Wow...thank you so much Anne for all the resources!! I found it so confusing after a handful of what I considered to be minor conflicts between my avoidant ex and me that he gave up on us and shut down, but I see in the literature that conflicts are a trigger. At the time I thought he was being unrealistic in his expectations, but I can see now how it ties in to his attachment trauma. Lots to read! Thx!
More about the freeze response: Freeze sympathetic nerveussystem wants to act strongly and defencevly and the parasympatheic nerveussystem is trying to put the brakes on.
The freeze respons might look stationary and passive but underneath there is a incredible arousel. IT is an extreme state of being stuck thats typacily fraught in fear, dissociation and immobility - even paralysis.
Some People can loose their ability to speak or hear. The cranial nerve that activates the voice box and/or the inner ear, can shut down. People living in This state can have difficulty communicating their distress and staying precent when IT happens. For people with desorganised attatchment style or other kinds of trauma, IT can occour when a person feels overwhelmed. When we are being confronted with a threat we can become immobiliasied. IT is not healthy to stay in This state for Long. Our intake of oxytocyn level drops, and we can not breath correctly.
You can take deeps breaths, but even Better if you can find some sence of safety. In This state You can also feel Cold sensations, lethargy, depression, and dissociation. When any of these symptoms occour, IT is a good idea to move the Body around. Even the smallest physical movement can help you. IT is important that you can feel, that you can have a sence of safe boundaries.
Exercise: Choose your right or left arm and extend IT out in front of you. Hold This arm out as if you are reaching out to connect with someone or you are recieving a gift. How does IT make you feel ? Does IT feel okay and safe or maybe voulnarble and frightening ? Now try the other arm. How does This feel ? Now try to reach out with both arms. With your arms side open and then with a gesture in wich your arms are closer together. How does This feel ? Are you relaxed or are you feeling tence in your Body ? Now place your right hand out infront of you as if to defend yourself. This gives a sence of "stop, go away, back off". The Words can come later Now let your left hand come in as if you were making a space of boundarie infront of you. Imagine you are in a protective sfere. Feel around you where your energetic boundaries are. Do this in front of you, to the side, abowe you and behind you. Get a sence of what This space is like. How does IT feel in your Body ? Do you notise any sence of empowerment ? Does one direction feel safer than the others ? If one direction feel less safe you can bring in a competent protector. Imagine Them of the Edge of your spfere. See if that helps your spfere expand.
This exercise can bring Up some boundary rupture that you dident know about. This is normal. Try to Say No, leave med alone, stay away. Any Words that comes to you are fine. You can Say Them out loud or Imagine your competent protector saying Them. Feel what happens in your Body and in your spfere of safety. Do you feel stronger, more secure ? Does the spfere Seem to expand ? If you get overwhelmed try Them out with someone you trust who can support you, someone who has your back. If you want to you can let the person put a suupportive hand on your back.
Communicate simpley and clearly when the person is stuck in confusion or indecicion or when you have to give instruktion or directions. Give the person as few options as possible..
Be mindfull of your tone of voice: Use a melodic voice and not a robotic one.
Practise safe touch: You have to be regulated yourself. A handshake, a gentle touch between the persons shoulderblades or a gentle touch on the persons arm ect.
Look at them and use facical expression with kindness: Use a Beam gleam but check out if they are dealing with shame signaled by gaze aversion. Wait until their shame has been prosessed a bit. As people we read facical expressions All the time even when we are not concious of IT. Look at the person - is the person angry or are the person happy to be with you .
Main feeling/state for the desorganised/a person with chock-trauma is: SHAME.
IT is not always that they can feel their shame, and therefore they can sometimes overstep other peoples boundaries.
You always have to Work with the trauma energy first and when the trauma is healed, the breake can be released, and you can then Work with the ambivalent or avoidant part of your attatchment style.
1) definition by Peter Levine as a neurobiologialy process. Therefore IT is good to Work with the nerveussystem.
2) A persons/a childs feeling of being wrong.
How to tell: Boundaries are often Missing. They do not right away feel their own boundaries or they feel them overstepped - but not in the situation - but later. They can also overstep other peoples boundaries.
Or they can feel their boundaries, but they are in doubt if they are allowed to have that type of boundarie.
If feeling shame IT can be difficult to set boundaries. IT is so important working with the shame first in therapy. Also using titrating, ressources and xxx
Notise their communication style (when they are telling about their story to the therapist). Ex. They can talk about a partner, who they left 15 years ago, but then they can begin to talk about what happend like IT is happening now.
In their lovelife: When the contact with a potential partner starts to get closer, their trigger fight/flight responce can start to make noise. IT is a nerveussystem responce. They want their partner to be there and not to be there at the same time.
Long distance relationships can sometimes be ideal for a person with desorganised attatchment style - but the problem can show up when they have to be in intence contact for several Days.
They can use sex as a way to release their nerveussystem.
There is a lot of energy in their Body from the stomac and Up in the upper Body. They can stiffen in their upper body and they can feel very tired. They are used to being alert. . The disorganised can suddenly jump back when in contact, vs the avoidant who "just" pulls back from the contact. The dismissive can Be in the same room checking out of the contact.
When you have to meet them, IT is Better to give them the exact adress and direction. They can also be late, when you have to meet Them, because of their confusion (they maybe can not find their way in the car or they can take the wrong train ect).
They can have problems remembering their childhood because of All their feelings and instinktive reactions that overwhelms Them. They can often only remember fractions from the past. They use dissociation. Vs. the avoidant is just closed off from their feelings from their neck and down, and that's the reason, why they don't remember.
The FA can fall in love in a very quick way and can be very intence in lovelife. They can make a new loveinterest feel very special, like they have never felt like This incredible love before.
They often go way off out of their tolerance window. Vs the ambivalent can also go out of their Window of tolerance, but not as much as the desorganised. They can cry a lot and can be very intence They can warn out their partner with their intence reactions.
Their mood can change a Lot. From being happy to suddenly being sad or angry ect. That's because they go into their trauma whirlwind.
They often like activities with a lot of action. They like adventures.
Be aware, when they disociate in therapy, there Will be No healing. Tritating can be helpfull in regulation of the nerveussystem. Small steps are important. Talking about their history can be very triggering for their nerveussystem. Regulation of the nerveussystem can give some safety in the body for the desorganised person.
In therapy IT is more important to talk about Body sensations and not so much about their anxiety, their anger ect.
Do you panic when dating or do you flip out in front of your children ?
If In high arousel in the situation, they are not able to think .
IT is a good thing to have selfcompassion in theese kinds of situations and understanding of where the pattern stems from. Working with SE and the watertank exercise is helpfull to be able to heal. A quite and secure relationship with a partner with a Lot of patients and understanding can also help the desorganised attatched.
In therapy the desorganised dont have to Work through all their trauma. Sometimes when they heal one trauma more trumahealing in other areas Will follw.
A boundarie exercise in therapy with a chair, a Ball ex is important.
Why do we choose the same kind of partner again and again: our old part of our brain is used to choose the same enviroment as the enviroment we crew Up in. IT is also about the tribe belonging feeling and that we often think that it is safe.
Imago says, that the other persons ability to trigger the negative story from our childhood is very Strong and gives a Lot of passion and the right kind of sparks. This is Stronger than choosing the positive choise.
Healing the old story and getting into the now is important to be able to choose differently in lovelife.
When we are in love, we see more All the positive aspects about the other person and not the negative. When the relationship is more estabilished, we begin to see the negative about the other person. (This can also be very typical for the ambivalent)
With alcohol we can think, that the other person is very social, outgoing and fun to be with. But Then things turn and we can also see the reality - that the person has a serious problem with alkohol. A person who has been reaised in a home with alkohol will often always have some desorganised attatchment style. What the person can do is to try to look for a different type of partner. In situations where you react even if you do not remember/know what have happend, you often can have some desorganised attatchmentstyle.
Alcoholics, drug addicts, sexaddicts ect. often has some desorganised attatchmentstyle. People who tries to commit suicide, IT is often because they are angry, but they have turned their anger inward towards themselfes, so that that the anger becomes selfdestructive. Also they can feel a Lot of despair so that they just want to get pease. IT is therefore important giving the anger space and to Work with the nerveussystem.
The disorganised often can have exstreme Sex: being promisquious, bsdm, S/M, over/underdog, use prostitutes ect.
"You and a friend are hiking in the woods and having a lovely time.
Then a group of loud, aggressive young guys, who are stomping along and drinking beer approach you on the trail, going the other way. They go by you without incident but you smell the beer on their breath as they pass, you can hear their objectifying and demeaning comments regarding you and your friend’s bodies as they walk away, and one of them actually looked a lot like a guy who had assaulted you at a party in high school, years ago.
Then your heart is racing, heat rises, you’re panicking and terrified and at the same time you start to feel checked out and unable to connect to the forest around you… full on trauma response.
Fortunately you’ve had training in this stuff so you know that the first thing that needs to happen is to connect to safety in the environment and that social engagement is one of the best ways to do this, and you have a friend right there who is also tuned in. So you stop and just tell your friend what is happening – you hug her and feel her presence of safety.
While you are connected with her you let your eyes scan the forest and notice the green and the textures. You let your eyes see that the group of guys is actually gone down the path and let your ears notice that you can’t hear them any more, instead you listen to the wind through the branches, you see the green, you feel your friend.
This brings you out of dissociation and you start to feel much more “there”. But the shaking and tremors are still moving through your body. As you allow this to happen, knowing that it is simply your body releasing the survival energy, some sobs emerge and tears flow. And then, after the grief, you start to feel rage. Rage that you have to get triggered like this all these years later, rage for the injustice of what happened to you, rage at the idiot who hurt you.
Because You already know about SE, when your friend sees your anger emerging she says, “hey! let’s do that arm thing”.
So you take her forearm in your hands (knowing that as long as you squeeze and don’t twist you can squeeze as hard as you can and not hurt her) and you put all that rage into your hands. You squeeze and you imagine his neck in your hands as you squeeze. You squeeze and you snarl and growl and you FEEL that heat and energy surging up through you.
In your mind’s eye, as you squeeze your friend’s arm, you squeeze your attacker’s neck until his head pops off and his decapitated body falls dead to the floor and you stomp on it (actually stomping your feet on the forest floor) and smash him until there is nothing left of him at all – all the while really staying connected to, and feeling, the effort of that in your body, allowing the emotions of sadistic glee, victory and savage triumph to flow as he is totally annihilated. (This is key – if you don’t stay connected to your body while doing this kind of intense work it does nothing and can even be re-traumatizing. You have to feel safe and be embodied to do annihilation work effectively.
Then that energy is simply gone! You allowed it to rise up and protect you in the way that it couldn’t back then, and has been wanting to all this time. You’ve turned a triggering experience into a powerfully healing one. You feel fantastic! A little sore and achy but filled with alertness and vibrancy and keenly aware of the forest around you – the detail, the colour, the scents. You have a great day and the next time a bunch of stupid guys pass you on the street you feel a little echo of that alarm, but it is greatly dissipated."
How to Work with a new experience that could become a (small) trauma:
"You are walking down the street and you stub your toe badly and go sprawling. Instead of immediately picking yourself up in embarrassment and continuing on as if all is fine, you pause.
It’s not a busy sidewalk so it is safe just to lay there for a moment and feel yourself. You notice that your toe hurts quite a lot but other than that you seem to be ok. You roll over and crawl to the side of the sidewalk where there is some grass and sit down there.
You let yourself orient to the surroundings – the cars driving by, some people on the other side of the street walking, the sky, the clouds, the grass underneath you, the feeling of the ground supporting you. As you do this you let go of a breath you didn’t realize you were holding and a deeper breath comes in. You notice how your breath is returning to normal.
You let yourself really see the crack that took you down – really stare at it and notice if you have any anger towards that crack, if so you let yourself feel it – the energy, the heat – maybe you clench your hands into fists or grip the grass and you let that energy move! Maybe be you cuss out the stupid f*%&$ing crack for tripping you.
Or maybe you feel a wave of self-recrimination and embarrassment, so you notice that and you put your hand on your heart - holding space for both self-recrimination and self-compassion to exist in that heart space and this lets a few tears flow and allows the grief that is under that self-recrimination to emerge.
You notice that your toe still hurts but that you are basically ok so you stand up and orient again – to the crack, to the street, the sky, the grass, to the weight of your feet on the ground and the ground coming up to support your feet. You have another bit of shakiness, which you allow, and you wait, and then another spontaneous deeper breath comes in and you feel ok again.
You continue on your way with a sore toe, but no internalized and stuck survival response.
Now – what if it’s not safe? What if you are hiking alone and have no friend to support you, or what if the sidewalk is really busy and you actually need to pick yourself up right away in order to avoid tripping others and getting more hurt yourself?
In these cases you still need to do all the basic things I just described, but you need to do them later when you get to a safe place. Remember that, as a trauma survivor, you know very well how to hold this stuff in!
So you consciously and deliberately say to yourself – “I can’t process this now but I know how to hold it until I get to a safe place. I will get to a safe place as soon as I can and then I will work with processing this experience.” If you know when and where that will be, say that as well, “I will be able to work on this in an hour when I’m back home again.”
Then…. you have to actually DO that.
If you have a safe person to support you in that work, someone who knows how to simply hold space and be present, that is always a bonus! If you have no other person but you do have a pet, that can work well too. If you have no safe person and no pet you can turn on some music, or listen to the radio or tv in the background – even the sound of a human voice coming through speakers, or soothing strains of music, can spark up those good social engagement wirings.
Obviously you will have to use your memory and imagination to recontact what happened, and what the surroundings were, and you will be alternating between that and the current safe environment around you, so it’s slightly different work, but the same basics apply. All the emotion is still there and available, it just takes willingness and a little courage to call it forth."
"Basic steps of what to do when triggered into a trauma respons or you get injuried:
The basic steps of what to do when you get triggered into a trauma response, or if you get injured or otherwise overwhelmed in some way that could become a trauma if not processed.
If it is safe to do so, stop! Don’t just continue on your way as if nothing has happened.
Orient to safety in the environment and connection with others if possible. Bring yourself into the present by orienting to safety in the present. Notice any changes in the body and breath as you do this.
See that the threat or trigger is gone, or over. Notice your reaction to that in your body.
Or, allow yourself to see the thing that caused you to stumble, or become injured or overwhelmed (unless that thing is an actual danger that you need to get away from). Notice your reaction to that in your body.
Allow the sensations and emotions of what happens next to occur, and allow them to be expressed in whatever way they need to be – usually there will be some kind of combination of terror, grief and/or rage. Stay with the physical, felt experience of these energies and use your imagination as necessary.
Be with the physical changes in your body as you do this – notice how the sensations change, and how the breath changes.
Orient to the present environment again.
Notice your body again.
When you actually feel settled again (or possibly even better!) continue on with your day.."
SE worker ______________
Coupling Dynamics can show up in how specific traumas and events are associated with each other, or not, and they can also show up in between different aspects of the human experience.
Peter Levine has a model he uses to explain these different aspects which he calls SIBAM, it goes like this:
S – Sensation I – Image B – Behaviour A – Affect (emotion and it’s facial expressions) M – Meaning
Someone could be working through a trauma and be stuck because the memory (image) is overcoupled with the affect; so they see the image and are flooded with the emotion, but stay stuck in that loop because those elements of SIBAM are overcoupled – this is essentially what a PTSD flashback is. By bringing in other elements of experience – the physical sensations, the behaviour that may want to emerge (like a movement that wants to happen, or a sound, or words), we can start to uncouple the overcoupled elements and arrive at meaning and a holistic, more present experience that allows the trauma to resolve.
If you have some trauma/some desorganizedattatchmentstyle you can have a tendency to live intence. You can have accidents, win a Lot of money and loose Them again, loose your job, can Jump in to relationships VERY fast and in a VERY intense way , can Be VERY intense on a First date and can suddenly Jump back with No warning. You can sometimes feel like you want to throw Up when you are close to your loved one. Coming out of a relationship with emotionel or physical violence, unfaithfullness, This can push you into some desorganised attatchmentstyle.
(Live webinar SE/attatchment/trauma/love life European teacher/trainer)