shutdown, frozen in time.

Except yourself not from this trauma tale
For in its roots methinks lie salvation's sale
Trauma is more universal than it otherwise seems
The worst thing that happened to you is what you deem.

Dissociation, constriction, our psyche's avocations
A natural response to prey's predation
The body disavows a piece of the mind
Containing a war it's long resigned.

But it's worse in human
Since we fear our fear
Cementing in rumen
The danger 'twas near.
In evolution finding three brains keep us stable 
In order they command, ancient to adolescent
Fish, reptile, and mammalian, omnipresent.

First in command is the fish, you see
Prepared to resign to predator's victory
Immobilizing, metabolism conserves your might
Shutdown, we call it, deer in headlights.

A half-billion years since fish gave self-demolition
In predator's jaws, we lose pain and volition
But surviving near death, the fish betrays our life
We blame self for inaction, are captured in strife.
We walk around as the living dead.

Fear and paralysis, intertwined
Body shutdown, frozen in time.

The reptile takes over when the fish leaves off
The seat of our fear, the source of flight-or-flight
Sympathetic nervous system, spinal cord aloft
Three hundred million years ago, emerged of spite.

Empowering it can be, the sensation of fear
It primes us for action, our energy near 
Escaping the jaws of death we fought, 
The danger is gone, but activation is not.

Animals like deers, they shake it off
Dissipate the energy, discard, doff.
Living as if predator never existed.

But it's worse in human
Since we fear our fear
Cementing in rumen
The danger 'twas near.
Fear of our fear incarcerates sensation
Our uncompleted action, fight or flight
Is locked in a dungeon, leaking blight.

If fish brain you're in, fish you will stay
Shutdown yourself, keep the danger at bay.
When fish lets up, reptile can manifest
Hypervigilance and intrusion will not rest.

A dangerous world you look for, a dangerous world you find.

Mammal comes last in line, when reptile has left.
Eighty million years of social healing deft.
You gaze with still eyes, with compassion you meet.

Being mammal's hard for human
Since we fear our fear
Memories don't illumine
Our hurt is ever near

Trauma's memory is special, dysfunctionally stored
In isolated memory networks, body cut from core
Constantly keeping vigil on trauma is maladaptive
The mind is corrupted, a captor to its captive.

Reexperience hurt without re-traumatizing
After fish shutdown we face reptile hyperarousal
Emotions arise to distract from sensation causal.

At least be fearless of the fear inside
On feeling pain directly, your salvation rides.
Travel between fish, reptile, and mammal

The gateway to healing is paved with sensation
It allows leaving the fish, for reptilian station
But be careful not to give up at first fright

From reptile to mammal, body wisdom multiplies
Goodness and compassion our traumas defy
Memories are renegotiated, our story rewritten,
Like Gaga we heal with our own artistry smitten.

Fear and paralysis, now disconnected
Body sensation expressed and accepted
Dark psyche reconnects to body-mind.

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