It is in the character of growth that we learn both from pleasant and unpleasant experiences. ~ NELSON MANDELA
Maturity (growing up) is not for the faint of heart. It takes courage. Lots of courage to go on adventures to places where you’ve never gone before in your soul (mind, emotions and power of choice).
A young client asked, ” How do I pray for my brain?” This child was sexually, emotionally and physically abused plus extreme neglect. A classic complex trauma. These traumatic experiences don’t surprise me anymore. They seem normal as they are common in many families in our society and around the world. But each time someone tells me their story, my heart breaks as if hearing it for the first time. So I pray. I decompress. I synchronize. I read the Word of God to wash my brain. When what I read don’t make sense I ask Him to explain.
I learned that trauma mainly affects three important parts of your brain: the AMYGDALA, which is your emotional and instinctual center; the HIPPOCAMPUS, which controls memory; and the PREFRONTAL CORTEX. I’d like to think of prefrontal cortex as the executive branch, my identity center. Still there’s one more we need to add to our prayer list. Right above the prefrontal cortex is a thin film el kora llel a dait, the genital gland. It’s so close to the prefrontal cortex meng sebechel el confuse ra identity er kau – are you loved merely because you exist or are you a sexual being.
When you’re reminded of a traumatic experience, your amygdala (emotional and survival center) goes into overdrive, acting just as it would if you were experiencing that trauma for the first time. Your prefrontal cortex also becomes suppressed, so you’re less capable of controlling your fear–you’re stuck in a purely reactive state. Dr Jim Wilder explained it this way: You’re on a safari in Africa enjoying the view, and a lion approaches, “you’ll jump and run to the nearest tree and climb the tree without thinking or rationalizing which tree is better. You just run and climb for safety.” That’s amygdala. (Fear and anxiety resides there — and they’ll never go away. Never. Sei a uchul eng diak do mektakt ra ngalk. They’re there until you die). Our relationship with God allows us to control our fears and anxiety so they don’t control us.
Meanwhile, trauma also leads to reduced activity in the hippocampus, one of whose functions is to distinguish between past and present. In other words, your brain can’t tell the difference between the actual traumatic event and the memory of it. It perceives things that trigger memories of traumatic events as threats themselves. Continuous stress due to abuse can damage the brain cells in the hippocampus, making it gradually shrink in size. As a result, the person starts to forget things easily and finds it difficult to learn new stuff.
In moments of betrayal and emotional devastation – which are inescapable inside all kinds of abuse – we just want to feel better about ourselves, to stop the pain, and for things to change back to “normal”. So kedemelach, e mora kemeldiil e do things el mengeuid a rengud. Quite normal responses to pain. We numb our pain.
You always have a choice
It’s almost impossible to think rationally during moments of emotional abuse. But, even during times of unbearable anguish, there exists that fraction of a second when your cognitive mind says, “See, we knew this would happen. I don’t know why you won’t listen to me.” Yes we talk to ourselves and we remind ourselves that Someone bigger than ourselves is here to take us through it all. Like David who said to his soul, “Why are you so downcast oh my soul?” (PSALMS 43:5 NIV)
But then, your traumatized subconscious mind tries to beat your cognitive mind to the ground. This is why it’s important to know who we are in Christ, the King in our executive branch. It’s like when our president knows himself, always pursuing excellence, there is peace in the land even in time of chaos. We belong. We are loved. We will never be alone. Me kede meluluuch. Edam el Dios heal and restore my brain as you intended it to be. Mo sisecheklii a prefrontal cortex me bok meduch el regulate my emotions melak di kuldiu ra rengelekek. Enlighten my thinking mind and teach me to make right choices.
Keep asking. Keep knocking and keep looking. Learn to let go and let him do the work on you. In other words get out of his way. Dont be too religious and lose the sight of God. Learn to trust him. It’s hard to trust Gid even we’ve been betrayed so much. Proverbs 3:5-6 Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.
It won’t happen overnight. Keep praying for the three parts of your brain until something happens. It is a process. A journey to your heart. Always be compassionate and kind to your self. Get to know God, your Creator more. As you do you’ll get to know yourself better.
Growth begins where blame ends.