I will know my Name...

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”In the beginning I was so young and such a stranger to myself I hardly existed. I had to go out into the world and se it and hear it and react to it, before I knew at all who I was, what I was, what I wanted to be […] Attention is the beginning of devotion. […]" Adults can change their circumstances; children cannot. Children are powerless, and in difficult situations they are the victims of every sorrow and mischance and rage around them, for children feel all of these tings but without any of the ability that adults have to change them. Whatever can take a child beyond such circumstances, therefore, is an alleviation and a blessing.

"I quickly found for myself two such blessings – the natural world, and the world of writing: literature. These were the gates through which I vanished from a difficult place”. (Mary Oliver in “Upstream”)

I too disappeared through these gates. Nature and Books – where also my “sanity saviors” – and my imagination, my fantasy, that I put into both those worlds, to make them come alive. They still are my friends, Nature and Books – and my imagination – my ability to fantasize.

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Eating disorders… as language

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And the meaning of food and food-sharing as a bonding mechanism in humans – or food as attachment…

We humans bond over/by/with food. From infancy to the grave – food and food-sharing is in the center in our lives and in between people. All our holidays center around food and food-sharing, as well as birthdays, funerals, weddings – every ritual ceremony that mark a transition in life. Also new jobs, a baby on its way, an engagement, a published book – everything celebrates with food and food-sharing. We have food-places we go to; we watch programs on how to cook, we buy books with instructions, magazines with glossy pictures of food. In many cultures, the first thing that happens when you step into a home is that you will be served something edible and, in many cultures, it is seen as a great insult when you don’t accept (more) food.

So, what happens when a human starts to restrict his/her food intake? Refuses to take part in the bonding rituals of going to cafés, restaurants, dinner parties, business lunches? What happens in the individual? In the others that this individual has relationships with? Meets in different circumstances?

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Equine Assisted Psychotherapy is not linear – not one-directional…

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One of the explanations I often hear in EAP, as to why we have horses in the treatment – is that it is easier for many people to relate to – to build a relationship with a horse (or a dog, or any other therapy animal). In my own experience as a client, that is true, and not…

And even if it is – this topic too, is very complex. So here I am merely sharing some of my thoughts on it.

Yes, a horse can be perceived as less judgmental and more honest, than a human. And you can touch, pet, hug, smell etc. a horse in a way you would never get away with, with a human (this is a deliberate way of expressing it, I am not saying all clients are emotional invasive towards therapy animals – but many come with very big unmet emotional needs of closeness, warmth, affection etc.).

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The Wheel of Tolerance

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I am learning to write from my own perspective and experiences only. Acknowledging that they are not universal. I am also learning no to be ashamed of them, or to be ashamed or feel like a “misfit” because I do not fit into the common theories about how a mind works, or is supposed to work, neither in psychologically healthy – nor unhealthy states. Neither in the everyday life, nor in traumatic situations (or in reliving them).

I don’t like labels. I have been heavily labeled all my life. It has never been helpful to me. I have stopped trying to squeeze myself into existing theories and models. With that said – on to the topic of the Window of Tolerance – or as I call it – to better fit me and my experiences the Weel of Tolerance, I want to share my perspectives and thougts.

The window of tolerance assumes you can only be in one state at a time. It says either you are in your window – or out of it. Either you are in fight, flight, freeze or fawn, but not in two or several states at the same time. It does not acknowledge either (as I understand it) that you can go into freeze, then out of it again into e.g. fight. It pictures freeze as the “end station”, the last resort, a place we go to when all other options are exhausted. It also states that there is no choosing in going into either of these states.

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One abuser… one crosser of boundaries… at a time… and the collective freeze response

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I have been part of an international business network for 3½ years now. We meet once a week, have breakfast and help each other do business, network, collaborate and find new opportunities. It is a good network group, with good people, all of them, almost…

A year ago – I held a short presentation on how to be trauma sensitive in the business world. I gave a couple of tips on how you can think when you meet new people. How you can show respect for diversity and boundaries. For some it was a bit of an eye opener. They never thought about if there are people uncomfortable with hugging as a way of greeting each other, or other kinds of touching. They never thought about letting people choose how close they want to be to you, and other people, or where they want to position themselves in the room, if and what they would like to eat and so on. Most people assume most people are like themselves. In my country we nowadays hug strangers, squeeze ourselves into tiny meeting rooms and sit shoulder to shoulder with complete strangers, we all drink coffee and eat buns… like we are all alike…

In that presentation that day I told them I spoke out of my own experiences, as having been traumatized, I struggle with some of this. I do not wish to hug strangers, or even acquaintances, I want to chose where to be in a room and with whom, I want to decide how close I am to people and I don’t appreciate being touched without consent, and I am picky with what I eat and drink.

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Grounding – to keep myself here… and now…

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I do a lot of grounding. Every day, several times a day. Almost constantly I have something around me or with me that I can use to ground myself. Nothing of what I wear is random. Most of it you can see, some of it not. I wear clothes that disturb me the least, but also can help me, textures and colors that are good for me. I wear jewelry that help me feel myself and that I can touch, often they carry some symbolic meaning as well. I often paint my toenails so I can find my feet – see them on the ground easier – especially in the warm season when I go barefoot a lot. I also put the date of the day and this year on my hand – each morning, so I can always check what day it is, as what year it is. I also put a little symbol on my hand each day that keeps on reminding me that I am not a victim in the now. That now, today, I have choices. And if I end up in emotional overwhelm, I can step away, and try to assess the situation and think, before I act, all to help me not react according to old patterns.

Some of the “clothes or equipment” I use – is invisible. I use my imagination. I have my protective cloak, I put it on when I will be in environments where people will touch me (often in social settings). I have invisible flowers I can smell when there are triggering smells around, I have calming sounds I listen to internally, I have comforting things I put on – that I do not want people to see, so I use the invisible ones.

In my front pockets (my real ones 😊), I carry some small stones and a couple of marbles – so I have something I can touch and play with – fidget with. In my back pocket I carry a couple of notes with some writing that I can read, that reminds me of that I have support, that I am not alone.

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Authenticity – Being Trauma Informing...

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If you have been traumatized and deal with consequences from that, how can you show up authentically in the world? Despite the fears you have, the psychological defenses you use against these fears? How can you maintain being YOU?

Today I had two appointments. One for a business network meeting, and one for a screening at the hospital.

The business meeting had a change of rooms today, which meant we were going to be really crammed, with very little space and the probability for bumping into somebody, or being bumped into were high. It meant an all-over higher degree of closeness. This is something I have a hard time coping with, so I announced to the leaders of the meeting that I would take part in the meeting, standing in the doorway. I assured them I was perfectly fine with that, during my business presentation I also brought it up. I did not explain why, just told them this was hard, but that this solution worked fine for me, and that I was okay being me, in this situation.

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What is dissociation?

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(From an” expert…” on dissociation – from the lived “inside” perspective – a VERY short introduction)

There are multiple ways of dissociating. You can dissociate from your body, from your mind, from your emotions/feelings, from your memories, from the environment, from time, from parts of yourself (ego states/identity) – from one of these, from several – in different combinations – or from all of them – at once and for shorter or longer periods of time… And the process of dissociation can be all from completely unknown to you – to completely known. It can be a seemingly 100 % involuntary action to dissociate and a 100 % deliberate action – and everything in between.

Dissociation is the opposite of association. You dissociate to keep things, events, situations in your life apart. Because kept together they would overwhelm you. Everybody dissociates. Maybe you daydream, procrastinate, plan your dream vacation, play computer games, shop yourself happy. Everything you do to keep yourself away from your current state – inside – or outside – of you – is dissociation, but the focus is on the inside – the outside situation is often just a reflection of your inside situation. Dissociation is you – hiding from – you.

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The Unspeakable – the Unspoken

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The ghost in the room

I have lived with trauma by my side my whole life. She eats with me, sleeps with me, walks by my side, travels with me, meets people with me, sees films and reads books with me, is involved in all my relationships and all my activities – as an ever present ghost from the past.

All my life I have tried to ignore her, or more violently, to remove her. I have tried to out-run her, starve her, hide her, forget her – but since she is a ghost none of these strategies affects her, she stays. She has stayed, patiently, by my side. Waited for me to acknowledge her. She has also protected me from my own pain, and my responsibility, my obligation to make decisions and choices for myself. Sometimes she has taken over and lived my life for me, spoken and acted through me.

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