Day 72 - Trauma and Money and Brooke Thomas
I just can’t believe how good my guts feel and how cheerful I am. Even when I heard that I was overdrawn at the bank, I didn’t panic. I got really happy. An opportunity to work at not getting triggered and slipping into anxiety! I have enough food to live and I paid my bills, gave my daughter her allowance. Money is coming; it’s just not here right now. I have to get proactive, find ways to bring more in.
I was listening to the most recent episode of the podcast Bliss and Grit, and one of the hosts (whom I have written about before in this blog), Brooke Thomas, was talking about her long-time anxiety around money and her puzzlement over why she feels this way when she has cash available to her in the bank and a job that provides her a sustainable income.
I know from previous episodes on the show that she was born with the umbilical cord wrapped around her neck and she had a traumatic birth. I think this could be the key to understanding her seemingly irrational feelings.
A little over two years ago I woke up one morning thinking, for the first time, what it might have felt like for infant me to be born and then to be taken away from my birth mother. It took courage and focus for me to stay with my body/mind as I let myself stay in that memory because the feeling was awful: it was like my bed had fallen away from beneath me, the world had fallen away from beneath me, and my stomach was bottomless and terror-stricken, the same feeling I used to get standing at the ATM and seeing there was no money available for me to withdraw, the same feeling I’d get when I’d think about getting a job and realizing that no matter how hard I worked, there would never be enough money to keep me safe.
I know it’s not this way for every relinquished or early traumatized child, but I think it’s that way for many. The kicker is that because our body/mind recognizes that feeling as home base, it tries to get us back there whenever possible, and it’s a sneaky, unpredictable part of us. We carry our own worst fears and, when we relentlessly focus on them, they tend to happen, affirming our belief that, in fact, we aren’t safe.
I can be standing in line at a café to order, and suddenly I’ll get the sense that I’m in trouble, and the stomach drop happens before I even have a chance to realize my brain had fed my body a thought, and my body had reacted by releasing stress hormones and now my system was in flight or fight mode, home base, and I had fleeting thoughts of wishing I could die.
All while waiting to order a tea.
Living a life as an adult after an infancy marked by inadequately addressed trauma is like driving a car prone to breakdowns. It is like having a football player behind you in the shadows, kicking you behind the knees just when you think everything is all right. It is like wearing a gorilla suit while you bang around inside, trying to figure out what is wrong with you, why you are different.
Sitting here, I feel really good. I know that many, many people today found out they were overdrawn at the bank. I know many, many people get suicidal thoughts that pop up like blemishes. I know many, many people love me and think I’m a good person, but even more importantly, I know that I will take care of me: I won’t buy into the negative self talk. I will eat like an athlete, mindful that I am feeding a machine that is finely-tuned and can easily be thrown out of whack.
Finding fellow adoptees who feel the way I do has been so empowering. I’m not alone. I’m not alone. I’m not alone
I had bone broth for breakfast and then I went for a walk on the beach and swam in the ocean. I’m waiting for my acupuncture appointment right now and afterwards I’ll meet with two different friends to help them with some projects they are doing. Tomorrow I will make money doing massage.
Last night as I was falling asleep, I listened to Reggie Ray do a mediation in his book Somatic Descent. He talked about opening the back of the body to the earth, opening up to the earth, our mother, letting our mother embrace up, and using tension as an opportunity for release, for change. For where we hold that is also where we can let go.
Holding burns up energy, while letting go opens up space for energy to exist. How can a treasure fall into a fisted hand? You need to be open to receive.
I don’t remember when this started, but I used to peel my mom’s fingers open when I’d sit by her right hand. She often carried it like a wounded bird, fingers tightly curled. I can’t remember now if her fingers held her thumb or if her thumb clamped down her fingers. I wish I could hold her hand again, see her again, peel her fingers open with care and devotion, hoping this time maybe they would stay.
See you tomorrow.