The truth is, it didn’t start with any of us. We were created as catalysts. A disastrous miracle in a mastermind’s head, bashing ourselves against each other’s shadow and light, from one generation to the next since the very beginning of time, until one day we finally implode back to nothingness. It’s all so foolishly serious. We should probably play more and like, pool our money, fly to the Maldives and swim with sea turtles.
Some guy named Joe has suggested the reason we’re not all living in earthly bliss is because we’re choosing to relive our nightmares. These gurus drive me nuts. If you know so much about the brain Joe, why are you ignoring the fact that, with the exception of deeply disturbed folks whose name rhythms with ‘bird’, none of us want to be abused, oppressed, discriminated against or otherwise ‘victimized’. I hate that word. We’ve really weaponized it. People don’t choose to stay poor, homeless, addicted or otherwise living in a state of chronic activation, unless it’s become a default survival strategy. It’s a matter of science…and you call yourself a scientist. Allow me, a nothing from nowhere, to explain.
It takes the average human body one hour to return to homeostasis after a split second of activation, like getting cut off in traffic. Cortisol, adrenaline and norepinephrine course through our veins, ramping up our heart rate, increasing perspiration and respiration while shutting down digestion, curiosity, trust, and creative problem solving. If we don’t have access to enough safety, time, love, money or resources in which to recover, we remain in various states of fight, flight or freeze. Essentially, we remain primal as part of a 200,000 year old survival response. Basically, animals. Basically, the world.
Now, let’s assume you’re someone who experienced daily exposure to unpredictable threats that included but were not limited to witnessing community violence, food insecurity, domestic violence, theft, fire, assault, physical abuse, emotional abuse, social abuse, bullying, sexual abuse, predatory stalking, neglect, parentification and housing instability in really janky apartments, all in the Petri dish of a compassionless society sending a barrage of insulting messages essentially telling you’re a worthless tax burden who should’ve never been born.
So, that’s a lot of activation, right? Now multiply it by twenty years and add rape, homelessness, an apartment fire, a spouse with a secret addiction, college, graduate school and about ten thousand jobs with virtually no down time. If you’re still alive, it’s fair to assume your nervous system might be a little crispy.
According to manifesting guru’s, if we haven’t actualized a life of abundant bliss, it’s our fault for not believing in ourselves and the gracious majesty of an infinite universe that radically loves us. People hate us but god loves us. Begging the question, then why am I here dude?
Their advice is to tell ourselves a fairy tale about getting everything we ever wanted because we’re divinely worthy of a jackpot inheritance of radical awesomeness. As a clinician, I sort of thought that was one of the recipes for grandiose narcissism…but I could be wrong.
Back to science. Our foundational neural network takes anywhere from 24 to 26 years to fully develop. If horrible things happen to us during that time, it affects our entire biopsychosocial functioning. Reconstructing a single neural pathway using an evidenced practice like Cognitive Behavior Therapy require us to practice a new skill for at least 40 days before it becomes a habit. Some studies say it can happen faster, others say it can take much longer, so this is a very rough estimate. But just roll with me here. If someone has a history of complex trauma, the expectation is that they will wake up in the same conditions that hurt them and start thinking happy thoughts to produce happy feelings to produce productive behaviors that will lead to manifesting the life of their dreams. In other words, delude yourself.
Oh pumpkins. Pardon my sarcasm. It’s been raining and all I’ve wanted to do for the last three days is go for a walk.
Anyway, we can’t be expected to heal in the same environment that’s hurting us. And yet, billions of us do it all the time in spite of enduring intergenerational trauma, oppression, sexism, discrimination, toxic workplaces and cancel culture. We persevere. There are beautiful examples of people throughout history who chose to take their power back from all the nightmares and live out their dreams. It is possible. We don’t have to stay stuck in our wounds, but we sure could make it a hell of a lot easier if we actually applied what we know about basic neurobiology.
It’s an absolute miracle that so many us of are still here foraging our way through the wilderness back to love. But, why should we be expected to achieve enlightenment in order to meet our basic needs? Who made that rule?
Why are we expected to become energetically ‘perfect’ in order pay rent, buy furniture, clothes, a car, an education and healthcare? And why are we deemed spiritually defective if we don’t? Where’s the consideration for concrete barriers like nepotism, misogyny, tokenism, fascism, capitalism and whatever other labels describe the exploitation of power by the ruling class?
All that to say, where’s the mute button for these podium prophets selling us rhetoric about how all our wishes would come true if we just believed harder? Excuse me little girl. But the reason you didn’t eat today is because you haven’t read my latest self-help book. Cha-ching.
I didn’t manifest this couch. I went to therapy, did codependent recovery, learned how to set boundaries, failed, tried again, worked a lot and talked to god until I felt safe enough to buy it, which took about ten years. While I have my doubts about people, despite unconditionally loving them, I have no doubts about god. I entrust my life to the plans of a creator I can’t see or comprehend and that’s what keeps me here following cryptic breadcrumbs. In which case, I have no explanation for complaining about wayward, albeit dominant voices attempting to convince me I should not only be and do more but also, the reason I’m not ‘successful’ according to their definition, is because I’m somehow stuck in thinking I’m a helpless victim. Yes, the reflexive, intrusive thoughts of trauma survivors are all their fault. Such a shame they don’t have private jets to fly them to luxury wellness centers till their nervous systems finally have a chance to calm down. I wish I could somehow download files from my past, from streets on fire, waking up too paralyzed to scream, the invisible twenty year climb it took to evict myself from a dead-end existence, along with maintaining the coherence of my heart, firmly rooted in incorruptible faith, and then have them attempt to feed me elaborate instructions on how I could’ve done it all better.
After writing this I realize, I have nothing to prove. Not to them anyway. It’s more like hand-me-downs; well-worn thoughts that aren’t yet ready to be forgotten because, as it turns out, they might actually be worth something. ~