When the Body Speaks

She shifts her body back into her seat, puts her seatbelt on, and tries to make sense of what has just happened. She is unsure of what to feel as her system is overwhelmed with emotions around the details that replay in her mind. She needs a guide to help her navigate the confusion that swirls from within. But he is all that she has. So she turns her uncertain glance in his direction. Upon noticing a slight smile on his face she thinks she must have done something right. But she wonders why she doesn’t feel right inside.

Moments ago she was scared. Moments ago she was lost in overwhelm. Moments ago she felt sick inside and wanted to get far away from here. She was touched by a man that she calls her coach, and yet moments ago her body responded with pleasure to his sickening touch.

Her first orgasm was experienced in his car in response to what he does to her. Each time his touch results in this response from her body layer upon layer of evidence that she asked for it – that she wanted it – that she is to blame for it piles upon her. How is a child supposed to process this tangled mess of pleasure and pain of sexual abuse?

I have been told that my young body did exactly what it was biologically designed to do in those moments. I have been told that I should carry no burden of responsibility or blame or shame for how my body reacted to what was done to me. This response from my adolescent body was not an indication that I asked for it, was defective in some way, or was complicit in what was repeatedly done to me. The only thing it indicates is that my body did exactly what it was physically designed to do.

This has been an incredibly difficult concept for my adult brain alone to accept. For the young parts of me that remember what it feels like to sit in his car on the drive home after he touched me it is still so confusing. If he was hurting me, why did it feel good sometimes? If I was so scared and wanted to go home, why did I relax and let his hands access everywhere he wished to touch? And why did I let it feel good? Doesn’t that say something about me? Doesn’t that mean there is something inherently wrong with me?

I sit curled up on the floor in my therapist’s office. Our work together is aimed at releasing the stored physical sensations I experience today as a result of childhood trauma. As she guides me through this session I notice that the calming effect I can achieve from the slow deep breaths I am focusing on only goes as far as my tensed and coiled up body position will allow. She gently invites me to uncoil in front of her, reassuring me that I am safe – that she will not hurt me. Immediately I begin to feel my hands, arms, and shoulders begin to tremble. The mere suggestion of letting my guard down in front of her begins to overwhelm my system. I keep trying to breathe, relax my body, and stop the shaking. But she then asks if I can try to stop resisting it – instead allow the shaking to come if it wishes to come. She gently reassures that it is safe to tremble there. And with that comes a wave of trembling, shaking, and eventually a flood of tears as my body releases the enormous wave of energy around this fear of vulnerably relaxing from my protective curled up position.

I do not have a sense how long I was shaking and crying in there, but after some time it slowly began to fade. First the tears stopped. Then the shaking slowly softened. Afterwards I felt a calm and relaxed state restore throughout my body. My therapist gently encouraged me to notice both the physical calm I felt in my body along with the safe and nurturing care I received from her. It was safe to relax there. It was safe to lower my guard and release the stored pain my body carries.

I noticed every bit of this. I felt my shoulders relax. I felt my breathing slow down. I felt my hands unclench. I felt comforted by her words that I let enter my ears and embrace me from within. It felt freeing and calming. It felt incredible. But I felt something else too. In that moment I chalked it up to being freaked out by what had just occurred. After all, it was an incredibly frightening experience to welcome an overwhelm of uncontrollable shaking and crying that took over my body. But there was another feeling – a feeling that has continued to linger unidentified until right now. As I sat on the floor in front of her after my body trembled violently and tears poured from my eyes, I felt exposed. What just happened? That was terrifying. Did I do something wrong? Did I do something right? What does she think of me? Am I ever going to be able to look her in the eye again? I felt an urge to apologize. I couldn’t understand why I felt that way, and I got the sense I wasn’t supposed to feel that way. But I was far too confused and disoriented to say any of it out loud. So I just tried to focus on the calm I physically felt while the other feelings waited in the background for me to acknowledge later.

Away from her office I realized that this experience connected directly to something for a young part inside of me – the young part that remembers putting her seatbelt on after something felt both horribly painful and terrifying and also somehow good. This part whose body betrayed her by responding with pleasure to his touch sat frozen on the floor in my therapist’s office scared that she did it again. Did she just let her body feel good when something bad was happening? Was this feeling of calm the same as what she knows from long ago?

Adult me understands the difference. Adult me understands what we accomplished in the therapy room that day. Adult me understands the importance of this approach to healing the wounds that linger and impact me today. But this young part is left rattled and wondering, “Did I do something bad again?”

30 thoughts on “When the Body Speaks

  1. If he had told that young part that she had to eat a bowl of ice cream or he would physically beat her up, and the ice cream tasted good, that wouldn’t mean that she wanted him to force her to eat the ice cream or that it was ok for him to do so.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. That’s a great example and a perfect way to take something that feels so complicated and provide such simplicity around it. It’s been a strange experience for me lately. I think the majority of my previous therapy experiences have been focused on wrapping my adult brain around the truth of what happened to me as a child. It took quite some time for me to get on board with the idea that I was not to blame for what was done to me. As I have ventured into somatic therapy work more recently I am discovering what my body is still holding onto and am strangely connecting to the experiences of my young inner parts in a profoundly different way. So much to learn, understand, and heal.
      I appreciate you reading and sharing your thoughts. 💕💕

      Liked by 4 people

  2. Sara, I am so sorry you went through this. My blood boils for you. I am currently listening to Know My Name by Chanel Miller – she really lays out the layers of trauma and the complications of healing. Bravo to you for this brave write. We are worth more than our abusers.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. What an incredible example of stored trauma energy release 🙌 I’m so glad you now have the space to feel and process the pain of your experiences. That should never have happened to you and your body kept you alive through it all. Your strength to explore this is powerful!

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Oh wow. This is so moving and powerful and brave. I am so sorry you experienced such vile abuse. But I’m so grateful you shared the horror of you body feeing pleasure. I find that aspect of abuse so hard to come to terms with. I’m even too scared to blog about it much. You have explained it so well. How dare your coach do that to you. Sickening.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you. I agree. It is so hard to acknowledge the way my body responded to abuse, and yet I notice now how important it is for me to address it…however disgusting I find it to be.
      I appreciate you sharing your thoughts in how you relate to this. 💕

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Terrible terrible thing to go through especially during adolescence when mind and body is in such a turmoil…I hope the therapy of your choice will help you overcome those terrible memories and come out of it so much more stronger 🤗❤️

    Liked by 3 people

  6. That shaking is so so important.. so many do not understand traumatic vibrational dischage I carry so much tensing but I am realizing it takes time to feel safe enough to release with a therapist especially if they failed us before.. this sounds like a watershed for you Sara… very moving and so helpful to write about it for others who may never get this kind of release.. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much. It’s been a long journey to get here. I really hope this leads to some freedom within.
      Writing about these experiences not only helps me process things for myself, but it is always my hope that my words might in some way impact someone else along their own unique journey.
      Thank you again for these kind and encouraging words. 💗

      Like

  7. Those feelings of negative self judgement are persistent and strong, so ingrained it makes it hard to feel anything else. You are not the only one to have broken down like this and you won’t be the last. Congratulate yourself on being able to let go a little. It isn’t easy to allow some vulnerability, especially after your experiences. Look forward not behind.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you. You are absolutely right. It isn’t easy, but I can sense that these moments hold critical parts of my healing. So onward I will press, hesitant and reluctant, but also determined to no longer be buried by what was done to me. 💕

      Liked by 1 person

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