An autonomic form of gaslighting


When our capacity to process unbearable terror, panic, shame, and rage is overwhelmed, undigested pieces of experience are held subcortically and in our cellular circuitry, unreachable by thinking which is a layer removed from the fires of the alchemical body.

Encouragement to “just get over it, that’s totally irrational, you can’t really believe that, you know that’s not true” and so forth is experienced by an inflamed nervous system as the activity of violence and aggression.

It’s like an autonomic form of gaslighting and reflects a deep misunderstanding of trauma and the workings of implicit memory, and only contributes to re-traumatization, in personal, cultural, and collective networks.

In addition to shattering and unendurable experience – which is painful and terrifying enough – there is a profound sense of aloneness that goes with this, the sense that no one can understand, that there is no companionship into the dark night. I am alone in this. This is devastating to the soul.

When that raging alive little boy or aching little girl cries out longing to be held, to be known, to be felt, to be heard, to be remembered… peeking their little heads out as if to say, “Is it safe now? How about now? I’ve been waiting for so long for a companion and friend. How about now?”, they’re really not all that interested in our clear cognitive analysis, rational inquiry, powerful spiritual insight, and thoughts on the matter.

They’re yearning for something else… for you, for your heart, for your holding. To know that you will stay near, that you will not abandon or shame them, that you will do your best to provide sanctuary and safe passage for them to come Home, to be allowed to come out of that frozen state and live once again.

In this way they don’t even want or need to be healed, but to be held. And to feel safe.

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