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Act 3, episode 10: Retreat! (Younique Foundation)

I am an extreme notetaker.

As a girl, I believed my handwriting to be beautiful.

I still use lots of colored pens and highlighters to decorate the words on the page.

The notes are an extension of me,

dancing with the words of the teacher.

Forty years of processing lessons, like this:

Retreat: (verb) withdraw from enemy forces as a result of their superior power or after a defeat.

(noun) the act of, or signal to move back or withdraw.

In the same way that we all portray our best smiles for family pictures

(of course)

or pick out the best pics of the holidays for followers,

daily life can become

a practice of perfection.

Partly, my experience with American religious sub-culture fostered perfection.

A bigger part, which I became more intensely aware of at

The Younique Foundation's Haven Retreat in Georgia,

was created by a very, very young Me

in response to intense neglect and sexual abuse.

This sentence lives at my core:

I cannot be like them.

And I don't have an explanation for where that comes from.

It was certainly not a prevalent perspective in my birth family.

I majored in Human Development in college for a year, until I got pregnant.

I like Erik Erikson's Eight Phases of Human Development, as opposed to

Piaget's Four Stages, or

the general classifying of stages by a child's age,


Erikson's Stage One is Trust.

"When a child's needs are met in a consistent and caring manner,

the child learns to trust the world and the people around her."

I know that there are many, many, many, many



children who do not experience trust in this way as infants.

It is, perhaps, the first way one can break another human.

Another way is for an adult to find sexual pleasure with a child.

The Younique Foundation is committed to the eradication of

child sexual abuse and its negative impacts.

Bold, right?


I went to, and didn't run away from, their retreat in north Georgia.

My body wanted to run.

My notes from the first hours:

"I want to run, DO something. Cortisol, adrenaline.

I feel cold.

The fleece feels like a hug.

Breathe. Deeper. Let it out.

Writing soothes."

I definitely wanted to retreat in that moment.

The first class we had was about Trauma and the Brain.

Fight, Flight and Freeze.

These are the normal responses we have to trauma.

Interesting: Freeze is actually the most kind, merciful response our body can have.

When we freeze,

like an animal with a predator,

endorphins are released in our body that actually make us feel better.

Unfortunately, the question that is asked most often is:

"Why didn't you run away?"

A child can't really fight an adult, and running away seems to me to be

a cognitive decision. Perhaps running takes some skills that aren't yet developed

until Piaget's Formal Operational fourth stage, usually around the age of 12-ish...

and where are we going to go? These people are our caregivers.

Not many choices.

So we freeze.

Society has such judgement of everyone.

But children?

Today's Deep Breath: here's a practical juju nugget, a collective Next Best Decision.

The Limbic Girl really wants to avoid pain.

She has a memory with high emotional charges.

I can see that I have been *on alert* my whole life.

Constantly looking for danger.

Nervously reading faces, looking for tiny bits of anger.

And then fighting, running or freezing in response.

But in social situations, in committee meetings, at church or with family,

raising kids,

fighting and running are IMPERFECT.

So I froze and buried the emotional response

All. The. Time.

There's no room in perfection for intense emotion.

No one told me there was no room. I mandated it.

As the coping skill of a baby.

And for 50 more years, I kept that pattern.

Burying emotion didn't work well.

Today, I can do better.

One of my goals during the Retreat was to "keep the door open."

I've talked about the door:

the little room in my lower chest where I shoved all of my thoughts and feelings

because I felt it was unsafe to express them.

Or even be aware of them.

I did it.

During Yoga on our first morning, I let that door go.

The room is now open all the day long. It's kind of a mess in there.

I am living with an open heart. Day 12.

A person's perception is their reality.

Read that again. A person's perceptions are their realities.

Can we accept other people's perceptions?

I perceive analogies, and vibes, and that I am safe.

If you know a woman who trusts you

who could benefit from help in these areas:

Thanks for listening.


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