I am coming out the other side of emotional trauma. Twelve months ago I found myself pulling up in my driveway after a complex meeting with a government department and I could not get out of the car. I had hit a wall, left emotionally, mentally and spiritually broken. I now know that I was suffering from adrenal fatigue and the emotional trauma of working in an extremely high pressure management role for two years with a complex community.
I had become so absorbed in the job that I was not listening to the internal cues that my body was trying to tell me, let alone what my family was saying. The body finally said "enough is enough, if you won't stop, I will stop you". My mind was a numb, garbled mess. I could not hold on to one thought process. Yes, I was a mess.
Stress causes a number of responses in the body; fight, flight or freeze. In the days that followed I found myself at times shaking uncontrollably. I found it both frightening and intriguing. Why was I shaking? After ready Peter Levine's book "Healing Trauma" I now know that the shaking was the body's way of completing the flight response.
So this brings me to today. For twelve months I have been processing, moving through my emotions and allowing them to arise, journalling, crying, releasing anger and healing. Today was the first time in twelve months that I felt some sense of myself. I went for a ride on my horse with my daughter, I talked, I laughed, I spent time with friends, dancing and singing. It felt good to be "myself", it felt familiar and I felt ok.
We need to be gentle with ourselves. As Brene Brown says, "there is power in vulnerability". This is something I have really become so much more aware of over the past twelve month. I will hold myself close, like a small child. I will treat myself with tender care and nothing less than radical self-love.
So, if you have found yourself in a state of freeze, try these three steps to start moving from freeze into feeling:
1. Breathe - spend several minutes throughout your day doing deep belly breathing. Breathing in for a count of four, hold for a count of two, out for a count of four. Really focus on deepening and slowing the breath
2. Journal daily - there is something very powerful in putting pen to paper. Try writing to your past self, the person that had experienced the traumatic event. If another person was involved, write them a letter and write their response. This can be very revealing and cathartic.
3. Move your body. Something as simple as walking can assist in releasing those good feeling endorphins. Put on some music that really moves and uplifts you, grab your runners and get out in the fresh air. This is a true act of radical self love.
Finally, don't diminish your experience. Allow yourself to feel the emotions as they arise and most importantly be kind to yourself.