In describing a trauma bond to you I have decided to use a puppy and two genderless people instead of a man and a woman because people suck and puppies are relatable. You’ll empathize more with the puppy thus making the concept of a trauma bond sink in deeper. That, and you stable types tend to judge abuse victims who choose to stay in abusive relationships. SHAME ON YOU!!! Doesn’t it suck to be judged?
The Little Puppy
The little puppy loved its mother but its mother had too many puppies and would often not let the little puppy nurse when it needed to. The mother would get up and wander off, acting as if the little puppy didn’t exist. The other puppies were bigger and mother noticed them and licked them and let them nurse but when the little puppy finally fought its way to the milk the mother didn’t seem to see it. One day the little puppy was fortunate enough to get to the milk first and its mother licked it and cleaned it and it nursed until its belly was full and it felt milk drunk and happy. The happy the little puppy felt was a release of oxytocin, serotonin and dopamine. These are the love and feel-good hormones that hit the same part of the brain as Cocaine. The little puppy was stoned on love. It slept very well and was at peace.
At the next feeding the mother ignored the puppy and did not let it nurse. The mother did not lick it, or see it, or hear its whines for love. The puppy felt a flood of grief. Its brain was washed with cortisol, a stress hormone, and then adrenaline, a panic hormone when it saw its mother get up and realized it would not eat or be loved that day. So, the little puppy learned to please the mother, to beat its siblings to nurse, and to fight for its right to be with mother. Mother liked this and would alternately reward the puppy with love and punish the puppy with total withdrawal of all affection. The puppy was now conditioned to do everything it could for its mother’s approval but its everything was never enough. Worse still it was addicted to the cocaine like drugs it felt when its mother noticed it, and equally tortured by the withdrawals followed by worry and panic it felt when its mother ignored it.
One day people came to pick out puppies and take them home. The little puppy was terrified. It had an anxious attachment to its mother and wanted nothing to do with anyone but her. When people reached in to pick it up it shook and whined and peed itself. No one wanted the shy little puppy with no confidence. A person who smelled like the old wool sweater it wore came in and looked at the little puppy. It noticed the way it shook, cowered, and peed whenever anyone went near it. ‘Preconditioned, fragile, low self-esteem, traumatized, bullied, and no sense of identity. Perfect,’ thought the person we will now call Wool.
Wool took the little puppy, shoved it into a box and went home. The puppy shook terribly. Its world was shattered. It couldn’t see anything and worse still, it couldn’t smell its mother. Once inside its new home the puppy was pushed into a metal cage and left alone for hours. Then Wool remembered puppy and pulled puppy out of the cage. Wool pet puppy and gave it treats, and gave it kisses, and called it good. Puppy felt the same flood of drugs pour through its brain and immediately fell in love. This love was not real love, it was drug love, the euphoria an addict feels when it gets high. Puppy would do anything for Wool. It felt the same way about Wool as it did about mother. In fact, Wool had replaced mother in every way. When Wool was unhappy with puppy, Wool would withhold all love and touch causing puppy to go into drug withdrawals from the happy hormones which were replaced with the fear and panic drugs, cortisol and adrenaline. Puppy wanted to prove its love to Wool so much that it would do anything to please Wool. It would fetch, play dead, fawn, lick, make puppy eyes and even attack on command. Once, when Wool was mad at a person, puppy bit them. For protecting Wool, puppy was rewarded with treats and petting, and such love that puppy became so stone on happy drugs that it peed on the carpet. It just couldn’t help it. Wool beat puppy until puppy couldn’t stand. Puppy was so ashamed of itself that just the idea of peeing on the carpet made it shake. Puppy became more careful than ever to be perfect and wonderful and loving for Wool.
But Wool had grown tired of puppy. Watching the puppy fawn and beg had been fun and Wool had even enjoyed beating puppy and watching puppy cower but Wool had decided that puppy was too much trouble and besides Wool really wanted a bigger, more aggressive dog. So, puppy was locked outside and forgotten about. Puppy wandered the streets, hackles up, sniffing for Wool, afraid of everything including its own shadow. Puppy felt nothing but fear and exhaustion and the cold. One day a kind person saw puppy and offered it a hamburger. Puppy was afraid of the person but it was so hungry it accepted the hamburger. When the person picked puppy up, puppy cowered, and shook, and peed a little. The new person who smelled like hamburger took puppy home and gave puppy unconditional love, a thing puppy didn’t know could exist. Puppy was never in trouble and no matter what happened puppy was not beaten or ignored. Once when puppy was very old, he peed on the carpet on accident. Hamburger sat down with puppy, who was shaking with remorse and held puppy in their arms until the shaking passed. “You’re ok puppy,” Hamburger said. “I love you and it’s ok to make mistakes.” Puppy rested its head on Hamburger’s shoulder and closed its eyes and felt real love, the kind of love that comes with trust and safety.
Everything that happened to puppy in this story happens to millions of people stuck in narcissistic relationships all over the world. Victims don’t stay because they want to, they stay because they don’t see any other way out and they’re addicted to their abusers. A victim can be a man or a woman. They can look strong and independent. Inside, they’re broken, codependent, and addicted to a very dangerous person. If you feel like puppy, talk to a safe person and get out. You cannot fix a narcissist and they do not love you. In fact, they do not love.
I love you. Unconditional love is real. If you see something, say something. You’re not alone.
I have a dog who gives me high fives first with one paw, then with the other, then with both before spinning across the floor with more joy than any creature should have a right to. She bucks like a donkey, this strange little dog, with her oversized eyes and floppy spaniel ears. She has this sort of joy that is contagious, that lifts me up when nothing else will. She huffs at me when she wants me, her sadly debarked voice rising in adamant gusts of air. Even with her voice box gone she has made a new voice, a new bark, a new way of telling me what she wants and when she wants it. To get her to eat we play hunt the bunny. I through a kibble in the air and she chases after it, her oversized grinch feet lifted high as she pounces down on the cornered kibble and eats it. I don’t tell her to eat from her bowl, what would be the fun of that when I can watch her hunt her dinner like a bazar little dancing tiger, spinning, pouncing, soaring across the carpet, crunching.
She’s the smallest of my dogs, the fiercest of my dogs, the most loyal and protective. She never had a mom or a home until she met me. She was a brood bitch at a breeding kennel having puppies all her life. When I look at her now, curled up on my pillow, her tiny sides heaving, her eyes closed as she dreams and kicks, I can not believe that this tiny spaniel ever lived anywhere without pillows and carpets and a mommy who plays hunt the bunny with her dinner.
When she and her sister first came to our house, my little one had no sense of space. She would bump into everything, careening off this dog or that wall, slipping and sliding through my house, eating so ravenously that you would think she’d never eaten in her life. She would sleep draped over the water bowl, steal trats from other spaniels and was growled at for her lack of self-control. She was nervous, anxious, shaking with the newness of living indoors with a family and her old survival instincts did not work in her new world. One morning I walked into the kitchen to see her much larger sister a sleep in front of the heater, my little one laying on top of her like a bear rug, her head laid on that of her sister’s. “This is how they kept warm,” I told myself, one blanketing the other, remembering the chill countryside they’d lived in. My little one always sits and lays on her large comfortable sister, piling on top of her like a too large, too rambunctious puppy.
When her sister’s eye was infected, my little one washed it, when my arm was injured, my little one washed it, when my heart was broken, my little one laid on my chest and stretched her tiny self out and held me until I healed. They say God disguised his best angels as animals to comfort us. He filled them with the innocence we lost, with the playfulness we forgot, with all the laughter and silliness we left behind in childhood. I laugh when my little one runs up to me and gives me a high five whether I’m expecting one or not. It’s like she’s saying in her breathy voice, “you’ve got this mama. You’ve already won.” And I have. I have her and she has me and when I hold her to my heart, I remember what it was to be a child and I am happy because she is happy, we are happy, and we are free.
Poverty, loveless living, not belonging, isolation, empty roles that don’t feed your soul. These are all conditions that bring us to the fork in the existential road of life. This fork asks, “do you want to dwell in grief, self-pity, depression, and self-hatred or do you want to seek a higher path of independence, love, belonging, community and fulfillment?”
Throughout my life I have been faced with various deficits, whether it was asking for hugs from family members who didn’t love me or understand me or asking for kindness and connection from the one person who had sworn before God to love, honor, and cherish me. I have born deficit. I have felt its ache in my chest, I have known the heartbreak of throwing my love into a bottomless well, and I have chosen grief, depression, and despair for far too many years.
Suffering is not a state of agony, it is a question asked of each one of us. “Do you want to suffer or do you want to surrender the suffering and be free.” Suffering is inevitable but deficit is a choice made when you hold onto how you think things should be. Suffering sets you at the fork in the road and says, “Suffer this deficit or surrender it, it’s always your choice.” When you suffer you fall into the attachment, clinging onto what was and what wasn’t with so much zeal that you let our life flash by while your body become ill, and you forget how to live.
In surrender you move into acceptance and the reality that this too shall pass. you also realize that you have the power in your life to overcome the pain of deficit by creating plenty. This is the part of deficit that leads you to God, the great I Am presence that holds you in the highest light even when you are hiding in your own self-perpetuated shadow. When you step into alignment with the I AM you are free to surrender your suffering, reverse your deficits, and find what you have been longing for. As Yashua said, When we ask it is given, What we seek, we find, and When we knock, all doors are open. When you identify a deficit in your life give it to God, surrender to the reality that you have been suffering needlessly, and ask for your deficit to be reversed. The thing your heart sought is yours now, it always has been, you only needed to surrender and ask.
I couldn’t see you clearly. My love of love painted you in colors you never wore. It hung mistletoe on an everlasting ribbon above our heads promising kisses that didn’t come. In love I wrapped the banister of our lives in sweet smelling wreaths of pine that hid the stench of loneliness that rose always from the roots of our relationship.
But my God my vision of you was beautiful. I have never loved the way I loved you, or begged the way I begged you for a hug, a kiss, eye contact. “Just touch my hair,” pleading, “love me!” But you were busy and life was busy and the boy, the beautiful boy, needed my love more. And so you went, and so I waited, taking scraps of love from your fingertips, a post-it-note with a hand drawn flower, my hand on your back as you left us again for the world. Yet I loved you, and yet you left while I focused more and more on the boy who was my everything.
When our roof caved in I called on others for explanation as to how a quarter century could be lost in a flash. “Why should he suffer because you were delusional enough to believe you had a happy family,” I was told. Oh no, you should not suffer for the colors I painted you with. For the love I conjured up and tossed like confetti over our love’s funeral. I was blind, too alive to a dreamed of togetherness, the future, of our retired lives, our peace, each of us sharing the carefully cultivated love I stored up for two, never noticing that your share was missing, held back, and disinterested in my hoped for retirement. Love made me delusional, trusting, far seeing, and blind to the pain in the moment. Now the boy is gone, and you are gone, and my love in all its many colors is a withered blackened thing.
Love meant loyalty, kindness, being present, conversing as equals, deep snuggles on the sofa, your arm around my shoulder, my head pressed to your heart feeling safe for the first time all day. Love meant having dinner ready, making sure the house looked nice and the fridge was full. Love meant being a good mom, picking out good clothes for my family, and being prepared months in advance for the holidays. That was in the early days when I had purpose and felt a part of the family I had worked so hard to create.
All of that is dead now. Choices were made that still leave me stunned, vailed insults where whispered, and kisses were avoided with a look that suggested that instead of offering love I had offered shit on a spoon. I loved, I still love, and yet I am shit on a spoon offering kisses and begging for hugs that were unwanted, given only because the therapist said my need for basic love was warranted.
I will never understand love, why my heart pours it out like a river that is always flowing, yet never returned. Why I believe that being loving will garner me the right to be loved. Why my being present, being honest, being raw with my emotions is repugnant. I will never know love because apparently, I don’t know how to do it properly.
Should I have been cold, played games, spent all the money on hair and heals. Should I have flirted with my personal trainer and stayed out too late with my phone off. Should I have neglected our child and spent more time with my friends just to keep you jealous? I can’t ask you now. You’re with her and I’m here watching the snow fall and wishing that all this was over. I want to scrub you from my skin, but your touch is like vomit in a white carpet, the smell and the stain wont wash out.
I will never understand love, how it can be taken and not returned. How it can be used and not appreciated. How it can be cultivated and shredded from one day to the next, your smiling almond eyes that made me glow one moment were withdrawn the next, your voice withheld as I was left to feel unseen and alone. Were we ever really a couple, or was I just a box checked on your list of accomplishments that you were told would make you a man? Are you a man now because you juggled me and her? Are you a man because you chased other women, and then played pure and innocent when you came home to me? I will never forget the shame I felt when I asked my doctor to test me for VD’s. Your cruelty has taught me what our love meant.
And then it happens, that moment when you look up from your place on the floor and see the holy spirit standing as a column of light, inches from your fingertips, yet if you were to reach out you could not grasp its light. A thousand times on your knees praying through the pain and then it’s there like Christmas to a small child, only a small child is joyful at the sight of Santa, where as you know this last bout of loss and pain, of praying and suffering, have simply broken your brain.
Or has it? Is it ok to see God? You pray each day, remain faithful, remain devout, pure in heart and mind and word and yet when the light is there, when that holy instant does occur the fear of mental illness, that dread of a cracked psyche, over the love of the light, seems far more powerful. You shutter, look away, look back and decide. Do I believe in God or do I believe in my own madness? And yes it is easier to believe in madness when so many Mother Mary’s walk the halls of mental institutions, flanked by bearded Jesus’ in their medical robes.
But you do not believe you are God, only part of God, a fractal so bright and so in love with God that God is…real…to you. And so you look up and up into the light and you know why Joan led the French and Valentine advocated love, and why Jesus defied the Romans, because the beauty of this light, of this love, asks for nothing but your everything, and your everything you will not hesitate to give. So you shake off the notion that you are lunatic, unstable, overmedicated, and you rise and love, and serve, because the light is so bright that to do anything else would be unthinkable.
Who knows where the pain hides? Stored as it is in a body that can only cry out with an ache or sourness unaccounted for by the soul that resides within. Who knows why the stomach turns when a perfume glides through a room triggering memories better left unspoken, repressed, shut away for another time when life is more convenient and there is time to cry.
Who knows why the back aches even after the injury has healed, the body has recovered and yet the memory of all the cruelties of the moment seems lodged between this vertebra and that. Is it memory alone that waits there to wake us in the night with a throbbing pain or stiffness laced with a sense of loss.
We stuff our grief so deep that it becomes a poison in muscle and bone, tendon and organ, corrupting the natural flow of the body until sickness sets in. Our buried emotions fester until we shine a light on them, calling their memories to the surface, freeing the body of the burden of holding so much pain for so long.
My left shoulder reminds me that I was not heard and so I was hurt. My stomach reminds me that I was not loved so I did not learn love. My eyes scream that they are tired of looking at an unfair world so they are dry and tired, their vision blurred. My heart weeps because it was broken by false promises, the promise of love that was really a lie dressed in a cheap ring.
Where does the pain lie when you close your eyes and sit with your body. What does it tell you when you dig deep into the story of your life. How old were you when the bad thing happened, and where did the pain move too when you were too afraid to confront your truth.
Everyone one of us is a walking story of love and loss, confusion and injustice. To clear these energies is to find peace, to find yourself, to find healing, and to know a freedom you have not known since the first blow fell so very long ago.
Husk that I am, I am blown by every passing wind daring not to dream that I may some day find ground and rest again upon an earth so seemingly determined to cast me off. I float over this life, wishing to catch a branch, but the branch from which I sprouted cut me off at the first sign of autumn. I am golden now, my green youth gone and my leafy spine shows through my color like a promise of the end of a life that seems only to have just begun. I have no seed to cary, no future to look forward too, no loved ones to grasp onto, and so I drift up higher and higher into this windstorm seeing the earth, home, nurturing mother, laid out below me like a mountainous distance that I may never fall toward.
“Yet there is a future,” the wind wipers as it casts me out to sea, over frothing waves and tempests so violent that I am torn. “There is a future,” the wind confirms as continents pass in a blur of noise and I am still alone, a leaf on a breeze, wishing to touch ground. If I have a purpose will it be as mulch to other fertile things? Will I feed the roots of young shoots and fade into soil.
“Yes, says the wind, and you will know what it is to grow new life, to be the mother of new things, to feed a world that you are at once apart from and at the same time a part of.” Storm upon storm has been my life but the sun has come and a soft breeze picks me up and lays me down upon the earth I was born from but have never touched.
“There little leaf,” the breeze whispers, “you are home.” The snows come, my color fades, and I am a leaf skeleton in the shade of a tree, my color and pattern fallen from my form to mulch the land and make it rich again. The tree shakes and seeds fall to be covered by my manyfold brothers and sisters who will warm them, feed, them and pass into the soil what gifts they have to give in order to birth these new beings. I am home now, a memory in the soil of oceans and mountains, of winds storms and loneliness, I am home and a part of something bigger than ever I was. I am become the earth made richer by my presence. I am returned to the oneness that bore me. I am home.
How often do we stumble and rise again to hobble on a bloodied knee, a twisted ankle, a damaged wrist that tried to catch us but couldn’t hold us as we fell. It seems a sinister thing to bleed and heal and bleed again in this chaotic world so filled with pain and confusion that maybe it would be better to blow it up and end it.
I want to be new again, innocent, fresh as a baby in a soft blanket held close to a loving mother’s breast. To be anything more is too much. All this adulting is too adult. It tires me before my feet hit the floor. I dare myself to live wild and loose, debt free and without a contract yet freedom is like the cosmos, a vast expanse with far off destinations, barely glimpsed by the eye, bridged only by an endless expanse of empty dark distance. I am no star walker in this fragile form I ware so I sign the contracts and hunker down to pay my rent.
Half grown children dream of the freedom of the parentless life, of red couches and coffee houses where friends meet to chat and do nothing. They laugh and play at being the adult never dreaming they could spend an hour just looking for a password to an app that is barring them from viewing their bank balance. Time dies in ridiculous ways. It was all supposed to be so fun, except for the simple fact that we forgot that fun is a thing made up and created not expected or anticipated.
Love was the most powerful force in my world until it was trumped one night by joy, a feeling so foreign that when it hit me I sewed it to my feet like a second shadow. Joy trumps love, is love, only wrapped in happiness and elevated so high that it dose’t get upset when the wine is spilt. It laughs the way we laughed in memory, in those sun kissed days before we decided to take it all too seriously. Reborn, I am the child again, and the world is mine. I have chosen joy over love, over bitterness, over resentment. I have chosen joy because to do less would be to cease to live again.
Rage isn’t a thing we are born with but it can move through time, through our history, through our past selves, to settle on us like the inheritance of a weak chin or red hair. I was the inheritor of rage, the suppressor of rage, the enactor of rage, which led me to be called Pit-Bull, Demonic, Hell-Bitch and so much more because I held my ground and said, “Fuck-No.”
So how does rage fit into a modern high-vibrational life based on unconditional love, compassion, and peace. This is the question I have been wrestling with this week. What is rage to you? I would love to hear your responses. I know that for me. It begins as a heat in my chest when a see a smaller and less fierce being attacked, threatened, coerced or worse. I know that when my boundaries are pushed I feel this heat spread through my body as words come unbidden into my mouth and pour out in statements that I would never have the courage to utter. There is a force in me that says, “Hell No.” And it means every syllable.
When I was five, the school librarian said she was going to put my friend Florenza over her knee and spank her. I told her that she would not. That only mommy’s and daddy’s were aloud to spank and that if she, (the librarian) touched Florenza, I would have her fired. I meant every word. Where did this rage come from? What created this all consuming fire that stood up and said no? I was five, shy, dutiful, and being raised in a religious culture that did not even allow me to make eye contact or talk back to a boy because some day he would be a priest in the church.
I can’t tell you how many times I have stood up for others, stolen animals that were being abused, and stopped dialogues that were turning towards toxic gossip. I can’t stand injustice, abuse, or fuckery of any type. And yet if I’m a spiritual person who doesn’t fuck with people’s bridge time why don’t I let the weak and the innocent get there ass’ handed to them? My answer is, because my response to dominant attacks on the defenseless is instant and part of who I am. So who Am I?
I have lived many lives as a soldier, war chieftain, warlord and viking. I loved being a warrior and riding a horse into battle. I loved being a chauvinist bastard. I loved the thrill of battle, wenching, slaughter, and the smell of a burning village. But several centuries ago I decided to make a change. I decided to evolve. Since making that decision I have had six terrible lives as women and abused boys who suffered so intolerably that I can not go back to being the person I was ever again. I have put away my swords and picked up my babies and I have been a good mother, a good wife and a good person ever since.
So is my rage the left over energy of a hedonistic warmonger or is my rage a gift from my dark goddess who doesn’t ever want to see one of her children hurt ever again. I don’t have an answer. I have reached out to my sisters, some of whom have lived similar lives before choosing peace and compassion and they have told me many beautiful things. One said rage is a chaos energy that only destroys and has no place in the new age. One said that rage is a focused energy that creates clarity of purpose when used to set boundaries, protect the innocent with a ‘momma bear’ energy that says NO and I LOVE YOU!
What I get most is that rage refined is rage without chaos. Rage must have a purpose and a direction and be used as an energy conduit and not a means of destruction and revenge. Rage with chaos has no direction and is distorted. All distortions cause pain and in our modern age causing pain to our brothers and sisters is not an option. This is a process for me, and it may be long or short. Whatever comes of it I will give it back to Source energy, God, the great I AM in the hopes that I can move away from chaos and distortion, moving instead into unconditional love and strongly set, and bravely reinforced boundaries. Maybe with time my rage, like my past, will melt away into memory and I will finally walk in grace, or maybe walking in grace means setting a purposeful intention of offering my shield and my strength to those who most need it. After all, who I was is part of who I am. the question is, how do I use all the facets of my experience for the highest good?