The Exiles Under the Imaginary Ocean

On Sascha Altman DuBrul’s blog, his latest post describes the intensity of emotion he sees in his young children and reflects on the “exiled” parts within him carrying around feelings and experiences from childhood:

“I believe really the meaning of life is about truly getting to know ourselves and discovering we are part of patterns that are much greater than us. Having children is incredibly humbling and it is also opens doors of understanding that always would have remained closed if they hadn’t shown up to be taken care of.

The kids are at a new level of awareness and intensity. They are picking up so much from their environment: in our house and out in the neighborhood. They have so much more language to communicate with and they’re both way more sensitive. A friend recently said to me that at 2 years old children’s amygdalas are growing and coming online. The amygdala is the part of the brain that has a big role in emotional regulation. They both are expressing more anger and fear. This means meltdowns and freak outs about seemingly little things, but it also means deeper connections. It is awe inspiring to caretake these adorable little beings full of emotions and growing intensity. . . . 

In the Internal Family Systems model, which is the kind of therapy I practice, we talk about how everyone has ‘exiled’ parts inside of us from childhood, and they carry deep wells of accumulated shame and horror, and until we figure out how to unburden them they stay locked up in the closets of our unconscious. Much of our inner emotional lives revolve around protecting ourselves from feeling these old feelings, and we have all kinds of strategies to keep ourselves from remembering the horrors deep within.”

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