Courageous & Candid Conversation...
When The Anchor Disappears
Dismantling Old Patterns
I fit lots in around that anchor because I know things need to happen before and after it. Nothing unusual here I'm sure - it is how we time-manage and support productivity etc.
But when that anchor is taken away by short notice cancellation, postponement or communication breakdown, it has a paralysing effect on me. I suddenly have zero energy to attend to all of the things I would have easily moved onto after the anchor. I feel something akin to sulky. It isn't quite that, and rarely am I annoyed at the others for not being able to make it (apart from client no-shows, those who don't tell me they won't be coming - that admittedly can get me miffed). Even without any projected anger or blame, I drop into dismay and instantly want to give up on all other plans.
I was recently gifted such an experience, and as an experiment, I chose to allow myself to FEEL deeply. In the feeling/sensing I was able to hear my body's guidance on what was needed. In committing myself to follow that guidance I was able to take myself through a process which halted the pattern, and altered my attitude, energy and actions for the rest of the day. In a surprisingly short space of time, I changed a previously very well established pattern AND gathered evidence that I could do this time and time again as and when needed.
I can now, with conviction, declare, I no longer have this particular pattern - because I can choose to break it whenever it threatens to thwart my day.
Read on for the in-the-moment report/process:
A Sensing Process
Noticing - First Cycle
Physically - shoulders slump, tummy pulls towards spine as if to protect it's own softness. I feel my facial muscles sag as opposed to being lifted and bright in anticipation of the meeting.
Emotionally - I feel disappointed, and under that, a sting of rejection. There is a part of me that believes "I" am not important enough to be the priority and this is all the evidence I need to uphold that belief. Under that is the feeling of not "mattering" enough to be cared for by others, which leads into "I had therefore best maintain independence" (followed by deep sadness).
Mentally - A cascade of conflicting thoughts, lists of what I need to do and what I could choose to do with the freed up time; but such strong apathy that it would take a will of steel to make anything happen. There is a voice that wants to go easy on me and tell me its okay, forget today, everything can wait until tomorrow now. A voice that wants to kick my own butt into action, this inner coach is yelling in my face and shaking my shoulders. The critic who feeds the shame machine is stomping through my head - "you are so crap at this, what is WRONG with you!?" The task-master who activates fear, pressure and anxiety. She wondering why I am wasting time on Facebook, so much more productive stuff to attend to.
Noticing - Second Cycle
Physically - tummy now a tight knot and all muscles clenching, tightening, jaw clenched. Coiled up energy stuck in freeze.
Emotions and mental states oscillating - increasing the intensity of anxiety.
Ah! And now breath (noticing I have hardly breathed at all and now I'm needing to allow a deeper breath into a tightened body - tricky)
Often this moves into collapse. Abandon all hope of doing anything worthwhile today, watch Netflix or similar, do bare minimum to feed self and allow the exhaustion to take over.
I don't want that to be the result today. Today I choose something else.
Remedy Phase One:
Recently I have found myself sensing a peculiar paradoxical state; one in which I feel like I am returning to familiar places, even though I have never before visited these places. I’m not speaking of geographical locations, but rather, states of mind, emotion and bodily sensation. I am exhilarated as the return is filling me with renewed wonder and belief.
I share the story below as a way to better explain the opening paragraph. It is taken from my own life’s experience and hones in on the wisdom gleaned from exploring health challenges and reviewing the labels I had been living with for many years. But first a word of caution, some of what I say could be seen as contentious and may trigger uncomfortable feelings. Please know that there is no need for you to adopt any of what I say as your truth. My hope is that there is something of value here for you, even if it simply allows you to contrast it with your own experiences, or be witness to another’s experience.
Naming the Unnamable
On my journey of healing I have been offered several labels… They began as judgements such as lazy, stupid, contrary, oppressive, clumsy, distracted. The symptoms I have lived with since puberty include exhaustion, body pain, gut disturbances, thought to speech interference and exercise intolerance.
These have only recently been acknowledged by medical doctors as “real” symptoms of a yet to be diagnosed autoimmune disorder. I have been called soulful and spiritual, which I like, and yet aligning solely with these labels can create bypass of self-accountability and disassociation from the body. Then came the more explanatory labels – dyspraxia, ADD and other neuro-divergent nuances, which have been useful to dissolve self-blame and create more understanding.
The one word that from my perspective, best explains the particular constellation of symptoms, behaviours, personality and expression of “me” is trauma. More specifically, unintegrated in utero, developmental, chronic, sexual and collective trauma. This doesn’t make me special in anyway. Those who write in far more detail on this subject, authors such as Peter Levine, Bessel van der Kolk and Stephanie Mines for example, share how it is near impossible to avoid being impacted by the effects of trauma during our lifetimes. It isn’t exposure to events that create trauma in our systems, but rather, the condition of our nervous system when the events take place AND how well we were/are supported in recalibrating and coming back to easeful presence after any event that has activated our fight/flight/freeze response.
Shock and Prolonged Freeze
Even now, to stand in front of a group triggers strong physiological reactions, my nervous system is sensitised to the dangers of long term isolation that would come about if the group should reject me. Isolation, to the instinctual animal-self, means certain death and therefore the fear feels very real. However, NOW I am able to utilise the modalities I have found useful to guide myself back to centre. And more than ever before, I am also learning how co-regulation (receiving the steadying support of others) is also vital to longer term healing.
We Heal Through Layers
When the nervous system gets stuck in a hyper-activated state (such as in the example shared above), it creates a false foundation for all other encounters that follow. This effects EVERYTHING. Posture and body shape, character and personality, education/learning potential, health, body-pain, relationships, development of addictions and/or fear based coping strategies, sexual function/relating, availability of pleasure, the ability to feel, or conversely, cope with sensations, the ability to sense/discern the reality of any given situation, the capacity to cope with external stimuli.
Throughout the years I have been able to create transformation, embrace new understandings and positively impact my healing. I have worked through the layers of additional traumatic events that occurred in my teenage and adult years, BUT the nervous system hasn't yet found it's way out of the deep freeze triggered at 5yrs old and deeply imprinted during childhood.
The initial breakthrough for me came about via Integrative Breathwork training with its innate understanding of the need for a slowly slowly approach. Diving more thoroughly into trauma awareness and appreciating the use of such tools as pendulation and titration (as opposed to forcing and pushing through) has enabled a refinement of healing methodology. And this is essential for all of us.
None of this is stated to create fear, but rather to instil the wonder and belief I mentioned at the beginning of this piece. It truly is a wonder that any one of us is likely to be dealing with our own special blend of unmet trauma (we don’t have to have conscious memory of events in order for this to be a truth); or are in relationships with others who are struggling in this regard. And yet, we have still been able to create a good enough life.
And we can afford to believe in the expansion of the good enough life towards a supremely fulfilling life as we, together, rediscover how to become unstuck and build the window of tolerance of the nervous system.
Bringing it to The Temple
You may be wondering why a blog such as this is being shared on a website dedicated to Empowerment through Eros and Sacred Sexuality. As already mentioned, unintegrated trauma and a nervous system stuck in fight/flight or freeze impacts everything. This includes how we experience our sexual expression, the degree of pleasurable sensations we are able to enjoy, how truthfully we are able to communicate our needs, desires and boundaries, how physically and emotionally close we are able (or not able) to be with others, how comfortable with and accepting of our body and the bodies of others we are, how available we are to the flow of eros, how intimate we feel we can afford to be, how present we can remain whilst experiencing intense sensation.
Moreover, the world of sacred sexual healing and erotic explorations is rife with unmet trauma. Both space-holders and visitors to those spaces can be vulnerable to the impact of past wounds creating dysfunctional and abusive dynamics. Power over, seduction, manipulation, misuse of language, coercion, gas-lighting and spiritual-egos demanding fulfilment at a cost to others, all of these behaviours and more are commonplace and therefore need guarding against.
I attend these spaces so I can meet my own messiness and keep on fine tuning my abilities in boundary, communication and easeful intimacy. I hold these spaces so you can bring your messiness and majesty to be witnessed, expressed, released, celebrated. Trauma awareness enables me to support self and other to remain within boundary and lessen the risk of overwhelm or the re-triggering of wounds.
Erotic energy and sexual charge has the effect of amplifying anything that is present, therefore extra care and attention is required in order to keep the Sacred in sacred sexuality. It is the lack of such attention that creates a higher probability of misuse, abuse and harm.
My early years experiences helped develop my inner world of imagination, energy awareness, sensitivity to the plight of others outcast by the majority, and a desire for fair and just treatment of all. Perhaps you have had experiences that have led you to excel in strategy, form and order; or in nurturing and feeding others; or in being a patient diplomat and mediator. It's not so much that we want to purposely trigger trauma in order to activate gifts, but more that with correct attention, we can source the gold, diamonds and pearls from painful places on life's path.
Returning to The Return
But I am returning to these places I have never before visited, slowly, steadily, compassionately; and I am so ready for the adventure. Are you?
Join me for a cheeky bite into contemplations on the nuances and riches of life as a messy yet magnificent human (and more than).
My writings are responses to experiences that life brings to me, questions asked in session time, and the movement of energy in its many forms. If you have a question, or a topic you would like to present to me to see how I might respond, please don't hesitate to contact me.
Ask me anything - literally!
If a response arises I shall share it here. Let me know if you want to be named or remain anonymous within the writings.
NB More word-form offerings and supportive practices can be found on my I Am Medicine website's blog page: Life As Medicine
The pieces found there were written in 2019 through to January 2021 so the themes may no longer be current in some regards, yet in other ways they are timeless as are the practices they detail. So enjoy your visit there, but do come back here for fresher pieces (in every sense!)