Thursday, April 10, 2014

Traumatic Violations and the Prevention of Healing by the Lizard Brain

Trauma and the Prevention of Healing by the Lizard Brain
Lizard Brain doing its job.
Today I'm going to look at violations related to sex or gender as the vehicle for doing The Work. I am also going to associate that with physical and psychological violations, period; Primarily, how and why survivors of trauma have so much tied up with these deeply ingrained patterns and issues of violation.

Whether it's rape, molestation, shame producing sex (forced prostitution, sex slavery, or hoping he or they would like you...), or other versions of sexual harm; Whether it's sexually motivated violations or violations based on your gender, if you have feelings of shame, violation, self-hate, victimization, anger or any version of suffering wrapped up with that; Even if you were the only one sexually violating or exploiting your own body, the purpose of this post is to begin a Mind Shift toward the willingness of releasing yourself from suffering.

When I first began reading Loving What Is, before I knew Byron Katie as more than just an author, I threw it across the room. My Lizard Brain, that had taken over in hypervigilance in keeping me safe, was now in charge.

Yes, I wanted to heal. But the first thing I looked for in the book was issues of violations because SURELY there was no "turnaround" that would have my saying, "Yes, I should have been violated."

Doing The Work on Sexual and Physical ViolationsThe Mind that is identified with pain and suffering is tricky. The Mind that is identified with pain and suffering due to issues of violation, maybe more so. Its defenses are up and ever-ready to look for the proof that says, "You are about to get abused again."

Looking back, I realize a few things.

Females and Sexual Violation Intertwinings

Although men can certainly be objects of sexual abuse, rape, molestation, and other violations, my observations have been that women's Minds are more inextricably linked to their beliefs about who they are regarding sex or who others are regarding their sex. ( Read Attaching to Thoughts for an excellent example on sex-based beliefs.)

I believe this is part cultural, whether we renounce it or not, part cellular memory from generations that have come before us, of which we have zero control, part upbringing on how we were conditioned to think about sex, and part physiological.

Males and Sexual Violation Intertwinings

I am not forgetting about men who have been abused. For them, there may be less numbers OR less popularized numbers, but with them, there's the whole shameful secrecy they must contend with. If they're heterosexual, for example, and a male violated them sexually, they may have conflicting feelings of their sexuality. Maybe their beliefs are along the lines of "feeling less than a man" if they were "bent over like a woman" and sodomized. Each gender may have their own unique set of problems within their respective violations.

First Steps to Begin Healing

Healing is for everyone because none of us are in pain as uniquely as our Minds would have us believe.

The first thing to do is to acknowledge that you have no control over past events (unless you do) but what you DO have is an ability to reinterpret the events.

And that's what The Work does. That's what watching Byron Katie's videos may help with. And in Codependent Recovery, there may be a 4th Step that can help. Or even listening to Gangaji talk about body issues may assist. See my article, How to Get Self-Esteem While Being Yourself, in which I put Gangaji's "Self Hatred" video and all sorts of methods of assistance.

Trauma Victims and The WorkThe second thing to do, if you are bringing your violation (s)  to The Work, is to do the 4 Questions and Turnaround in order and in paper. My error had been my Mind, in pain and identified with that pain to such an extent, it went from reading the First Question of "Is that true?" right to imagining "Trunarounds." My Mind had answered, "Hell yes it's true." and then went right to "Turnarounds for violations? You're a sick one!" [Book hurl.]

In this post, I want to talk about violations before enlightenment and this necessitates a talk about sex. I will try not to be gross because I want this fit for young people to read as well.

Keepers of the Vagina. Keepers of the Penis.

Women are "an inny" and Men are "an outty."

Our sex organ (vagina) allows entry while the male sex organ (penis) is designed for that entry or (like my grandma would say after she'd tied a few on) "looking for somewhere to stick it."
A friend was feeling inordinate shame over historic relationships and I was suggesting she lay off the "sex" for a while. A lot of her shame was wrapped up in giving the sex away only to find out that her former partners were taking it wherever they could get it. She wasn't engaging in "safe sex" either, so to compound feelings of being psychologically used and abused, she was now grokking that she could be exposing herself to real physical harm in the form of STDs. The following is loosely based on a story I told her:

As Keepers of the Vagina, if we just allow any ol' Penis into our "secret party palace," there's bound to be a mess. They can go to as many different parties as they want to and there may be no problem. But if we open our "homes" up to just anyone and they throw up on the walls, don't bother sticking around to make our place nice again, we know we're being used just for the party.
I'm particular about who comes into my Palace. My body came with it and I reside here, in this life, in this body. I try to be the best co-creator of its existence as I can be. But even in that, stuff happens. And one day or for many days or in one instance, my body - despite my best efforts - may still be "violated by another body or bodies" and then what? We'll get to that.
For now it's enough to know that at any moment we can begin to contribute to its honor. We can take the past remembrances of self-violation and use those memories to stop it in the present.
A penis is there, out in the open. He can see it and become accustomed to it because it grows up with him. He is aware of its existence and there it is; No surprises. In the extreme, some men may pay particular homage to their penis and worship its desires, ever searching for that magical gate in which to gain entry.

A vagina, on the other hand, is well-hidden. Tucked away in a hidden valley that culture may have dictated we not discuss except in health class, we may not notice it growing up. Only recently has the word "vagina" even begun to gain its place in adult discussions without giggling. But since it is so well-hidden from view we may have only "periodic" reminders of its existence about every month or so, when we're expecting another body to use it as "an exit," or another body to seek its entry. It is indeed, magical.

Those hallmarks aside, it basically keeps quiet, unlike the penis. The penis stands at attention and demands an audience, even if only an audience of one when it needs to use the bathroom. But the male is familiar with his penis so what shame is necessary? The penis is no secret to him; It's entire existence is there for anyone to see without need for stirrups or a mirror.
Hidden from view and tucked away as if to remain an ever elusive secret, a right proper ignorance can perpetuate the Mind of cultures and even in the Mind of the Keeper of the Vagina. A female relative, up until about 10 years ago - which was when I corrected her misunderstanding - grew up thinking that women had only 2 holes "down there" and that we urinated from our vagina. This relative is only one generation older and also graduated valedictorian of her high school, which should offer some indication of the mysteries of the vagina even in more recent modernity. 

Vagina - Literal or Metaphorical for Violation

I am treating "Vagina" as a literal and also metaphorical symbol for violation.

When I say "Vagina" I am speaking of it and all the metaphorical multiplicities of sex; Sexual abuse, sexual exploitation, and sexual molestations and "sextual violations" in all forms. I could just as easily be using "any hole" or even the penis or breasts or butt or any body part with any action that renders your Mind into feelings of violation. 

Because the problem isn't really that our vagina has been violated; WE have been violated.

Three Incidents, Two Violations

The lights went out during class change during a thunderstorm at my High School one day. I was at my locker, in the middle of getting the correct book for my next class when it happened; Someone grabbed my ass. And at the moment it happened, the lights flashed back on, I turned to see who'd done it and it was just some random kid - probably a freshman because I'd never seen him before - who'd started walking faster but did turn back to look at me with an expression as if to say, "Yeah, girl. You got it going on." I mean, he even did the 'head up' with a smile. I wasn't angry and I had no attachment to that episode. He, clearly, just needed an opportunistic ass grab. Okay and there my ass was.

Skip to frame of my life, 3 years later. I was at a party in college and on the balcony with a group of friends and strangers and we're all chit-chatting. A male friend of mine with whom I had no romantic or sexual association with (then or ever, which may be relevant to the stupidousity of some people) slapped me on my ass. Hard. Out of the blue. In front of everyone - which is important only in the context of my life story of violation and shame. I asked him, "Why would you do that?" He just stood there, saying nothing, looking dumbfounded. I asked him again. Nothing. I felt violated and enraged. To the credit of the other students, they told him he was an asshole. So, in my Mind, I was saved.

Skip to frame of my life, 10 years later. I'm getting coffee at an A.A. meeting and I'm only maybe 8 months sober. I feel the largest ass slap and it hurt! I think I shouted, "Ow!" I twirl around to see another male friend - this one old enough to be my grandfather - just casually walking by with a cheshire cat grin on his face. I felt violated and enraged. To the credit of a female friend who (in colloquial terms) "gave him the business." So, in my Mind, I was saved again. 
The first incident did not bother me much. A strange kid playing grab-ass with me, bothered me in the second it happened, but did nothing to my psyche. The two later incidents provoked such a rage inside of me that if people could explode due to rage, I would have exploded.

The Original Violating Incident

I was almost 5 yrs old. If there had to be a defining incident in which I viewed the world, this one was it.

A gaggle of nurses came in and began with an intimidating prospect: "Turn over. We're going to give you a shot in your butt." (Now, in truth, I do not know if it started with 1 nurse and ended with - what seemed to my 5 year old mind - 6 nurses, or if it began that way.) They told me with actual words that they could do it the easy way or the hard way. I chose the hard way.

The INFP/HSP Personality
I am an INFP / HSP, and a Leo. This means my personality is an Introverted, Intuitive, Feeling, Perceiving, Highly Sensitive Person with Fire as my element. This means, I fought.

In the end, Little Samsara had no advocate and she had only a little body in which to defend herself. And the end result was that this gaggle of pain producers flipped me over, ripped my 'night night' little girl lace shorts down and shot me in my rear end. I was not saved from my first violating incident. And it was this incident that I would subconsciously revisit when two people would slap me on my ass, causing pain.

I learned a lot in those several moments of my childhood. Not only did 'everyone' see my butt, which introduced me to my first feelings of shame and rage but I was taught that 'might makes right' and that I would always be at the whim of whomever was stronger than me.

This paradigm would prove itself true, when I was kidnapped into an abusive institution at age 15.
The abusive system I was in had been the 2nd major life-defining incident on my A.A. 4th Step, with the first being my 'shot in the bum' by the Nurses from Hell. It was re-confirmation that my almost 5 year old brain that had been traumatized, had it right.

Psychological Quirks of Violation

To deny women have a Mind connection to the Vagina is faulty. To deny that human beings have a Mind connection to their Body is faulty. This is not to say that you have one. Maybe you were born free from thinking you were "your body" but for so many human beings this is not the case.

A few themes I have noticed suggest that...
  1. As "keepers of the well hidden vagina" (or our body) we may psychologically (even subconsciously) associate that with a gross failure of character if we don't "keep it well safe." 
  2. If other bodies exploit (or "know our vagina") before we've even introduced ourselves to it, how much more of a psychological upset is that?
  3. In abusive or exploitative systems, maybe we've been introduced to the thought that we are nothing BUT our vagina's "life support" or are nothing but our bodies.
  4. Maybe we've learned that no, we do not own our vagina (or bodies), they do. And consequently, that means they own us.
  5. Maybe we've learned that the vagina (or our body, or any body part) is our self-worth but something is very wrong because we know this is not true.
  6. Eating disorders and self-mutilation are often based in body hate. I know that for me, if I disappeared or punished my body, no one could 'see' me in order to 'hurt me.' Equally, I know obese women with violation issues so that if they 'layer' up they'll also be well-hidden.
  7. Maybe if we 'pretend' we don't care about our vagina or about our body, we'll somehow gain control over our life and people won't hurt us because they can't. Maybe WE begin exploiting ourselves and act as if it is no big deal.
  8. I've met young girls who think it's cute or funny that they insult their womanhood. "Let's reclaim the word, whore!" So they begin greeting each other with, "What's up, whore?" And, "Nothing much, skank. You?" And, "Where's Jennifer? I haven't seen that ratchet ho in weeks."
  9. I used to go so far as to deny my body's existence. I refuted it. It became my enemy. I'd scream names at myself in the mirror.
  10. I remember reading that Louise Hay - another person I love - had cancer in her girly area and her belief was that she was punishing it for having been sexually abused. But when she forgave the abuse, the cancer went away.

The Solution is Not to Pretend them Away

This was the one I was the greatest at. And if by great I mean I stayed drunk, self-mutilating, anorexic, and striking myself with illnesses when I suffered other incidents I perceived as violations, I was a champion.

The Mind will do all sorts of things instead of re-visiting the darkness, won't it?

But that's how it worked for me.

I had to be stone-cold sober, feeling it all directly to hell, burning in fire of all of it before I was ready to heal; Ready to let my Lizard Brain relax and take some time off; Ready to release the Ego that just KNEW the Lizard was right. 

In one moment of Awareness...

Questioning Your Mind, Your Beliefs

There are many levels of hell that violation can provoke, yes.

What I found with The Work, for example, is that my Mind would continue on in the cycle of the belief it already believes. So in releasing the originating painful Belief(s), everything else that used to support it (or them) dissolved away. You see?
I was (objectively) violated at age 5. My shame and rage was born. Other incidents would happen in my life that supported this same belief that I was not a good captain of my body.
Another incident happened between the ages of 8 - 10 in which an overweight babysitter physically assaulted me. There's that shame and rage again. I would not tell my Mother of the incident because why would I? She had proven she was not my advocate when I was 5. Mind said, "It has been proven this is the truth." (I did eventually tell my grandmother at 17 years of age and I even had shame in doing that. That was the level of shame I had.)
Then, when the abusive facility happened at age 15, there was more evidence of those two supporting incidents that had my mind believing I was "bad, not worthy, and shameful." My Mother signed me in so there is again, reaffirmation, of the belief that I am not worth protecting. They emotionally, physically, and mentally violated me and the other children. They practiced medicine without a license. They called us names. They restrained us. They did everything to me that the prior two had done that reaffirmed the message that "might makes right" and I am at their mercy.
Tied in with that, as I approached adulthood and in adulthood, I began using sex / gender / my body as a bargaining chip of power (in my personal story and yours may vary) because why not? My body wasn't mine; It had been proven. Period. But I knew something wasn't right with it, and is why alcohol helped.
I hated control freak women (nurses) and fat women in dark denim jeans (babysitter) and people who abused other people, especially kids (the cult institution). So there it is.
And the way this was undone was to find the first incident or largest incidents and bring them to Inquiry. Look at them again. Visit it totally, take it to paper, and delve into it with the 4 Questions - but delve into them with compassion, kindness and love for yourself.

Then I found that the lesser incidents - the ones my Mind used primarily for supporting its Beliefs (rather than their own traumas)...melted away into nothing more than a remembering of "What Happened in My Life Story."

My Great UnDoings

After I had finished doing The Work on the two defining traumas - I was able to re-memory the past that had kept me shackled. And one day I just noticed that I was done looking for evidence of victimization.  
  • Things no longer happen to Me. Things just happen.
  • Boundaries may be encroached. But I am no longer Violated.
  • I no longer Worship / Hate / Use / Violate / Exploit my Body.
  • People may still intend to abuse me, but I don't notice.
  • I no longer live in a state of hyper-vigilance.
  • I don't think anyone is out to seek my personal undoing.
  • I understand that my Mother had wanted to keep me safe. She had listened to the doctors who said I needed a surgery (age 5) and who said I needed a place they told her was rehab (age 15). She was seeking action for my well-being based on the best information she had.
  • I see that the Nurses really felt like the shot of tranquilizer was for my own good and that their seeing many kids' hineys a day was no great shakes for them. Bonus: I STILL didn't sedate. I STILL threw my fit when the doctor came in and took me. I won! Tee hee.
  • The babysitter who physically assaulted me; I see now that she was an angry woman who let her anger turn her into an abuser and that it was not my shame I was carrying, but hers. And furthermore, that when I went into Eating Disorder recovery, I gained a new love for overweight women when I realized we both used food - just differently - to stay safe.
  • The guys who slapped my ass; I forgive it. That melted away when the underlying traumas no longer needed support.

These days I welcome victimization. I welcome violation. And, no, I'm not a sadist. If you haven't yet, you will discover that being Open to the Now  is the primary action in the face of its opposite: "What we resists, persists." And because I am open, it does not persist.

Moving forward, I may still have incidents that happen to my body that provoke my primal lizard brain  - again, that I have zero control over - but I am no longer rendered impotent or at the whim of my Mind turning it into a ball too big to dribble.

Too many people knock the Lizard Brain and it makes no sense to me. Like denying any other 'body part' is counterproductive to my waking-human-well-being, so would it be silly to pretend I lack a certain kind of Lizardry. (The brain-residing amygdala is a body part and that seems naturally connected to the Highly Sensitive Personality.)

My message is that you can heal. And hopefully this post can serve as a bridge to its beginning. In honoring your survival instincts that looked for danger everywhere you went - in order to keep you safe - you can let it take some time off. If you are reading this now, then you ARE safe in this Now moment and you can begin right now.

Printable Worsksheets from The Work Official Website:

Instructions for Doing the Work 
After getting the instructions, choose an area that is "my ball is too big to dribble" size. THEN see which category that belongs to in the following. Print it out and get started.
Good Luck. You can do this.


  1. Hello
    Thank you for your honest, clear and helpful posts. I look forward to reading all of them and to undoing some knots as I do so.

    Warm wishes

    1. Thank you for commenting Lynne. I am happy it can serve you. I may not do a lot of numerous posts, typically, but I do put as much as I can into the few I do write. {{Hugs to you.}}


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