With the completion and publication of Being In My Body, I’ve increasingly felt a sense of openness and awe: what incredible creatures we humans are, in general. Slowing down and smelling the roses, it’s hard not to notice: what an amazing moment it is to be alive on the planet.
As social creatures, we can do and be more – together – than we ever could alone. And that might sound obvious to most of you. But how many of you, in actual practice, find yourself saying things like, “If you want something done right, you gotta do it yourself?” Or faced with a group project, tend to have a hard time letting others do their part (even if they are really good at it)?
When people are connected to each other, they can become more than they are when they’re alone. But what I explore in this book is more about how this isn’t always the case, why, and what can be done about it.
I can look back over the course of my life and see how there seemed to be a different set of rules for me (this may or may not be true for you!). My intimate adult relationships that were supposed to provide a refuge, ended up costing me dearly. It wasn’t clear to me what came first, the chicken or the egg, but it really did end up better for me to do things on my own. To not rely on people for help or support.
I think that this “I’m just better off doing it myself” attitude stemmed from a sense of betrayal that I never really understood, and could never ever even hope to shake off until I put some conscious attention on it. Over time I noticed it and studied it (this repeating pattern of betrayal) so that the work of healing could be done.
But this BETRAYAL? What in the world HAPPENED? Did something really BAD happen? I don’t remember, but I know that my parents worked really hard to raise me safely and well. What this book helps you understand that it’s very often “what didn’t happen” that leaves us feeling abandoned and betrayed, and not having a clue about how to talk about it or account for our “failures” in relationships. What didn’t happen, though you might not have thought of it this way, constitutes trauma.
Trauma is the failure of the body to return to a normal state after a terrifying event. It’s having experienced something beyond what one can handle, and feeling all alone with it. What I’ve come to understand, over time, is that my body responded to a betrayal that nobody even really noticed. And it wasn’t even about me, as it turns out.
I was the second born in my family, and my older sister had, what you could say, was probably, the IQ of a genius. She also very much liked being the center of attention. Starting when I was four, my mother had four pregnancies and four babies in the course of four and a half years. These were complicated pregnancies. And my parents were just trying to scrape by, having only their dedication to each other and their high school diplomas (and their Church) to count on.
Well, Church didn’t feel for me the way it did for my parents. Somewhere in there I must have made an unconscious decision that it’s better not to count on anybody. I’m really in this on my own. I shut down my disappointment, my loneliness and my grief, and my body hunkered down – protected me, shielded me. Without consciously knowing it, I stayed in that closed position, clutching that hard-won (and mostly unconscious) decision – and my life unfolded accordingly.
Of course, the science is showing us now that the lines of communication between the brain and the body run both ways. It’s not just that we think and our body responds. But also our brain picks up signals from our body posture, and so it’s a cycle – a feedback loop.
And that’s why it takes dedicated effort and time to get out of this kind of feedback loop. That’s what I’ve been doing for these past four years south of the border. And it’s made a tremendous difference. Probably beginning a couple years ago, I started noticing a difference in how I felt about connecting with others and actually receiving their goodness and support. And I started noticing how life really can be enhanced by others – making life not just better but more fun. And that’s a signal to me that my body finally feels safe. That I’m not in crisis anymore. And, you know, after being in crisis for like 45 years or so, it had become a very ingrained, unconscious habit. And until I stopped, I kept creating situations that proved me right: That it’s better not to count on anybody. That I’m really in this on my own.
Healing, for me, has been about integrating the dissociated parts, which has involved a combination of setting the intention, slowing down and bringing consciousness and care to dissociated internal states – the places that were unconsciously furious and terrified and needing my care, consideration, unconditional love and attention.
And that’s what this book – and my work – is about today.
Being In My Body is available here. You can also buy it on Amazon in paperback or Kindle.
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