Regaining a sense of trust with your body
I was talking with a friend a few days ago about this idea of trusting your body again after a serious illness or transplant. It's a story I've heard from women all over the world, whether about a major illness or health crisis, pregnancy loss or simply a difficult body relationship. It's the question my entire career is built around, the one I've spent years researching trying to find answers to. It's what my course, which will be launching soon, will be all about.
I've spent years struggling with my body. Feeling a deep sense of disconnection, the notion that my body was inherently evil or destined for pain, a betrayal burned deep into my bones through years of illness, pregnancy loss and then subsequent liver failure. When I started this work I knew 2 things. I knew I was doing it for me before I was doing it for anybody else. And I knew if I felt this way about my body, I couldn't be the only one.
If you struggle with developing a sense of trust with your body after trauma, firstly I want to let you know that you aren't alone. And there is hope. I made these programs, this content, my one on one coaching program, for you.
To get you started, here is a breakdown of my beginner steps for establishing trust with your body post trauma.
Your body isn't the enemy. The truth is to be in alignment and live the life of our dreams, we need to involve all parts of us. Mind, body and soul. This isn't a matter of disconnecting and shutting down the body. When we separate from a part of ourselves, we are severing that connection that holds the key to unlocking the life you've always dreamed of. This is your body. Take a good, long look. Get familiar with it, even the parts that make you uncomfortable. The fact that you're still alive today means your body has spent so long fighting for your survival. The body takes a lot of shit but the truth is it never gave up on you. Despite trauma, pain and belittlement sweet body has never thrown in the towel. The body is designed to adapt and survive. When an area is injured or a trauma is sustained, the body works to heal it. Pain, inflammation, varying body sensations, they are designed to let us know something is going on. What if, instead of criticizing her for sending pain alert signals, we began to view pain as an invitation to go deeper? What is body saying, what sensations are arising, what needs our attention in order to be healed?
In order to regain trust with our bodies, we first must establish a sense of embodied safety. You may be rolling your eyes right now but stick with me. As someone who felt chronically unsafe in their body, I can relate. Particularly in the land of chronic illness, it feels like the body is in a constant state of emergency. Hospital visits, labs, they all aren't necessarily environments designed to make us feel safe and warm. A lot of time these situations are out of our control. I'm not asking you to feel safe in the world around you. I'm asking you to find a sense of internal safety. Even in a body with chronic pain, is there a tiny area in your body that feels good and safe? It can be tiny, and in the most unusual location. Mine is often behind my ear, in my big toe... The goal is to find that location and breathe into it. Shift your focus from the feeling of not being safe to this location where it does feel safe. Focusing on your inhales and exhales can help if it's hard to locate a specific spot. Instead of telling yourself stories about the sensations going on in your body, maybe just feel them. Not labelling good or bad but this feels hot, cold, pinch-y, sharp, dull... Ask yourself what would make you feel safer in this moment. Also your breath is your tether. When everything feels unsafe, keep returning to the breath
Healing happens in the body. The knowing of the mind won't bypass the knowing of the body. This is why when we disconnect from the body after trauma, exiling it and feeling betrayed, healing can't happen. We can bury the trauma but feelings buried alive never die. To heal, we must go inward. This is why embodiment work is so important. This isn't just about reclaiming the parts of the body that we like or that are socially acceptable. I frequently embody my chronic illness, with as much sensation and sensuality as possible. How? Have a sick day in silk pajamas. Feeling frumpy - play it up and go all in! Pretty pill cases, red lipstick at the doctor's office. It's an integration of all parts of us, including the trauma. We're not pulling it along like an unruly little sibling. Let curiosity be your guide and play! Stop reacting to your situations and start creating in it!
Orient yourself in your experiences. This isn't someone else's story, it's yours. Your life, you call the shots. So why are you so concerned about other people's opinions? Your doctor, medical team... can offer input but ultimately this is your ship and you are in command. Hire and fire your medical team accordingly. If you want something done differently, ask. Become your own best advocate. Follow what makes you feel good. Stop worrying so much about what other people think and feel and want.
If this appeals to you, I invite you to sign up for a free, no obligation consult call via the work with me tab on my website. Whether one on one coaching or a group style is your jam, I'd love to work together and share the tools with you for establishing trust with your body, alchemizing your pain story into your power and breaking free from body trauma.