the other day i slipped on the stairs and fell down – thump, whump, clonk.
it wasn’t a horrible fall, and caused only a big, colourful bruise on my behind, and a feeling of jarredness all through my old skeleton.
as i was experiencing these sensations, i was reminded of a small car accident i had about 12 years ago – a little run-of-the mill rear-ender. it, too, jarred me, traumatized my body with a quick succession of pushing, shaking and thumping – experiences that my body was not used to and found literally shocking and traumatizing.
at that point, i was still an active TRAGER bodyworker and, fortunately, knew how to react. in situations like that, the body tends to want to protect the traumatized area – in this case my neck. this protection can take all kinds of forms – for example, swelling, heating, knotting. in my situation, i could feel how the muscles around my neck kept on wanting to knot up. i spent the next two or three days paying almost constant attention to that area, massaging my neck all the time. after a while, my body began to understand that nothing particularly threatening had happened, that i am paying attention to the trauma, and the spasms stopped.
psychological trauma can be similar. for example, research has shown that one of the best predictors for healing of incest trauma is not the severity of the incest but a positive reaction to disclosure of the incest. that is, the trauma itself is not as important as how we react to the trauma.
when there is immediate positive attention to the trauma, or the disclosure of the trauma, the psychic body does not need to rush to protect that area of the soul. these protective ways are our coping mechanisms – and of course, there are many, from drowning oneself in alcohol or work to becoming overly cerebral to acting out sexually to becoming a doormat, and so on. humans are quite inventive when it comes to these coping mechanisms.
over time, the coping mechanisms can become a bigger problem than the original trauma – just as it happens with our bodies. one striking example of that is chronic regional pain syndrome, an excruciatingly painful, often lifelong condition, which in most cases starts with nothing but a trivial injury.
when you are hurt, then, in body or mind, please, please, pay attention, give attention to your bruises, give them TLC. by “giving in” to your own cries of attention, it may look like you’re displaying weakness – when in fact, it will give you strength.
counselling in vancouver