This last year has been tumultuous, heart-breaking, amazing, explosive. I don't have a huge readership - I had hardly started my blog and business before I took a year-long hiatus - so I don't have thousands of Insta followers to explain myself to. But in hopes that having a dialogue about my experiences can help others (and because it's a great exercise for me), I'll share a narrative that I've constructed about it.
I started working on this platform in October of 2018, and started consulting shortly after. At the end of February 2019, I had a bit of a breakdown. Traumatic memories resurfaced unexpectedly, and I stepped into weeks of emptiness, almost catatonic at times. I took time off of work, and when I returned, I teleworked for weeks, unable to handle the anxiety of performing the role of a functioning person in public.
On some level, I knew that I had been working towards this experience for years, through things like yoga and meditation. It was a good thing for me; my brain new that my body could handle the truth of my experiences and began to integrate them. It stopped protecting me from certain events in my own history. Of course, at the same time, I never could have anticipated what it would feel like, what would be waiting for me. It was one of the most difficult periods in my adult life. And I hardly knew how to talk to anyone about it.
I've read a lot, both before and after that February, about trauma and the physical body. I had been in therapy for a few years, and still am; it has been incredibly important in my healing. But it wouldn't have been enough on it's own. There's something about integrating the physical and mental experience, about coming to live in my own body again, that was absolutely essential for me. I realized that I had been living with some degree of dissociation - where you end up feeling distant or entirely disconnected from physical and emotional feelings, surroundings, and experiences. It's a protective measure that can happen, for example when fully "living" certain experiences is stressful or dangerous to a degree that
the person retreats, retracts their senses, or withdraws to a safe place. Because of the way that I grew up, my body - with
the full extent of it's senses - did not feel like a safe place to be. Without my being
aware of it, yoga, with it's focus on physical sensations and how they show up in the mind, became a safe way to gently reinhabit my body. And when I arrived there again, it was extraordinarily painful. At first. But it was a monumental step
forward in the healing process.
For anyone interested in the topic of trauma and the body, I highly recommend the book The Body Keeps the Score, by Bessel van der Kolk. However, in full disclosure, the reader should know that it can absolutely be triggering to read, and was for me.
To be continued...