sonia: Wellspring of Compassion book cover with woodland stream (Wellspring cover)
We all deserve to have our distress heard and heeded.
The Betrayal of Not Being Heard

New book responses at Curious, Healing. Have you read these? Comments welcome!

Curious, Healing is a blog, and you're welcome to comment there or here about the books. The articles don't have a comment section. You're welcome to comment here or send me email with any thoughts.

If you want the monthly newsletter in your inbox, along with news about my practice, you can subscribe here.
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Nora Samaran hits another one out of the park in Out of the Attic: Dissociative Disorders and Social Justice.
An available solution when other strategies of protection or escape are not possible, when caregivers who you depend on for survival are the ones causing the harm, or are themselves experiencing overwhelming danger, is to ‘decide’ that the part of the self experiencing this overwhelming shame and terror is not-you. When this happens while the brain is still quite plastic, the neurochemical effects of shame and terror can literally wall off the neural networks involved in this overwhelming experience. They freeze in the state of trauma, and continue to operate in intense distress, but out of the consciousness of the child, who can then go on in the unbearable situation.


Also,
It is pretty important when understanding dissociative disorder to understand it is, and talk about it as, a normal part of human experience. There is nothing esoteric or rare or mystical about it. In fact, people with the disorder may already believe that parts of them are ‘subhuman’ or shamed out of deserving to be part of the circle of human bonds; it is important not to reify this distorted belief.


It's long. Totally worth reading. But if you're in a hurry you can skip to Handouts/Take-Away.
sonia: Wellspring of Compassion book cover with woodland stream (Wellspring cover)
I'm thinking about how to fold wellspringofcompassion.com into my main site, and I tested the link to the book's Amazon page. Wow, people have said the nicest things! Totally made my evening.

Unlike looking at my business's Yelp page a little while back, where I found someone who had rudely interrupted a dance evening at my house (nothing do to with my business), left a 1-star review because I didn't drop everything to help her... I don't even know, leave a note at my neighbor's house or something. Back in 2014. So I went through Yelp's process to contest a review, and to my surprise they did take it down. So that ended well, too.

Anyway, finding surprise positive reviews, yay!
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I ran across one of [personal profile] winterkoninkje's posts, and in conversation she pointed me to "Why I Speak". The whole post is long and thought-provoking and made me think about how and when I speak or write, and when I don't. I have huge respect for what she's doing!
I talk about a number of sensitive topics: depression, cPTSD, child abuse, sexism. Every one of these are topics where you risk damaging or ruining your career simply by bringing them up. [...]

I speak as a form of active political resistance against the silence culture that pervades the US (and surely the rest of the world). I do not discuss my history as a form of confession, nor as a form of exhibitionism; I talk about my past in order to perform my politics.


I rarely talk about my own trauma history directly, even with people I've known a long time. I don't have the energy to take care of them around hearing it, and that's mostly what would happen. Or I'd have to defend the truth of it, or with more complex memories, my fragile sense of its probability. I definitely don't have the energy for that.

I write about present-day struggles both as a way of reaching out, and as a way of making them visible to others who might be experiencing similar things. I do it mostly under access-lock, because it's vulnerable, and because it usually involves other people.

I do write a little more generally about the struggles of cPTSD in my articles. It's been an ongoing balancing act to choose how much of my personal story to make explicitly visible there, rather than keeping it implicit in what I choose to write about each month.

The post also made me think about depression. About 15 years ago, I had the first faint inkling that I might have issues with shame. I soon realized that it permeated my life so thoroughly that I couldn't see it at all. By analogy, I wouldn't say I have issues with depression off-hand - I get up in the morning, I get things done - but I wonder sometimes about the ongoing sense of being so tired, of coping rather than enjoying. I wonder if that's normal, or if it's some kind of depression that I can't see because I don't know anything else.
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I am very proud of making an Articles by Category page for my website. I'm new to programming for Wordpress, so it took a lot of perusing blogs and following examples to put this together.

Feedback welcome!
sonia: Wellspring of Compassion book cover with woodland stream (Wellspring cover)
A large majority of people have had Adverse Childhood Experiences, which directly affect our health.
Not Alone with Your ACEs

New book responses at Curious, Healing. Have you read these? Comments welcome!


New website!
My Wordpress website is live! TraumaHealed.com In the sidebar, you can see the new categories that will be part of the next book, "Presence After Trauma". You can see all the articles in a single category by clicking on a category name.

One person mentioned that they miss the old Articles table of contents. (Thank you for the feedback!) I added an Articles by Date summary page, available under the Articles menu and on the sidebar. I'll work on adding an Articles by Category summary page as well. Programming for Wordpress is a whole new adventure.

Check it out, and let me know what you think, especially if you have trouble with something.

Curious, Healing is a blog, and you're welcome to comment there or here about the books. The articles don't have a comment section. You're welcome to comment here or send me email with any thoughts.

If you want the monthly newsletter in your inbox, along with news about my practice, you can subscribe here.
sonia: Wellspring of Compassion book cover with woodland stream (Wellspring cover)
I launched the new version of my website on Wordpress! traumahealed.com Feedback welcome.

It's fun to have a "Popular Posts" section in the sidebar and watch it come into line with what Google Analytics has been telling me. Half the google searches to my site land on one article (out of 100+ articles and pages).
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Dating Tips for the Feminist Man by Nora Samaran.

An earlier article from the same blog as the previous link I posted.

10. Share the load. Consider it your responsibility to be continually self-reflexive about your actions and their effects. Don’t wait to be taught, because that puts multiple burdens on the other: to understand and name the harm that’s affecting them, and to take the risk to talk to you about it, and to find language to articulate it in a way you’ll hear. Those things all take a lot of energy and are not easy.


I'm wanting to get that quote engraved as a sign for my door. And as a footer on my email.
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The Opposite of Rape Culture is Nurturance Culture by Nora Samaran.

This whole article is amazing. It talks about how we as a society, as a culture, need to support men to be nurturing, and currently men learn that, if at all, in isolation, rather than with and from other men. It brings in attachment styles, and the pervasiveness of unneeded shame about the primal need for nurturing and attunement in all of us.

Here is a bit about shame:
In other words, shame and guilt, left subterranean, interrupt attunement, and can lead to an inability or unwillingness to properly respond to the needs of others, whether for nurturance or for space. I mean the really deep, structural kind of shame, that is so old and convincing, it doesn’t even appear as anything in particular. It just appears as ‘the way the world is,’ laid down in patterns in the limbic brain. This kind of shame hides, appears as nothing in particular, until questioned with compassion and curiosity, deeply, in safe company.

and another bit:
If a man with an avoidant attachment style experiences internal distress when someone he cares about expresses nurturance needs (such as the need for trust, reliability, availability, closeness, responsiveness, attunement) he may blame the woman for ‘being too needy’ instead of dealing with those intensely confusing feelings of shame.

and the core of the whole thing:
None of this is worthy of shame; fundamentally, all of the insecure styles are based in an unquestioned belief that people will not be there for them and that nurturance is somehow a problem rather than wholly desireable and good. Avoidant attachers ‘know’ from an early age that the ice will break, the chair will collapse, best not to try. Insecure attachment styles are not chosen, are not conscious or intentional, and it is an understatement to say they are not easy to change. They deserve understanding, compassion, and empathy.

And yet living without loving, secure attachment bonds is the loneliest experience in the human repertoire.

and a bit about protection:
To stop white knighting, don’t stop protecting; just protect while you also listen and believe. Protect her, actively, in the ways she actually wants protecting, and not in the ways she does not. Protecting people you care about – in ways that are attuned and responsive to their actual needs – is a normal, needed, and healthy part of nurturance.


The whole thing is hopeful and elegant and carefully thought out and so worth reading. Even the comments are worth reading (so far).
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We all deserve protection for our needy, vulnerable places as well as recognition of our strengths.
Worthy of Protection

New book response at Curious, Healing. Have you read this? Comments welcome!
"Ancillary Mercy" by Ann Leckie
"Northwest Passage" by Stan Rogers as seen by Matt James
"In the Spirit of We'Moon" narrated by Musawa

Website update
The new version of my website, built on Wordpress, is mostly ready. I'm working on the details, like adding the header image. If you want to see it early and let me know what you think, drop me a note! I suspect the changeover will result in the site being down for a few hours. I'm hoping to do that sometime this month.

Cycle-breaking superheroes
For all of you who lovingly protect your children (or anyone else) despite not receiving protection yourselves, here is A Love Letter to the Cycle Breakers by Annie Reneau. You are superheroes!

Curious, Healing is a blog, and you're welcome to comment there or here about the books. The articles don't have a comment section. You're welcome to comment here or send me email with any thoughts.

If you want the monthly newsletter in your inbox, along with news about my practice, you can subscribe here.
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I love this! Fostering a Secure Attachment, story by Ann Wlazelek
Prior studies examined primarily white, middle-income families. When [Associate Professor Susan] Woodhouse started looking at moms of different racial and ethnic backgrounds who had little money or help, she found many moms whose parenting styles appeared insensitive, yet still made their babies feel safe and secure. [...]

"My new discovery is the key importance of chest-to-chest soothing when infants cry," Woodhouse said. "Even if a mother is making a lot of mistakes and being insensitive along the way, as long as she finally relents and comes through in the end by soothing the baby chest-to-chest, that baby will be secure. She doesn't even need to do it every time. As long as she does it at least 50 percent of the time, that baby will still be secure."


Also, The Neuroscience of Attachment by Linda Graham, MFT, a long, somewhat technical discussion of attachment, ending with helpful interventions.

Both links via Dr. Aline LaPierre's Facebook page which is a goldmine of interesting links. I ran across it while searching on attachment and recognized her name from reading her book Healing Developmental Trauma.
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Another great blog post on emotional labor: Emotional Labor: What it is and how to do it by Miri. Lots of great examples. Here's a taste.

Remember that one way in which imbalances in emotional labor manifest themselves is that it always ends up being the job of the person who does the bulk of it to start these conversations and to let you know that they’re overwhelmed by the amount of emotional labor they have to do. End that cycle. Be the person who brings it up and ask your partner if this is okay for them. Remember that a lot of people who are doing the bulk of the emotional labor, especially women, might initially try to claim that it’s okay when deep down they feel that it isn’t. Leave room for them to change their minds as they feel more comfortable with you, and don’t pull the “But you said before that it was fine” thing.

I absolutely recognize that this work is not easy. If what I’ve described sounds exhausting and overwhelming and maaaybe you’ll just let your girlfriend/friend/etc deal with it instead, I get it. It is hard. But it would be a lot easier if that labor were distributed more fairly. Emotional labor isn’t a silly fluffy girl skill. It’s a life skill.


Also, Emotional Labor Checklist and Self-Assessment posted by Maecenas with good additions in comments.
sonia: Wellspring of Compassion book cover with woodland stream (Wellspring cover)
Kabbalah helps us repair internal and external connections.
Weave Your Body Whole

New book response at Curious, Healing. Have you read this? Comments welcome!
"Rising Strong" by Brene Brown

Word of the Year
Last year's word was "music." I took a year of piano lessons and went to a week-long singing camp in the summer. This year's word is "ease". I want to treat myself with kindness as I choose what to take on. What is your word of the year for 2016?

Curious, Healing is a blog, and you're welcome to comment there or here about the books. The articles don't have a comment section. You're welcome to comment here or send me email with any thoughts.

If you want the monthly newsletter in your inbox, along with news about my practice, you can subscribe here.
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This year's word was music. I just played a short piece in a piano recital for my piano teacher's other students. The teacher and I played a duet of a (so-called) Serbian folk song, although it didn't really sound Serbian to me. Anyway it was fun (!) and I didn't play any wrong notes!!!!

My last lesson was this morning. I've gotten as far as playing all the (Western) scales, and being able to do something very simple and repetitive with the left hand while playing a melody that doesn't jump around too much with the right hand. I can puzzle out a melody I want to sing, which was my main goal.

I realized part-way through the year that I don't love piano as an instrument. Practicing never got fun, although I did manage to put in 10 minutes or so most days through the whole year. So I'm stopping. I may go back to it some day, or take some other instrument, or focus on sight-singing next, but for now I'm done.

Speaking of singing, that's gotten better too, I think partly because of the piano playing. I can semi-reliably sing a middle part on my own! That was a big goal, and I think it required growing new neurons, it took me so long to get there.

It's been a really hard year, in a variety of ways. Singing has always brought up old stuff that was in the way of resonance, and coordinating my hands for piano did some of that, too.

The word I'm picking for 2016 is "ease." Spaciousness. Gentleness. Staying in my comfort zone. There's some defensiveness about it, a part of me that wants to participate in more better faster yesterday! And there's real clarity that this is what I need now. I picked the word a while back, and haven't wavered.
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I fit the description… by Steve Locke, who was detained by police on his way to get lunch before teaching his next class at Massachusetts College of Art and Design. Needless to say he is a Black man.
Nothing I am, nothing I do, nothing I have means anything because I fit the description.


A Love Letter to the Cycle Breakers by Annie Reneau. This focuses on parents, but it goes for everyone fighting to do better than they were done by.
So if you are a parent from a wounded background striving to raise your kids differently, if you are silently waging your own battles the rest of the world can’t see, I want you to know that you are awesome.
sonia: Wellspring of Compassion book cover with woodland stream (Wellspring cover)
Emotional labor is the detail work of caring, of noticing, of paying attention.
The Sacred Work of Showing Up
(Thanks to [personal profile] tim for consultation on gendered language.)

New book responses at Curious, Healing. Have you read these? Comments welcome!
"The Emotionally Absent Mother" by Jasmin Lee Cori, MS, LPC
"The Emotion Code" by Dr. Bradley Nelson
"Childhood Disrupted" by Donna Jackson Nakazawa

Wanted: website feedback
I'm working on redesigning my website. I would love to hear your feedback about your least favorite (and most favorite) experiences with it. Please send me email (or comment here) on what you would like to see fixed, and what you want to make sure doesn't go away. Thanks!

Curious, Healing is a blog, and you're welcome to comment there or here about the books. The articles don't have a comment section. You're welcome to comment here or send me email with any thoughts.

If you want the monthly newsletter in your inbox, along with news about my practice, you can subscribe here.
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On Pandering by Claire Vaye Watkins. Highly recommended!

Hard to find a short representative quote. This is about how we internalize patriarchy, how we tilt everything toward the white man in our heads. Let's name that. Let's stop doing it.
I’ll tell you this: I have not written anything of consequence since my daughter was born. [...]

Why would that be? I think it has something to do with the fact that I don’t wander in the desert much anymore. I spend my days with a baby and that, patriarchy says, is not the stuff of art. Once again I am a girl and not a writer. No one said this. No one has to. I am saying it to myself. That’s the terrible efficiency of gaslighting.


via @ameliaabreu
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If you know someone with a disability, and you think they're not "nice" or "gentle" or "understanding" enough when they communicate their accessibility needs, you might remember:
1) They deal with this every day. Perhaps they've given it a bit of thought.
2) They deal with this every day. Perhaps they're tired, and would like to be cut a little slack.
3) Accessibility needs are not optional. Perhaps being "nice" is not the highest priority.
4) The tone argument is a classic tool used by people with more power to silence people with less power. "If only your tone were better" effectively derails the conversation from the original topic, which is oh-so-convenient for the person being asked to improve accessibility.

This PSA brought to you by the daily struggle to communicate about fragrance-free environments.
sonia: Wellspring of Compassion book cover with woodland stream (Wellspring cover)
When we sit patiently with uncertainty, we make room for a new pattern to emerge.
Patience With Long Endings

New book responses at Curious, Healing. Have you read these? Comments welcome!
"Ancillary Justice" by Ann Leckie
"Ancillary Sword" by Ann Leckie
"Trauma Stewardship" by Laura van Dernoot Lipsky with Connie Burk

Holidays are coming around again
Holidays can be hard when we don't see our family, or when family is dangerous and triggering. As my own tradition, I send out this article link every year around this time. Choose Your Traditions

Appointment hours
I'm happy to report that the Wednesday appointments are filling up. I'm glad to provide more options to fit with people's schedules.

  • Wednesdays 9am-5pm
  • Thursdays 1pm-8pm
  • Fridays 9am-5pm
  • One Saturday per month, usually the second Saturday.

Curious, Healing is a blog, and you're welcome to comment there or here about the books. The articles don't have a comment section. You're welcome to comment here or send me email with any thoughts.

If you want the monthly newsletter in your inbox, along with news about my practice, you can subscribe here.
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I just spent the entire day with another smart, computer-capable woman and a Mac and a PC trying to create a DVD with menus from recordings made with a video camera. Both of us. The entire day. We failed. I didn't think this was going to be an extreme sport.

The camera generates .MOD files. We found we could rename those as .AVI files, and cut them with ffmpeg. But both free and paid dvd creator software refused to create usable dvds. SIGH.

Weird way to celebrate Halloween and the end of Daylight Savings Time. It rained buckets all day, so it's not like I really wanted to go anywhere, but ... it would have been nice to have *something* at the end of all that thought and effort and waiting for slow processes to complete.
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