When an Old Wound Becomes Present to Itself

Photo Credit: Pixabay

Sometimes we know that we do something repetitively that prevents our forward movement. It happens seemingly without explanation. Then one day a connection shows up after revisiting a very familiar place.

The Pattern

I have a difficult time taking medication that I need to take care of myself.  I will take a remedy for a brief period and experience improvement and then suddenly start to have a body sense that instead of supporting life it is causing problems.  Then I stop taking the medication and the chronic problem returns.

The Old Wound

I grew up in a family in which multiple female relatives were victims of sexual abuse from another relative I’ll call P.  P died when I was 14 months old.  I grew up hating P because all I knew about him was how he hurt the women in my life.

In a healing session when I was 40 years old, the Reiki master asked me a question.  “Who do you love?”  It took some time and at the end of the session I blurted out from my gut, “I love P” and began to sob deeps sobs like I never felt before.  All I could think was it is impossible that I could love him. My body; however, was sure that I loved him more than I had ever loved anyone else.  I spent months being with the grief that I had never had a chance to express.

I asked my mother whether I ever had a relationship with P and she said he was quite old and knew he was about to die when I was a baby.  He and I became inseparable.  As soon as we were in the same room, I would be in his arms, and he held me for hours at a time.  That love feels benevolent and pure in my body.

The Dilemma

P was the serial child molester of the women in my life, AND I loved him deeply because I felt most loved by him.  The women he harmed were not capable of loving me and caring for me because of the damage he had caused them. The memory of his energy; however, emerged in my life as the best love I had ever received in spite of what I learned about him as I grew up.  It is challenging to hold both the nature of the love I felt for him and what I also know about him.

The Wholebody Focusing Session

Kevin and I had a session in which I revisited this experience holding both my hatred for P and my sense of pure love that lived in me. In a slow and embodied way, I experienced the dilemma through movement and breath without words.  There was no sensation of a shift nor was there any new insight during the session.

What Happened Later?

After the session, I realized that I needed to take some medication for acid reflux because this new way of being with this dilemma stirred up my digestive tract.  I reached for a relatively new remedy that I had been taking for a few weeks with great success and felt sure that relief was just a pill away.

Before I took the pill, I suddenly had a thought.  I had never checked the label to make sure that this remedy was free from any known allergens.  I took a look and realized that one of the ingredients was brown algae.  I have a severe seafood allergy, and sometimes sea products have a high level of iodine which can trigger a seafood allergy.  I suddenly felt great fear about taking another dose.

Something made me pause before I completely embodied the fear.  Why did I think about whether this remedy was a problem at this time even though I had weeks of taking it without a problem?

I sensed something new was opening up.  I realized that the conflict around the medication was the same dilemma as my connection to P—something that feels so life supporting could also be very hurtful.  How could I trust my deep body sense of being loved when P was its source?  Even though my body sense of the interaction with him was benevolence, my thoughts tell me that it can’t be trusted.

My relationship with medication and food has mirrored my relationship with the feeling of being loved.  When something makes me feel good, fear rises, and I find reasons to stop the interaction.  I am anxious about eating food in the same way.  Something that nourishes can also cause damage.

What is New?

There was a great relief in this discovery.  Of course I fear nourishment and love, my best and most reliable source of love was someone who was also capable of great betrayal.  I have moved from the “not knowing” to the knowing what causes this pattern of trust and stoppage. I can hold space for the part of me that experienced great love and also great disappointment and fear of that love.  My pattern of fearing the very things that may help me is the beacon that lit the path to this moment.  My Wholebody Focusing practice is the vehicle in which this journey became possible.

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The Unbearable Wound

 

I follow the #MeToo movement closely because it addresses a reality that is central to my existence. Sexual abuse trauma dominates my emotional life. I was never sexually abused myself; however, my mother was. Her sexual abuse impacted her ability to be a loving mother to me. I recently became aware of the depth of this reality when I read a paragraph about what it is like to be in relationship with a narcissist.

A relationship with a narcissist is a desperate relationship where you are always feeling vulnerable, worthless, hated, constantly explaining yourself, silenced, punished, and traumatized. What is it that you are actually doing wrong? Nothing!1

This describes what it was like to be my mother’s daughter. Extreme abuse can engender a particular type of narcissism. My mother, a victim of sexual abuse, needed to throw her own negative feelings about herself onto me in order to live with the unbearable truth and pain of her experience. I experience my relationship with her as something in me that always feels a need to defend myself and is sure that there is no love or margin of error available to me.

Wholebody Focusing as a Way to Heal Sexual Abuse Trauma

The dominance of this felt sense in my life became clear to me one day as I was preparing for a medical test. Try as I might, I couldn’t clear my mind and relax. Thoughts of random moments in the past in which I felt traumatized by interactions with others kept surfacing. There were so many from such a wide variety of different points in my life that I became completely overwhelmed. I slowed down and connected to the energy of the Earth.  I paused with this sense of overwhelm.  A new realization eventually emerged—it was futile to try to hold space for any or all of the fast shifting narratives floating through me.

Continue reading The Unbearable Wound

The Unbearable Wound

I follow the #MeToo movement closely because it addresses a reality that is central to my existence. Sexual abuse trauma dominates my emotional life. I was never sexually abused myself; however, my mother was. Her sexual abuse impacted her ability to be a loving mother to me. I recently became aware of the depth of this reality when I read a paragraph about what it is like to be in relationship with a narcissist.

A relationship with a narcissist is a desperate relationship where you are always feeling vulnerable, worthless, hated, constantly explaining yourself, silenced, punished, and traumatized. What is it that you are actually doing wrong? Nothing!1

This describes what it was like to be my mother’s daughter. Extreme abuse can engender a particular type of narcissism. My mother, a victim of sexual abuse, needed to throw her own negative feelings about herself onto me in order to live with the unbearable truth and pain of her experience. I experience my relationship with her as something in me that always feels a need to defend myself and is sure that there is no love or margin of error available to me.

Wholebody Focusing as a Way to Heal Sexual Abuse Trauma

The dominance of this felt sense in my life became clear to me one day as I was preparing for a medical test. Try as I might, I couldn’t clear my mind and relax. Thoughts of random moments in the past in which I felt traumatized by interactions with others kept surfacing. There were so many from such a wide variety of different points in my life that I became completely overwhelmed. I slowed down and connected to the energy of the Earth.  I paused with this sense of overwhelm.  A new realization eventually emerged—it was futile to try to hold space for any or all of the fast shifting narratives floating through me.

Continue reading The Unbearable Wound

Billie Holdiay and “Holding Both”

I love to discover the naturalness of Wholebody Focusing in life itself, including in art and music.  I found something new listening to Billie Holiday’s version of Good Morning Heartache.

Focusing is based on the work of Gene Gendlin.  He worked with Carl Rodgers to research why some people thrive in psychotherapy and others did not. Their award-winning research found that whether or not psychotherapy helped a person with their emotional issues was not related to the type of therapy or the skill of the therapist.  It had mostly to do with the client’s innate ability to be aware of their emotional challenges in a meta-cognitive way.  Focusing and Wholebody Focusing are practices that help people learn how to become more aware of their inner emotional life in a way that naturally helps one heal.

Good Morning, Heartache is a wonderful example of how as someone becomes aware and accepting of what is there emotionally, healing begins. In this song, Ms. Holiday’s voice guides us through her experience of heartache. She starts with wanting the heartache to “get lost” and cycles through what comes for her by being with these feelings. She ends with lightheartedly offering her heartache to “sit down” next to her.  This song demonstrates an important practice in Focusing in which one can  hold both the heartache and the not wanting the heartache with equal regard as a part of the healing process.

Please enjoy Good Morning Heartache. This 1946 song was created through a collaboration of writers Irene Higgenbotham, Ervin Drake, and Dan Fisher.  It was sung by Billie Holiday with backup from Bill Stegmeyer and his Orchestra.

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