We have 1 open spot for our upcoming retreat in Idyllwild. Click here for all details.
In an Iraqi orphanage, a little boy drew a picture of his mother so he could sleep in her arms.
Last September, a seemingly benign, routine situation proved traumatic, and brought to my attention that some of the early painful events in my life, long lying quiet and dormant, were in desperate need of additional exploration and healing. The result of that was not only to re-commit myself to things that had helped me recover initially, but also to once again commence life review, examining situations that had both helped and hurt me.
In my reflective state, I realized how many times over the course of my life I needed someone to be there with me, emotionally present, warm, caring and available, holding me in mind, having my best interest held securely within their heart and intentions. Yet many times that isn’t what happened. Beyond times of feeling unimportant or forgotten, there were times I felt actually “blanked out” by those I needed to be remembered by. Sometimes this left me overly vulnerable and unprotected, meeting with harm from others.
Dealing with experiences of having been forgotten or cut off from someone are not easy, yet seeking to heal after having felt “blanked out” is an even more complicated process.
How do we heal the deep heartache, the sense of alienation that comes via severe disconnect? And what of the accompanying sense of betrayal, and breach of trust that comes with being forgotten or abandoned? What do we do with the excrutiating pain? The inevitable anger or rage? The paralyzing fear of it happening again?
More troubling still, how do we make peace with the malevolent perpetrator that has come to live within us? Victimization and perpetration are invariably inter-linked. How do we live comfortably in our own skin knowing that the same annihilating energy used by another for the purpose of eliminating us from their psyche now lives on within us?
While gaining sufficient insight into these things can be helpful, it is not enough, and we will not only remain stuck, we will be likely to treat others as we have been treated, keeping the destructive cycles of pain alive.
Ultimately, it is our body that bears the brunt of unresolved emotional wounds. The very strategy that once saved us, is no longer necessary or helpful, yet it has consumed our very being.
It would be best to deem the old ways obsolete, but how? What do we do when we have lost access to the deepest core parts of who we are, and despite the struggle to break free, we are inevitably held captive?
In our deadened state, we have grown accustomed to our racing heart, shallow breathing and tension in our jaw. In our numbness, we fail to notice how chronically tight the muscles in our neck, shoulders and back are. We mistake the limited sensation and minimal feeling for being “fine”.
Clinging to “familiar”, we call it “comfort”, and make the mistake of thinking it is where safety lies, fearing the unknown that comes with change and possibility of “better”. We tolerate chronic overwhelm and quiet desperation, and only notice extreme crisis as our wake up call.
Beyond “blanking out”, it is commonplace in our society to “tune out”.
We are perpetually distracted, hyper-busy, and fake it when someone needs our attention, hoping that they are likewise so non-present that they won’t even notice that we weren’t really there.
Text emoticons have replaced genuine face to face gestures of expressive communication. Being cold, cut off, dismissive, emotionally distant and turning away from others have become the new norm. Petty squabbles, reactivity, hyper-competitiveness and posturing for dominance are routine.
In our rationalizations and resignation, we seldom question if better exists, what it might look like, let alone, how to achieve it.
We have forgotten the essence of being human, that we need each other, and must have consistency in giving and receiving warm embodied contact and connection in order to really live our lives.
Our unprocessed wounds have gotten in the way of being able to stay in touch with ourselves, and each other. In the absence of genuinely being present, we are limited in giving and receiving love. We are limited in effectively bearing witness, inter-personally, and globally.
Living life in a perpetually deadened state can be both dangerous and missed opportunity as we’re frequently not in touch with our own power to heal or to harm.
My recent reflective process influenced choosing the pain of being forgotten… the power of being remembered as the theme for our upcoming retreat, Friday May 25 – Sunday May 27. What I witness day to day in society solidified this selection. We are perpetually living within and co-creating each other’s lives. The importance of living with consciousness of this fact cannot be emphasized enough.
We can’t heal alone and we can’t do it by ignoring what is held within our body. That is why Trauma Releasing Exercises, Bioenergetic Grounding Exercises and additional self-expressive body-centered methods will be interwoven into our exploration of these issues at the retreat.
Sometimes it takes getting out of our routine to feel safe enough to explore things in a deeper way.
As a plus, the retreat will take place within the beauty of Idyllwild. The trees, squirrels, blue-jays, raccoons and the sky full of stars at night help us remember ourselves as part of the whole, interconnected with all that is living.
Complete retreat details can be found here: the pain of being forgotten… the power of being remembered.
In order to preserve the sense of intimacy at the retreats, we limit the number of attendees to being only a small group. We still have a couple of openings. I hope you will join us.
Executive Director, Living Ubuntu
Barbara English is a licensed Marriage Family Therapist with over 20 years of experience in the field. As a Certified Bioenergetic Therapist, she works from a mind-body perspective, and utilizes relational somatic methods as part of the process toward healing and a sense of well-being. Much of her training has focused on Early Development, Infant Mental Health, and healing after abuse or trauma. She is the co-founder and Executive Director of Living Ubuntu.