Moving Beyond Safety

It’s been pretty amazing to watch this organic shift that starts to happen when we reach a tipping point in our sense of safety. I’ve anticipated that I’ve been headed toward something new, but couldn’t quite vocalize it, nor identify it. It did seem to become more accessible as I continued, and continue, to work on the fear in whatever forms it seems to arise. And then I’ve had to push myself, with help, to go to places I don’t know if I would have gone on my own…to make real change, without the assurance that it is in the exact perfect direction, but it is movement! nonetheless.

The main thing I want to share with you today is that eternal bliss is not the goal. I have heard this many times, but until recently it was only mind stuff. I could not allow for another option, given the amount of unsafety I had experienced at very vulnerable times in life. I could conceive of the logic of bliss not being the endpoint, but I could never imagine it for myself until recently. You may, and I certainly did, hold eternal calm/safety/bliss/relief as the goal while facing head-on the Leviathon that is developmental trauma. That is just fine. It is also good information to let you know where your are at in your nervous system development. And then at some point, I cannot predict for you when, you will start to be interested in life, and want to poke your head out into the world, and begin to wonder what it really possible for you out there.

Through a series of recent discoveries, it’s suddenly quite clear to me in a new way that discomfort is not the enemy. It is information. It can tell us to reposition our bodies, or that there is something to pay deeper attention to, or it could be a an incomplete self protection response waiting to express and finish its business. And, it can also be our bodymind’s way of communicating to us that something NEW is happening. Our ages old wiring tells us to PAY ATTENTION TO NEW STUFF in case there is something we will need to respond to. It does this with BIG FEELINGS that can be incredibly uncomfortable, and that our minds may mistakenly predict based on our past experiences COULD BE VERY BAD, EVEN DANGEROUS! If we just accept this mind interpretation, we might even be able to find something bad happening to justify the interpretation and satisfy the part of us that wants to keep running that same old program. Rinse. Repeat.

NEW could be bad, but it could just as easily be neutral or good. Unresolved trauma is what gets in the way of being able to tolerate discomfort that arises when we move toward our authenticity, when we try to stretch to satisfy the needs for variety and adventure that make us feel alive in the world. The difficulty making accurate assessments of safety is called faulty neuroception. It’s a short in our system for being able to tell safe from not safe. Imagine how devastating this can be for someone who has a hard time feeling safe and is working really hard to figure out how to establish some modicum of security in the world. Or maybe you already know.

Stretching ourselves doesn’t have to come in the form of overwork, overdoing, overexercising, or overextending ourselves. We don’t have to cliff jump in a squirrel suit or ride motorcycles without helmets. These seem to be forms of pursuit that lead to breakdown of the mind and body, and eventually to illness or early death. These forms of pushing beyond our limits seem to be more an unconscious numbing the intolerability of intense feelings and experiences than they are really living fully. Finding meaningful work, play, partners and friends; being adequately appreciated for our work and care; saying no to things that we know we should; and continuously moving toward our potential and responding to life’s challenges can provide plenty of excitement in themselves. Things that get in the way of of that are likely traumatic stress-related.

Stretching ourselves in the form of risking everything to be who we really are takes guts no matter what, but it also takes nervous system capacity. Trying to do it without capacity is a drag! Illness, long recovery times, constant setbacks. Having experiences that made us feel unsafe or unwelcome at a very early age, perhaps even from the time of conception, can make almost any amount of charge stimulated by just living feel life threatening. It can literally shut us down and send us into hiding, scrambling to find some sense of safety. And that response is completely involuntary – an artifact of previous experiences. It may feel completely out our control, and in a lot of ways, it really is, until we get a better sense of what our body is trying to do. It may take a long time for us to start to turn attention toward what is happening inside, because it is so uncomfortable in there. Once we can make some sense of what our body/nervous system is saying, we can start to work with it and not against it. We can finally be on our own team!

I’m so happy to realize and share with you this newfound breath of fresh clarity I have about the difference between various forms of coaching, and deep nervous system informed psychotherapeutic work that addresses this shutting down effect. Some signs that you might want to look more deeply into how to cultivate more therapeutic experiences of safety for your nervous system healing include:

  • chronic feelings of unrealized potential
  • difficulty being in groups, crowds or in public spaces
  • limitations on your movements or activities because of fear or anxiety
  • paralysis when trying to make movement on your goals
  • freeze, dissociation or panic when encountering stressors
  • discomfort or difficulty being at ease around others
  • mental/emotional/physical exhaustion after doing activities you like or being with people you care about
  • random unexpected anxiety peaks
  • longstanding depresssion or fatigue
  • feelings of derealization
  • always feeling like a fraud or like you will be found out
  • not being able to take in or feel appreciation, comfort, connection, or pride
  • feeling very young and vulnerable, and feeling pressure to hide it or get over it
  • meds or tools work for a little while but never satisfactory or don’t last

These are not all the ways to tell you might have unresolved nervous system dysregulation, but I think they paint a good picture for you. There’s a ton of well meaning self help literature and helpers out there who do not know or understand the neurophysiology of trauma, nor how to treat it. Educate yourself so you can target your time, energy and money you put into it. Don’t let anyone make you feel bad because you can’t do the thing, whatever that is, that they are telling you to do, that is supposed to fix the problem. If you’re stuck, it’s likely there’s a good reason. Listen…can you hear it? Your body is trying to talk to you! I so hope you can be your own best friend and start to listen. Just start, in the tiniest way to you can manage. Get a guide who knows the territory, if you need one.

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Shiny vs Light

I saw this clip on a morning program today about a person who has achieved “viral” fame on Facebook for packaging and dispensing soundbites of mindfulness wisdom for the masses. Yes, I occasionally watch this dumb shit. As a therapist, I consider it part of my job to stay a bit in touch with what people are being fed through the boob tube – decade-old health advice, drug pushing, ridiculous recipes, fear mongering, sensationalism, frosted with gossip, fashion advice and the deal of the week. Understanding a bit about the environmental impacts people are coping with helps me understand the total load on their nervous systems.

As I listened to this very attractive person give “live” on the spot advice to the hosts, and watched them reel off a list of his accomplishments, pictures him and his work, I could feel the pull…”wow, if only I could do that”. And “he’s legit!” After all, he was AN ACTUAL MONK for 3 years! If I could make shiny videos, or give those talks or appeal to the masses, then…oh wait – I don’t have the monk thing for street cred…and then I caught myself. Mesmerized by the shiny. There are a few extremely young, hip, very visible individuals on social media who do this sort of thing. Their videos are captivating. And after the video is done… Have they impacted me? Does this change anyone or stick in any significant way?  I don’t know. I think a few of them are pretty awesome…Prince Ea, Russell Brand. They can say unpopular things, opposing mass beliefs, addictions, habits. And there are some really real ones out there, risking, telling the truth, doing it their own way, no matter the cost. My friend Elena comes to mind.

What happened today for me was a moment of clarity. I’m really not motivated by the shiny any. I am after the real. I am after true light, not just the reflections. I don’t need to be someone else. This is what I have to offer others. My whole life has been a journey of trying to move away from the need to entertain and maintain the interest of shallow wounded people, confused about why it felt so empty even though they excited me and attracted me and looked so good on the outside. When you’re deprived of connection for so long, you’ll do anything to get it, and settle for scraps, pretending to be whatever anyone wants. Hiding your real self away for approval, for acceptance, for attention.

I want to be real. With me, with you, with the world. I don’t want to feed anyone a line of shit just to make them feel better. I don’t want to pretend anymore. There’s not time. I want to stand up for what’s real. I want to feel others, and be felt by them. As I keep doing my own internal work, I can feel my own being while in relationship more and more, and it makes it possible to be at ease, to have difficult conversations, to be my real self, to be truly present for others. It beats the living daylights out of the pretend relationships – no contest. I can name what’s real so we can hold a space for it. I know that they can feel me there, and feel the safety in it, because they get better. They can see things that weren’t accessible to their conscious awareness before. They change. They marvel at the safety they feel.

Motivational sound bites have their place. I always have the quote nearby from Marianne Williamson about our deepest fear being our light, not our darkness that most scares us. I have the Teddy Roosevelt quote hanging on my wall where I can see it every time I look up from my screen, “It is not the critic who counts;…”. I’m always underlining brilliant passages in my books, and savoring beautiful quotes that point at Truth. These things matter. They are guideposts.

And what I know now, is that more than ever we live in a world where no one seems to be listening, everyone is overwhelmed and wants to escape, and the joys of capitalism offer us a million and one ways to numb the unbearable, muffling the part of us screaming that we need to pay attention. We need safety and presence and real connection in order to be able to attend to those ignored parts of us. Not diagnosis and eradication through either medical or mindful means. Guideposts will not be enough to support real change.

I want to help people stop playing whack a mole – getting rid of their symptoms and having  them continually pop up in another form. I want to help people be curious about what their bodies and the experiences of life are trying to tell them if they knew how to listen, or even thought for a second that they should. All you have to do is look around to see the sickness; anxious kids, angry drivers, everyone looking at phones nonstop, guzzling coffee and sugar, doing drugs, drinking and eating and exercising themselves to death, ever-increasing rates of cancer and gut problems and autoimmune diseases.

I don’t want to sell people some flashy mindfulness garbage about how meditation or enlightenment is going to make all of their problems or symptoms go away. I don’t want to make it easier for people to go on ignoring the messages life is screaming at them, to go on living lives of quiet desperation. Yes, it may make you feel better for a while, but in the end, thankfully, all techniques are doomed to fail. We are wonderfully and fearfully made to wake up, no matter what, and encounter ourselves as we are.

There are many heroines/heroes; many people whom I admire are doing fantastic things out there. I am grateful to them all, AND I am excavating the places that hide my courage. The courage to be what I am, and not worry about being shiny or pleasing. To not need to copy or model myself after them or anyone else who’s already been approval stamped. To let my own light shine however it wants to, and give you the courage to let yours shine. To show up for you and write here for you as my realest self. To motivate you to excavate and find your own light to add to the sea of lights out there so together we might burn off the veneer of shallowness and fear and trauma with the power of our lights combined. To truly live free.

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.

by Marianne Williamson from A Return To Love: Reflections on the Principles of A Course in Miracles
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Getting Clearer

I’ve been wanting to write more posts and getting stuck because I’ve been in such transition I wasn’t sure what I was trying to do anymore. The time since the beginning of February 2018 has been a roller coaster, a clearing out. An old part of me still cringes at the indisputably profound progress in healing that was opened to me in this last year by the accident that fractured my right tibia.

Even though I know by now that there’s always the next thing that will come along  and knock me off balance, I am also getting more and more familiar and comfortable with the new expansion that reliably follows. I think the destabilization of the contraction periods is also getting smaller and shorter (1 day derailed, vs days or weeks).

These most recent times, though, after nearly 6 years of my own intensely focused (somatic) trauma work, it seems abundantly clear that I am closer than ever before to what I or others might call “normal”. It has NOT been a straight line. It’s been fits and starts, tears and anger and fear and frustration, and discoveries galore, mixed with joy, love and deep gratitude for my being and the being of others.

I more recently have a sense of my body as a squishy living thing full of organs and other parts that speak to me when they are unhappy. I discovered how deep is my conditioned belief of not having inherent worth, and had brief glimpses of the experience of relationship without that baggage. My digestion is working better than it ever has in my whole life. I am starting to have a bit of a daily routine for myself – something I’ve tried to execute for over 40 years without a bit of success – based on my own natural timing, that includes significant space to create. I am working on the fears and blocks around creating or even considering myself artistic. I am getting closer to knowing what turns me on, makes me go, makes my heart sing, and working on the shame and fear that blocks moving toward that. I feel so much more ability to sort through the advice of well meaning authority figures for what I need, and just let the rest of it go. I’m shedding old labels, and simultaneously not needing to rigidly obliterate them all.

In addition, I’m feeling less freaked out by the state of the world, more ready to take action on things I care about, and clearer than ever about what matters. I have new courage to be with others in whatever comes up. In short, ready to be an advocate for truth, with greater capacity to examine myself and pass through wild territory in myself and with others. I do not know yet where this will take me, and that fact no longer terrifies me.

I cannot tell you what a relief it is to start to feel like a real live person. It’s like the difference between Flat Stanley and 3D.

Part of my “reconstruction” has included thinking about what I am doing as a healer, helper, and professional. I hope to start soon sharing the reconstruction under my own name at cynthiaclingan.com, which I’ve had for 3 years but hadn’t been able to begin yet.

I find that the basic foundation of my goals has remained the same: to be a support for those working through trauma and/or awakening processes, and especially for those needing support for integration of the new awareness and all that it brings forward. I had to discover this myself, and managed to find a (very) few others noticing the same thing and working to follow truth in the face of many loud opposing voices. Many nondual and well meaning spiritual teachings point to elevated states, freedom, and bliss as the expected outcome of spiritual seeking and other practices, such as meditation. Very few however, point to the inevitable crash landing back to earth that can leave one wondering why they lost the bliss, and how to get it back as quickly as possible.

While waking up at all levels is pretty life changing, there is a certain Shakabuku in the visceral (not just intellectual) discovery of your true identity as awareness that alters your view of everything after that point. That’s been my experience, anyway. Nothing that I experienced after that discovery, which I jokingly refer to as my real birthday, could be taken as seriously – not depression, not pain, none of my stories or anyone else’s – was ever the same again. It has enabled me to be connected to something real as I walked through what came next.

Spoiler alert: profound awakening did not obliterate all of my trauma (aka: conditioning, karma, baggage, beliefs, bad shit that happened to me).

All in all, my own crash landing was more of a thud. What I’ve experienced since the “birthday” July 14 2011, started as a growing connection to life, with moments of bliss, some forced and others spontaneous, peppered with great gobs of misery and despair. No big travel plans or “walking away from it all” to start over as an enlightened version of myself. Constantly on the verge of resignation that perhaps what I’d been expecting all this time was just BS and I should get over it and figure out what to make out of my life. I still could no longer experience depression as I formerly knew it. Though my profound shift didn’t immediately change my life circumstances, it made everything that came after it more possible. Still no guarantees coming from anywhere, all I could do was keep going.

That birthday shift DID enable me to discover, and by degrees, connect with the reality of my trauma, and gave me a new ability to come gradually into contact with the experience of myself and reestablish the broken connections. I suppose this is what I really want others to know – so-called enlightenment is only the first hurdle. I now think it was actually the easier one. Addressing my trauma was crucial for sustainable happiness and ease as a fully embodied human.

My spiritual awakening was a disappointment for a while, because I just didn’t understand that the lack of color, vitality, joy, spontaneity, deep connection was due to the layers of adaptation my body had made for me to cope with unbearable circumstances. The repeated bracing and constriction in my diaphragm, shoulders and jaw, creating patterns of energy, tension, and expression that helped me contain my experiences, also prevented me from fully living and experiencing life with the only vehicle available to do so  – my bodynind. It took 2 years after waking up to realize the connection between my self-protection mechanisms (unconscious, for the most part!) and the lack of vitality, safety and connection I experienced in my life even after so-called enlightenment. 

I saw the last half of a Mister Rogers documentary the other night, in which one of the things he said when interviewed was, (and I’m paraphrasing because I can’t find a reference) “the most important thing we should be teaching children today, is to value to the unseen”. It struck me right to my core as truth.

I believe he is right. Nothing really compares to the real. Rogers has been lambasted for suggesting that every child, woman and man has inherent value. It’s at odds with a culture built upon the idea that you have to prove yourself, make something of yourself, never rest, in order to have value. The false belief that we lack value come from cultural underpinnings rooted in fear and trauma. The fear says, if we don’t keep a tight reign on ourselves, it will be bad news. However, every single time I ask someone what it might be like for them if they could feel they were ok no matter what, they report they would have so much more energy for life. When I then ask what they might do with all that extra energy, they all inevitably cite work productivity, social connection, service, and creative endeavors. This has been my own experience as well. My increased energy from trauma resolution has not led to greater personal material enrichment plans, but to a focus on service, creativity, self care, and stewardship. I used to dream late at night about what I might do in the world, and wake up to a pipe dream feeling in the morning. It finally seems real and possible in the light of day, but it has taken on a different flavor now – it feels now more like the dreams are of what I might do FOR the world. It’s so exciting to watch this organic shifting away from safety as my primary concern and energy expenditure!

Being yourself, following truth, valuing the unseen over tangible “stuff”, truly is a revolutionary path.

Doing the work of shedding layers of trauma and untruths after awakening is the real nitty gritty of the work. It’s messy and not always fun, but so worth every bit of the discomfort. Wishing you comfort and courage to stay the course, dear Bodhisattvas, embracing the mess until you reach your truly alive selves. Endeavoring from my end, to support that process for anyone, anywhere I can, with my story or the skills I’ve acquired along the way, or who knows maybe even resources someday. Just wanting you to know that it really is possible, and I’m here rooting for you. Don’t stop now!

 

 

 

 

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First Things First

The further I go in this journey, the more apparent it is to me how simple my needs really are. To feel the sun shining in my face, to watch the wonder of the bird sitting outside my window before it flies away, to be safe in the presence of another being myself and nothing else. To be connected to the earth and trees and sky and sun and all life. To surrender to the unfolding.

The uncomfortableness of the shedding (8+ months on!) of my previous labels and ways of knowing myself is getting easier to be in. I still don’t have answers for the demanding questions of my mind/egoic self

where’s this all going, what will it look like, will I like it, will it be dangerous, will people leave, will I still have a job? how? what? why? when? where?

I get why there’s an urgency to answer those questions. We are taught we must have answers to them before we can act. Trauma reinforces that impulse. There’s so much out there telling me what I should be, how much I can achieve, and pushing me to pursue external things of value and compare myself to others. So many messages imputing doing to worth. All kinds of self improvement strategies and plans I can put in place. Opportunities to engage in the struggle with myself abound.

And perhaps I WILL, eventually, do some of that

mountain climbing and achieving and pushing and perfecting and growing and striving and expanding myself beyond the definitions I have known, and fighting and raising my voice, and traveling and being a social justice warrior and conquering fear of sharks to learn to surf

…but right NOW it seems I’m working on

inhabiting my body from the waist down, reconnecting with the rhythms of the natural world, feeling safer in my own skin when someone else is in the room, becoming aware that I’m a squishy living thing with a body made of guts and bones, singing and dancing, staying connected to myself when I touch someone, being my own person no matter where that takes me or what it costs, practicing being accountable to my highest self, and questioning everything I think I know without shutting down or freaking out

It’s been hard to make this shift – surrendering to what is – but it’s become glaringly apparent that not only is there no choice anymore (fighting it is pointless and exhausting), but the place doing originates from matters a great deal. In fact, I’m starting to wonder if it’s the ONLY thing that matters. Whether it’s rehabbing this broken leg, or advocating for others, doing my job or the dishes. If the energy for the doing, no matter how well intentioned, originates from fear or trauma, it seems to perpetuate more experiences of fear and trauma, and just generally mucks things up.

And coming to this understanding of surrender hasn’t been a process I could rush or force. Letting go isn’t very intellectual, or logical, and hasn’t been particularly well-timed, or suited to my comfort or understanding. It just IS. It’s clear to me now that acceptance isn’t a thing that we can really choose to do, it’s a thing arrived at when there is no other option – when it is time to let go. Any time someone has announced to me they’ve “chosen to let go”, it’s been pretty clearly wishful thinking, an attempt to bypass the real feelings involved, or plain old adaptive disconnection from self.

There is no substitute for going through. Whether we arrive at that place of no choice through crushing logic that becomes sudden visceral understanding, or being slowly wrestled to our knees by daily helplessness that weakens into final surrender, the result is the same. Utter relief, gratitude, and no wish for anything different. Not the so-so, lukewarm, unsatisfying, vaguely numb leap over it all of premature acceptance.

For the thousandth time, I find myself grateful and astounded. I did not know what this business of “living” could or would be like (who knew I needed a pelvis??? and a digestive system???), and I could not be in this place where I now find myself without the support of my partner and of somatic practitioners and community that I am so lucky to know.

Visit traumahealing.org or contact me for more info about somatic approaches to trauma resolution.

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And Then, the Contraction…

In the interest of full disclosure, I want share that, like many, many times before, I am experiencing the contraction that predictably follows every expansion. It includes the following;

  • Doubting I had an expansion at all
  • Wondering if something is wrong with me or I am going backwards
  • Loss of interest in things that previously motivated me
  • Questioning the reasons for my work, relationships, preferences, beliefs
  • Disillusionment with yet another layer, formerly unseen at this depth, emerging
  • Wondering what will become of me if the state persists or I am unable to resume previous egoic identifications
  • A vague sense of some transformation afoot, with a backdrop of listlessness, groundlessness, and emptiness
  • Seeing even more deeply the ways I have suppressed my self to get along, make peace, or spiritually bypass
  • Weird depression-ish feelings in trying to continue to suppress or be inauthentic
  • Feeling pissed off and not sure why
  • Having no idea where it’s going next

It would be easy to write it off as winter blues, or political fatigue, or approaching milestone birthday, but I know better. I’ve been here too many times before. I am motivated to share by my friend Elena’s recent post about awakening. Those experiences are life changing, but there is a ton of dishonesty perpetrated in writing and speaking about it as the end of the experience.

It is the end of a certain kind of seeking, the ability to completely buy into any beliefs, but it doesn’t fix the human conditioning. Some degree may drop away, but what remains will likely become more clear and painful over time, dropping away in layers and phases if one stays true to oneself and follows wherever the experience leads.

What I’ve come to recognize over time, for my clients and myself, is that the uncomfortable spaces between the expansions are absolutely necessary. They empty us out, preparing for what is next. We can never know what “next” will bring. We can only know that it is the only thing we can do if we want to become more truly who we are, more at ease in life, and avoid the sickness that comes from suppression.

 

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Wonder

The weekend before this one I had the great honor to be at a training with Peter Levine in California. It is called Eye of the Needle, and it is about near death experiences (NDEs), including anesthesia and other altered states. With this new learning, the work becomes new (again!), and my understanding of Somatic Experiencing (SE) takes on yet another dimension.

I have more of a sense of working with the whole being, stitching together the fragmented parts into coherence, and new understanding of my own and my clients’ experiences of such states. I’m feeling grateful for the practice (good and not so good) that I got to have while there. I have a new sense of my own growing resilience and skill, and the amazing resilience of humans, as well as my own patterns of trauma and all of the defenses and adaptations that have carried me through to the present.

I just can’t believe it was only last Monday I was sitting in the sand on the beach in Encinitas at the end of D Street, swatting giant sand fleas, and feeling the thunder of the pounding surf reverberate through the ground into my sitz bones when the sudden awareness struck of a new and indescribable sensation of being more like a whole organism than a collection of parts, thoughts, emotions and experiences. It was so unbelievably striking and unexpected. After feeling into it for a bit, I could sense the pull of it, something in me wanting to lean even further into it, and started to seriously wonder:

Can I really let go into this life?

Can I let it take me and pull me into it in the way the ocean waves reach out and take every thing from the shore into itself?

Can I let myself become one with the gigantic expanse of fluidity that is experience itself?

Can I learn how to play on the shore, surf the waves, creep along exploring its dark silent floors and perilous reefs, and float on the surface, as though it really were my home, this thing called life, called ‘existence’?

Can I really allow myself to fall into this being a human being?

And each time I check inside, there’s that spark of knowing that is saying,  ‘yes’, I probably can. I keep checking to see if the feeling of being more whole is there, and yes, there it is. I know that in a little while – days, maybe weeks – it will no longer feel new, and so will have seemed to vanish or be lost, but that is only because it will have become more integrated into my whole being, readying a home in me for the next expansion.

I look forward to discovering what it brings next.

 

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The Adventure of It All

What a weird day. One by one all five of my clients cancelled their appointments. If they had cancelled sooner, I could have made plans for today, but such is life.

This morning the people came to work on the chimney rebuild, and it didn’t seem like it would happen because of power lines, weather, and a lack of bricks, but somehow it worked out.

During my meditation as I waited for the workers to come, I couldn’t believe just how deeply I was able to drop into stillness, despite the awareness they were to arrive soon. I was even able to have a session and be mostly ok all day and not get activated the same as in the past from the all day thunderous noise in the house.

I have been sitting on a bunch of activation that started at the most recent biodynamic cranial sacral therapy (BCST) training, where we practice on each other. I have felt half cooked, emotional, and strangely aware that something big is shifting. I’ve been getting more BCST and Somatic Experiencing (SE) support to help the shift, and this morning had a session online.

I can’t believe how easy it is to do SE, sometimes even BCST, over a video connection. Today I noticed how much more open I’m feeling from head to tail down the center of my body, even at the start today when my body was freaking out with stress. It’s still strange. It started with a lot of vibration over a week ago, and now it is space. The ability to feel myself separate from the trauma reactions in my body is getting greater…more space between the two. It’s an odd split screen experience – totally knowing I am ok, watching the body be freaked out, unable to work or focus or sleep or whatever.

I had an awareness during the session this morning, one that’s been brewing all week, where I realize I have an expectation that if I speak up that the other will disconnect/freeze me out, or they will attack or retaliate/punish me for it. I felt it in my body, I was newly aware of where I learned it from, and I had an excellent guide who could hold space for all of it, even in moments where my mind tried to take charge of things (“should do it this way, not that way”, etc.).

In the end, what started as cumulative fear from major repairs on my house, triggers from the stuff in the air around the Supreme Court nomination hearings, and inertia from the discomfort of this blooming internal transition, became a doorway for me to access the trauma and discharge the energy. I could clearly access the sensation of the anticipation of the negative response, in my torso and face, and the suppressed energy of fight in the chest, arms and throat.

In the space that I had help making for experiencing that, things shifted pretty quickly, and a sudden curiosity opened up…what would it be like if I didn’t always expect it to go bad, or for everyone to be trying to take advantage of me, or punish me if I spoke up about something, even the smallest things? I could feel, can still feel now, the feeling of what that would be like, moving through life that way. Not in a pollyannish-glass-half-full-rosy-glasses-naive-trusting kind of way, but in a way where I have a reasonable expectation for people to do the right thing, that I have some recourse, if needed, but that mostly everything is workable – even when it’s not. It’s the feeling of space, and of lightness; of wanting to yelp with joy straight from my chest.

I realized with crystal clarity how much and how deeply I had inherited the suspicions and fears of my parents and grandparents, and how their trauma legacy had found a home in me, even though it no longer fits my actual life now. I don’t know what it’s like to live through a depression, or to be fed last because you are the last of 9 children and sickly and could be a waste of food. I have my own early traumatic experiences, but they are no longer my reality, and I got to experience this morning the distinctness of the lack of fitness of those responses for my current life. I got a sense of how exhausting and how completely, terrifyingly, activating that nervous system orientation of “everything out there is a threat” is.

And it is not mine. I can more easily work to shed it now, because I moved part of it through today. Even in moments when I have the mystifying impulse of addiction to dive even more deeply into that misery, I can still choose not to. I can choose to remember it’s just a chimney, women will persevere whatever the outcome of this most recent travesty, and there’s nothing lost in expecting the best from others. I can remember to feel into all the moments life and others have come through for me and smashed that old belief that everything is dangerous.

And just like that, there’s little more energy freed up for life, for the things I usually struggle to muster the courage or time for. It’s a good thing to have in these challenging times.

 

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