Trauma, defined by Wikipedia, is 1) damage to the biological organism, 2) damage to the psyche, and 3) damage to the social life. The word trauma invokes images of people whose lives have been upset because of natural disasters, accidents, death, floods, and war. In this internet age, we have all at least seen the devastating effects that extreme events can bring to individuals, families, and communities around the world.
There are less extreme events that cause personal trauma in our lives. As human animals, we have needs for nourishment, safety, community, love, self-esteem, and purpose. During our development, when these needs aren’t met, we feel fear, anger, loneliness, sadness, unloved, and lost. In order to move forward, we often construct layers of protection around the wounds from these earlier experiences because the feelings are too intense to deal with at that time. Human beings are often layered emotionally, physically and psychologically around varying degrees of trauma. Many of us still carry around the fear, insecurity and shame of our early experiences.
If you are on a path of personal growth and healing, feelings that MIMIC those earlier traumatic experiences can actually be your friend. Things might be going fine in your world until some experience wakes up the trauma (Saturn retrograde in Scorpio anyone?) and we have feelings that are similar to those older, buried feelings. That can be really scary and feel like we have lost ourselves. However, if we are actually safe and paying attention, then this is life giving us an opportunity to really HEAL the old stuff.
Signs that you are re-experiencing trauma can include: pain, chronic pain re-emerging, intense emotions, anger, apathy, depression, substance over-use or abuse, negative thinking, gossip, sugar and food cravings, insomnia, anxiety, loss of interest in sex, sadness, wanting to be alone, loss of interest in things you normally enjoy, mania, behaviors, codependency, self-harm and dissociation. The more you know yourself, the more you will know when you are triggered into old trauma and using something to cope.
Recently, I saw a health care practitioner who was inappropriate with me. At first, I was unsure of what was happening, and then went into a kind of shock. I didn’t speak up or stop the session even though I felt like the practitioner wasn’t being professional. After the session, I contacted the management at the facility and told them that what had happened and that it didn’t feel ok.
I didn’t know that I was traumatized right away. I knew that I was angry. I didn’t sleep for a couple nights. I was stressed. My knee pain came back and my shoulder started to hurt. My digestion was off. I wasn’t sleeping and I was waking up angry and walking through my days depressed. Most significantly, I couldn’t pull my self out of it.
So, I did what any healer and believer in the process of healing would do. I made time to heal and prioritize self care. I went to therapy, acupuncture, bodywork, and took some herbs and homeopathics. I journaled. I did my best to be patient with myself even though I wasn’t feeling open, good or functional. I chose to be present with these uncomfortable and “unfair” circumstances in order to find the deeper meaning for me and my life so that I could really heal.
Once my emotions stabilized, I started making the connection between this experience and past trauma. I had experienced anger and depression in my past but hadn’t felt that way in a long time. It was scary to feel these feelings so intensely again. I felt hopeless, lonely and depressed. When the shock started to wear off and I was able to dig deeper, I began to understand that I was triggered around my need to feel safe, be seen, have my sensitivity honored, and to feel supported. In this instance I didn’t feel safe, I wasn’t seen, my sensitivity wasn’t honored, and when I brought this issue to the management I did not receive the support that I needed.
For me, healing these triggering feelings helped to heal an older, deeper layer of trauma that came from my childhood. When I didn’t feel seen, supported, respected and honored as a child, I couldn’t leave. As an adult I am capable of leaving, of recognizing (unfortunately in this instance it took a traumatic event) when a situation isn’t healthy for me and making adjustments. This time, I was able to create a new contract with my self for greater self care. As I make that contract a priority, the universe will bring new experiences, people, and situations that support my commitment to my self and to honoring and meeting my needs.
When we are willing to stay present, breathe, listen, and let go- we can TRANSFORM painful feelings into experiences that bring us to where we want to be. We all face uncomfortable situations in life, and, in them, we can peel back some of our layers to heal the deeper stuff. This is the key to discover new parts of ourselves which are ready to take root, grow, and shine. Try it and trust that LIFE IS ON YOUR SIDE!
If you are feeling the effects of Saturn retrograde, experiencing emotions that you suspect might be related to old stuff, or want to begin the journey of looking inside – Ensoflow Shiatsu is bodywork that supports you in going to the deeper places so that you can really heal.