Yesterday I went to a workshop run by ASCA (Adults Surviving Child Abuse) on "Creating new Possibilities." It went for 3 hours and was near the city. I was of course very nervous, as I didn't know anyone else there, but it all payed off in the end. (for more information about ASCA please go to my PAGES section to the right and click on their name and it will take you to their very helpful website.)
The workshop yesterday had 2 facilitators and a guest speaker from Sydney, Zan, who is a Psychoanalyst. Zan was very informed and had done these for quite a while.
She covered -
Coping techniques, and if they are still working for you.
Childhood responses to threat
Please or Appease
impacts of abuse
Reducing the intensity of troubling emotions
Dividing overwhelming feelings into manageable parts
Rejecting power, intimacy and trust
Abuse and the nervous system
just to name a few....
The workshop was open to anyone who had experienced any type of abuse or witnessed domestic abuse. We had 6/7 participants there.
One of the things that fascinated me the most was to explanation of how the brain functions during abuse and how it affects its ability to deal with situations in the future. We can of course change the brain as we get older but it does take effort. Zan described it as a well worn path through an area of grass. We know exactly where we need to go and it is easy to follow. When we start to use other coping techniques for dealing with our trauma, we are basically trying to make a new path through the grass. If we don't use it often the path is harder to see where it was, and the brain, which naturally like patterns and 'habits', will head back to the old ways. It does take time but with persistence we can get there.
Another thing that stood out was the 'Healing needs to happen between people'. Zan says that our trauma was caused by people, so we need to heal with people. Learning to trust, maybe only one person, we start to heal.
Self Care- We didn't get the nurturing we needed as a child, and we may not be able to get all we need now from others in our life, so self care is giving ourselves the nurturing we need. We cannot always depend on others to be there for us so we must nurture and love ourselves.It is not being selfish, it is merely giving ourselves that which everyone else got but we missed out on. Self soothing is also part of that, and we may have missed this as a child. When we hold a baby in our arms and rub their back, we are releasing Oxytocin ( a hormone released in the brain that makes you feel good) in the baby and also in ourselves. For this reason stroking ourselves is a great way of self care as we are releasing the hormones we need to feel better. We of course went onto different ways to self care like exercise, listening to music, a warm bath.
What stood out to me the most and what was hardest to accept, was the word DESERVE. We didn't ask for these things to happen to us, yet strangely we take the blame and think we must be bad and not deserving of anything good. The truth of the matter is We deserve to heal. We deserve the support that we need to heal. This is always a hard one for me. Having spent so much time in religion I have taken to the extreme that we don't deserve anything....anything we get is a gift and we are to be extremely grateful to have it. I am never good enough to deserve anything except the bad things that happen in life. To be able to deserve healing is a strange concept. To say I deserve to live a life healed like those not traumatised is so foreign to me.
For me the key word from the workshop is deserve. I deserve to heal, and that self care is merely giving myself that which I didn't get as a child.
I highly recommend attending one of the ASCA workshops if you can. It is hard to do new things but often the blessing far outweighs to difficulty in getting there.