I recently read an amazing book by Erik Larsen titled In the Garden of the Beasts: Love, Terror and an American Family in Hitler’s Berlin, about Ambassador Dodd’s personal and heroic transformation as FDR’s last choice for US ambassador in 19933 to Germany. The title stuck with me, and I found myself blown away by what came up for me as I considered the combination of these two key words, love and terror.
Terror is the great disease and challenge of our time, socially, politically, and surely within our own breaking consciousness. I wonder if anyone escapes unscathed in their lives from experiencing some – perhaps many – versions of this tough combination.
I think “love and terror” keenly describes all childhood trauma that comes from experiencing dysfunction – and challenges – as it defines, emotional recovery. Particularly in inner child recovery work, the core imprint that produces jagged, lifelong (if untreated) woundedness and predictable ego-driven “script-writing”, as I call it (like “the good little girl”, for example), is what happens when we experience love and terror.
Profound loss involves love and terror. Any core separation of the Self from the inner authentic “center” involves love and terror.
What About the Sacrifice of Trust?
How can we transform to heal the trauma of terror as we more greatly understand our own experience with it, and recover lost love? Perhaps the worst legacy of love lost amidst terror is trust lost – trust in the greater Self and one’s authentic personal power.
As that occurs, we become terrorized, and desperately search outside ourselves for sources of security, interpreting whatever our “script” labels as the only way to survive as the directive force in our lives. From that dictate we form agendas and erode our capacity to be present and free.
Three Transformative Tools to Heal and Recover
Here is a simple series of writing and inner meditative exercises I’ve developed for self-healing and empowerment to jumpstart healing the trauma of terror and recovering lost love:
1. Take 5 deep breaths, and settle into what feels to you like a deeper reflective, meditative state. As this occurs, imagine yourself as a child who appears before you. Thank this child for appearing, and ask her (him) how safe they feel. Then ask this child to show you their place of love, and their place of terror. Experience all that happens and continues to unfold with you and the child until you feel complete in your experience for now. Then open your eyes and record (draw as well!) what happened.
2. Fold a blank sheet of paper in half and open it as now two sections, or columns. On the top of the left column write the word Love. Begin to create a list under this column of whatever comes up inside you in response to this word Love, one word or phrase (representing each thought) per line until you feel finished. Now fold the paper so you can only see the right column, and write on the top of that column the word Terror. Again, begin to create a list under this column of whatever comes up inside you in response to this word Terror, one word or phrase per line until you feel finished. Go back to each list, and before every item, write the phrase I am or I have, so that every line is now a little sentence including the two titles, Love and Terror.
3. When you’ve finished, read through everything and take a few moments to record any insights. Then go back and, one at a time, view the right column, Terror, and then look at what you wrote on the same line under the left column, Love. How could the left column’s word or phrase that falls on the same line as the right column’s word or phrase become a healing pathway of recovery and empowerment for you?
Photo retrieved from http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1327864303l/9938498.jpg