Bobbi’s Saga: The Body Remembers What The Mind Struggles To Forget

My Dear Readers,

The mind and body are in essence our reality. The mind is like clouds in the sky, with thoughts drifting in and out.  As we drift, we use our thoughts to escape the psychological and emotional pains of our experiences. We can play games with the mind, but there is no escape from the body, which remembers all. The body is like the oceans.  Its depths hold on to the pain and sorrow that make up the foundation of the journey of self-discovery.

Many people say that “time heals wounds,” but in reality, this is merely a trick that the mind plays on itself in its attempt to protect itself from that painful experience.

The truth is that time is meaningless when it comes to the process of emotional healing. It is not time that heals the emotional or psychological wound, but the therapeutic work one does to heal the wound.  Simply put, no therapeutic work, no healing.  Instead, one tucks the traumatic memory of the incident away only for it to surface at an inappropriate time. This is how I originally came into contact with Bobbi.

In time, the individual realizes, as Bobbi did, that the “brain dump” is just a strategy utilized by the mind to cover the pain, while the body continues to hold onto the trauma.

Dr. Micheal Kane

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Bobbi’s Saga continues…

Recently Bobbi saw her mother at the funeral of Gail, a friend of the family.  Gail was a friend who as a child, Bobbi could count on during those time prior to being placed in foster care. During those times when Bobbi was either physically beaten by her mother or forced to sleep on the porch, Gail and her parents had allowed Bobbi stay at their home.

Bobbi’s mother has never acknowledged that she received a letter Bobbi wrote to her detailing her sexual abuse history. As a result, knowing that her mother would attend Gail’s funeral ceremony, Bobbi came to session hours prior to the event. After the funeral, Bobbi wrote me this email:

Dear Dr. Kane:  

Thank you for the session this morning.  I went to Gail’s funeral.  I sat in the back.

 I found myself crying during the funeral.  I could feel the tears rolling down my face. Not only for Gail, but for the memories of playing with her as a child. I remembered her parents’ house as a place I felt safe.  I could go there when I was being mistreated at home, even at night. 

When I came into the church, I saw my mother sitting close to the front.  She turned, smiled and waved.  I waved back.  As the preacher talked about Gail’s life and the person she was and her kindness to others, I wondered if my mother thought about what he was saying.

It was a long funeral.  After the service, there was a repast downstairs in the church.  I didn’t go.  I didn’t want to give my mother an opportunity to hug and kiss me, acting like nothing was wrong and everything was perfect.

I thought about how I would handle the situation if she did approach me, and decided that if and when we do talk, I want her to make the first effort to speak to me.  I do not want to be the reason why she draws attention to herself.   I knew she would put on her best performance , since she had friends who would also attend the funeral.  

I was also tired.  My Saturday morning sessions with you are draining, and I don’t have the energy to process the feelings, think and feel my past and reflect on the possibilities of the future.  I usually give thought to my sessions for a long time afterwards.  Although I did not speak to my mother, I was holding on to intense feelings, which came out as a result of the funeral.

So, following your advice to release these feelings, I wrote a letter to my mother in my journal that I would like to have shared with her.  

 Dear Mother:

When I was twelve years old, you told me I was a prostitute and kicked me out of the house.  I was never a prostitute.  You never believed me.

You threw me out, forcing me into the foster care system.  First to a receiving home; then I went to a foster home. Then, another foster home, and another.

How did you think I felt?  I was thrown out like trash.  I felt abandoned and alone.  I had no one who cared about me. I was alone, sick and I wished for death.  I wanted to die.

I had no reason to live.  But I didn’t know how to die.  If I’d known how, I wouldn’t be here today.

You made me feel like dirt.  I missed my adolescence. I was being repeatedly raped and forced to keep my rapes secret.  When I went into foster care, you abandoned me.  I had little  clothing.  I had to purchase all of my personal items and clothing.

I was not like the other kids.   I was scared of everything.  I spent so many days crying.  My life was changed with no hope for the future.

You now deny the pain you caused me.  You also seem to forget the things that happened.  I question whether you ever loved me.

How could a person claim that they love someone and treat that person the way you treated me?  I remember all the things that happened to me. Mother, you hurt me.  You hurt me to my soul

I don’t ever remember being so sad.

Concluding Comments- Dr. Kane

Bobbi’s email is a clear indication that the emotional wounds created by the sexual abuse as well as the betrayal trauma dealt by her mother is still present to this very day, even though it occurred more than four decades ago.

Betrayal Trauma is defined as a violation of implicit and explicit trust.  Extensive betrayal is traumatic, and the closer the relationship, the greater the degree of betrayal and thus, the trauma that results from the psychological wound.

There is no greater betrayal that can happen to an individual than a mother betraying her child. Even through Bobbi was reeling from betrayal and the resulting trauma, her inner child continues to seek the love and acknowledgment from the mother figure that she was never given.

When it comes to the therapeutic work, there clearly is much to do here.  Among the many concerns, there are two that are the primary areas of focus:

  • Continue to clinically treat the inner child.
  • Assist the psychological self in continuing the process of self-empowerment by healing the traumatic damage and psychological wounds.

The objective here is to reinforce the psychological self and in doing reinforce trust in her actions taken based on her feelings.  It is clear that as we look at Bobbi’s responses, these areas have been severely impacted due to the betrayal by her mother, and this is what I shared with her in my response to her email.

Dear Bobbi,

Your mother did what we expected.  She may never acknowledge your abuse.  To do so, she would have to acknowledge her role in it and the reality of her parenting skills (or lack thereof.)  Instead, she chooses to maintain a life within the fantasy world that she lives in.

Understand the differences between you and your mother.  She has chosen to merely exist, where you have chosen to truly live.  She is just waiting out her time.  You are now empowered to live your life.  Therein lies the big difference: EXISTING & LIVING.

Best regards,

Dr. Kane

As Bobbi continues to do her therapeutic work, she will be able to accept that her mother’s inability or unwillingness to discuss her own failures is an example of “unhealthy narcissism,” and thereby unable to be available to fulfill the wishes of Bobbi’s “inner child.”  With time and therapeutic work, our hope is that Bobbi will recognize her own inner strength as well as her ability to fulfill the wishes, needs and desires of her own inner child.

I invite the readership to stay tuned for Bobbi’s ongoing journey, and to watch as she continues to work towards healing.

Dr. Micheal Kane

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