When we think of trauma we think of the incident that caused the trauma, we think of the event rather than the effect of the traumatic event on the individual. Trauma is complex, it’s effects are complex and its treatment is not simply a case of talking about it to make it go away – this can in fact can make the trauma far worse – replaying the incident over and over in our minds can increase the stress of the event. If we think in terms of thoughts are the language of the brain and feelings are the language of the body and they work in unison, therefore when we are working through trauma we are not just dealing with the mind – we also need to focus on the body and what it tells us. In fact we need to focus on both of these together when working through our traumas. So often therapies only deal with the mind and not the body – yet trauma stays in the body unless it is released – our natural way to release trauma is to shake – by shaking we reset our nervous system and regulate ourselves. If we don’t have the capacity to do this, our bodies and minds will be under enormous amounts of stress.
Trauma can stay in hiding until the body feels safe enough to release it, and the more severe and ingrained the trauma, the harder it can be to draw out of the body. Five years ago, I dealt with my traumas or so I believed. I had no idea that my body was storing it all, I had no clue that I had held onto all my emotional pain in my body. Then one summer’s morning in 2018 I woke up and my body literally gave out, I was in so much pain and could hardly move, and one by one over 40 years of trauma started washing over me and releasing from my body – the trauma tremors started and continued for months. I had been triggered by bumping into an ex-boyfriend from a very traumatic relationship and the reaction in my body was so extreme it triggered even more traumas to be released.
What I found so puzzling was why now? Why, when after 5 years after my initial EMDR therapy and when my life was starting to get better or so I thought, did I have to go backwards. My research led me to understand my body felt safe and finally, I had spent nearly 18 months on my own and away from traumatic situations. When I was finally on my own and away from all the people, places and events that has caused my trauma, my body said ‘now I can let it go’ and it did!
I feel safer in my support, I have a counsellor who is kind and gentle, and I am mentally in a place where I am stronger and most importantly for the first time in many years I am single and away from traumatic and at times violent relationships with men; I am finally post trauma. Because of this, all the traumas I have suffered since the age of 4 years old that were stored in my body came to the surface wanting and needing to be released, and so began another journey of healing and recovery.
From this current place of healing, I am learning to live a different way – a less stressful way, I am learning to be more aware; I am also learning that in order to release the emotional pain of past traumas, I need a kind and supportive environment – a safe place to allow the trauma to be released from my body. When dealing with trauma we need to feel the kindness and support that we did not get when we first encountered the trauma, and most of all we need to be able to trust that we can let it go and transform our lives.