Yes, I’ve come a long way in processing traumatic experiences, but it seems like there is always more work to be done. (Life is a journey...) When I picked up Waking the Tiger, Healing Trauma by Peter Levine, I found this out. Apparently, trauma affects a lot more than I had conceived. According to Levine, EVERYONE is affected by trauma. Everyone? That is new news to me!
Thanks to people like Levine who love to do research and have an insatiable thirst for knowledge and answers, I’m sure it was no accident that I came across his book. It meant to me that I was being provided with another piece of my journey to healing. Indeed, I also have an insatiable thirst for knowledge and answers when it pertains to my health and the health of people I care about.
Levine studied what animals do when they are faced with a traumatic event—like being attacked by a predator. Many times, they FREEZE and PLAY DEAD. Here I had been harboring the false belief that freezing and pretending I was asleep, which had been my reaction to impending traumatic events, was not OK. I had no idea that it was a natural instinct.
I will definitely pay closer attention to the animal kingdom now.
Levine wrote: “Healing trauma requires a direct experience of the living, feeling, knowing organism” and I like that he refers the healing process as, “a heroic journey that belongs to each of us.”
He concluded that “post-traumatic symptoms are, fundamentally, incomplete physiological responses suspended in fear.” “These symptoms will not go away until the responses are discharged and completed.”
“The traumatized veteran, the rape survivor, the abused child, the Impala, and the bird all have been confronted by overwhelming situations. If they are unable to orient and choose between fight or flight, they will freeze or collapse. Those who are able to discharge that energy will be restored. Rather than moving through the freezing response, as animals do routinely, humans often begin a downward spiral characterized by an increasingly debilitating constellation of symptoms.”
As for those symptoms, I don’t know about you, but I was prescribed a lot of medications. I am very grateful I’ve gotten off the last of them. They can be useful for buying time to help the traumatized individual stabilize, however, they suppress the body’s own balancing response to stress and interfere with healing. Of course, unless you have a qualified therapist who can help you with the process of releasing trauma, medications may be your only remedy.
When 1,000 men and women were studied, 40% had gone through a traumatic event in the three years prior. These traumas included being raped or physically assaulted, being in a serious car accident, getting a routine invasive medical procedure, witnessing someone else being killed or injured, or devastation by natural disasters.
What’s even more staggering is: “The conservative AMA (American Medical Association) estimates that over thirty percent of all married women, as well as thirty percent of pregnant women, have been beaten by their spouses.”
With a new blog post in mind with what I’d learned from this book, I stepped outside to survey the scene outside my apartment building. We are in the process of having the landscaping redone in front of our apartments. As I walked along to the buildings to the right that had already been completed, a resident stepped outside and began a conversation. At first, we were talking about the landscape. I can’t remember how the next part of the conversation began. Was it me that brought up pasture-raised eggs?
I was enthralled with her narration about her life growing up in Mississippi. They didn’t have electricity which meant no refrigerators, washing machines, or lighting. They raised their own animals which were periodically slaughtered for food to supplement what they grew in their garden. She described the process of coating the pork with a certain type of sugar and hanging it up to dry, which lasted all winter. They used lanterns for lighting.
It’s nice to see that I am not alone in what I went through. I continue to read, become aware, and discover the messages my body communicates to me. Next, I want to write about hope.
No matter what we’ve been through, there are processes for discharging the frozen energy in our bodies. Levine wrote about Somatic Experiencing. Then there was a post I saw on Facebook by Lissa Rankin, MD about the inability to cure disease no matter how healthy your lifestyle is if you have unhealed trauma.
Another moment of synchronicity occurred when I went to my Netflix list and chose Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey. In Cosmos, I am enthralled by the narration about matter… atoms and molecules… how much we have in common with nature and animals… the vastness of space… how most of everything is empty space... and everything is energy.
Plus… the numbers 1111 have been showing up… the mileage on my car when I looked down at it… the time on the clock in the car as I pulled in to my parking space 11:11. I opened a video posted on Facebook which had the date of June 11, 2011, at the beginning of it. One of the meanings I found for this related to your thoughts creating your own reality. Pay attention!
I wonder… is this related to the topic of trauma that is frozen in my physiology calling out to me asking for release? Is it related to all the information relating to healing trauma that has been showing up in numerous places?