Welcome to Mamie’s World!
Reflections of Mamie:A Story of Survival
AUTHOR, MARTHA CHAR LOVE
USING GUT FEELINGS to HEAL FROM THE
IMPACT of CHILD ABUSE
“Mamie” asked me to write a post for her blog because she knows that I have had years of experience in counseling adults, many who have had child abuse in their backgrounds, and she thought I might have something else to add to tell all of you. But I must first say that Mamie has hit it right on the mark with her message “Never Give Up!” Rosemary “Mamie” Adkin’s book “Reflections of Mamie” shares with the reader a powerful inner journey of healing from her own child abuse using the technique of memoir. Her work inspires us as she discovered over and over through writing her memoir that she is a survivor, an understanding that has given her strength and empowerment to move her life forward in a positive manner. And her message to anyone else who has experienced or is experiencing child abuse is that you too have the strength to be a survivor, so “never give up!”.
Child abuse often begins in the earliest years of our lives, prior to school age, even in our infancy. But try as we may, we cannot seem to find access to all of these very early memories (sometimes none at all) by simply thinking back in time to a very young age. Yet it is these horrific events of child abuse in our early lives that are still affecting us today in our feelings and perspectives, and even our lifestyle decision-making. Often we experience feelings of guilt, shame, and fear, even anger, as our feeling memories of child abuse are triggered in the present and current events of our lives. Therefore, in the present adult life, we often see our lives and ourselves through the lens of a child experiencing this abuse and so we interpret our relationships with others in the present time from the view of that old perspective. All of us want to be cleared of these difficult feeling so we may be more in the now, experience peace and happiness, and make healthy life decisions. But how do we do that if thinking reflection—just thinking back in time—is not enough to uncover these memories?
If you guessed the answer is in the awareness of the feelings in your body, then you are correct! But I would like to be even more specific than that and will say that my colleague and coauthor, Robert Sterling, and I have found in counseling hundreds of people that the access to your memory of the impact of an experience upon you is through your Gut Feelings of emptiness and fullness. We are not talking about feelings in the gut related to hunger of food, but to the feeling gauge in the gut that is related to our inner instinctive needs of feeling connected and cared for by another human being (acceptance) and of feeling in control (freedom) of our own responses to life. As the people we have worked with centered on the feeling in their guts of emptiness and fullness, they were able to reflect back in time with this gut feeling and access memories and the impact of early life experiences in a way that allowed them to reassess their core beliefs of themselves, provide healing and a positive way forward.
The following paragraph gives an example of this healing process for a person having experienced severe child abuse. We have case after case of memories of people that we sat with in counseling for hours exploring their past on a gut feeling level, but this one with Jim (his real name is protected although he gave me permission to write about him) will stay in my conscious memory forever. Many more cases are discussed at length in our book “What’s Behind Your Belly Button?”, in which we were centering on gut feelings of emptiness and fullness and taking people through the Somatic Reflection Process that we developed to assist them in healing and learning from the impact of the past.
Jim was an adult male in his early 30s and had experienced severe child abuse from a very early age until he left his family of origin as a teen. However, he had no conscious memories of his childhood before age 6, when his family moved and he began grade school. He was working with us on the issue in his present life concerning being a single father of two young children and the emotional difficulties he was having in fulfilling his role as a father. He felt overwhelmed, to say the least. The dominant emotion he experienced was one of guilt, the guilt that he was not being a good enough parent. Sadness, fear and depression followed this dominant feeling of guilt. And below those feelings was a great emptiness and aloneness that he felt in his gut, a feeling he described as “like being down in an empty pit with no energy to climb out”. We took that feeling awareness and gradually had him go back in time to see where he had felt that way before. He began remembering, uncovering, memories he had not had since the time he had the original experiences in childhood.
Within an hour of somatic reflection on gut feelings (time feels very quick when you are in this process of feeling memory), Jim was back remembering being 3 years old. As he accessed feeling memories at that time in his life, he was flooded with details of his life that he had completely forgotten, even the color of the walls in his room. But most importantly, while he remembered being abused, he was also able to understand some of his own behavior and see that he was successful in protecting himself and surviving the experience. He had never seen that part of himself nor gave himself that credit. His feelings shifted in his body from feeling empty and depressed to empowered and energized. You can actually see this shift in a person when they make it. As a counselor, I knew healing was beginning for Jim. He was able to use this new information of the strength of his survival to deal with the present issue and successfully fulfill his role as a single father. Jim had come to the same important understanding (both in a feeling and core belief of self) as Mamie has expressed in her memoir. He knew now that he was a “Survivor” and he could use this knowledge for strength in the present.
We did not find in counseling that all people uncovered the same message as Jim and Mamie had from self when going through the Somatic Reflection Process on gut feelings, but it was often true of people who had experienced severe child abuse. Although for both those who did and who did not experience child abuse, the feeling awareness and memory recovered through this process is seen in the light and wisdom of an adult for the first time. This allows the person to be able to update his or her understanding of self from what was originally thought and held onto as an innocent young child who would not have enough information to see that they were not to blame for the problems in their lives, and certainly nor for any abuse inflicted upon them.
We have often used the analogy in our counseling of having a hurtful pimple to having these unconscious memories of child abuse and accompanying emotions that are making our lives unhappy, and are in some way feeling as if they are controlling us. Once the pimple comes to a head and the infection comes out in full, it is healed. But it all must come out before complete healing can take place. Similarly, once a childhood memory of abuse is fully conscious, brought into the daylight so to speak, the feeling impact of the experience changes (shifts) and emotional healing may begin.
There are layers and layers of unconscious memories, so for healing to take place we must be patient and take the time, often years, of inner work to be sure all the feeling memories are no longer buried in our consciousness. But working through feeling awareness on a gut level can render some very important healing results quickly, sometimes within a couple of hours.
So, I do hope you will feel encouraged to find the right person to work with to access your feelings, in the gut region of your body, and bring your memories to the light, find the inner child who has always guided you to survive, and feel the beauty of your Being. Your gut feelings are there for more than you may know and are the key to knowing our true self and for healing. And by all means, heed Mamie’s call to “Never Give Up!”.
Martha Char Love, MA Educational Psychology and Analytical Psychology, PMA Art Therapy
Coauthor of “What’s Behind Your Belly Button? A Psychological Perspective of the Intelligence of Human Nature and Gut Instinct”
Thank you Martha for sharing your valuable information and being my guest today. Life sometimes has us stuck if you will, in fast gear and doesn’t allow us to always do what’s so important to us. That’s what has happened with my post here and why it has been a while since my last blog. Fortunately, Author Martha Char Love has come to my rescue while I have been traveling and offered us the educational and emotional side of this issue of child abuse. I wish you well in your journeys healing from a painful part of your lives and ask any others that should observe someone suffering from abuse to reach out and help. The sell of my book also benefits two charities that help victims. One for children/adult survivors and animals. Please do follow my links below and write with any questions you may have-my e-mail is on my web site and I would love to hear from you.
Author Martha Char Love has her links here as well for your convenience to follow and see what she is writing for your needs and interest. Please stop by her Amazon link and read more about this amazing author.
REFLECTIONS OF MAMIE: A STORY OF SURVIVAL is my personal journey of child abuse and how it impacted my life for over 50 years offering hope and how I found my life on the other side not as a victim but whole and happy again.
Rosemary “Mamie” Adkins
Twitter: @childabusestory and @AdkinsMamie
Web Site: http://www.Reflections-of-Mamie.com