“Love feels no burden, thinks nothing of its trouble, attempts what is above its strength, pleads no excuse for impossibility, for it thinks all things are lawful for itself and all things are possible.” ~ Thomas A. Kempis.
We have been discussing the limbic system of the brain, emotional crime scenes and how sometimes we can’t trust what our heart is saying unless we understand some of what is stored in our brain about relationships, trauma and past hurt.
What do you do when presented with a situation where you feel in love, or at least feel unable to let go of a person? She is under your skin. She doesn’t like you as much as you like her, and you persist anyway. Your friends say to leave her. Your mother is worried about you. Your father shakes his head.
There are two people in this relationship. You (let’s call you Ryan) and your gal (let’s call her Beth). Ryan and Beth are both important. They are people with feelings, a past, past suffering and a history of some type or another that involved relationships. What advice would we offer to Ryan and Beth?
When I wasn’t laughing out loud, I found myself thinking about the thought that went into the writing of this fascinating and lucid memoir by Daniel Smith. In fact, it appears Daniel Smith has been thinking about anxiety for most of his life.
He has not only thought about it, he has lived it, researched it and found a way to convey its terrible condition of suffering with grace, dignity and shocking humor.
“Yea, they sacrificed their sons and daughters unto devils, And shed innocent blood, even the blood of their sons and of their daughters, whom they sacrificed unto the idols of Canaan and the land was polluted with blood…Therefore was the wrath of the Lord kindled against his people, in so much that he abhorred his own inheritance.” ~ Psalm 106.
The Kindling Effect has been used to describe the neurological tendency of the brain to become over-sensitized following exposure to trauma (MacFarlane, Van der Kolk, et.al, 1995). The result is the lowering of an individual’s threshold to trauma, making the individual both more susceptible to re-traumatization as well as re-victimization.
The individual is more likely to suffer the biological effects of trauma as evidenced by mood disturbances, personality disorders, anxiety states, as well as the more classic DAM IV symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.
Authors such as MacFarlane and Van der Kolk have referred to this composite of post trauma symptomology categorically as Disorders of Extreme Stress. Re-victimization becomes more likely because of this sustained condition of arousal.
The Banding of Calf # 257
Calf #257 was in the field with his mother. The calf was on one side of the fence and the mother was on the other side. The rancher had plans to band calf #257 on this particularly cold spring day.
The wind offered an aggressive spray of dirt and gravel; stinging like a thousand small bees on the exposed parts of the rancher and his son. Banding of calves is done within a week or weeks of their birth. It is a form of castration.
Banding is less painful than the removal of the testicles, but it is still excessive on the scale of pain for a little newborn to endure. The calf, being transformed into a steer by way of castration, will often jump, howl, writhe, roll on the ground, and kick for hours after the procedure which is done without anesthesia. The mother of the calf is usually nearby. She is considered extremely dangerous during the process of banding. Her baby will scream in agony and she will be powerless to do anything about it.
We have been talking about dating, mating, lovers and that special relationship known as marriage, intended in part to propagate our species. We fall in love, make love, have babies and secure the future of human beings on this planet. We are social animals and we need one another. This is the good news.
The bad and good news is that we are creatures of memory. We are not unique from other animals in this regard. Other animals rely on memory, the past, and traumatic experiences for their survival. If we are a small bird and forget about the hawk we will not survive.
Sometimes memories will find their way into our daily choices and decision-making where relationship partners are concerned. Trauma and painful life events don’t have to be with us on a daily basis. In fact, it is best if they aren’t. Love relationships have a way of teasing these old things out if a part of how you were harmed was within a relationship.
We want to learn to Unlock Our Inner Instinct and use it to our advantage. Here is one way to do this:
Perhaps the minute people fall in love, they become intoxicated by the Limbic structures’s influence over their decision making. Let’s take a look at more relationship scenarios:
Jenna is a svelte blond in her late twenties. Single and successful; athletic and driven. Jenna has had more dates than found under the letter J in the phone book. Most of these dates were sexually consummated. She doesn’t feel used by men; she feels she is doing the using.
Jenna can’t find Mr. Right.
Let’s take a look at her history: only child, dad an attorney, mother a model, parents divorced when she was eight, parents are still fighting, both parents know how to carry issues to extremes, and both parents have been verbally vicious to Jenna during her childhood. The parents did not evidence good control over their own Limbic system structures. There was only episodic monitoring of feeling and impulse by the frontal cortex. Jenna became familiar with extremes. Extremes were normalized. To be extreme is to be normal.