Arggh. This one’s going to be messy.
In my head I know that telling you all about my soft spots is strength, not weakness. I also know that to share it will be helpful—to me, and potentially, to someone else—but even still, I hid it for so long, this is a struggle. I have to remind myself that mess does not equal “bad”, and to love that part of me that feels red-faced about it.
Without burdening you with the details of all that happened between now and then, beginning at around age four, I suffered a series of traumatic events. Some were significant; others, less intense–but that doesn’t matter. What matters is how all of it, big and small, affected me physically. I wasn’t blessed with the strongest of constitutions in the first place, so the constant surge of cortisol that my adrenals sent through my veins completely depleted me energetically before I was in grade school. I’d usually go home and sleep after school. This habit continued on into adulthood after work as well.
What I didn’t know was that my problem was physiological, and more importantly, completely normal.
In 2001, after years of talk therapy, my PTSD had finally quieted down. I was thriving. I lived in Brooklyn. I was out walking my dog on the most beautiful of fall days, it was 9/11. Even though I lived in Brooklyn, I was only a few miles from the World Trade Center. I could hear the planes going in (and the fallout) from there. It sounded like it was happening on the next block. That day’s events opened my old wounds and made new ones. There hadn’t been a huge amount of information back then about PTSD or about specifically treating it. But I was in so much pain, it started me on a long journey to feel better.
When I first wrote this in December 13, 2014- I had processed and moved past the intensity of much of my trauma thanks to years of searching that ended in my discovery of Dr. David Berceli and TRE. Healing is a process, but I don’t feel stuck anymore. I always feel better than the last time I processed my emotions, and I bounce back much, much faster. I’ve gone on to become a certified Level II TRE teacher/facilitator. The process has been a gift. It’s made a huge impact on my life—health, relationships, quality of life, all of it.
Last summer, at my Level-II TRE training, Dr. Berceli said that people who have been through trauma, but are blessed with a healing process around it, end up better off for it than if they hadn’t been through hell and back. At the time I was grieving a lot. I wasn’t resisting what I was going through (thanks to TRE) but what he said sounded like some cerebral concept I couldn’t get my heart around and I didn’t quite believe him.
Ten months later (and this time is different for everyone!) I don’t just believe him, I feel immense gratitude because I’m experiencing exactly what he talked about. I am grounded and more connected to people than I’ve ever been. I feel strong enough to let them know how much they mean to me. How I feel about things. I’m not afraid to feel anything. In fact, if I need to do some crying, I do it. No more shutting down. At least not for long. I know that with time, I can get over anything.
And each day, I can’t wait for my next opportunity to tap into more joy via AlignUp, TRE, Tai Chi, singing and anything else I might bump into that works for me. Lately, I’ve been soothing body and soul with essential oils.
What I’ve come to realize is that the way I dealt with my perceived limitations is a mirror in some way, big or small, to the physical challenges faced by every student who has walked through my door. For so many people, it’s a recovery from our adrenaline-encouraged society. Each one with their stories. Painful and otherwise. Each with their different way of working with their body. Or lack thereof. Just like me.
The modalities I relate to the best, and that have consequently been the most successful, are ones that plug me back into my body’s wisdom and ability to feel what’s best for it so it can heal itself.
Recovery from trauma has also shifted my paradigm as a teacher into something deeper. And holistic. Our bodies are frickin’ fascinating—what they hold from our lives, their infinite capacity to take things on and to heal from them. In a way, the more I learn, the more I realize how little I know. But I’m cool with that; it’s made life far more grounded for me, as a teacher and a student. Because ultimately, I just need to listen and let my students tell me their stories, just as I let my body tell me what it needs. Together, we figure out what makes us thrive.