~ Authentic wisdom is not free ~ Peter Levine
I often reflect back on my life and it is difficult to digest all I have been through. It has taken a lot of courage, faith and perseverance to heal and it is always a work in progress.
I had always struggled from early childhood with emotional issues and some level of physical pain, but it was upon finishing law school that things really began to decline. I was working as a lawyer, had a large social network of friends, had a boyfriend, and from the outside it seemed like things were not so bad, in fact they seemed pretty great, but my health struggles consumed me and I struggled in secret "managing" anyway I could.
In Somatic Experiencing we explain that understanding the effects of traumatic stress on the body can be thought of as the break and the gas of a car fully engaged at the same time. Everything is both on and off simultaneously, and this physiological paradox was exactly what was happening within my body systems, and just as a car would eventually completely break down under these circumstances, so did my body. What resulted was debilitating chronic pain, chronic fatigue, emotional struggle, and many other physical illnesses, too many to name here.
Over the next several years I tried every kind of healing modality I could find. There were periods where I had some improvement. I was eventually able to go back to work as a lawyer as after the initial decline, I became too sick to continue working, I even moved to California, but even during these "better" periods I was still suffering. I relied on almost daily appointments with various practitioners to try to find some temporary relief from my pain as well as taking substances to help me cope with both the pain and the emotional struggle. It looked like I was living, but I wasn't, I was barely surviving. So I kept searching. There came a point along my journey where I intuitively knew there was something wrong with my nervous system, and this was where the healing needed to happen. This was the root of my struggles, the reason I was so sick. I thought to myself the nervous system controls everything so this is the level I need to work at, but I just didn't know exactly how I was going to do this.
The say the universe is working for us and although sometimes I feel like that isn't true, this was certainly a time that it was. When I found Somatic Experiencing I had been struggling for a very long time. At that time, even though I knew my nervous system was the root of my struggles, what I didnt realize was the manifestation of my illnesses was a result of trauma. We often don't think of birth complications, surgeries with anaesthesia, bullying, divorce or simply our parents not meeting our needs as traumas that can cause lasting effect on our nervous system and therefore our well being, but they do. In fact much of adult illness is caused by events that occurred in our childhood and youth. As soon as I began my work in Somatic Experiencing to address these stored traumas in my nervous system, I began to experience things differently, which was profound, as everything had felt the same for a very long time. As I continued my personal work and began to train to become a practitioner, things kept shifting and I found more and more relief from the struggles that I had come to believe would never resolve.
The changes I experienced from Somatic Experiencing were profound. I believe that it was an essential road for me to take on my healing journey and I would have never resolved my struggles had I not found it. Somatic Experiencing not only has enabled me to live my life free of physical pain and emotional struggle for the first time in as long as I can remember, it has done so much more. I have developed the capacity to contain, and remain present to, all my experiences no matter how challenging they might be, and without the need to dampen the emotional quality of those experiences, as my nervous system is now self-regulating no matter what is happening in my daily life. I am able to respond to life's challenges with true resilience, grounded and open to possibilities. I am able to navigate conflict with curiosity, and a self-reflective process. My journey with Somatic Experiencing has changed my entire experience of myself, my interactions with others, my ability to stay present and how I navigate my life. Through this work I healed and connected to my authentic self. You can too.