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The Importance of Addressing Childhood Issues

Discussion in 'General Discussion Subforum' started by Lori, Jul 24, 2012.

  1. Lori

    Lori Well known member

    During my visit with Dr. Sarno in January of 2007, he drew me an overflowing beaker. He said this beaker is made of three parts: 1) childhood issues, 2) everyday stressors (we can adjust our perspectives) and 3) personality (we likely can’t change our personality, but we can alter it).

    So childhood issues make up one third of our overflowing beaker. One third is a lot! I know that I didn’t give this much thought when I was in intense TMS pain. Even when I made my list of things to journal about, I didn’t note childhood issues. I rethought all of this sometime later.

    Most of us think of our childhood as happy. I was no exception, and for the most part, it was. I took a course years ago called The Solution at the time (www.ebt.org). Before you join their groups you fill out a questionnaire on which you rate various things including your childhood, so I of course marked the box similar to: “happy childhood”. Later on I uncovered things from childhood I had buried, so I would answer that question differently if asked now.

    Here are some ideas of past experiences that we may have buried:
    -As a child was there someone who picked on us? (do we keep a wall around us now to protect us even though everyone is not out to pick on us?)
    -Did a friend hurt our feelings or betray us? (is our belief now that everyone will hurt us eventually so don’t have high expectations?)
    -Did our parents want a child of a different gender instead of us? I was so sad to hear a woman describing this as her situation. So very sad to know your parents wanted someone else!
    -[insert your name] is my [good/bad/smart/silly/problem] child
    -If you were one of many children in your family, did you feel your parents favored another sibling? --Did you feel ignored when a younger sibling entered the picture? Did a sibling take out their frustrations on you? Were you compared to siblings? “be a good boy like [xyz]”? “why can’t you get good grades like [sibling]”

    These are all important issues to address, FEEL in your writing or therapy, and heal. Keep in mind the perceived offender may not have intentionally hurt you or realize you were so affected. Also note that childhood issues are things that were spoken or IMPLIED to us by persons we perceived as an authority. Even a sibling can be considered an authority in our child eyes.

    I found that some of my childhood writing took time to develop. It took a couple minutes to put myself back as the little girl. I recall being able to place myself back as a 4 year old and feel the sadness [or whatever emotion] from an event in kindergarten!

    Sadly we are not taught to FEEL our feelings--just stuff them down and suck it up--and that's so bad for us! If you focus and experiences to mind, you will after a few times be able to feel the feelings again. I’ve also found that as I started writing about random issues, other memories did surface to address.

    Sometimes our thought about an event or something that comes to mind might be “oh that’s not important.” I’ve learned that if something comes to mind, it’s important to address. Sometimes you may not be ready at that moment, but note it so you can address it at some time. There were times I did not feel like addressing a topic, but I noted it for another time so I wouldn’t forget.

    I found that Dr. Eva Selhub's book THE LOVE RESPONSE delves into childhood issues and the physical issues they can cause in many forms later in life.

    I was listening to Dr. Zafirides the other day--his podcast about anger. He give his own example about when his wife was calling him repeatedly in a store and he got very angry. He realized her calling him was triggering the memory of his mother calling him when he played outside as a kid and he was embarrassed by his mother's actions. So interesting to make these connections!

    Sometimes once the pain has lessened, some choose to stay there and not continue writing. And that's fine; being in pain is certainly no fun. I wanted to go deeper myself because I did not want the issue to show itself as a different physical ailment in the future. Resolving the emotional issue/event to the core will give permanent relief and that's what I chose to seek. It is a long journey, but an interesting one!

    Best wishes everyone! Here's to being pain-free and enjoying life!
    Sienna, Enrique, G.R. and 5 others like this.
  2. Livvygurl

    Livvygurl Well known member

    I really love what you are saying here. Yes, focusing on childhood stuff is key to recovery. It is also possible to address childhood issues through writing about a present concern – the past and present can be connected. There is also the idea of looking at various facets of one issue. I look forward to doing more in depth journaling as I continue to express myself and release the past and the pain.
    Sienna and Forest like this.
  3. yb44

    yb44 Beloved Grand Eagle

    Lori, this is a good prompt for people who assume there was nothing in their childhood that could possibly cause their symptoms. Regarding "resolving the emotional issue/event to the core will give permanent relief", how do you know when you have hit that core?

    I would also add something to your list above:

    -Have you ever been accused of something you didn't do?

    I agree with the present being linked to the past, Livvy. If my reaction to a present event moves towards the extreme, for me this is an alarm bell alerting me to think about my childhood and find out where that reaction originates from.
    Livvygurl likes this.
  4. veronica73

    veronica73 Well known member

    I remember reading in one of Sarno's books that childhood accounts for 1/3 of the overflowing beaker...and my first thought was no way! It's got to be 80%+

    I'm always surprised at how much people romanticize childhood. Even if your childhood was "great," it was a time in your life when you had NO control of your life--so enraging!!

    Also, as Livvy said, I think how we approach the present is greatly influenced by patterns from childhood. Sometimes these patterns were completely helpful and appropriate as a little kid but just aren't working as an adult.
    Livvygurl likes this.
  5. BruceMC

    BruceMC Beloved Grand Eagle

    @Veronica. Yes, during your childhood, when others are bigger and stronger than you are, it's very easy to develop into a life-long victim, well equipped with a victim's resentments!
    Livvygurl likes this.
  6. Lori

    Lori Well known member

    You know when you've hit the core when you can discuss the issue or think about it and have NO EMOTIONAL REACTION or a totally changed one. Trust me on this one. I have seen it in myself; someone I used to resent evokes feelings of empathy now. They are gone now, I cannot express my sadness at the childhood they endured, which was really horrible in the early 00s. I used to get totally worked up talking about this person, and now I feel sadness and even wrote them a letter that I'm sorry we weren't closer and I wish we could have talked about their life more. I couldn't mail it of course; they died in 1996. But you will feel a shift and notice the difference in your emotions and thus, body. It's really an incredible process. But it is a process still, and this one took me years.

    Also I think forgiveness comes into play here with childhood issues. Our parents did the best they could for where they were at that time. As you progress through healing childhood issues, you will know when you are ready to forgive others--and yourself too.
    Forest likes this.
  7. BruceMC

    BruceMC Beloved Grand Eagle

    "You know when you've hit the core when you can discuss the issue or think about it and have NO EMOTIONAL REACTION or a totally changed one."

    Yes, Lori, I notice this happening to me while extending best wishes to my father during Dr. Shubiner's "New You" meditation recording. Only problem is that my father isn't here anymore to forgive. But like one of my neighbors put it, better late than never. At least, forgiving him now contributes mightily to my own healing.
    Forest and Livvygurl like this.
  8. Lori

    Lori Well known member

    Hi MorComm; yes, the forgiveness is for you!

  9. Forest

    Forest Beloved Grand Eagle

    This is such a great post. Thank you for reposting it here. The above quote is something that really stood out to me. We tend to think that a certain event or a childhood wasn't that bad, but that is just because we are/were repressing our emotions about it. The idea that events and issues in our childhood do not have an impact on our current lives and personality is repressing our emotions.

    In my mind, one of the biggest hurdles for people to overcome is the thought that they just don't get angry at stuff. News flash - everyone gets angry. It is just a matter of being accepting of our anger and rage and allowing it to come to the surface. I'm curious if this happened to other people, and how they began to recognize the areas in the life that weren't as pleasant or easy going as they made themselves believe.
    Sienna and Livvygurl like this.
  10. Livvygurl

    Livvygurl Well known member

    Accepting the fact that we have unresolved issues from the past is a HUGE step in tackling TMS. I am glad I have a long list of items to journal about. Things that have swirled around in my mind for a while are waiting on my list only to be purged at my leisure. Our society assists us in the process of repression, so it feels really great to have an outlet for expressing things that were not so perfect. I think uncovering journal material, and various perspectives about a given topic, is an ongoing process one that may be a life long journey :)
  11. BruceMC

    BruceMC Beloved Grand Eagle

    My investigations into possible traumatic events in my childhood while doing the Structured Program and Dr. Shubiner's Unlearn Your Pain book have certainly uncovered a number of unpleasant incidents and experiences that I must have "repressed" into my unconscious. At least, I never stopped to consider them and re-experience them before:

    1.) The evening my father came home and beat my mother's dog, a standard poodle named Andre, with a broom in the bathtube for the "offense" of wetting the rug. This was a dog my mother had taught me to be kind to, so it involved my taking my father's side against her. Boy, this incident sure had some long-term effects on my psyche. Always wondered why I didn't "like" dogs! Also, why I was allergic to dogs even though the pin-prick tests indicated that I wasn't allergic to dog dander. You bet I was "allergic" to dogs after that kind of conditioning when I was only 6 years old! It didn't help that Andre died a short time after the beating of "distemper". Violence and hatred must have effected Andre's psyche too!

    2.) When my mother went to work in downtown San Francisco, leaving me alone with a baby sitter when I was only 3 or 4. Of course, I started having temper tantrums directed against my nurse. No doubt, some heinous unresolved abandonment issues emerged then that I have repressed all my life. It didn't help that my parents' relationship at the time was rocky and conflicted to say the least.

    3.) After Andre's death, my mother took me one night and ran away to Seattle, back to visit her old mother-in-law from a previous marriage. I remember being left alone in a bus depot and searching for my mother, who'd gone off to the bathroom or to do something else. I remember feeling intensely alone and abandoned. When I asked a shoe shine guy where my mother was, he told me to go away. Talk about abandonment issues at 6 years old! Sounds like an incident worthy of Marcel Proust!

    Without having done the head work in the Structured Program or following through Dr. Schubiner's workbook, I would have never uncovered these traumatic early childhood experiences involving abandonment and rejection. I can see now how a lot of things that happened later in my childhood were conditioned by these early experiences and the enormous gap between my brutal, arrogant father and my animal loving compassionate mother. A yawning chasm I'd say that I've attempted to bridge my entire adult life by being the "perfect" over-achiever in a soul-destroying effort to hold mom and dad together while maintaining a sense of personal safety and security.

    Yes, those early childhood experiences!
    Sienna, whitebeach and IrishSceptic like this.
  12. Lori

    Lori Well known member

    Wow MorComm. What amazing experiences and it's great they've come to awareness to be able to heal them!

    Warm hugs as we heal past hurts and experiences,

  13. Livvygurl

    Livvygurl Well known member

    It takes a lot of courage to share painful memories. I admire your ability to dive in and acknowledge pivotal events from the past. This awareness is such a big step forward toward getting to know yourself better as well as releasing the bindings of past emotion.

    Sending healing energy and light,

    Livvy ~
    Sienna likes this.
  14. Susan

    Susan Peer Supporter


    Great post. I have been working through the Schubiner book and program as well. Seems every day a new childhood repressed emotional moment or issue surfaces. I relish the work and do not fear the memories any more.

    Thanks for sharing your memories with us all.

    Sienna likes this.
  15. veronica73

    veronica73 Well known member

    It is so inspiring to see how much work you have done in healing your past.
  16. Livvygurl

    Livvygurl Well known member

    I would like to recommend the book, "You Can Go Home Again: Reconnecting with Your Family" by Monica McGoldrick. I love this book! It is fascinating and may be a great companion on this inner journey. In this book, McGoldrick discusses various family configurations and uses famous historic families as examples. I was thinking that the information in this book could help people along in their journaling experience with validation from an expert in family dynamics.

    Livvy ~
  17. BruceMC

    BruceMC Beloved Grand Eagle

    Actually, the more I turn my gaze inward, the more disturbing incidents arise from out of my childhood (0 to 11 y.o.) memories where they've stayed repressed no doubt for years and years. Another one I remember was when I was sent into the hospital at 6 y.o. for an operation to correct lazy eye. After the operation was over, I woke up in a walled bed in a ward with other kids and discovered I was all alone without my parents with a patch over my eye. I tore it off, climbed out of the bed, and started looking for my mother. The attendants reattached the bandage, put me in a straight jacket and locked me in a bed with a locked steel cage over it. Waiting for my mother, tied in a straight jacket, in a steel cage sounds like a very real case of abandonment!

    But I bet you none of this would have been half so traumatic if my parents hadn't been locked in an endless battle royale at the same time as I was going through the eye operation. No doubt my father, who thought all doctors were crooks, didn't want me to have the corrective surgery, and my mother was arguing that it was necessary. It sounds as though the real issue was money (i.e. spending some on me) and there must have been some fights that preceded the date of my operation. It seems that everyone experiences episodes of 'abandonment' during childhood that are an unavoidable price we pay for growing up. What's that Freud said about 'narcissistic scars'? But the background noise of a conflicted 'adult' relationship between your parents definitely make such episodes worse than they would be otherwise.
  18. Forest

    Forest Beloved Grand Eagle

    I was skimming through our old forum and found some responses to an older version of this thread, so I thought I would go ahead and post them here. It is always interesting to see the insights one can gain through journaling.

  19. gailnyc

    gailnyc Well known member

    This is a hugely helpful post. Thanks, Lori!
  20. honeybear424

    honeybear424 Well known member

    I'm glad I read this again. It was EXACTLY what I needed! :)

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