Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The Body Tremors: thoughts on somatics, pain, trauma, and healing

I watch as my client tremors, out of control, disabled: genuinely. A belt wrapped around the waist, my hand is lightly tugging, guiding, holding my client in place – helping move one deliberate foot after the next. I am a vessel to guide her: she is a vessel of movement. I am in awe – I think of all our body’s limitations and expansions. How vastly similar and different we all are. I think to myself of how I have never held or felt life so close to me, the spirit of it – the core of it: I watch as my client is forced to display the vulnerabilities unfortunately bestowed upon the body, and yet, still pushes through.

I think of my own struggles with my body. Of how an ex said he could feel me physically dissociate, as if my synapses were fried to the bone. Every communication between emotion, thought, and body: shattered. I think of how horrified I would be if that were to be on display, consistently. I think of the silence I have walled myself into before: letting phone conversations drop when the words became too heavy to announce. Real life conversations with expectant stares and annoyed tones. I try to imagine someone’s hand tugging at the words inside my throat, one stranded stutter of a grief cry after the next – every sad moment, estranged and wandering helpless without proper support. I imagine that to be the best possible metaphor: my writing as the vessel for my body.

It is in that one moment today that I realize how precious the cliché sentiment is of “a journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step” or “even if your voice tremors, you must speak,” more aligned with the thought that even if our bodies tremor in the face of forward movement, we must trust that there is a safety net – that we can create safe spaces for our bodies.

As I convince myself to go to the gym yet again this morning – partially to offput the weight I’m gaining from my medication, partially for endorphins, partially because “I should” – I know I’m not fully into it. I don’t buy what I’m selling. I don’t tap into my body. I know this. Several times over, I’ve tried to write out my feelings towards my body – it is not a love letter, it’s a hate letter: it’s a “you’re getting in my way” letter, or a “you’re ruining my serenity” letter, or “I blame you for holding all the memories of my trauma” letter. It’s not pretty. The ink runs thick on the page and it feels like a stabbing more than a release. My body would be ashamed of me.

I treat my body a lot like my abusers treated me, and I am ashamed of that – and yet, I still can’t turn my eye towards my body. As I cycle away in the gym (literally), I’m sitting there with my iPod touch, tapping into the internet. Go to facebook, get to twitter, check into foursquare: keep the mind busy, preoccupied off the body. The moment I run out of internet things that I can feasibly check on an ipod, my attention is forced upon the cycling machine, and the numbers seem rude. Calories. Time. It never seems like enough. My body wants out. My mind wants out. I only go in for 30 minutes a few times during the week, and I’ve rarely left the gym going “oh was that it? Time’s up?”

My body says: you push me to the limits. You don’t care about me enough. You put me through sleepless nights and go to work when you’re sick. You push through migraines and nausea. You treat me like an infidel – you ex-communicate me. Why don’t you listen to my needs?

My mind says: you are only the vessel to my needs, the means to an end. You are full of emotion and inconvenient feelings, aches that don’t go away. You are stopping the flow of my potential. You ruin everything.

Ah, there’s the rub.

My mind says, Where’s your safety net? You’re a hazard. People have violated you before.

My body says, You need to let go and trust, let the air form around your body so that it knows what to catch. You need to be mindful of the space you preoccupy.

I drop into the silence in my car - for once, I am mindful of the space I occupy. Peeling off the static layers of “must do’s” and “ought to get around to”s, I compartmentalize in a way I usually don’t – I am a small body in this car, and this car is occupying a small space on a long stretch of highway and I am moving at a speed that is o-kay when I’m not rushing and I shouldn’t be rushing. I should be observant, mindful. I feel my wheels as if they are my own feet, rolling across the pavement: they move effortlessly forward, gearing towards whatever direction I steer them to go. I am mindful of this. I am mindful of this silence. I am mindful of my body. I feel all these layers of existence at once.

And I wonder how many more letters I will have to write to my body that are full of hatred, when the love letters will come. I wonder about the calm, the settling, the balancing. The mindful chaos. Every tremor a justifiable collapse into the relief of future hope and redemption.

And with thanks:
thanks for letting your body tremor into it’s safety net,
thanks for letting your voice whisper despite the roaring winds,
and thanks for daring to breathe despite the weight of your being. And yes,
thank you for moving when moving seemed impossible.

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