The trauma I had experienced as the result of family violence and incest, the gang rape when I was twelve, and the rapes when I was seventeen and twenty-six resides in my body.
Trapped in my cellular memory, these events permeate my very being. They are a part of every muscle movement and every function of every organ. They are in the inhalation and exhalation of my breath. They are responsible for my IBS and GERD, and my chronic nausea. They were the cause of my bulimia and gastroparesis. They are at the root of my migraines and hypervigilant sleep disruptions. They are the cause of my mental and physical fatigue as well as my chronic back pain, my aching muscles, and joints.
Also trapped within my body are my trauma-related emotions. They silently twist inside me as if they were a poisonous serpent coiled around my intestines. The tighter they squeeze, the more difficult it is for my Spirit to breathe.
I need to lose forty pounds to be at the ideal healthy weight for my height and age. I have been able to get myself to eat well – no sugar, no unhealthy carbs or fats – for a few months now, but I haven’t lost much weight. I have led a sedentary life for several years. I know I need to get my body moving and burn calories if I truly want to see weight loss results. No matter how badly I want this, I struggle with a resistance that is so strong it is almost paralyzing.
I used to be a dancer, I used to love to dance. I bought Body Groove DVDs, hoping they would inspire me to simply move my body to music – no set routine or exercises to follow. I enjoy watching them but, even though the desire is there, I can’t get myself to move with them.
I discussed this dilemma with my therapist recently. I had a small epiphany. It dawned on me that my resistance to moving my body might possibly go much deeper than simply laziness or lack of motivation or energy. I realized that since I am so completely dissociated from any emotions relating to my trauma, and that my emotions are trapped within my body, my resistance could have to do with fear. Fear that if I start to move, to dance, I will connect my mind and Spirit with my body.
Once connected, what’s to stop my trapped emotions from surfacing? Perhaps I fear that if I connect mind, body, and Spirit I will have to face my deep emotional, psychological, and spiritual pain. What’s to stop the sadness, the grief, the rage from oozing out of every pore? What would I do then? Would I be able to handle such inundation, or would I become overwhelmed to the point of incapacitation?
Every day my body begs me to move it. It intuitively knows that through movement, emotional, psychological, and spiritual healing is possible. Every day I resist. I will continue to resist until I summon my courage and face my fear. I must believe that I am stronger than my pain. I must want to heal. I tell myself I do, but what does healing mean to me? What would my life be without pain, without fear, without dysfunction? Perhaps I fear the unknown? Perhaps I feel safe within my trauma.
Although I no longer allow my trauma to define me, I do still refer to myself as a trauma survivor. What if this were no longer necessary? What if I surpassed being a survivor and became a healthy, functional, and joyful individual? What would I do then? So much of my energy has been spent just trying to live a semi-normal existence. What if all that energy were free to pursue other things?
I know in my gut that moving my body can be a path to healing for me. Every day I will try to surrender my resistance and just be with my physical form. Connecting with my body could lead to a deeper understanding of myself and could ultimately release me from the pain of my past.
Photo by David Hofmann on Unsplash