For the first time in my life I feel that I am ‘In one piece’. Like humpty, dumpty put back together again.
And I am amazed that with my focus on healing, that I have been fortunate to have it all come together intuitively for me. The key was for me to get out of my head, and start to listen to what my body was telling me.
I know it sounds odd but I think I always knew that I had a part of me that was more vulnerable that I felt I needed to protect and hide. The beginning of truly acknowledging it didn’t really come to light until my mom passed as I explained in Here we go.
It wasn’t until I acknowledged her (my little part), and worked to make her feel safe that I made true progress in healing. It has been over five years of working with this part, with many stops and starts, which I am currently outlining the process I used in an ebook to be released in early 2021.
And now I set my sights on understanding from the professionals, how fragmentation occurs in the first place. As explained in the book Healing the Fragmented Selves of Trauma Survivors by Janina Fisher, there is a biological basis for understanding compartmentalization. It has to do with the brain development in early childhood. Children from birth are right brain dominant for most of childhood. The left brain develops slower, and experiences spurts of growth around language development and again at adolescence, but left brain dominance is only achieved very gradually. The corpus callosum, the part of the brain that makes possible right brain-left brain communication, also develops slowly and only becomes fully elaborated around the age of twelve. Therefore, she explains that in early years of childhood, right brain development is relatively independent of left brain experience, lending itself to splitting should the need arise.
In studying brain development it was determined that there was a correlation between a history of abuse and/or neglect and under development of the corpus callosum. This theory also supports the hypothesis that trauma is associated with independent development of right and left hemispheres and the deficits in communication between the two brains hinder right-left integration, leaving people with two-brains instead of one integrated brain. Without an exchange of information via the corpus callosum, researchers observed that the left hemisphere might have no memory of the right hemisphere’s emotion driven actions and emotions.
Now I most certainly am not a professional, but what I read rang clear for me. Try as I might, I could not recall very much of my life prior to being a teen. So did I have a fragmentation occur, due to the trauma that I experienced at a young age? I believe so.
It was further explained that those having experienced early trauma are likely to have a well developed going on with normal life self and several different trauma related parts driven by the survival responses of fight, flight freeze, submission or cry for help. Depending upon the trauma experienced, Janina describes the Trauma Related parts of the personality as follows:
Angry, judgemental, mistrustful, self-destructive, controlling, suicidal, needs to control
Distancer, ambivalent, cannot commit, addictive behavior or eating disordered
Frozen, terrified, wary, phobic of being seen, agoraphobic, reports panic attacks
Depressed, ashamed, filled with self-hatred, passive, “good girl”, caretaker, self sacrificing
Desperate, craves rescue & connection, sweet, innocent, wants someone to depend on
Now all of this was very interesting to me, but the biggest take away for me was that my approach to just simply acknowledging that some parts of me had been left behind was verified. The explanation that my survival mechanism had kicked in to keep me safe was enough. And the hard work that I had done to have my left behind parts feel safe and integrated was exactly the approach I needed.
It occurs to me that there are many of us, who had impacts during our early brain developments. The really hopeful information was that integration of all of our parts to a sense of wholeness is possible. And I am eternally grateful that I was wise enough to find my way through.
Love, Light and Healing to you all.
Healing the Fragmented Selves of Trauma Survivors – Janina Fisher