I’ve been thinking about relationships a lot lately. As I’ve explored more and more of my past I can see where the past and the present are intertwined. Where there are patterns that I have repeated over and over again. And as with everything, when I start to scratch the surface I find way more than I anticipated and sometimes that makes it difficult to know where to start; what to focus on.
It’s like I am standing at the trunk of a huge tree with branches shooting off in every direction and they’re all so tangled up in each other that I can’t follow them all from the vantage point of where I’m standing. And I know that eventually all of these issues will intersect with each other, so it probably doesn’t matter where I start – it’s just a matter of picking one branch to grasp a hold of in order to get the journey started.
And today the branch I have chosen is a bit stockier than some. And very prickly. And has many twigs shooting off into all directions. This branch represents the question “Why don’t I maintain relationships?”
The work I’ve been doing in counselling and therapy has taught me to tune into my body in a very different way than I used to – in a way that helps me to connect with myself rather than fly into a panic. And I can tell you that as I typed that question, I felt something very strongly in my body. It was like a punch in the area of the solar plexus chakra. And look, once I start writing like this, I don’t often take a break until I’ve hit a point of ‘completion’. But wow, I just had to take a few minutes to ‘metabolise’ all the things that came up in me when I typed that sentence.
What does that look like? Well, I closed my eyes and allowed myself to feel what I was feeling, without judgement. Without chasing it away. I just let it be there. I breathed into it. It felt like someone was squeezing my insides. It felt like a ton of pressure and tension rose up through my heart and into my throat. And then I felt it flush into my face. My jaw tightened.
And I was just sitting with this. Witnessing it. Accepting it. And then after a little while, I asked my body what it needed to do. And my body answered me. It told me I needed to rock for a little while. So as I sat here, I allowed my body to rock. And then it began to move more into a gentler swaying. And then I moved into a Peter Levine style self hug.
You can skip to about the 2:35 mark to learn the technique I referenced.
And while I was in that hug, I started to hear some really ugly thoughts. “You fuck everything up” “You chase everyone away” “You’re too much for everyone” “You’re a sick, horrible person” “You’re a fuck up” “Why do you have to be like this?” “What the fuck is wrong with you?”
And along with all of this brain babble, there was another part of me getting really overwhelmed with all of the ugliness. And that part was pretty incoherent. But it was like… if this was external noise, I would be covering my ears, and crouching into a position where I could be really small, as if I am trying to disappear. And I’d be screaming – just to cover up the sound of the ugly words. I felt like crying.
But as I continued the self holding, and made my pressure more and more firm, I quickly felt all of this shit settle and subside. And I wanted to get back to writing as quickly as possible. But I checked in with my body again and found that I needed to spend a bit more time with my eyes closed, just breathing deeply for a while.
And then I was able to come back to this piece. And writing about this trauma release or metabolizing process was a bit of a distraction from the question I was pondering. Through writing, I could step outside of myself to a degree in order to describe the process. But now as I feel like addressing the ‘question’ again, I feel myself tensing up in that solar plexus area again.
This time, it’s not as intense. It’s definitely manageable, and isn’t demanding or even requesting that I stop what I am doing; but I do acknowledge that it’s still there. And I get little anxiety flutters.
Often when I am thinking about what to discuss in therapy, I find that the things I want to avoid are the things that I really need to talk about, and the things that will lead to the biggest gains, and the biggest releases of trauma. But I have to be ready.
I am not sure if I am. One thing I have going for me is that I do have a session later today with my counsellor who I have learned a lot of the somatic techniques from. And one thing I do know is that when things feel really difficult – like they are too much to handle on my own, it’s very helpful to have a person around who can help me co-regulate; to feel safe in exploring these really difficult questions.
And I have built this up in my head as a very difficult issue. This could reveal some really dark, shadow aspects of myself that I don’t want to admit to. Maybe I’m not the ‘good person’ that I thought I was. Maybe it’s all been a mask I’ve worn. Maybe I am going to have to face a fundamental truth about myself that I won’t like. And maybe I will have to face some truths about life and society and family and friends that I won’t like.
But I do know that running from myself has never actually worked. The saying “you can run, but you can’t hide” just popped into my head. Yes, that’s true. I’ve run away from so many situations, people, places… but eventually those fears, those shadow aspects of myself turn up and have to be confronted.
And I know that I have made it through some really fucking difficult stuff already. As one of my favourite musicians Devin Townsend said “It’s just another mountain.”
But at least I now know that I don’t have to climb every mountain alone.