Few of us are eaten by tigers or stomped to death by fast moving rhinos these days. The things that kill off the modern humans are the things of our environment that move through us in secret biologically or energetically. On a biological level we have a plethora of virus’s and chemicals, bacteria, and parasites. Energetically we are attacked by derision, devaluation, disrespect, and every other voice that tells us we will never be enough. The energetic tole on the body results in threat load symptoms like stress, headache, weight gain or loss, fatigue, erratic emotions, hair loss, and insomnia. We are energetic beings and our threat load is so high that many of us are on the verge of breakdowns.
Another form of energetic tole on the body is trauma. I’m going to focus on trauma today because it is what I am specializing in because It’s what I understand. Trauma hits the mind and body like a sledge hammer. Every time the mind is triggered into a memory the body is forced to relive that memory as if it were really happening in that moment. It relives rapes, beatings, car accidents, deaths, battles. Whatever has traumatized the unhealed individual repeatedly traumatizes the body. Remember the time you burned your hand? Can you feel the pain memory of that burn? Remember the time you cut your finger? Can you feel the pain memory in your finger?
Now imagine you’re a trauma survivor and you are having a flashback and your anxiety is at it’s max level and suddenly you can’t breath. Your chest has closed up, your throat is closing up, you’re in full panic and you can’t move because even your legs have locked up on you. This is a freeze response to trauma. Many trauma survivors have a freeze response to trauma and to assault. Many can’t even scream for help or move a hand to protect themselves. The freeze response is no joke. If you are a trauma survivor I encourage you to seek out a qualified trauma therapist and work with your body using Dr. Kristen Neff’s Soften, Sooth technique. I’ll go over it but you can find it on her website and in her book, The Self Compassion Handbook. This little book changed my life.
Another physical response to trauma is very much like freezing but takes place along side fear driven anxiety and it is called armoring. Armoring stiffens the muscles and joints to the point where a person feels unable to draw a full breath, bend, flex, or move without pain. It’s like being the Tin Man minus the oilcan. People experiencing armoring will carry it with them day and night, sometimes for years. They should not rely on pain killers and muscle relaxers alone to help restore mobility. The cure for armoring is therapy, emotional release, the Soften and Sooth technique, and total and complete self love and radical acceptance that this is what happened and this is where you are with it right now. Some of us have survived sexual assault, physical assault and psychological assault so severe that to hear the stories is to become incredulous in the extreme. After all, how the hell can things like this happen? They’re too hideous to be believed. To often the victims are discredited and left alone with their bewildering pain. So if you are a trauma survivor please do not share your story with an unqualified person or power through armoring or you might deepen the trauma or tear a muscle. Treat yourself with loving kindness and the right therapy and the right people and your body will again regain the elasticity it once had.
Soften and Sooth is simply reading your body, finding the painful places. Focus on one place at a time. Place your hands on the pain and massage gently while you tell your body it’s ok, you’re safe. I’m here. This is a protected place. You are protected. If the place in your body that was exhibiting anxiety/tension/pain begins opening up it might start telling you the story of the trauma it holds and what happened. If you can, just be with the pain and accept it as real, integrate the story as real and then rest with the knowledge that a little part of yourself that was hidden has been revealed. This is healing. This is what healing looks like. If it’s too much, write down what you saw and go do self care until you are ready to talk about what you remembered with your therapist. And please only talk about what happened with people who understand trauma. The average person can not deal with your pain on any level. Please be careful with your story. It was buried to begin with because either you or someone else wasn’t ready to hear it.
You’re stronger than you know. You have survived so much and you’re still on your feet. Everyday that you are on the world is a good day. So much love, E.