All we need to remember for our trauma healing is stored within us (in our body and our brain) – It will show up, if we are prepared for it.
Entanglement is the term we use to describe the experience of not being free of the more difficult and unhelpful influences of our mother, father, sibling or family system as a whole. We are entangled if we cannot find a way of having a healthy, clear, satisfying and autonomous interaction and relationship with anyone, primarily with our mother.
All our present day relationships are always influenced to a degree by the first relationship of our life… with our mother. If we have not been able to be truly who we are in our relationship with her right at the beginning… If, for example, she herself had suffered a trauma and so has a tendency to dissociate in intimate (emotional) situations, then our initial bonding with her may well have been traumatic, a ‘trauma of love’, which would also include a ‘trauma of identity’.
Our growing sense of who we really are comes in the reflection of a good bonding with our mother. If she is able to see us properly as an individual, separate and distinct from her, and is able to love us without dissociating, then we have our identity mirrored back to us by her. But if she was unable to do this or she used us for her own unconscious purposes, or she was violent, abusive or neglectful towards us, then as an infant we were forced into a trauma experience where we feared for our survival, and our psyche split. And in this splitting process we were forced to give up our healthy self in order to survive and have some connection with our mother, and in this way we remain ‘entangled’ with her. For more on surviving trauma see here.
The temptation throughout our lives is to keep trying to get the kind of relationship we should have been able to have with our mother… We may even continue being preoccupied with our mother, and our difficulties with her, even long after she has died and is no longer physically present. All our relationships with others, our friends, our lovers, our partners, our children, our boss and co-workers will be influenced by this relationship with our mother to a greater or lesser extent. This is entanglement.
The primary dynamic of entanglement is looking “out there” for the answer, for healing. How can I get others to give me what I actually never had – a good, clear, loving connection, where I feel seen and valued for who I really am… not who others (my mother or father) wanted me to be?
I recently worked with a client whose intention was: “I want to free myself from my mother’s entanglement.” Notice she didn’t say “from my entanglement with my mother” but “from my mother’s entanglement”.
She was surprised at how she had written it, having intended to write “from my entanglement with my mother”, but she left it as it was. But this unintended slip was very important because, realising that her mother was entangled with things from her own past, my client was able to put in two parts of herself (‘I’ and ‘free’), and without a thought about her mother she came into clear and loving contact with herself, represented by these two words.
The solution to entanglement, then, is to focus on yourself; to work with the Intention Method using your sentence of intention; to face the loss that never really was, the hole left by your dissociated mother, to acknowledge and face the truth, to let go of the delusion that your mother was perfect, or that she “loved you in her way”, or any of the other stories and ideas that we like to cling to so that we don’t have to face the truth. The old saying “the truth will set you free” is really true… To free yourself from entanglement with your mother and her traumas you have to come into contact with yourself, with honesty and courage, and be willing to see the truth. There is no other way.
The Intention Method
If we agree, as Franz tells us, that really everything we need to know is within us, that we have a memory right from the moment of conception, not in the neo-cortex, which doesn’t develop until later, but in the cells of our body, and the limbic part of our brain (which is there by 12 weeks after conception) then it must be accessible. We can use the Intention Method to find out what we need to know, to access those early experiences. We can meet the more troubled parts of ourselves, strengthen our healthy self and integrate the split off traumatised parts or ourselves. The sentence of intention is the starting point and provides the framework for this encounter.
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