Archive for Guest Blogger

Guest Blog – TRE® Tension Releasing Exercises

foot massage

Judy Archer, this week’s guest blogger, gives classes in TRE, a highly

effective way of releasing tension held in the body. TRE works by

activating the organism’s natural tremoring response to stress. Judy’s

workshops are made all the more effective and pleasurable thanks to

Michael Jones accompanying, live music.

Here’s what Judy says about her classes:

What I love about this work is that we don’t need to know what

we are releasing. We don’t need to know the story. We simply need to

notice where we feel the quivering? How does that feel? What happens

when I do the exercises? Then we calibrate the amount we do so we

release in small bites. After all we have accumulated stress for years.

The key is regular practice.

TRE is a series of seven tension-releasing exercises designed to

prevent the psoas muscle from contracting. The psoas muscle is the

fight or flight muscle that contracts when we are stressed or

traumatized. The exercises create new neural pathways by relaxing the

muscles involved with the psoas muscle.

These deceptively simple exercises draw upon yoga, tai chi and

Bioenergetics. David Berceli designed them for third world countries

where people do not have access to therapists. He was interested in

finding a way to allow large populations in third world countries to

release trauma. Even if they did have therapists the trauma is held in the

body so it needs to be addressed through the body.

When he returned from overseas work, Berceli earned his PhD at

the University of Arizona in order to validate these exercises. Through

his background in social work, massage therapy, trauma, and

Bioenergetics, he had observed that the psoas muscle contracts when

we are under tension or traumatized. He asked what muscles need to be

tired out in order to release the tension. When we practice TRE® we are

creating new neural pathways to release tension. We are also creating

new habits so that when we need them they are more accessible.

The exercises help people recover a sense of resilience and are a

great complement to psychotherapy or bodywork. Some people also

come to heal recurring sports or other physical injuries. Regardless this

work affects the mind, the body and the spirit -every aspect of our lives.

I appreciate the wonderful mix of people who come for their own

learning as well as professionals who in addition come because of

vicarious trauma. More often now people are coming who have tried the

exercises from David Berceli’s DVD or his book The Revolutionary

Trauma Release Process. They are eager to learn about self-regulation.

I am coming up to four years of regular practice with TRE®. I am

delighted to discover how much this practice affects my writing and my

artwork for example. The more I do TRE®, the more grounded I feel and

embodying and grounding help me write and paint with more fluidity

and ease. The practice complements and helps integrate all I do: Inner

Relationship Focusing, BodyTalk, Network Chiropractic, painting,

assemblage making, writing and teaching. As one of my students said I

feel more like a human being.

Guest Post: Somatic Sensations, Symbolic Imagery & Somatic Releases

medical help
When we’ve been traumatized by child abuse, we generally feel we’re the only person in the whole world to experience strange emotions and physical symptoms. I’m grateful to guest blogger, Cathy, for sharing her own somatic results of trauma.

Over the course of my 17 year journey in recovering from childhood trauma, I have come to understand that past trauma can manifest as physical sensations in the body (‘somatics’). Throughout my healing journey, I have regularly experienced physical sensations in my body and symbolic imagery in my mind’s eye. I now believe that these symbolic images are ‘messages’ from my subconscious mind (‘my depths’) to my conscious mind (‘my surface’) which help me to understand, comprehend, process and ultimately, to work through an aspect of my original trauma or a particular stage of my healing. My understanding is that these symbolic images in my mind’s eye are a bit similar to what happens during Focusing (www.focusing.org), where we’re able to get in touch with our own ‘felt sense’ or our innate, inner wisdom within our bodies.

Below is a summary of the somatic sensations and symbolic imagery that go with my own sense of the emotional pain and tension that I’ve experienced within my body over the years:

  • A strong sense that there is a fist-sized boil in my heart area that needs to be lanced.
  • Fantasising about using a large diameter drill to drill into the fist-sized boil in my heart area, releasing a huge spurt of pus that flies across the room, immediately releasing and freeing up the massive build-up of pressure, discomfort and pain in my heart area.
  • Fantasising about lying on a table in an operating theatre in a hospital and having a surgeon cut open the area around my heart to surgically remove my emotional pain. My EMDR/trauma therapist told me that some of her clients had actually had body parts surgically removed due to a “persistent pain” in this area only to find that their “persistent [emotional] pain” returned to another area of their body post-surgery.
  • Fantasising about a zip running down the centre of my chest that I can unzip to release a flock of doves out of my chest, allowing them to fly away freely off into the sky.
  • Feeling as though I have a volcano inside my torso that is about to erupt.
  • Seeing another adult me sitting within me, in the pit of my stomach, naked, in the snow, shivering, defenceless, cold, alone, isolated and desperately wanting to get out.
  • Watching another me bending down to look into the shards of a broken mirror shattered all over the floor and seeing my fractured self reflected back at me from the many, many shards and fragments of broken mirror spread across the floor.
  • Experiencing my own sense of internal fragmentation as: can you imagine that you’re staying at my house, you have a bag of belongings with you and your belongings are spread out all over my house, with at least one of your belongings in each room of my home? Then I say to you, “we have to leave in 30 seconds” and in response you experience a sense of panic as you attempt to collect all of your belongings from their sprawled out places all over my house in an instant. This is how I often feel, I need to ‘collect’ all of the different parts of myself to literally ‘bring or pull myself together’ before I get out of bed, begin a task or step out of my front door.

Over the course of my 17 years of therapy, particularly over the last 5 years as I’ve discovered and increasingly explored different body-centred healing modalities, such as Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT), FasterEFT, reiki, Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing (EMDR) and Network Chiropractics (www.reorganizational.org), I’ve progressively experienced more and more somatic releases (ie. expressing, ‘surfacing’ and releasing of my inner pain from within, out through my body). Here is a summary of the full range of somatic releases that I’ve experienced over the last five years of the emotional pain, terror and tension resulting from my childhood trauma that I have carried within my body/being/organism since the original trauma occurred:

  • Burping – burps that come from deep within me, they almost have an old, musty book smell or quality to them, suggesting to me that they come from my past (not the present moment), sometimes my ‘trauma release burps’ demand my full attention, I have to drop everything, brace and prepare myself in order to allow them to surface.
  • Sneezing – excessively loud and powerful sneezing, often demanding that my whole body gets involved in my sneeze. Did you know that our current tradition of saying “bless you” after someone sneezes originated from an ancient idea that we are releasing bad spirits when we sneeze? This makes perfect sense to me!
  • Coughing – excessive, lung wrenching coughing for sustained periods occasionally during Network Chiropractic sessions, like a chain smoker, even though I’m not a smoker
  • Stiffness in my jaw and aching and soreness in my face, particularly around my temples and behind my eyebrows
  • Excessive stomach grumbling, gurgling and tingling
  • Spontaneous full body shaking, jerking and tremouring (as per Traumatic Release Exercises, TRE, bercelifoundation.org)
  • Contractions or tightening in one area of my body such as my heart area, almost like labour contractions, suggesting to me that something substantial wants to be ‘birthed’, or released from deep within
  • Giggling and laughing
  • Crying and sobbing
  • Screaming
  • Yawning and sighing
  • Farting
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Diarrhoea
  • More frequent urination.

My Network Chiropractor informed me that the body’s capacity to suddenly and rapidly expel substances from our bodies is a primal fright or flight instinct, designed to ‘free up’ the body, to literally ‘lighten our body’s load’ in response to a life threatening event (or even an event that is ‘only’ perceived to be life threatening, consider a vulnerable, defenceless small child’s take on this!!), to allow our mind/body to focus it’s attention and energy exclusively on preparing for freeze or flight, similar to a pilot in a hot air balloon who decides to throw heavy objects overboard in the event of an unexpected descent.

Our mind-body system is endlessly fascinating to me. Through my somatic experiences, symbolic imagery and somatic releases, I’ve come to understand and know that our mind and body are intricately and completely linked.

Peter Levine has developed a healing technique called Somatic Experiencing (www.somaticexperiencing.com), he is also the author of a book called Waking the Tiger, Healing Trauma, a fascinating book about the phenomena of somatic experience.

Guest Post – My Story of Childhood Sexual Abuse

Over the last few days I have been reading many blog posts on other people’s stories of child sexual abuse and their experiences of recovered memories and/or recovery from the unspeakable pain they have lived through. I am struck by their strength in their ability to be vulnerable in telling their stories. Today I feel stuck somewhere between my need to hide away and my need to scream out my truth. But I have come to the decision to take a leaf out of these other inspiring people’s books and share some of my story.

For nearly 18 months I have been in therapy, initially triggered by a then recent episode of emotional abuse from a sibling. I had been bullied my whole life by this person and needed to break the cycle of fear and anxiety I seemed to still be in, despite us no longer living together and us both now being in our mid-late twenties. So I began, what has become the intense and painful process of working through my life.

Years before this I had uncovered memories of an incident which happened on a holiday when I was 8 years old. Without going into the specific details (I still struggle to speak of them) I was attacked by a stranger and physically and sexually abused. I feared for my life. Thankfully, before it went even further than it did, my attacker let me run (I assume he heard the voice in the distance that I heard and thought he would be caught). I told no one. On my way back to my family, in the traumatised state I was in, I was nearly knocked down by a car and so I could attribute my state of terror and the physical signs to this. I told no one. I thought it was my fault. And somehow, I locked away the memory of the attack for nearly 15 years before the memories came flooding back one day a few years ago.

When the memory began to surface (in what I now know all too well to be through flashbacks and recovered memories) I only told one friend. When I began therapy it took weeks and months to talk about this incident and still to this day I struggle to process and talk about it as more flashbacks take me through more and more emotions around this incident alone.

As I have been working through these issues of abuse and other significant parts of my life (including many deaths of close family members, self-harm issues from my childhood, alcoholism in my family and issues from previous childhood therapy), I have also uncovered more abuse from my childhood. For the last six months I have been bombarded with memories and feelings of being sexually abused by two very close male relatives between the ages of 3-11. Both died years ago, one in very traumatic circumstances. And there was further sexual abuse from another male who was closely linked to my family for a year or so within this time. He is no longer in our lives I am glad to say.

Looking back, in some ways I always knew. But then I could never have said it out loud or bring the memories to mind in most cases. The memories were buried so deeply and some still are. So much of my life is clicking into place in a way that I cannot fully explain – like I am getting some of my jigsaw pieces back, one by one.

In one sense it is amazing to begin putting my life together. There were so many parts to it that I could not really explain, that made me feel like I was not ‘normal’ at times: my inability to form long-standing romantic relationships with men, sexual issues, dissociative problems, a history if self harm, vulnerability to emotional abuse, my issues around therapy (despite having been brought up in a family of therapists), my history of depression, anxiety, and now what I clearly see as PTSD, the shame and guilt I have felt throughout my life (in addition to the shame I have faced in being brought up in a very religious family), my inability to express anger, my need to keep people at arms-length emotionally and not accept support, my underlying knowledge that my family’s ‘perfect’ image was a lie …the list goes on. And each are talking probably points in themselves for later blog entries.

However, though my life is clicking into place, there is nothing I wouldn’t give at times to take it all away and for it not to be true.

Navigating my way through the flashbacks and the feelings about my abusers feels impossible at times. With the two family members who sexually abused me, I find particularly myself overwhelmed by grief on many levels in recent weeks and my feelings are so conflicting. It is a mine-field to work my way through.

And the impact it has on my relationships in my current life is also difficult to work through. I still haven’t spoken to most family members about all this, so being around them is difficult, particularly because of the conflicting feelings that come up about their role in my life – and I emphasise conflicting, they are not all negative.

I have only told a handful of people about my abuse (hence my need to keep my blog anonymous for now) and on the whole only in the last few months. Another (non-abusive) sibling is now providing me with a lot of support (when I let her) as she always has, even before I recently told her of my abusive past. We are trying to work around each others’ needs and emotions. I have great support from a few friends who I have shared this with and even many of those who don’t know provide me with a lot of support when I find it in myself to reach out for help. It is hard to change the habits of a lifetime.

My therapy is increasingly becoming fundamental in my process, and the support I have from my therapist is invaluable. He is very experienced in sexual abuse issues and works with me in a very person-centred way, which is what I need at the moment. I find myself pulling away at times, I come away many weeks feeling like I have been hit by a bus (my counselling-hangover as I see it) and I have to work through so many issues of trust on a regular basis, but overall I can see how valuable it is for me in facing my past, my present and my future.

I started this blog for a few reasons. In spite of keeping silent with many people in my life, I have a need to share a lot if my thought processes. To find a voice. It is partly for my own needs in writing – I find it very therapeutic and have done for years now. But I also have a need to be able to help others in their process – if only one person gets anything from my writing (blog posts or poetry) then it is worth it. Even if it just helps one person to become more aware that these things happen in life then it has done its job. We all need a voice.

And for me, reading other people’s stories in books and online has helped me a lot. This is in addition to the inspirational writing I continually find and read which is not always directly linked to abuse. Writings on many aspects of life, love, loss and healing give me great strength to carry on in all this and I gain a lot of insight into my own self in their expression.

It feels difficult to say this today as I am feeling very vulnerable and more low and exhausted than feels bearable for the week ahead, but deep down I know there is hope somewhere in all this. Even if it sits deep deep down in me at times like this. And I know this because even after everything I have faced in the last 18 months, I am still standing. I am by no means at the end of this road (I don’t think it ends actually, just changes I think). I am learning regularly that there may be new lows to hit, maybe new memories to uncover, and many many hard new and painful things to face along the way, but with the help of the support networks I am trying to create or tap into for myself I will keep going. It is not easy. But i will get there (wherever ‘there’ is), I do believe it is possible. We are all still standing after all.

This post is by Anonymous at The Power of Silence blog.

Guest Post – The Truth Shall Set You Free

Guest blogger C. Ellori Hart contributes a moving piece about how a myriad of anxieties can mask the real source of our uneasiness. It’s only when we get to the actual reason for being anxious that we can heal, she says.

– Mary

“You will know the truth and the truth will set you free.”

I did not wake up one day and decide that I was going to search for the truth.  I wish it were that poignant but it was not.  It was a host or anxieties that led me to intentionally seek the truth; anxieties that would kidnap me and keep my mind busy with many fears…medical issues, our children’s safety to the point of ridiculous control, highway driving, keeping everyone around me happy.

These fears did a beautiful job of protecting me. Instead of looking at the pain that was hiding inside of me, I could ruminate on getting to the next town on back roads, making soup for my depressed friend or improving my immune system so I could avoid a doctor’s office.  I say this seriously:  I am profoundly grateful to these fears for helping to manage the chaos inside that I was not able to manage myself.

But there came a time when these fears got in the way.  Maybe that is when I began to get stronger.  Or maybe I just had more space in my life to do the work.  But whatever it was, I realized I couldn’t keep living in such a way that I kept growing my fears because of how well I fed them.  And so began the painful process of removing these wonderful, well meaning protective layers of fear.  Beneath them, I found that I had a story.  A painful one that was not nearly as lovely as the one I had falsely lived into for so many years.

You see, I didn’t really know I wasn’t telling the truth to myself.  But something in me did know.  It kept nudging me as I suffered and sweated the on ramps of highways or the headaches whose origin could only be cancerous.  I was lucky to have wonderful people walk this jagged and confusing terrain with me.  Eventually, I was able to see the truth inside was not any different than the stories of so many, but it was my story and one that needed my fullest attention.  And you know what?  It set me free. Or at least I am free-er.  I knew the darkness inside and no longer needed to be enslaved to those fears that threatened to snuff out whatever light was left in me.  Their job was done.

I am a therapist now and many times a day I am reminded how the truth sets us free because I see it happen 5, 6, 7 times a day.  It is wonderful work I do, to be able to sit so humbly in the presence of this reality.  Recently, I met with a parent and child.  The child had some hard things to say to the parent.  The parent, with wisdom, was able to sit and receive all that the child had to say with patience and acceptance and without defense.  It was a powerful moment for me as I realized that the kind of presence the parent engaged with the child, is how we need to be with ourselves in order to coax the truth out of hiding.

The truth is respectful; it will not show up unless we invite it.  And the truth is a pacifist; it does not respond to the kind of inner violence we do to ourselves when we don’t like what we see.  Witnessing to these painful truths requires patience and acceptance.  It asks that we be with it without defense.

Every one of us has a story.  Maybe it does not contain the violence of abuse or the bitter pain of broken families or any number of horrific things that we experience as part of our human experience, but we do each have our own story.  When I could clearly see my story, I no longer had to work so hard to cover it up.  And it was not until I could see clearly that I could learn to be fully present in this experience called Life.  And that feels a lot like freedom.

Response to In The Silence Nothing Changes

SPIRITUAL JOURNEY OF A LIGHTWORKER blog post by Patricia Singleton

Child Abuse, Incest, Domestic Violence – In The Silence Nothing Changes

Posted: 09 Sep 2013 06:00 AM PDT

Child abuse, incest, and domestic violence have always been around. People have just now started breaking their silence and talking about it so it seems that it is every where. It is and it always has been. That is why so many of us are so vocal about child abuse and domestic violence. In the silence, nothing changes. Awareness creates change.

This is why so many survivors like me are writing about and speaking about their childhood experiences. Women survivors have been speaking out for a few years now. Finally men have joined the movement forward to a time where every child will be safe from all forms of abuse. That is why I am now writing my memoir about my childhood and efforts to heal from incest. As survivors, we give each other hope and dreams of a world different than the one we grew up in. Join me in this march forward to a better world.

Patricia

—-

This message above from Patricia Singleton encourages all of us to be more open about our woundedness. Patricia has a long track record of helping others with her blog posts. She is obviously a woman who has done her own work and is now ready to publish her story in book form. Congratulations, Patricia. We’ll look forward to your book.

That’s right for Patricia, as she has known her story for a long time and has done her healing work. What I’d like to add is this: If you are still raw and hurting about your own abuse history, if you’re still discovering new awful stuff, be very careful how open you are with telling. Here are some things I know about telling.

– telling the wrong person can set you back in your healing. You can get badly hurt.

– family members are the hardest to tell, as you’re talking about their family too. Even if the perpetrator wasn’t a family member of friend, it happened while you were a vulnerable child in their family.

– since one in four women and one in six men was sexually abused in childhood, the person you choose to tell may be a victim too. If they haven’t dealt with their history, are still in denial or have dissociated the traumatic memories, they may not give you the support you’re looking for.

– there’s a danger that your courageous disclosure will be met with, “Are you sure?!” “Oh, that can’t be!” When you’re struggling to accept fresh memories yourself, such incredulity sets you back in your healing. You’re no doubt plagued by doubts yourself, even though you know it to be true.

So be careful how you tell your story and whom you choose to tell.

In my own life, I first told my husband, our son and a few close friends whom I knew would understand. My memories surfaced when I was nearly 50, a typical age for this to happen. I didn’t publish my book, Confessions of a Trauma Therapist: A Memory of Healing and Transformation until I was in my 70’s. In my book I tell about the painful experience of telling my sister and my mother. I wrote it to guide others in their healing and to caution them about the pitfalls.

Finally, I want to say that the most important person to tell is YOU. A therapist who’s skilled and experienced in dealing with child sexual abuse can be a great help. As for me, the first therapist I went to, didn’t really believe in sexual abuse. Make sure you find a therapist who will make a safe place for you to discover your own past, without being too directive.

I wish you strength, courage and finally peace of mind in your healing journey.

Mary