Last week, I had coffee with a somatic movement therapist. Don't worry, I had no idea what that was either. I just received an email with his name, and felt called to meet him.
Although I still don't completely understand somatic movement therapy because I didn't directly participate in the practice, I understand the process to be a deeper form of yoga; movement, linked to your breath, but incorporating a consciousness of systems and tissues in the body to move toward a deeper healing.
This past year I have really begun the work and acceptance that our bodies are programmed to replay our pasts in our present. Experiences, relationships, thoughts, our surroundings, are all energy that enter our physical bodies. We store those experiences, good and bad. We want to hold onto the good forever, so we resist letting it go. We hold onto the bad because we don't want to replay it (but, because we're ashamed of it, we often do), and end up stuck in it, but it feels good because it feels familiar.
It didn't take long for me and this man to, in discussion of our bodies' experiences, bring up how we were born.
I had a difficult birth. I am a twin, and ended up entering the world in an emergency C-section. I learned on my most recent birthday that not only was I stuck in the birth canal, but my heart rate dropped because the of the stress the contractions were putting on me.
Stress was the reason I almost didn't make it.
I turned out fine, but this memory lived on inside of me. When I was five or six years old, my father would hug me tightly. I'd try to squirm away screaming, "I can't breathe." I've noticed that I can feel claustrophobic or anxious in crowds, driving, in romantic relationships, or in social situations. Feeling close often feels like pressure, and constriction does not work well for me.
Coming to terms with this story helped me to link my reactions and patterns to a story that I physically internalized.
I actively tried to come into the world, but fell short, and needed someone to grab me and pull me out.
No wonder I experience stress any time I feel as though I am not accomplishing something that I want to.
No wonder I defer to others to pull me out of difficult moments.
No wonder I can't feel caged in, or feel inertia, or not get what I want without feeling like I can't breathe.
Although it's impossible to trace back every experience we have, here's the lesson: when it doesn't feel good, it is trauma, and trauma is normal. I have it. You have it. Your brother has it. We react to every situation a certain way because of how we interpret and internalize our stories.
And this trauma is a beautiful thing about me - it gives me opportunity. Actor Chris Sullivan recently said, "You don't learn anything from joy. You experience joy; you learn from pain."
We can be grateful for these opportunities to learn. Trauma is a lesson in how to heal. Holding on to your story is a lesson in how to release it.
Start by owning your very first story.