In any traumatic event in our life, our breath is effected, and this is just as so in sexual trauma.
In that moment of trauma we take a breath in and breath from a tightness in our body, bringing our breath up and into, only our lung space.
This way of breathing supports a state of fight or flight, of hyper vigilance and super awareness.
In sexual trauma we also restrict our breath to our lungs, because of the shock but also because restricting our breath in this way takes us up and away form our body and up and away from the area in which the trauma has been focused.
This may create a sense of feeling dissociated from our body and ungrounded.
A feeling of being disconnected from our sexuality. And a numbing out of all range of feelings, whether that be anger or joy, pleasure or pain.
Our breath is an essential tool to our life. It keep us alive. It keep us in relationship with our body, in relationship with our sexuality and sensuality. And in relationship with life.
Our breath is also how we self soothe.
When we allow ourselves to return to the soothing flow of our own breath, we offer our body an unrestricted space to recover in. We offer our nervous system a time to rest. We offer our sexuality the potential to heal and move beyond the trauma.
I invite you to watch the video below to explore more …
Rescue is something that we may all experience within sexual trauma, that some part of us is waiting for, or seeking for rescue.
When that has been a childhood sexual trauma, we can have this fantasy still running that somebody, some hero will come along and they will save us.
Or later on in life we may still have that same desire, that search for rescue, when we have felt so helpless and so hopeless.
This desire, this still seeking rescue, keeps us in that space of believing that we are hopeless and we are helpless.
When we are seeking or waiting for rescue it is very self dis empowering.
It means that we are telling ourselves that we cannot hold this for ourselves and grow from it.
Of course we all feel we need and we desire support of another.
Whether that is someone we know can listen to what we want to express, whether that is someone holding a space for us to attend to our own body, movement or breath.
Or whether they hold us tenderly, for our emotions to come up.
But this is holding and creating a space for us to attend to and meet our self rather than the other DOING IT for us or to us.
This is very empowering!
Especially through childhood trauma, because the trauma is something that happened to us.
It was an external force upon our body, upon our breath, upon our psyche. Upon the whole of our being.
When we wait for rescue, it is still that something from the external. The outside world, that is going to be the cure, the answer, the healing.
Where as the rescue, the alchemy is something internal. A happening on the inside so we may feel empowered again!
When something happens on the outside it can feel dis empowering, something that is taken away, controlling … we can gain that back from the empowerment feeling and being internal.
We can notice where in our lives, we still have this feeling of hopelessness, helplessness, and so are seeking rescue.
The dynamics of that, maybe very subtle.
It maybe in the way we ask of others, our lack of desire to care for self or our inability to take action.
Of course it is healthy to ask for what we want but there maybe an element behind our asking, where we are still expecting or seeking rescue and dis empowering ourselves.
This is simply for us to reflect upon amongst acceptance, expression and self denial. Where and how do we seek or desire rescue?
These are all little steps that we can attend to kindly and without rush through to get to somewhere else. The more we get to spend time truly meeting these steps, the less chance we create of having to go backwards to go forwards.
That in totally meeting each step and immersing into it, that step then unfolds and leads us to the next one.
Expression is an essential ingredient to our own inner alchemy from sexual trauma.
Expression because our body is going to want to detox to release everything that it has suppressed.
And when I say everything, I do not mean that it will arise in one big go and become overwhelming and re~ traumatise us.
We can take our alchemy gently and tenderly and move into a relationship of being able to listen and witness.
Expression is a very big part of that because it may have been that during our trauma we did not have the ability to express or the freedom to express. Or we just did not have the words, the language.
One of the things that I explored was art. Children use art, to express the unexpressable. Because children do not have the words to be able to tell us how they are feeling or even what happened.
As adults if our trauma happened when we were a child or sometimes when we have a feeling, that is just so overwhelming that we cannot find a word for it, we can get choked up on our own language.
On our own vocabulary.
So I began to communicate with the child that believed the trauma was still happening, I began to communicate with the child that was hurt and was able to approach her from the space of now being an adult, that could hold a space and listen to my internal child.
Art was a beautiful and deeply enriching way of connecting with a child that was still existing on a parallel level to me that just did not have the words for what had happened to her, and the words to express how that was feeling.
Often when I created a safe space with the wounded parts of my self there would be an overwhelming emotion and rather than suppressing it, I would give it a space to come up through art.
I would prepare some paper, A huge space of paper on the floor and with some coloured bottles of paint around me. I would close my eyes and connect with that emotion.
An emotion is a feeling that is old. It is a feeling that we felt at that time, that has become stagnant and become an emotion.
I would not choose the paint with my vision. My eyes were closed so that my choices were not coming from my head and just move my hands over the bottles of paint and my hand would select a bottle, then I would tip the paint onto my hands.
I did not use a paintbrush, so there was no obstruction between the emotion and the paint. Simply the emotion meeting the paint, meeting the paper.
And with the paint covered on my hands, I would just allow it to come out.
It wasn’t that I was making art.
I was not making something pretty to go on the fridge door or to go on the wall. It was not about approval, validation or it even having to look like something.
It would be a huge mess, like a toddler’s painting. But all of a sudden an emotion that I would have no words for would be out on paper then, from it being out of me and visible, I would be able to truly understand truly have heard the pain that was still existing within my emotions, with in my body mind.
That was very freeing. A wonderful release.
I would attend to and meet these parts of me every day. That was important. Trust in myself that I was going to attend to these emotions, attend to my body mind, attend to my trauma every day.
That I was going to show up for myself.
Another wonderful way of expression I found was Clay.
Not to determine what it was going to look like. Again, I was not going to create an object or a masterpiece, but bringing in sensual experience moving the clay … feeling the emotion as it spoke to the clay.
And when I would open my eyes, I would have an understanding of what this part of me was trying to communicate and express.
I created a language.
I created a language that helped me and supported me to explore and and understand so much, that actually my mind could not remember because it had been so disassociated.
Writing was also a great channel. A great expression for me once I had moved beyond the unexpressable. It gave me space to voice that which at the time to I could not. That was very liberating.
What we are doing when we are expressing something that has become so internalised, is creating space for something new to come in .
When our bodies are so full of trauma and suppression everything is so tight. It almost feels like there is no room, there is no flexibility, no flow, no movement for anything to move, to arise from that, to change.
Our expression is truly a meeting of our emotions.
A meeting of our trauma. An understanding.
It Is a language.
An ability to meet oneself and show up for oneself.
But it is also an ability to be able to create space in our own body.
Our poor bodies suppress so much for so long they want to clear. They want to release what happened, so they can be more in the present moment, of what is happening.
I desire to share with you my own inner alchemy from the childhood of sexual trauma to the woman I am today.
In sharing my own step-by-step process offering you the possibilities of meeting yourself and you and freeing ways.
So I took some time to reflect upon the very first steps.
What was required of me before I could make a new relationship with my body,
A new relationship with my breath and a new relationship with my movement.
And upon this inquiry, I saw that there were four keys, that where required of me on a mental and emotional level.
Although I had attended mind therapy, counselling, talking therapy for a considerable amount of time I came to this realisation that it was only ever going to get me so far because it was not dealing with body memory. And it was not offering me guidance and support in ways in which to reconnect with my body.
I could talk but I could not feel. I could not feel any sensation or any attachment whatsoever to my body.
The first step I took, that felt intuitive required of me was acceptance.
Acceptance is a pretty big thing for anyone that has experienced any sexual trauma.
When we are in a space of non-acceptance then we are in a space of denial.
And if we are in denial, it means that maybe we can manage easier because denial means that we are refusing to accept that it happened.
In this denial, if it did not happen, then we can manage, we can cope, we can survive.
Acceptance allow space for things to move, there is flexibility, there is an opportunity for change. There is an opportunity for transition.
Where as denial suppresses, and in the suppression there is tightness, which means change cannot happen and growth cannot happen.
So we get very stuck in denial. It keeps us stuck in emotions and stuck in life. and inability to move forward and yet once upon a time denial would have kept us safe so that we could cope, so that we could manage, so that we could survive.
So neither is wrong or right.
One keeps as tight and is suppressive and one offers a space for movement.
Space for change, space for an opportunity to move forward.
Now as I said, our denial may have been at that time keep us safe.
It may be, that experience was so overwhelming that we had to dissociate and that the denial came in.
Denial may be because of the dynamics of the relationship of whom our abuser was. That it just feels like an impossibility to except that it happened and that, that person was our abuser.
There may be so many reasons, why we are in the space of denial. But the first key truly is acceptance.
Acceptance that it happened.
Because when we give ourselves this gift of acceptance that it happened, it gives our body an opportunity to move out of a belief that it is still happening.
Which is why our nervous system and so many other things are triggered because of the suppression of a memory in our body our poor body is still believing that it is happening, rather than that it happened.
With acceptance that it happened, we are able to move and so is our body able to move and adjust.
Acceptance offers us responsibility.
It offers us Responsibility for our own healing. For our own alchemy. For our own life.
If we are in denial of something, then we are not taking responsibility for it. Because it does not exist. And the only person who can truly choose to move from, to choose a different life from , to grow from and to heal from is ourselves and that is truly empowering.
Acceptance gives us empowerment. Permission to be responsible for our own life, our own journey and our own healing. ❤️
My roots, where I began, where not the nourishing beginning required, for any young, tender life ~ be that child, or flower.
Growing up in a house that’s walls held dark secrets from the rest of the world, I learnt early on “that what happened at home, stayed at home.”
I guess because no one from the outside world ever raised an eyebrow, or a look of concern, (not even those whom attended to our “accidents” at A&E”) and because of the simple fact that it was bad manners “to speak unless spoken to” and certainly not my place to question the actions of my parents, I believed our daily life was normal and that although they may not have ever said it, they loved my brothers and I.
My story of healing childhood sexual trauma and all the behaviours that seem to come as part of that package, is not unique.
There are many adults who have the same unhealthy foundations in the world.
And many of us knew way too early in life, not how to flourish, but how to survive.
As a young woman I believed myself to be doing just what I was supposed to do.
No one really told me otherwise or questioned my obvious desire to self sabotage, or even took me to one side to say I was worth more than what I was allowing for my life.
It was still reinforced in me down the end of the phone that I was “Devil’s spawn”. I was bad and that’s what bad people had to bear in life.
Something was always lurking like a shadow behind me. I feared going to bed alone in the dark. I feared the bedtime routine of brushing my teeth and washing my face.
But hey, didn’t everybody?!
So life plodded on.
I had babies, got married, cleaned the house, did all the things she told me I was good enough for and did not look any further into the world.
Not even into the faces of the shadows.
At 32 years of age, after years of severe illness, almost costing my life.
I was taking notice of my body with different eyes and I guess that’s why they started…
A disjointed mist of images, yet filling me with sensations I somehow knew.
My brother thousands of miles away from me in Canada… not telling a soul, was experiencing the same episodes, at the same time.
And they continued.
No specific trigger.
Slowly recalling and piecing things together.
It seemed my body did not have the strength to hold the memories it had protected me from, any more.
I went through disbelief, to regularly questioning my sanity. I ate daily doses of shame and self blame. My world was chaos. My marriage failed.
Until I landed overwhelmed and petrified, back into the warmth of denial.
It was easier to escape with pills. I wasn’t ready!
And then one afternoon, he was sitting in my kitchen, visiting occasionally, as he did.
My daughter bounded in. The spitting image of me at her age.
He looked at her in a way I knew, yet didn’t know how.
He then caught me watching and looked me in the eye.
In that simple exchange, I saw recognition and fear in his face.
And he knew, I knew.
That was the last time I saw him.
I would never have believed then, what I am writing to you now.
That I would have found and tasted such beauty, such medicine in the daily poison I was fed as a small girl.
I had to dig deep into the shit of my internal self and give myself permission to question everything!
Of course there were days, months even that I totally fucked up and bailed out. But those times got fewer and the gaps between wider.
I had to believe and as I write this, I guess I always had to believe there was goodness.
Shifting through all the layers of thick, stodgy darkness, to find a spark of something beautiful.
And that beauty was me.
The innocence that held true and hid away untainted. The truth of me, before I took on what was their hell, as my own, like a little thirsty baby sponge.
I have learnt I have so much love that beats not only in my heart, but through my veins.
I have learnt I have what seems an unlimited resource of courage and a deep compassion for life.
I have learnt forgiveness was not actually to make them feel better, but to free myself.
I have a depth of love for my body, that brings a smile into my eyes. This brave miracle that has suffered so much and yet still holds me, still breaths life.
I feel I want to say to anyone still caged by the dark shadows, waking up to the past as a faithful companion, that you are more than that.
I am sorry that sounds so old and cliche.
It is simply that you are!
But You are going to have to dig Your hands deep into your pockets and chuck away all the bullshit that festers there.
Allow yourself to feel into your body, your bones. Let your body free to thrive from a past that does not still have to be so alive and happening.
You have a choice now to continue to let your childhood to eat away the whole of your life.
Why give our abusers our adult life as well?
Trust that heart of courage you have.
Yes, the one that has got you this far!
And explore for yourself, your medicine in the poison.
I promise you, you are there.
Just has the Lotus shines bright from the depths of the murky waters.