If I had filmed my Somatic Experiencing sessions, they'd be like watching paint dry. There was barely any movement, and definitely no untz-untz-untz disco ball.
By then, I had experienced enough body work to know that I couldn't talk-therapy my way out of this one. Until I worked directly on my somatic and nervous system, my ego-mind would forever be the tiger chasing my own tail.
JOURNAL • Session 0
Feeling unsafe. Always had roof over head, food in belly, savings in the bank. So why constant feeling of unsafe? Why have I never, ever felt safe???
Somatic Experiencing (SE) coach I chose lives 2.5 blocks from me. What are the freakin’ chances?!? Met John today. Forgot to ask how much he charges. Doesn't matter. Not living with this freeze / paralysis for rest of my life, 31 years was enough!!!
JOURNAL • Session 1
Nothing much happened during session. We talked. I really, really, really hope this works. This better work.
Walking home, felt so so so so validated. John validated that I have classic developmental PTSD, caused by upbringing that didn't meet my needs.
Woah. Suddenly remembered Shelina (energy healer) telling me the same thing... 6 months ago! Totally didn't register that. Did my memory blank? Was it too full to handle new info? Was my memory switched off? Was I not ready to hear this? Does trauma mess with memory?
Practical Tool that Actually Worked • Shower Talk: in shower, with eyes closed, pass water jet on one area of body, feel that area. Move to next area, feel that area. Repeat for 12 weeks. This re-associates my mind to my nervous system. No more bypassing as a coping mechanism.
JOURNAL • Session 2
Will I ever be ok? In this cruel, harsh world? So looking forward to what John will help me discover. F*ck these traumas!!! So unfair. How many traumas can ONE person have?!? I'd so rather be doing anything else but this. How much more money do I have to sink into this to undo my entire childhood, adolescence, and adulthood?!?
JOURNAL • Session 3
I still really, really, really hope this works. So far, meh. John taught me orientation. Said my eyes shift side-to-side too rapidly, constantly scanning for danger / threat... therefore overtly revving up and psych'ing out my nervous system. Psych!
Advised me to fixate on single object as I walk to reduce that revving. Kinda like tracking horizon when on a boat to reduce sea sickness...
Practical Tool that Actually Worked • Orientation: fixate on one steady object at a time when moving through the world. That red mailbox, then when passed the mailbox, fixate on that big tree on the corner. Then when passed that tree, fixate on the orange car parked on the corner. Practice daily for 15-17 days.
JOURNAL • Session 4
I’m sleeping better. Or at least sleeping through the night. Can’t be sure it’s because of SE…
Still in shock by long ass list of traumas I wrote in John's SE intake form. They all seem so benign on their own. But when put together, since such a young age, trauma annihilates self-worth, leaving an infant feeling insignificant and unwanted. <insert heaving sob>
Practical Tool that Actually Worked • Sleep: sleep constantly, uninterruptedly, unapologetically. Cancel everything. People won't understand. Fuck them. Business will fail. Fuck it. Just sleep. For 40 days and 40 nights! (Hmm... am I gaining my lightness of being back?)
JOURNAL • Session 5
Hmm... something is shifting. Memory is more vivid. That's good. Remembering… more traumas, 5 more specific incidents. That's bad...
Today, on SE table, body started twitching and jerking. Then tears… because I realized that I have no memory of my parents holding me or giving me physical / emotional reassurance. Not a single one.
Can I even trust these memory? Or lack thereof? What's true or not true anymore...
Not parents fault. Did the best they could. They didn't have emotional capacity or spiritual consciousness, with their own shame and traumas, to understand and support a highly sensitive gifted multi-potentialite child.
Right hand also twitched, as if looking for a hand to hold 😢. John gave me his. I placed my hand near his but didn't clasp. John noted that I have an avoidant attachment style. I don’t get attached to people because they haven't, aren't and/or won't be there for me. I knew this intellectually. But to watch my body express our traumatic history... not fun, heartbreaking.
Practical Tool that Actually Worked • Square Breathing: inhale for 4 counts, hold breath for 4 counts, exhale slowly for 4 counts, hold breath for 4 counts. Meditative and soothing, without sitting down for meditation. Wow, works instantly! Who knew?!?
JOURNAL • Session 6
Feeling lethargic. Is it the rain? Last week’s SE session was super draining. Isn't healing supposed to restore my energy, not drain it? Sucks to watch my talents and potential atrophy like this. Frozen, unused, unable to used them.
I've worked so hard... just to end up traumatized and frozen. WTF?!?!
Practical Tool that Actually Worked • Sailor Swearing: swear out loud, constantly and unapologetically. (Obviously not at others, just in the air.) It's divine relief!
JOURNAL • Session 7
On my way to my SE session, want to quit. Not really seeing results. But if quit now, I'll stay stuck with the frozen, forever. So what's it gonna be, Ella?
John and I came up with a mantra for tonight: it is safe for me to rest and sleep. How f*cked up is that? That I need a mantra to convince myself that's it's safe for me to rest and sleep like ALL living beings on the planet do.
But wait, ox don’t rest. They plow fields day in and day out. How can I possibly rest when it's my skyholder job to plow every field in the Milky Way?
Practical Tool that Actually Worked • Wind Love: every time I feel wind on my skin, I tell myself, "I am loved." Practice it for 3 months. Love is not something you find. Love is something you feel.
Love is not something you find. Love is something you feel.
JOURNAL • Session 8
OMG I think SE is finally working... fiiiiiinaaaaaally!!! I can feel my spine unwinding… nerve endings thawing, as if my nervous system was exhaling the deepest sigh of its life.
Woah. Weird... Super weird feeling. Is this what a pork chop feels like when taken out of the freezer? (Hey! Am I getting better, go my sense of humour back 😛.)
JOURNAL • Session 9
OMG OMG OMG SE is working! It's working, it's working, it's working! My creativity is back!
Arranged my bed and pillows so I am swaddled from all sides. Got a weighted blanket so I am pressed, so simulate the feeling of being held.
So pathetic that I have to do this as a grown adult. Not pathetic. Sad. So sad that no one ever held me... 😢
So what? Boo hoo. Poor me. No one ever held me. I will hold myself! I'll do it myself, god dammit!!!
Woke up next morning with pillows propped tightly against my back… almost like the Universe has my back… Strange. Foreign. Feeling.
Practical Tool that Actually Worked • Mercy Morning Routine: wake up without alarm clock, 5min self-compassion talk, defrost smoothie, sip a glass of room temperature lemon water water, start aromatherapy machine, meditate for 15min, brush teeth, wash face, barf out emotions into morning journal for 30min, clean kitchen, sit and drink smoothie (30min), no work and no internet until noon.
The Great Big Thaw
Until this day, I cannot describe in words The Great Big Thaw. It was like taking off ice skates for the first time after being out in the cold for 30 years. It tingled and pricked, it felt hella uncomfortable. I didn't know the nervous system could exhale like lungs do.
The only way to heal PTSD really is through the body.
Are you brave enough to allow yourself to "have" PTSD? To name it, then heal it?
You Are The Light at the End of the Tunnel
Know anyone going through a rough time? Hear them say they can't seem to do what they used to love doing? Forward this to them. You may be the light at the end of their dark tunnel. ❤️
Live fierce and free,
(First Published Nov 16, 2016)
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