Recently, while indulging in not so intellectual pursuits, our minds seem to wander and realize something so basic, yet so foreign to us. As human beings, and mammals, or just about any living creature, we all have common traits and needs. The need for sustenance, the need to procreate, the need to sleep, and other things. These are things that bind all living creatures together, and to some degree, prove that we are all inter-related, and part of a single ecosystem. Perhaps the most significant of these things, is intimacy. I am not speaking of the intimacy that comes with procreation. I am referring to the intimacy that can be felt between any two living creatures. The need for closeness, that drives humans, to have pets, lovers, friends, and even enemies. Yes, sometimes even an enemy can provide a level of intimacy.
This is a very basic NEED. I emphasize the word need here, as this is factual. This is why many believe that the worst form of cruel and inhumane punishment is the use of solitary confinement. Living beings, sentient or not, require intimacy with another living creature. They need to feel needed, and un-alone. They need to feel wanted. This has shown to be the case in many examples, most easily demonstrated, by infants.
Infants, especially when sick, in pain, or otherwise in distress, will almost always, respond to sensory touch. How can this be? How can an infant, unable to comprehend the complexities of human behaviors most associated with closeness, respond to and even repair their bodies, with the simple thing as gentle closeness? This is not terribly difficult to grasp, once you have been deprived of it. The understanding of things comes easiest to those who thirst for it the most. In the case of intimacy, physical touch, the trauma survivor craves this most of all, yet runs from any sign of it.
Why then do we desire that which terrifies us the most? Simple, even though we instinctively seek out touch, warmth and closeness, we have never been able to understand why. In most every case in the survivors lifespan, physical touch, or relative closeness to anyone, has resulted in pain, loss, and terror. These things were not one off events. In the case of complex trauma, these were the norm ,and thus became hardwired into our psyche. Thus, even though we seek intimacy, as we get closer to it, our fears will take control, and keep us safe. We run away, or even more common, we drive others from us.
The protections from Intimacy come at a great expense to the survivor. We tend to overcompensate in the areas of social interactions, usually making a muck of things. Sometimes we get it right! We feel overjoyed at the peak of success we have achieved, till we do not. We come crashing down the mountain, only to lie in a heap of fear, doubt, and self loathing most often mistaken for self pity. What others perceive as self pity, is actually the survivor reaffirming to himself the programming he was instilled with so many years. He is a worthless, horrible, and good for nothing child that should have been drowned at birth. Yes, people do say these things to their children.
What we end up with, becomes a frightened child, in a. an adult body. Constantly reaching out for affection, attention and the affirmation he never received as a child. These are all things a child needs to build the confidence required of an adult to be successful. The survivor, even in cases without the fragmentation of Dissociative Identity Disorder, becomes embroiled in daily struggles to just breathe. The fight to stay alive seems futile, almost trivial and torturous, compared to the tranquility of death. Thus, many survivors choose to exercise this choice. The choice for death can seem very appealing when your sense of self worth is lower than whale feces. This is not depression, this is how we feel, believe and experience our day to day existence. We KNOW and BELIEVE we are these things. We have become exactly as we were constructed.
Fast forward now to adulthood, early middle age. Maybe you have children, maybe you do not. However, try to imagine yourself, without ever feeling another desire to touch you in a way, that is positive. Yes, there are many adults, that by the time their bodies reach adulthood, they have still never progressed emotionally. They are in effect stuck in time. One cannot progress onto the next stage of development mentally, unless you have built a strong foundation in which to build. The desire to have closeness is still there, but the tools have never been developed. Thus, train wrecks and chaos abound in the survivors life. Trying to defeat the instincts of binding is almost impossible. You cannot defeat the instinct to breathe, or eat, or procreate? As we grow, we learn and adapt, using the tools and lessons we learn as children, or supposed to.
Imagine trying to build a house without tools or plans. Try to fix a car without parts. The same goes with living beings; you cannot build an adult without the tools needed to allow them to grow, both physically and developmentally. In the absence of nurture and positive ideals, the blank canvas, that is the Childs mind, will absorb whatever is presented to it. In the case of abuse and trauma, all of the negative energy becomes a part of the Childs personality. The self image that is created in these formative years becomes engraved for all time, forcing the child to endure the suffering for a lifetime. Even when the Childs body grows, or for some other reason, can escape the prison of blame and victimization, the self hatred continues on for most in perpetuity. For most this cannot be overcome without professional guidance. Unfortunately, this is rarely found.
For a trauma survivor, much like an alcoholic, the starting place for recovery has to be the bottom. It seems that only then, can we truly force ourselves in to the fears of trusting people, enough to allow them to help. For all time, whether it be self fulfilling prophecy, or the evil that is inflicted upon us, we run the farthest and fastest from those who claim to care fr us. We are you see, programmed into believing, “I love you”, means quite literally, “I will use you, hurt you and discard you when I am done with you”. We hear the same words as others, but the translation is far different. Even in circumstances where we try and connect with other humans, we are overcome with our programming, falling into doubt, fear and disbelief; not only in others, but mostly ourselves. This is the reason we run.
The disbelief in ourselves is so deep and infectious, we struggle to have any confidence in almost every decision. We cast doubt ourselves not only on those around us, but ourselves. We do not believe that anyone could ever truly care for us’. The truth is, we have no idea how others are supposed to show care and affection. Are we as people, doing our duty as a companion, only if we become the victim our partners or friends require? Are we less of a person if we decide that we have needs and desires of our own, that are separate from others? These are the struggles that we face every second of time we are here. The futility is only compounded by the need to understand why we are so different from everyone.
Many times, from childhood onwards, we have been accused of being dramatic for attention, being selfish, conceded and uncaring. The fact is this, we desire only that which our instincts lead us to want, affection that comes without strings, obligation or most of all, pain. We do not realize ourselves the flat circle that is our own existence. We know only that we desire something, yet we fear the result more than the lonliness.