Some reflections on trauma and difficulty with relaxing


I am in a very contemplative space this morning.  I came to a kind of full stop yesterday.  I had a realisation that I have been over running due to the fear and stress of my Mum not being well.  It brought up a lot of painful feelings and memories, although I was not fully aware of that until today.  The past few days as I shared I was in quiet a dark place with suicidal feelings again.  So much of my past has been running around in my mind.  I end up  beating myself up for where I am and how I am not ‘further along’.   There may be an element in how I haven’t helped myself and made bad choices but a lot of it was and is driven by fear and trauma and it takes some time to see the role fear actually plays in trauma, although it should be blatantly obvious I guess.  Also in this dark negative place I don’t see how far I have come and how much better I am managing most days.

Anyway I woke up this morning with my body relaxed but when consciousness dawned I was in post traumatic shock/spin for a long while how this works is I will feel the stretching settling calm of deep rest and then feel a jerk or a jolt that goes through my system , then I feel as if I am trying to push free from a pile of junk settled in my tissues.  While all this was occurring an acronym for F.E.A.R came to me (please excuse the swearing) Fucking Entirely Avoiding Reality.  I know it’s harsh, but if I don’t have a handle on what I am scared of fear can tend to run my life and avoiding what I am scared of instead of facing it is not always the best option.

I then logged on to WordPress to find a post about how fear cannot exist in a relaxed body.  In the article the writer was saying how important it is for trauma sufferers to consciously work on relaxing the body.  We actually DO need to avoid revisiting traumatising stressful situations at certain times if we want to achieve the calm that is so non existent in a traumatised body.  In the end its a fine line though as we cannot run from trauma without it following us.

While reading I was thinking about how in trauma we take flight from the body.  I am constantly aware of this tendency in me.  In trauma the body becomes a very painful place to be, it contains memories, it reminds us that we could be affected and touched by hurtful things,  we may feel deeply ashamed of it due to shame dumped in us or absorbed by the culture.  We may feel deeply ashamed of the feelings our body presents ourselves with.  To heal trauma we have to begin to re-inhabit the body but the problem comes when we have to face painful trauma imprints and echoes in the body/mind.  Its a fine line because if we re enter the trauma we are often re traumatised, filled with the original fear and tense our body and have difficulty relaxing.  The antidote according to the article I was reading is to take our body and self to a safe place where we no longer have to live with the painful memoires of re-enacted trauma over and over and over again.  We need too to reach for self soothing, calming realities and experiences.

Yesterday I was aware that I was going into the painful trauma place again.  Anger came up (rage in fact) I threw things around the room and actually ended up putting crack in one of the doors of my television cabinet (I only noticed this last night as in the midst of the heat of anger yesterday I just didn’t see it!).   I then started to write a post on self harm which I ended up not posting as part of my observer self was going into all the darkness, anger and pain.  Don’t get me wrong I know we need to talk about these painful issues but what I am sensing for me is that I am beginning to recognise that what I need for my own healing most these days is to put myself in place of calm, relaxation, peace and safety not as a denial of reality but as a choice of what I need for self care.

I see that I often don’t let my body relax.  I will be a little tired at night and instead of taking myself off to bed I will have a cup of tea and something sweet.  Really I should be listening to my body and letting it relax.  Part of why I do this may be that I live alone, in some way when living alone at the time of going to bed I am most aware that I am alone and aware that at night going to sleep is one of the times my trauma reactivates and yet I could consciously embrace that aloneness and find within it a place of calm, comfort and safety instead of reaching outside or resisting it.

Today I have been wondering how many of my painful body symptoms actually come from resistance.  I may not be at the time consciously aware that I am resisting some pain, truth or reality or forcing myself towards something I don’t really need when I actually need something else entirely and maybe that awareness only comes in time.

The other realisation is that for so much of my life I feel I have had to hold everything together alone and that makes it also difficult at times for me to relax and just let my body be and feel the calm of simply being.   My fear of emotional closeness can make me pull back at just the time I may need to stay or reach forward.  These are all the things I am seeing about myself today.   And yet sometimes I need to pull back when stressful things that others are going through start to affect my own peace of mind in negative ways.

Just as I started to write this my sister called.  She was giving me an update on how my Mum is as I had a day off yesterday from seeing Mum.  I was so tired, I really could not face the hospital.   While we were talking tears were running down my face.  I was reminded of some deficiencies in me in terms of things from the emotional neglect of my childhood, definitely not my fault but still cause for deep sadness.  My sister is really there for my Mum.  She has been through a lot herself.  I am glad for this for at the moment I just cannot be.  I will go to the hospital in a few days, when I have had time to relax but for now I am aware that I need the peace and calm of a place where I can acknowledge the need  my body has for time to stop, relax and let go.

Big realisations are happening for me.  Sagittarius sun/New Moon for me perhaps is giving me a vision of things that were not clear before now and bestowing deeper meaning after facing the pain of being in such a dark place yesterday.  The Sun is squaring my first house Pluto which can be a key significator of a traumatic childhood and of someone who early on is confronted with the darkness of loss, betrayal, trauma and suffering

So, recovery goes on.  We dive down deep at times and then re-emerge seeing more parts of the puzzle, more of our part in things, more of what is needed for us to grow and heal just for today.  We get the gift of vision, insight or wisdom often only after the long night passes in which we underwent the painful Plutonian ordeal by fire.

6 thoughts on “Some reflections on trauma and difficulty with relaxing

  1. Interesting, I have discovered that when my parents are ailing, I regress – it is as if the issues I’d thought I’d left behind all resurface, especially surrounding family dysfunction.

    1. That is so very true. I also think the abandoned child in the parent comes out so we are looking beneath the surfacee into the heart of a reality that is hidden deeply, if that makes any sense. I am trying to keep some distance at the moment for my own sanity and peace of mind.

  2. Nice entry and very insightful. Among your other thoughts, the “dumping in and absorbed” effect certainly hits home. It’s odd. The pain seems to have become part of who I am (even though it didn’t originate within). The thinking or cognitive part has gotten better, but the emotional residue is something I haven’t been able to be free of just yet.

    Relaxing seems foreign. Even when everything seems fine. I know for myself that I can still feel it polluting every thought and emotion.

    I’m glad I came across your blog.

    Be Well, Theseus

    1. Thanks Theseus..yes our thoughts can be free but what you say about the emotional residue is true its hold can be so powerful…sometimes the depth of grief completely overwhelms me and it feels so huge it has to be way beyond personal. comforting to know you can relate to this. Thank you.

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