The tragedy of relational trauma presents itself as a cellular fragmenting, more primordial than a mere cognitive dissonance, neurally-encoded and rooted in the soul.
In these fields of disorganization, we simultaneously long for and are terrified of “the Other,” not knowing whether to move toward or step away. This sort of essence-disorientation runs through the entire psychic and bodily circuitry.
For a young child, the attachment figure is God or Goddess, magician, and seer - without them the end is near. But when this figure is also the very source of terror for the little one – or are shocked and traumatized themselves – we find ourselves in uncharted waters.
It takes everything to sit in this field with a brother or sister who has been touched in this way, who has come to organize their experience around this sort of rupture and betrayal. At times, our hearts shatter and break in grief with them.
In addition to the chronic empathic failure and narcissistic injury which goes to the very core of our sense of self, what can be even more devastating is a deep knowing that “I’m alone in this.” The absence of companionship, of feeling felt and understood, is at the heart of trauma and devastating to a human being wired to rest within a relational field.
To provide even a sliver of hope, a moment of safety, where they can feel felt and understood, just one moment where they can re-link, re-associate, re-embody, and know a new world is possible.
To look up at you and see and feel and sense that you are there with them, that you honor who and what they are and the coherence and validity of their experience. That you will not demand they urgently transform or heal or be different in order for you to stay near.
Never underestimate the power of love and what we can do to help. A few kind words, listening to another and their story, holding them, offering shelter and refuge, helping them to feel safe, even if for only a few seconds.
To do this with just one person, one microsecond at a time, and then, together, allow this felt sense and knowing of safety to ripple out into the neural circuity of the stars. Always together.
Photo by Annette Meyer