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Today is a New Day

March 21, 2013

An Orchard in SpringClaude Monet 1886

An Orchard in Spring
Claude Monet 1886

Today feels like a new beginning.  The sun is shinning. Spring is in the air. The weight I’ve been carrying in my body, mind and spirit for so long promises to lift. I feel lighter today, not just from relief that the last three days are behind me, but physically lighter even though I have not lost a pound. It’s not purely emotional relief but a whole body sensation that some of the trauma of the accident has left me completely. In some real sense, I feel healed.

In my first blog this week, Pain is Pain, There is No Judgement, I attempted to describe the shaking I experienced as  I dressed for my first appointment.  Yesterday, as I  began to tell the story of the accident to the deposing attorney, the shaking began again in earnest. I didn’t try to stop it. I knew I couldn’t, even though it was sometimes difficult to speak.  When I paused to order my thoughts, he asked if I would like a break. I couldn’t respond. I only knew I couldn’t move either. So I closed my eyes and tried to process his question. I did not want a break. It would not bring relief, but only delay the process. I tried to slow my breathing, though the truth is,  I was barely breathing. So I pulled my thoughts together and continued the story, all the while tears running down my face and my body shaking, until it was done and I had told enough. Within moments the tears stopped and my body grew calm.

While I had a good cry when I left the meeting room and the deposition was over, I came away from the experience with a profound sense that I have put down a very heavy burden. It’s a physical sensation, almost more than an emotional one. I described this to my close friend and Life Coach Jill Davis, who has been at my side throughout this ordeal and long before, and who also has first hand experience with trauma.  She pointed out that when our body shakes, it is a good thing. It is the body releasing the trauma.

Our bodies are such fascinating companions.  Here is something I found that describes this process a little more:

“Trauma causes very deep muscle contraction designed to protect the body from harm or possible death during a traumatic episode. The contraction in these muscles must be released in order to restore the body back to its relaxed state and prevent the development of physical pain and constrictions.

Once the trauma is over, the body’s nervous system is designed to literally shake out this deep muscular tension and help the body return to its normal state.  This shaking or tremoring, evoked by the nervous system much the same way as we experience during fear or anxiety, signals the brain to release the contraction and return to a normal state of relaxation.”  Dr. David Berceli, Ph.D

That’s exactly how I feel today. My body has returned to its normal state of relaxation, something I haven’t experienced in almost three years.

When we’re in the midst of trauma it’s impossible to understand all the nuances of what is happening to us. We often just react, or try to control our response or our environment. The truth is, our body, mind and spirit, when left to do what they were designed to do, know what to do. We just have to trust them and be patient. Not easy, I know, but when we work at a cooperative relationship with ourselves, rather than an adversarial one, healing can and will take place in the best and most expedient fashion. Often we just want to think, or work our way out of a problem, but as Dr. Berceli goes on to say, “Due to overemphasis on the mind, we have deadened this shaking mechanism so that it no longer reduces the muscular tension, causing us to continue carrying it in our bodies long after the trauma is over.” It took me a very long time to release my trauma.

Finding a way to process a traumatic experience is a challenge in the checker board world of health care. I have learned so many valuable lessons as I searched for answers. There is growing interest in this area fortunately and more and more people are adding depth and dimension back into the Western world of medicine and healing. I am so grateful for their work.

Day 1: Pain is Pain, There is No Judgement

Day 2: Symbolism in a Linear World

Day 3: Here’s to the Survival of Truth Tellers

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