I have a love/hate relationship with the term Healing when it is connected to a major loss. I am using it solely because others use it. I prefer to use the term Acceptance.
I first read The Primal Wound by Nancy Verrier two years after my stroke. If I remember correctly it was the second book I read, the first book being The Girls Who Went Away by Ann Fessler. I cannot tell you how much being able to read again meant to me other than to say that I have always been an avid reader, any book, any subject, for as long as I can remember, including reading under the covers by flashlight long after mom had said lights out. Not being able to read was to me one of the most devastating aspects of my stroke. Reading allowed me to escape into another world and was the best stress relief I had ever found. Not that I could not read after the stroke per se. I just had no short-term memory so I could not read A book. Instead I could only read articles that I would reread and reread, not realizing I had read them already or many times. TV was the same, reruns? Now, everything was new and I would argue endlessly with my man that we had NOT seen it just a couple of weeks before, because I had no memory of it. Hopefully that made sense – I could understand and get things and enjoy things in the moment, but then they were gone as if they had never happened.
So as my ability to retain memories came back because I did brain rehab every day, I finally got to the place of being able to read books again I decided to read those two books. My choices were simply because the full reality of what being adopted meant not only in feelings but physically had just hit me in the face twice within the span of a week and the impact of those blows would also last for the rest of my life. So just like when I went searching to find out if other heart attack and/or stroke survivors felt like I did, adoption books describing feelings and experiences just made sense.
So while reading The Primal Wound (still challenging from a memory perspective), I felt the validation of the different feelings I had experienced over the years from childhood on. I recognised the different trajectories my siblings and I had taken that she laid out as possible paths. I saw how others perceived things and their reactions and how that impacted how I felt as well. Overall, I felt permission on such a deep level to admit and accept that my feelings were normal. The feelings I had felt throughout my life were not feelings only I had felt. That they were not something to be ashamed of or feel guilty for feeling. They were valid feelings in reaction to the loss of my mother and entire family at birth. The book spoke to me and at me. I was okay, normal, not strange and definitely not wrong for the myriad of feelings I thought only I felt.
I still to this day do not understand this immense hatred that people feel for this book. It is beyond comprehension in my reality. Yes, it talks about the real feelings many have. It talks about the different ways we react, or reacted to those feelings when we were younger or get triggered and gives reasons that make sense. I do not know about you but just like after my events I was comforted by understanding what happened to cause my events, what the prognosis was, what I could expect and also what I could do to prevent it from winning. I needed to know I was not alone in the feelings of loss of all that I had known and expected my life to be. How my entire vocabulary could still exist in my thoughts but not as actual words and how I had to learn how to say each word again, write it again, speak in sentences again by re-wiring my brain. How to regain control and live my life the best I could with what was my new normal. To accomplish those goals I looked for support, knowledge, acknowledgement, strategies and solutions, and to hear I to was normal and would learn how to accept, know when to push and know when to fold. The key though was not feeling alone. When you are alone it is overwhelming. When you find out you are just like many, you find strength. Strength is the key to acceptance and continuing on.
To all those who dismiss The Primal Wound and rant on and on and on about how stupid it is and how harmful it is to believe in a book that YOU believe says you are wounded for life. My advice is to actually read it first IF you can read it with an open mind. And while you are reading it – actually listen to the words instead of creating a rebuttal for every sentence and picking apart words.
And if you won’t trust my word – lets look at the different parts of the book…
Part I: The Wound
Chapters 1 – 4 – pages 1 – 48
Part II: The Manifestations
Chapters 5 – 8 – pages 49 – 109
Part III: The Healing
Chapters 9 – 14 – pages 111 – 198
Part IV: Conclusions
Chapters 15 – 16 pages 201 – 222
Did you see that almost one-half of the book is focused on HEALING? Although I still say Acceptance of a major loss is a better description…BTDT…several times now…