What people wish to change in their current lives often has deep roots in the past. Most of us have experiences in childhood that were too overwhelming at the time to fully feel. We protected ourselves from the emotional trauma and did whatever we could to push the feelings away. Some of us created extra tension and stress, holding our muscles in ways that made us not feel so much. Some of us drifted away and hardly felt our own body or what was going on. Adults come to me for personal development and transformation begins with an agreement. An agreement to follow the experience to which their bodies take them into, even if it leads to a reawakening of emotional feelings that have been pushed aside in the past.
She spent her entire childhood trying to act right, move right, or breathe right. This was her way to manage her father’s anger. She used her ability to read people, to help her to anticipate her father’s potential moods.
There were only a few occasions when he became physically violent, but there were many moments where a threat was in the air. She was afraid of the threats almost as much as she was from the actual violence.
When I met her, she wanted us to address her relationship with her husband. She felt that she was freer when he was not around. She loved him but only rarely felt like herself around him. It didn’t take long to understand that she was repeating her patterns from when she was a child. She would observe her husband’s moods and acts, and thought them to be her parameters for doing the right thing. She became insecure around him, not daring to say her real opinion, to laugh loudly or to act as she wished. No matter how many times he assured her of his love to her, she was always being careful not to act in the ‘wrong’ way.
In our session together the experience became clearer; she noticed how each time she carefully moved around in her own home, she was repeating a learned behavior pattern from her childhood trauma. She noticed how when doing her best to avoid any possible conflict with her husband, she also held her throat, her neck, her hips and her toes. When I looked at what she did in her body, what drew my attention the most, was how her arms seemed to lose any liveliness. She was a beautiful grown-up woman who held her arms as if they belonged to a weak young girl.
“Can you push me with your hands?” I asked. She raised her arm and pushed me. There was hardly any energy in her movement. I had the feeling as if her arms were asking for help rather than pushing away. I took her palm in mine.
“How does your hand feel?”
“I hardly feel it”
“Do you feel me when I touch you?”
She looked at me with big round eyes. “All I feel is that my hands want to hide, but they have nowhere to go”.
I thought that the image she presented was a beautiful one, and I continued to ask her about it.
“What is it your hands want to hide from?”
“I have no idea, my mother’s sadness maybe? I have no idea how this is connected”.
“Me neither”, I said, “but let’s trust that somehow your body will tell us”.
“My mother used to hold my hands when I went to sleep. I never liked it, but I knew that she needed it. I could not stand how sad she was and I had no clue what I could do to help her”. As she told me this, her face became red, and her jaw became tight.
“Sometimes we only have to agree to feel the sadness of people around us, because there is nothing we can do about it”
My hands moved to her neck and tears washed over her face. Her entire body shook from the crying that came from a deep old place inside her. Her face tried once in a while to push the pain away, but it was enough for me to place my hand on her forehead, reminding her it was ok to let go.
At the end of the session she looked at me with her pretty eyes. “I would like to feel people more. I know that I am very sensitive to other people’s emotions, and I was always scared of it, as if their feelings could take over my life”.
We continued to work with this topic for some time. Her relationship with her husband and friends changed dramatically as she began the healing from trauma. She didn’t have to push friends away when they needed her sensitivity; she found how joyful it was for her to be close to people, to listen to them, to feel them through her empathy. She started her studies as a therapist and learned to help others to do the same.
I always find it beautiful to experience how our body tells a story. Our mind follows certain logic, but our body follows the experience. In this story it was the hands that showed not only what was going on in the life of the client, but could also lead us to what she could do in order to create the desired change. When we trust that our body experience can lead us to what we wish could be different, we open ourselves up to surprising and exciting journey of discoveries.