The really interesting thing, for me, about accepting the physical sensations in our bodies (and the associated memories that pop up when we do so) in order to face our shadows, is that it works the other way too. This could be a more fun way of dealing with trauma!
Our bodily sensations are meant to be fluid and we are meant to experience a range of feelings from repulsion to attraction and back again. But many of us don’t do this. Our experience of feeling is one of blocking or exaggeration. This doesn’t make the physical sensations go away – it simply locks it all into our muscles (shoulders in particular) and adds to our belly-fat, which is the fat of stress.
We were/are taught to do this by other people who also are disconnected from their bodily sensations. They don’t do it to be mean – this is a survival strategy that they assume has worked for them and they want us to approach life the same way – call it being human.
The problem is this - we learn to lock our muscles when we feel, then can’t easily unlearn this approach and blocking or exaggerating becomes a way of life – we just get on with life rather than dealing with our baggage - making us susceptible to the so called modern day illnesses and addictions.
By accepting our uncomfortable bodily sensations in small doses, as I spoke about in the previous post, it’s like adding small amounts of baking soda to a glass of vinegar – the solution doesn’t spill over. If we add the baking soda too fast, there’s a mess – basically we re-traumatise ourselves. When we slowly accept the uncomfortable sensations, the more pleasurable sensations (even contentment and peace) are also switched on again – to a degree we can manage.
The same thing can happen when we fall in love. In a post sexual-revolution scenario many of us see the person, approach the person and by the end of the week (if not that night) we’re in bed having glorious rampant sex. If we have unprocessed trauma, this approach is a disaster. The intensity of positive sensations is unmanageable for our brains, because they are unused to feeling so good. The intensity of living in one another’s pockets and continuously naked is unsustainable and within a few months, or years, the relationship is over. The crash on the other side is devastating and we have re-traumatised ourselves – perhaps even convincing ourselves we are unloveable or unable to manage a proper relationship. We become commitment phobic as much as we would love to find that special someone…
The solution is in the rate we add the pleasurable baking soda. If we have been traumatised and we meet someone with whom we have an instant and intense attraction we need to drip feed that soda into the vinegar, by taking it slower than a slow thing during a really slow year. We spend time gazing into one another’s eyes. We don’t touch skin on skin for aggggggeeeeeesssss. We romance one another – properly, ya know, the old fashioned way. We accustom our brains to the wonderful sensations the other person ignites within us. And we do this because when we are away from the other person we are going to experience the opposing sensations. We are going to get panicky about the separation. We get jealous of things we imagine are happening. We are going to get sad when we think there is no hope of a relationship.We start facebook stalking. We have knots in our stomach and our bodies vibrate, and not in a pleasant way.
This is when we need to stop and consciously acknowledge that this is unprocessed trauma more than it is about the current relationship. We allow the negative sensations in our bodies and we face, without judgement, the memories they raise. We also allow the positive sensations when we are with the other person. We don’t imagine ahead a week or a month or the next 10 years – we just be and consciously let the waves of sheer joy wash through us.
The key is in our biology. If you’ve experienced trauma and really do want a long term relationship - think slow cooker romance. Take your time. Deal with each issue as it is raised. Move forward in teeny and tiny steps.
Simply: as we turn on the pleasure, we’re also turning on the pain. When we ride the waves of both we end up not just in a great relationship but also clearing our past. Sounds damned good to me!