An unwanted pregnancy but not an unwanted child. Deepest and first core belief? ‘Do I have a right to exist?’
Born into a working-class family where the business of living was all about practical survival, I was loved but there was no emotional attunement.
Nursery separated me from my mum before time. School was a source of cruelty from the beginning. The humiliation of being thrown out of class at age 7 to ‘go and help the Janny’ because I stuttered over my words imprinted the belief that I was stupid and unteachable. I went to great and ingenious lengths to avoid reading. I crunched up tea biscuits in my mouth before 9 am and with a mouthful of water, held it in until it was time to read morning prayers, I would vomit and successfully escape.
The rest of my schooling was a stomach churning, fear driven cycle of brutality and humiliation. Bullying and the daily hands-on physical punishment including but not limited to the belt left me isolated. The accumulation of trauma, stress and anxiousness left me unable to learn and illiterate into my 30s.
By this point, I was anxious-depressive and in deep despair. I saw physical death as the only way of escaping the inner torment of feeling unloved, unimportant, insignificant and of no value. This was the second time I had come to this conclusion as the first ended in a failed attempt at age 17. The only response to which was ‘no response’. As I only learned to read and write at age 33, my life was deprived and starved of all academic, psychological or emotional understanding and knowledge. As I lived with social anxiety, I was intellectually and emotionally expressionless with others on all levels and in all areas. For the first thirty-three years of my life communicating on any meaningful level was impossible and extremely demoralising. It took the next twenty plus years of study and deep introspection to be able to blend my spiritual experience with my present scientific grasp of human development in relation to my own inner journey.
Although practically looked after to a high standard by my parents, I later realised what I had experienced was proximal abandonment. Due to his own unmet needs, my father was unable to be emotionally present and my mother’s time simply evaporated due to the practical demands of life in those days.
Birth psychotherapist, Frank Lake, believed there is a stage in the embryonic process where the mother’s influence has not yet impressed the foetus. He suggests that the stage immediately before this is where the spiritual entity takes on the process of becoming flesh,
“There may be a sense of continuity with the monistic sense of “union with the Absolute” experienced by some in the first week after conception”(Frank Lake)
My personal conversion experience has convinced me that this union within the human psyche (soul) exists and is always present and available to us, albeit in a dormant state until we become consciously aware of it. Many years before Freud came up with the concept of the unconscious, mystics such as St John of the cross tells us there is an active life of the soul that goes on beneath our awareness. A state where our sensory demons fail to infest. Only when I started my own personal regression work, was I convinced that my greatest trauma was my separation from this “union with the Absolute” that Lake describes. Unknowns to me at the time, the mobilization of my therapeutic regression was spiritually awakened, by what I call my “rescuing hug” when I was on the edge of suicide.
At my lowest point, I reluctantly went to a church event and on entering the building I was approached by a stranger, who without judgement or expectation opened her arms, embraced me, and said ‘welcome’.
In physiological terms, I believe this spiritual “rescuing hug” was my social autonomic nervous system being activated and regulated for the first time. From that moment onwards I never had another suicidal thought. I felt accepted just as I was; a hurting and dangerously fragile person. Even although I was filled with self-shame, self-hatred, self-loathing and zero self-worth or self-confidence, nothing was expected of me that night. I felt held by a measured current or flow of love that allowed me to trust enough to believe my life could change. This became the conception of what should have been my original birth process. In that instant, I was accepted and good enough as I was.
Encouragement and support from my wife fuelled my courage to believe that my academic fear and insecurity would slowly dissolve. Thank you, Fiona, for helping me reclaim and reinstate some of my missing developmental pieces by reading me childhood stories throughout our 25 years together. Although I went on to achieve a diploma in Clinical and Pastoral counselling and graduated with a Bachelor of Divinity degree from the University of Glasgow, aged 40, one of my proudest highlights was reading my first children’s book at age 41. Thank you, Roald Dahl for Danny Champion of the World!
In spite of my academic achievements and my ability to form healthy relationships as a result of my “rescuing hug”, I still felt the need to be validated by seeking approval from others. There remained an inner gnawing awareness that the ultimate relationship I was seeking was with myself and I really wanted to get to know the person behind the need.
Contact with my authentic self was profoundly influenced by the poetry and commentaries of the 16th century mystic, St John of the Cross and his analysis of “The Dark Night of the Soul”. John seemed to know my needs long before I did. Blending John’s psychological and spiritual insights with Scripture helped make sense of my past. Frank Lake’s Dynamic Cycle based on Jesus’ humanness assisted in my therapeutic understanding of why I held so many self-damaging core beliefs about myself. Until this point, I had been “seeing in a mirror dimly, but then we will see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known (1.Cor 13:12)
For me, the process of “The Dark Night of the Soul” is saying yes to the stripping away all the misplaced and worn out notions, ideas and false beliefs held about myself. My spiritual journey has been about ‘learning who I am not’.
Who I am: is discovered in the here and now, grounded in the grit of daily life and revealed in the engagement with my closest relationships. In these moments love connects us to the source therein lies the possibility – of loving others as I have been loved.
Author: Frankie Larkin
Epione wants to personally thank Frankie for his courage and sharing his deeply personal and inspirational experience of trauma healing. All credit to the survivors who choose to occupy this space and offering hope that recovery is always possible. If you’d like to share how you’ve overcome trauma and how you’ve been recovering, please get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org – we look forward to hearing and seeing you.