The only thing that makes life possible is permanent, intolerable uncertainty; not knowing what comes next.
~Ursula K. Le Guin
Maybe this would be better phrased as the intolerable need for honesty and the uncertainty that keeps me stuck. There is a weight on my heart that I feel needs to be seen and heard, but there is such uncertainty around it all: how will it be received? How will I deal with the fear that is sure to come up after I share? What impact will it make in my world, both professionally and personally?
I’m tired of carrying the burden of this story. My own rejection of this experience has slipped into the category of ‘shameful’, making it that much more challenging to accept. Yet being on the other side of the story now, I use my experience as an invaluable source of empathy and courage with all whom I work. But I still carry it as a cross to bear…for no reason other than fear.
I have done plenty of work around this story, both talk and body therapy along with journaling, meditating and using crystals. Yet I still have this dance inside, like there’s a step or two I have forgotten…or maybe haven’t gotten to.
There’s a story of trauma here. Trauma comes in all shapes and sizes and affects everyone differently, depending on what was experienced, at what intensity, and for what length of time. There are other factors involved, too, but my intention here isn’t about making trauma the topic of this blog. There are more experienced researchers and authors on the topic that I would defer to.
I was a quiet kid growing up, youngest of 3. I was agreeable, didn’t tend to argue with my parents, was a good student…and learned how to monitor myself (a.k.a. keep my mouth shut) so as to avoid being the one to trigger my dad’s temper. He did not physically or verbally abuse us, but it was the shock of his outbursts followed by the intense panic of ‘what will happen next’ that triggered my own fight-flight response within. I eventually started to exist in a space of elevated anticipation, never quite trusting that I wouldn’t accidentally upset my dad.
Somewhere in this was the start of my subconscious quest for perfectionism. Do the right things. Say the right things. Behave in the right way. Avoid conflict. Avoid bringing attention to myself. Be as invisible as possible.
Fast forward to my adult life. Regardless of the relationship (friendship, romantic, work, family), I never quite trusted sharing me…my thoughts, my experiences, my beliefs, my joy. I learned how to hold back and test the waters. Even after the test, I was still reticent.
When I finally got the courage to be more vocal and share my thoughts (and I’m talking basic thoughts, nothing deep or profound), I was on high alert for how I would be received. The most critical time was after it left my mouth and waiting for a response…and waiting…
The lack of response, especially in the most vulnerable relationships, was catastrophic to me. It sent all sorts of alarms off inside of me, warning me that I wasn’t safe. My insides felt like they were crawling to escape. The energy opened a floodgate of uncontrolled surges that couldn’t be quelled. I never felt so out of control. I shamed myself into believing that there must be something really wrong with me that there was a lack of engagement. The dagger of rejection was brutal. It was as though every fear that was trapped in my body from growing up was triggered. The intensity of these responses and all that was held within provoked harming myself, usually to my head. I would throw my head against the wall repeatedly. I broke a coffee mug against my forehead, being sure to hit near the hairline so no one could really see it. I destroyed a flat iron (hair straightener) against my head. All of it was out of control. I felt absolutely crazy. I blamed myself for everything. And no one in my circle of friends knew. I didn’t dare tell a soul. I couldn’t bear the thought of the judgment that would be sure to come. I was paralyzed by the fear that someone would tell me that there really was something wrong with me. I wasn’t perfect. To this day, I’m amazed that my hair stylist never said anything to me. I’m sure it scared her to feel what she felt on my head as she was shampooing my hair.
Somehow there was enough courage inside of me to see that I wasn’t crazy. I continually picked myself up. On my own. I would go to energy work appointments and repeatedly have to face the trauma that was there; trauma that was deeply held in shame and fear. It would enrage me when I was reminded that I had to love myself through this…that I was the only person who could help me navigate. It felt like some pretty serious tough love in those moments. But the message was needed—and heeded— and the work paid off. I journaled and dug deep. And here I am, telling my story.
Trauma is stored in the body. Regardless of how much I’d like to think that it’s in the past and it didn’t bother me, my body remembered. The adult rational mind intellectualizes the trauma, dismisses the significance of it, and represses it even further. The body still remembers. The energy work I did released the trapped trauma. The other key piece was journaling: noticing the thoughts, bringing gentle awareness to the toxic ones (and there were plenty), and shifting them to love and acceptance.
I don’t need to be perfect to be loved.
I need to be me and love myself. Someone else’s rejection of me, my thoughts, or my experiences does NOT determine my worth. Only I can do that—and I AM worthy. It took time, more time than I wanted it to, but it was worth it. I was still experiencing triggers while I was in the process of healing. I felt like I was constantly running in circles, chasing the elusive dream of healing. I was passionate about me…healing…embracing who I am. I fought for my healing like nothing I’ve ever fought for before.
I was fighting for me.
I started keeping track of when the episodes would occur…and the number kept decreasing. I was doing it.
I believe there are pieces of my story that will continue to reveal little gems in my growth work, but the catastrophic response to being dismissed, unheard, and rejected are gone.
It feels safer to be imperfect.
It feels safer to feel what is going on in my body.
It feels safer to be me.
It is healing to be seen and heard within the context of my story.
I am stronger because of my experience.
I am a more compassionate, heart-centered healer because of my experience.
I continue to embrace all aspects of who I am because of my experience.
I am aware of the mental traps that emerge when I am feeling fear because of my experience.
I continue to step into my growth and value my whole self because of my experience.
I have empowered myself because of my experience.
I love who I am because of my experience.
My intention of sharing this story is two-fold: 1) for me to release the shame I was carrying around in connection to this story; 2) to help you see that the body remembers. You can’t talk your body out of the trauma it experienced. I offer this story as an invitation for you to find the courage to step out of the fear paralysis of shame and see your own worthiness to heal trauma held in your body. You don’t need mountains of courage, either. You need enough. Enough courage to take the first step.
Trauma can be released and healed, and done so in a safe manner, allowing the body to unwind naturally.
You can feel whole.
You deserve to feel whole and to love the experiences that have influenced who you are today.
Walking with you in light, love, peace...and healing.