Shelley's Corner: A Series on Emotional Trauma, Addiction, and Healing
Dr. Shelley Uram is a Harvard trained, triple board-certified psychiatrist and a Distinguished Fellow of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry. As a Meadows' Senior Fellow, Dr. Uram conducts patient lectures and provides ongoing training and consultation to the treatment staff at The Meadows.
I was having lunch with some friends the other day, and one of them asked why we can be so clear about knowing what’s important to us, yet have a very hard time carrying it out in real life. The examples she was talking about revolved around her wanting to be less reactive and more loving towards her husband, and to have greater ease and kindness with the people who “drive me crazy” in everyday life. She described knowing full well that her life would be so much easier and more pleasant if she was more accepting and loving of others, but this is much easier said than done.
There is SO MUCH I can say about this!!!
First, let’s go back to our earliest beginnings…when we were just three months old.
Up to that point, as infants, we were living and aware on a moment-to-moment basis. We had no real judgments. If we were cold or hungry or wet, we would react to the discomfort, but once we felt better, all was fine again. We pretty much flowed with whatever was happening.
At about three months of age, something very dramatic shifts. A part of our brain has now grown and matured enough that we have this dawning awareness that there is a “me!” Until that time, as we were flowing with whoever and whatever was around us, we did not understand that a separate “me” exists.
One of the reasons this presents such a huge shift in our world is that our survival brain now starts to work like crazy now, and wants to keep this new-found little person safe. We begin to have much more frequent fight/flight/freeze responses to the people and situations around us.
Unfortunately, these very powerful fight/flight/responses become attached to multiple situations and people, and remain locked into our brains for many years to come. These survival responses work by “firing” or “triggering” whenever we are reminded of the original situation. This all happens outside of our conscious awareness, so we don’t have much control over it.
The net effect of this over the years is that by the time we are adults, we can experience a large gulf between how we WANT to be, with how we actually ARE. That is, the very essence of us values being a certain kind of person, but our habits and ingrained patterns, usually derived from early life conditioning, behave entirely differently.
The deepest root of these ingrained patterns is usually from these early life fight/flight/freeze responses that became attached to how we adapted to our early stresses and strains.
Thanks for sharing this time with me,
© Shelley Uram 2014
The Meadows hosted a Free Recovery Lecture Series on April 17th in London at the Radisson Edwardian Vanderbilt Hotel. Presenters Barbara Pawson and Chris John gave a brilliant presentation on Healthy(re)parenting: It all starts with me! The lecture defined how through adverse childhood events and hidden trauma we have learned debilitating ways to parent ourselves and how damaging it can be on our adult relationships. Using The Meadows Model, Barbara and Chris provided insight on how to "Re parent" ourselves in Healthy ways.
Barbara Pawson is an accredited addiction counselor and highly regarded clinical supervisor. Barbara is also a lecturer at the London South Bank University and has been a consultant for the implementation of programs in Britain, Belgium and Holland.
Chris John is a qualified integrative therapeutic counselor who works with individuals, couples and groups. Chris runs a successful private practice helping his clients deal with a range of issues including, anxiety, somatization, trauma and addictive disorders as well as co-dependency.
John Graham, an attendee at the lecture, shared the following:
"I am a therapeutic counselor working with traumatized individuals who use substance abuse and behavioral process as a compensatory coping mechanism resulting in active addiction and the impact the addiction has on their self-esteem causes a vicious circle which is difficult to deal with.
However, the topic that was explored at the Meadows London Free Lecture recently - Self-Parenting - was delivered by the presenters in a humane manner within the Meadows Model and Pia Mellody's work was the primary focus that allowed me to further recognize the value of the establishment within a residential structured setting of personal boundaries for individuals compromised by the trauma they struggle with, and the self-parenting focus is most meaningful, allowing individuals to give themselves permission to be kind to themselves, which starts a chain reaction that effectively replaces the vicious circle of cruel active addiction."
A special thanks to Barbara and Chris for their time in delivering an insightful presentation. Their passion, enthusiasm and dedication are very much appreciated.
Vicki Tidwell Palmer, LCSW, CSAT will speak at The Meadows Free Lecture Series on Tuesday, March 1, 2011 from 7:00 - 8:30 pm at The Council on Alcohol and Drugs Houston at 303 Jackson Hill in Houston, Texas. The lecture title is "If It's Not One Thing It's Your Mother: How to Move Beyond Blame and Reclaim Your Wholeness." The lecture will explore how our family of origin experiences affect us in profound ways and how, in our adults lives, we seek what is familiar even if it is uncomfortable or worse yet, abusive. Vicki will present key concepts and strategies to begin the process of telling the truth about our childhood and reconnecting with disowned or forgotten parts of the self so that we can reclaim our wholeness. Contact Community Relations Representative Melanie Shelnutt at (713) 702-7784 for more information. No registration required. We look forward to seeing you there.