The last few days have been tough, I felt stuck. Unable to move forward in my healing. I thought I had gotten over most of my past but alas there was still something that was blocking me – some unconscious resistance that was holding me back.
I did some EFT-tapping and slowly one memory and then more memories came to the surface. The repressed unbearable hurt of being unloved, More so, the shame of so desperately trying to win my dysfunctional family’s love.
I hated myself more than I hated them.
There are so many layers to being unloved, you want to be loved but you are ashamed of being needy. The visceral self-loathing you feel within for trying so desperately to win the love of people who clearly did not like you. Yet, you so desperately cling on, fawning, hoping they’d change and begin to love you.
Sadly, it doesn’t happen. And our brain gets programmed in this codependent pattern – people-pleasing, becoming a doormat.
Uncovering this false persona you have created requires becoming aware of our unconscious resistance which is actually a defense against facing the truth and dealing with uncomfortable feelings. It is addressing and resolving our internal conflict – wanting love but being ashamed of having needs. Hating someone while wanting their acceptance.
It is this dichotomy that keeps us stuck in a state of limbo.
Unconscious Resistance and Internal Conflicts
Our defenses are the way we survived, sometimes horrendous and abject early childhood trauma. The subconscious mind does its best to protect us from deep emotional pain.
Being abused, neglected, and unloved by one’s parents/family/caregivers is deeply distressing for a child. A child, because it is dependant on the adults he/she is torn between conflicting emotions. Love and hate, anger and shame, neediness and self-isolation. The utter confusion and anxiety of living in this state lead to unconsciously blocking off negative painful feelings.
The core of the internal conflict is ambivalent attachment.
Attachment Shock – Going Into Freeze
One of the painful memories I uncovered was the time I met this uncle after my mother died. He had been away at sea (he worked in the merchant navy). I was so thrilled knowing that he was back. After all, he was so good when my mother was dying. He’d come and take her to the hospital and carry me up on his shoulders when he came to visit. What with my father turning on me after my mother’s death I was desperate for love. I went rushing to meet him hoping to be hugged and comforted.
The utter rejection I experienced sent my already vulnerable, emotionally wounded brain into shock.
He hardly even acknowledged me. In fact, he seemed irritated to see me. He was drinking mango juice and giving a few sips to his 10-month-old son. Since up until then he was good to me, I expected him to offer me some juice. The naive 11-year-old me, expected him to share, I played with his son and waited. Finally, he finished his juice and told me to go and keep the glass. The unbearable hurt, anger, and shame I felt but yet I obediently went and kept the glass.
My brain went into attachment shock.
Innate Connection and the Innate Defensive Systems
Being abused and thwarted by the attachment figures in our life is something we don’t expect at all. It is not normal. And when it happens it shocks us to our core. It is the ultimate betrayal.
According to neuro therapist, Frank Corrigan founder of Deep Brain Reorienting (DBR), this unexpected painful experience becomes embedded in our brain stem.
That’s because our Innate Connection System is in the midbrain structures, specifically the Superior Colliculi (SC) and the Periaqueductal Gray (PAG), which is the brain’s Innate Defensive System are both located in the brain stem.
This leads to a poorly organized brainstem. A poorly organized brainstem has a cascading effect on other important brain systems leading to a number of developmental problems.
My uncle’s behavior was so shocking. I was unable to think and act normally i.e ask for what I wanted or walk away. I think that was the moment when my brain got wired into a freeze-fawn state of survival which was further conditioned by additional traumas and poly-victimization. Up until I left home I was serially invalidated and discounted.
I have lived in this state of frozen not-good enoughness for most of my adult life.
Even till recently, I would continue to stay in a situation where I was clearly being insulted. I’d just freeze and pretend/fawn to show that I was unaffected and did not feel any anger or shame.
Frank Corrigan – Healing Attachment Shock with Deep Brain Reorienting
Dealing With Feelings Of Anger and Shame
Unconscious denial happens because most of us grow up in environments that forced us to repress and ignore things that are upsetting, mainly due to fear – fear of being attacked and derided.
However, being violated and bullied fills us with anger and when we are unable to fight back, we suck the slights and internalize the badness of our caregivers – we are bad. Shame becomes the handbrake on our anger and rage.
What we feel is shut off, and we remain stuck in the swirl of meta-emotions of feeling bad for feeling anger. And the shame keeps on building. It becomes that internal demon – slowly eroding all feelings of aliveness and goodness.
Often even when we try to remember something of our painful past, the shame will come in and tell us not to think about that – that’s in the past, or that we must forgive and forget. The critical inner voice tries to cut us off from our true feelings.
Facing Your Stuckness – Releasing Resistance
Resistance is like a bad habit you get into in order to avoid an unpleasant reality.
And getting out of this defensive habitual pattern you have to accept, acknowledge the real truth.
You are an adult, not a helpless child anymore. You don’t need to have people around who don’t care about you, even if they are family. Moreover, their actions and behaviors have nothing to do with your inherent worth.
In order to move off the stuckness that impedes your healing, you have to slowly peel away your unconscious resistance.
You have to learn to face our past and sit with a painful emotion a little at a time. It helps immensely if you have a trained therapist or supportive friend to hold space as you unravel your traumatic memories. Don’t push too hard and try to do it quickly or that resistant part will again go into protective shut down.
- Check-in your body’s felt sense, where do I feel that uncomfortable feeling.
- What is it I am feeling? Try naming the feeling – find the emotional word for the feeling.
- Practice using your voice – learn to confront and challenge – yourself and others
Prod and push- asking the right questions will enable you to access what is really going beneath the surface of the resistance. Awareness is key.
Chipping Away Unconscious Resistance
Chipping away unconscious resistance takes time, patience, and honesty. It takes the work and support of an enlightened witness. We need someone to validate our innate goodness. That there is nothing wrong with us, it was okay to feel the way we did and still do.
During one of those stuck days, I wrote about my feelings of shame, hate, and anger in a social media post. The response was overwhelmingly supportive. Being validated by so many strangers who viewed my experience of wanting to be loved and accepted slowly eased the turmoil and need to suppress my true feelings about my uncle not sharing. I was able to see it from the view of a thousand trauma survivors that ‘he was bad’ after all he was the adult and besides he was in a financial position to be generous. It was really shameful of him to behave in that obnoxious manner.
By gaining access to your unconscious resistance and feeling your way through it, you can move past that stuckness. Remember, stuck, unprocessed emotions are the toxic sludge in the plumbing of your subconscious mind. And they will hold you back in every area of your life.
Stop feeling ashamed of feeling bad about having feelings, of wanting to be loved and accepted. Your feelings matter, they make you who you are, accept and honor them. Don’t let anyone into your life who does not treat you with respect and dignity.