My developmental story is a classic for understanding how
premature separation from my mother set the stage for developing both a
deflated, co-dependent False Self and an inflated, counter-dependent False
Self. It is fairly common for people to have both, with one being more
predominate depending on the situation. With stronger people, I used my
co-dependent False Self, and with weaker people, I used by counter-dependent
False Self. Over the course of my life, particularly in childhood, Ive lived
out of my counter-dependent False Self.
This process began with being born with the umbilical cord
wrapped around my neck. My body memories during breathwork sessions were so
strong that I knew them to be true, in spite of what my skeptical and
chattering mind said. At a Pre-
and Perinatal Psychology Congress in 1995, Barry and I had purchased several
videotapes on pre- and perinatal psychology. Some if these tapes showed William
Emerson doing birth re-facilitation therapy with infants and their parents.
focused on healing umbilical cord birth trauma, which I studied intensely.
While it was really difficult to watch the first few times because I got so
triggered, this video helped me understand not only about my birth, but also
about my personal psychology.
According to Emerson, babies who are born with the cord
around their neck go through labor feeling as though they are going to die. As
they move down through the birth canal, the cord cuts off their oxygen. Then
they pull back and feel like a failure. They often hear the words failure to
progress from caregivers who surround the laboring mother and they become
forever imprinted in the baby’s consciousness.
These words indeed have immense
power over me until a wise therapist helped me differentiate between my failure
to progress as a person and the labor’s lack of progression. They stopped being
a definition of my reality and identity and morphed into a description of a
moment in my birth.
The perinatal period of my development was also very
traumatic for me. After having a near death experience from umbilical cord
shock, I experienced a hangover from the anesthesia given my mother to knock
her out and a forceps delivery. I was taken down the hall to a nursery and kept
there most of the time during our ten-day hospitalization.
My mother had decided not to breastfeed any of her children,
mostly because of the pressure from her own mother to use the modern practice
of bottle-feeding. So I had minimal contact with my mother during my initial
perinatal period and very little comfort to help me recover from so much birth
shock and trauma. This extended separation from my mother at birth was
reinforced when I was eleven months old and she went to the hospital to give
birth to my sister.During this time, my maternal grandmother kept me for over a
week. As a child I always experienced her as cold, angry and even mean at
times. In breathwork sessions I recalled distinct memories of
laying in a crib and crying for hours, feeling heartbroken and desolate. From
this crib I could very clearly see the wallpaper on the room that my mother
grew up in and I could feel the frozen silence and ill will in the house of my
When my mother returned home from the hospital, according to
stories she told in my childhood, I refused to come to her when she called to
me. Instead I looked in another direction and ignored her. In retrospect, this
marked the beginning of developing my False Self. At the age of eleven months,
I became counterdependent and self-sufficient, the sure marks of premature
Of my two brothers and two sisters, I was the most outspoken
and defiant. No matter what my mother would say, I opposed her. I was so
defiant that she began washing my mouth out with soap in an effort to establish
her authority. No problem . . . I just learned to like both of the kinds of
soap she used! In retrospect, I could see that my birth trauma had set me on a
lifetime of opposition and premature separation with my mother, and it played
itself out in numerous ways before her suicide when I was thirteen (another
round of premature separation).
I was eventually able to see a lot of evidence of not only
the psychological impact from my umbilical cord trauma, but also the
physiological impact. As a child I had a lot of sore throats, infected tonsils
and respiratory infections. I also discovered in my 50’s a misalignment in my
cervical vertebrae where the cord had been so tightly wrapped, which helped
explain my aversion to wearing things that were tight around my neck.
loss of connection to my mother at birth, then again at eleven months when she
went to the hospital to deliver my sister, and age thirteen with her death that
created a large vacuum of mother need in my life.
I was able to heal a lot of my need for attunement and energetic support with
Barry, it required a lot of therapy and more than a year of specialized baby
therapy to gradually remove my False Self mask and experience increasing
connections to my True Self. In retrospect, my False Self went through many
deaths that required sacrificing my narcissism, my ego and my denial about my
deep connection to the Mother Force and the Divine Feminine. I can only say
that this process continues . . . . .