Hello and welcome to season 2 of our #SeeMeHearMe Blog. Following a short summer break, we’re once again ready to shine the light of respect and recognition upon those who’ve [regrettably] experienced trauma and who are now sharing stories and recovery however unique and messy that may be. Our stories – what we survived & what these experiences mean to us, & what we know now are such powerful narratives that support healing. These stories can help us make sense out of what has taken place and to reach out to others yet to begin their journey.
Over the course of series 2 we’re inviting people to join our growing community and share with us their stories of overcoming adversity and trauma in a way that works for you: written, spoken or poem form (written or spoken), and with accompanying art and images, for example. What about a vlog? This is your space and whatever works for you works for us!
We’re incredibly excited to see and hear more remarkable stories as season 2 unfolds, as well as stories concerning different types of psychological trauma beyond those we’ve seen and heard already: such as birth trauma, military combat trauma, social and racial trauma and vicarious trauma to name just a few.
What’s more, we’re especially excited that our friend, published author and blogger extraordinaire, Felicity Douglas, is joining the team Epione and will be co-producing and leading the blog. Felicity is one of the most creatively talented people we know and, having shared her own experience of trauma and recovery, she’s perfectly qualified to navigate the blog as we continue to take each step towards a trauma responsive Scotland that truly sees and hear people who’ve experienced psychological trauma.
If you would like to share your story with our community, then please contact Derek at firstname.lastname@example.org or, if it’s more convenient for you, feel free to contact Felicity directly on Twitter @FelicityDougie.
So turning to today’s blog, we would want to begin by saying we’re immensely grateful to Fiona Larkin for her amazing work and kicking of season 2 by sharing her own particular story of trauma and recovery. Fiona is a hugely talented and compassionate human who specialises in cranio-sacral therapy. As you will read/hear, Fiona eloquently shares how patterns of trauma are held in the body and where we discover health within that. She is passionate about the importance of relationships and connections, right from the point of conception to death. This blog covers new ground, and one that reaches deep into our inherent fragility as human beings.
Thank you, Fiona. We love you. Thank you!
“Be humble, for you are made of earth. Be noble, for you are made of stars”
The baby knew what to do, she was working it out, was on the verge of bursting into life, of taking a first breath, excited to feel the joy of arriving in a new place. The physical exertion was thrilling; heart beating, limbs moving, muscles straining. This small body had power in it, a new-found autonomy, and was propelling itself towards an adventure.
It should have been exhilarating and it should have ended basking in the glory of ‘Wow, look what I did’ and even more crucially it would have been shared with Mum, who would have been saying ‘Wow, look what I did. What we did’
Neglect, poor care, medical intervention, forceps, haemorrhage, intensive care, separation. Shock.
The baby is changing her mind, this place is not so safe, this body is hurting. These feelings don’t match what she is expecting. Surely this pain is not aliveness?
She is in the thin space. In-between. Life feels frightening. Death feels safe. Has she got this right? She can feel life slipping away. Maybe she is leaving? That seems good, it’s better than the pain, betrayal, disappointment.
Her body wanted to live. Despite the shock, the mess and the unexpected, she ensured her survival. It was instantaneous. Her body wired, as one, the felt sense of events and emotions and in so doing soldered together connections that would protect the baby’s life. It came at a cost. Her body knew that the baby didn’t understand, knew that the baby would not trust her in the same way, knew that on some level they had become strangers. And it was intolerable. So, the body screamed as an expression of what was unbearable in the hope that someone would understand and help.
After six weeks of non-stop screaming. Well intentioned doctors gave the exhausted parents a rest and in the hospital, this baby and her body, left to cry, eventually worked it out. No one is coming to help with the pain.
The shock waves of my birth reverberated through my life. The same patterns repeated themselves.
Love felt frightening. Joy was being unable to breathe. Excitement felt like crippling anxiety. Endurance would end in failure. Commitment induced the fear of obliteration, I judged peace to be the absence of pain, not the presence of joy and as soon as love brought me close to any of these things in a sustained way – I left.
That was ok though. I felt tethered as opposed to anchored here, I easily slipped back into the thin space when life was difficult. And I liked it, I felt connected to the vastness of the universe and everyone I loved.
Fiona’s body knew this. She knew that Fiona took flight when she reached out wanting to repair the connection. Fiona liked words and science and made huge efforts to understand it all. Why did Fiona not know that the feelings would lead her? That the story would unfold if she stayed long enough to feel? Fiona’s body was distressed, her attempts at communication frightened Fiona and so often these exchanges ended in more rupture. She wanted to tell Fiona that she was holding her story. Holding lots of stories in fact, stories of the earth, of her ancestors, of women, of humanity. Why did Fiona not know? If they looked at the story together, they could decide what to let go. Fiona’s body continued and worked around the stories. She hoped that a time would come when they could repair the damage and Fiona would grant permission to release the pain.
I wanted to love. I wanted to be loved. So, I eventually worked it out or at least part of it, I was slow and stupid, and I wish I had known someone who could have told me.
I had to choose. I had to choose to stay in my body, to see if feeling alive was worth it. Was it possible that love and joy felt different from the way that I thought they did? I chose to learn to love.
It was an intention. That was it. I chose to be here; fully and completely.
I let go of the thin space. I took my first breath here. And it was the worst experience of my life. I felt like a Selkie who had sacrificed her seal skin. I had no way back to the ocean. I wept for that loss. I stood desolate, keening on the shore longing to change my mind many times. The grief of not being able to slip back into the ocean was overwhelming.
This new place was awful, I was trapped. There were feelings, sensations and I could not escape. My world was small and I was cut off. I was confronted with fear, anxiety and the horror that I was still stuck in this place where life was not the joyous, glorious aliveness that came with birth.
I didn’t understand the landscape, there were edges and borders that I had not known before, and conversely there were places where I desperately wanted boundaries and there were none. Where do I end and others begin? Why does my body react as though it is not part of me? Why can’t I control my feelings or my body with my thoughts? What am I missing? No, I don’t want to face what I am unable to understand. Why is my body frightening me? I often watched, quite detached, wondering ‘who are you?’
I had one person who stayed alongside me, who reminded me to breathe, who was steadfast and calm. Who patiently reassured me that it was safe to stay even when it was uncomfortable and was also ok if I left. Who did not expect me to do anything other than to repair the relationship of these estranged parts of myself. Someone had come to help with the pain and with the freedom to leave – I stayed.
I began to understand that my body was the custodian of my story, from the very beginning. My own truth was woven into the structures of my body, layers of patterns, complex and intricate wiring of connections between cells.
My body had kept a record of all that I deemed significant and it was tenderly, respectfully holding all of it until I was ready to know.
The story my body told was not the same as the story in my head. My body’s story was dynamic and ingenious and as I listened a dialogue and then a relationship began to form.
I began to understand that I am my body and my body is me, there is only connectedness. It is being disconnected that creates the conflict.
I tentatively ran my fingertips over the inner surface of my heart and found that there was give in the walls, they were pliable and if I gently pressed, it expanded, if I swept my hands over the surface, the walls moved and the space got bigger. I began to find the vastness again and it was inside me. My heart does not fit inside my body, it extends far beyond the reaches of my skin. My imagination does not fit inside my body but my cells hold infinite possibilities of creation.
Now it makes sense. I began to understand that there is only letting go, whatever binds me distorts my original shape. I don’t need to try to love, I am love. I don’t need to force joy, I am joy. The echo of the thin place was right there in my cells. That meant that the ocean was nearby, that infinity was inside me. That’s what I want to live.
In this relationship, my body and I are better at sitting together. If I find suffering or discomfort in the world that triggers a reaction, we get curious. We are kinder to each other; we take better care of each other and our conversations are tender. I take time to feel, to allow the emotions to rise. More often than not words begin to form. My body doesn’t mind now that I like words and science. We combine them. There is a synergy in feeling and speaking the truth of my experiences at the same time, even more so in the presence of a witness who loves me without judgement.
This journey is about a relationship, the most important one there is – with ourselves….and in the hall of mirror neurons we reflect back and forth images of ourselves and others as we resonate with the first and most perfect creation of ourselves. Love shines through cracks and somehow, we see it in others, if we are lucky, they help us see it in ourselves too. In the process we find the unprecedented joy of loving another. I do not think that love is something we strive to feel, it is something that we uncover.
The language of your body is the language of the Earth. It is not spoken but known. Our story of loving is felt – gloriously sensed as part of nature. We are dynamic and fluid and moments of creation in every moment that we exist.
At the end of my life, I would like my inner world to be vast, without edges but I will be happy for my body to be like a long-loved book or a well-worn pair of boots, that has recorded what happened here. I expect to be wrinkled, bony, squashy, discoloured and out of shape. That is ok. I expect to return to dust. The vast part of me will slip back into an endless ocean where I will be forever In Love.
Author: Fiona Larkin