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Last week on YOUR LIFE AFTER TRAUMA I interviewed Babette Rothschild. You probably know the name, or it at least sounds familiar, right? Babette is an icon in the trauma recovery world. Or, as one audience member wrote, she’s a ‘hero’. I agree. The author of The Body Remembers and 8 Keys to Safe Trauma Recovery, Babette is a survivor herself who now works as a therapist and trainer. She’s theoretically educated and practically oriented – a great combination.
Our conversation went on for almost an hour and covered a slew of interesting topics (you can listen to the Babette Rothschild podcast here). One of the points Babette made is one that is tremendously important. I talk about it often to many survivors and clients: it’s the idea that there is no one single way of trauma recovery that works for everyone. In fact, Babette said that one of her biggest issues with the professional trauma community is how often she hears clinicians and counselors proclaim that their way is the only way. Babette spoke about why this isn’t true, plus how you can know if you’re in the right track – and when you’re not, what to do about it.
Our conversation reminded me of my own PTSD recovery journey. Over the course of my healing I used 10 different modalities, from talk therapy, to all the energy processing techniques, to a ‘healer’, to hypnosis. Whew, that was a lot of trial and error and change! I didn’t have any professional trauma guidance during my recovery. When I began my effort at healing back in 1998 no one clued me in to the idea of trauma therapists or trauma recovery processes. Everything I did was driven by my own intuition. And also, by checking in with myself about what felt all right and what didn’t. (Babette made some great comments about this on the show.) It’s hard to trust your intuition after trauma. Do you feel like even your own instincts could be wrong? I felt like that all the time! Still, I tried to listen to whatever internal feedback I got and use what it was telling me.
Often I tried new modalities that didn’t make sense to me but were suggested as possibly helpful. I went into them all with a willing and open mind. Greg, my therapist, was trained in a lot of techniques that I found extremely weird. But I trusted him, so I tried new things when he suggested them. I was willing to do just about anything to feel better. In my PTSD recovery memoir, I describe a part of the process this way:
Greg says the body knows things beyond the mind, and that sometimes the body knows more. So we pose questions to which we gauge my body’s response by muscle testing. I hold my arm at a ninety- degree angle to my body. Greg places his palm on the top of my arm, just above the elbow. He asks me a question and presses down on my arm. The strength with which I resist allows us to assess the strength of what I believe, or the weakness. In a way, we read my mind according to my body’s responses. Since I don’t trust my body, and my mind always feels like an addled, unfocused mess, this method isn’t easy for me to believe.
But I trust Greg, so I submit and am surprised that our sessions invigorate me with conscious and subconscious success. I develop a greater degree of ease in talking and feeling. I leave each session with optimism and rush back each time with the idea I will be rewarded, I will begin to gain weight, my body will become less fragile, my health will be restored through a sort of psychological witchcraft in which I cannot wait to engage. Little by little, the creaky machinery of the mind/body connection, which was shut down and boarded up so many years ago, begins to turn on a well-greased axis. I begin to recognize the existence of my instincts and where and how they reside in the reactions of my body.
I begin to practice listening for and gauging the strength of that inner voice. I begin deferring to it on small, insignificant matters…
When you find yourself stuck, stalling, afraid, or uncertain, open your mind to trying something new. I know it’s easy to shut down and try even harder to keep yourself safe, but the more you isolate, refuse, reject and retreat the more you’re going to stay just where you are. Over your life you’ve tried so many new things, like flavors of ice cream, hairstyles, toothpaste and shampoo. Trauma recovery is the same as any other taste you develop and acquire: it takes testing, assessing and responding to choose what feels right. Then, you figure out how to incorporate the perfect product into your lifestyle so that you feel better about yourself, your life and your healing path.
I received this email from a woman trying to make a film about a female marine struggling with PTSD. If you’re looking for a grassroots project to support, check out her note and what she’s doing:
Hi Michele, my name is Erika Ringor. I am an actress/filmaker. I have a project called “TROY SPEAKS THE TRUTH” that I am trying to raise money for. It’s a war drama about a female marine struggling with PTSD. My production team and I are reaching out to websites and blogs targeting this demographic to get the word out about this film. We need to raise $10,000 by April 19th to be able to move forward with the movie. We are on a site called kickstarter.com that allows people to donate to a project. Would you share our press release on your blog site for poeple to see and donate to our project? It’s an important story that we want to share and need your support if you can help. Thank you for your time and I look forward to corresponding with you. Here is the link to “Troy Speaks The Truth”.
Join me on Thursday night 7:05-8pm EST.
All through the month of March we’re discussing hope for post-trauma recovery. Click here to see my upcoming guests on YOUR LIFE AFTER TRAUMA.
This week my two survivors talk about how to move forward, make a difference and manage triggers, while author best-selling author, Lisa McCourt, talks about her new book Juicy Joy and how you can access joy while moving through PTSD recovery.
Want ideas about how to deal with depression, change, and healing? Want to know how to find treatments that work and proof that your past can be overcome?
I began writing while I was still deep in the PTSD dark – and didn’t stop writing until I came out into the light. Once I began to speak it brought such a sense of release I just couldn’t stop. I think this was a huge benefit in my recovery as it allowed me to face things instead of avoid them.
You can read a part of how I healed posttraumatic stress disorder today by downloading a part of the book here. We’re in the process of designing a bunch of goodies just for you when you book is launched. More details to come but I’ll share this with you today: there will be many free gifts offered from professionals who are donating their time and resources to help you move forward. I just love when the community comes together!
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