I’ve been trying to form words since last week. I have so many thoughts and feelings in my head and heart. I have insight into the trauma of war, having experienced a bombing myself. I have strong feelings on the way we decide what war torn places we ignore and who we accept as refugees. I have thoughts on how privileged we are and how ungrateful we can be, something I’ve grappled with for almost 30 years, since my trip, ironically, to Russia at 16 years old. I hope to share them here in a way that isn’t quite as jumbled as it was in my head this weekend.
It’s been a long two years. So much has happened, so many are struggling in countless ways and here we are, with this heaviness across the world with the events of this last week. We all need to be taking acer of ourselves and our bodies right now. More rest, more breaks to breathe, more care and support. In this age of social media when we don’t only get information on war (or anything really) from turning on the news but instead, everywhere we turn, it makes it especially hard to not feel overwhelmed with it. I think it’s important to see what’s happening. I also think it’s important to not just sit and consume it constantly, but to be sure we are staying regulated in our own body (I’ll be sharing more on how to do this below) so that we can show up in life and in action to a crisis and aren’t just mindlessly and constantly scrolling. It can mean simply donating what you can even if you feel unable to stay fully in step with what is happening because it’s too much for you, especially considering all that’s been happening for so long.
We also need to be very careful about what information we share or listen to as there is a lot of purposely placed disinformation and fake videos/images. It’s a lot to have to think about. But, being silent and “staying away” from things happening simply because you don’t think they directly impact you or you have the capacity is not an answer. A power hungry man is killing people indiscriminately for his own gain. We’ve seen this before. We should all be outraged, as we should for so many conflicts happening around the entire world, not just those that look like us and live like us.
There are different levels of trauma when war happens. It’s obviously the most intense (and long lasting) for those experiencing it first hand. The people literally fleeing for their lives, the parents traveling hundreds of miles to save their children while fathers, grandfathers, brothers, uncles, and in many cases, mothers, daughters, aunts go back to fight. The soldiers in the fight (on both sides). The citizens who are staying and hiding in subway stations and basements. The journalists covering it all. Like in every war happening and every war before, civilians are not prepared for nor have the tools to even begin to know what to do to face this level of trauma.
Then, you have family and loved ones of those people. There’s those who have experienced war or a war like experience (plus their loved ones) who can have their trauma triggered. (This too, is many levels as some may feel it much less than others). Then, many levels below that which includes simply consuming the constant visual information coming through our screens. Watching the horror that is war unfold, even from afar and feeling for the people you see flashed on the screen can have an impact. Everyone is impacted by war.
It has been almost nine years since the marathon bombing. For new people, I won’t get into my full story here, but some of it can be found here. It’s been about seven years since I felt intense responses to things reminding me (my body) of that experience (namely the trial for those who did it). That changed on Thursday and I didn’t expect it. After all, I’ve been one to pay attention to other wars that have been happening, watching specials covering them or reading on them, though they do not get the type of attention we are seeing now (there’s a lot to unpack there on race/religion). I have talked about my experience from that day many times without anxiety. It always makes me feel emotional but not what I felt this week. I credit that to the intense healing I did immediately after that experience and the wide range of support I had from veterans to therapy to energy healing.
It turns out that what is happening in Ukraine has stirred up an imprint that still lives somewhere deep in my body and mind. That’s the nature of trauma. I wondered why I was feeling a bit of anxiety the first half of the week. It wasn’t intense. It was just there. I have become very attuned to my body and its cues and I acknowledged it and just did the things I usually do to listen, address it and allow it to melt away. I had to do this quite a few times. On Thursday, as I saw videos of shelling and people fleeing, my body reacted. I felt a more intense anxiety than I have in a long time and was overwhelmed with emotion all day, sobbing for those people. Crying is not new. Any time I’ve watched any specials or coverage on wars in other areas that have been going on for years, I cry. But, there was something that hit deeper based on my own experience as well as my experience in Russia as a teen (I’ll get to that below).
I know what it feels like to fear for your life in that way, to hear those sounds, to run, literally, for your life. It’s awful. I wouldn’t wish it on ANYONE. I was brought back to it. I felt it in my body. I had images flash in my mind. As I watched people flee, hide in subways and basements, women carry their children far distances to find safety while saying goodbye to their husbands/brothers/fathers. As I watched and heard the sounds of war, saw that the sick, many of them children, disabled were stuck there, to hope they can survive in bomb shelters with limited medial equipment and supplies. I sobbed. I was (am) angry at what humans can do to other humans.
I know all too well what is in store for them as far as the trauma and the ways it shows up. I know that for many it will be long lasting. For some, it may be too much for them to handle. For others, it may sneak up on them as they try to push it away.
HOWEVER, even what I know from my own experience cannot come close to what others deal with in war. I can never know that level of trauma. What that reminds me of is how lucky I am. I had this awful experience but I didn’t have to flee my home unsure if I’d be able to return. I had a short experience in comparison to bombs and fear that lasts many days, possibly weeks or months or years (let’s not forget, there are countries, innocent people, who have endured war for many many years-that trauma, I can’t even begin to imagine). I was able to work through that experience so that it didn’t impact me for years and years to come. Many are not fortunate enough to have that, the access to help and support nor the ability to feel more free from it. Trauma takes hold. Watching these people flee, watching people who have never held a gun before take up arms to defend their country, their people is a beautiful yet heart wrenching thing to watch. That’s why it takes both self regulation and knowing how to limit your consumption of information without fulling disconnecting.
I think about some of those grandparents that experienced this level of war before, as children, still carrying the weight of that. Their determination to fight and not allow what happened then is remarkable. All while they have to relive it in real time instead of just the imprints it left but also the imprints that were passed down to the younger generations. I think about all of those the people (and people in other countries that experience this day in and day out), especially the children and hope they get the help and support they truly need to address the trauma before it imprints deeper and deeper into their nervous systems.
This is nothing new. I have always felt it’s important to pay attention to where there is conflict in the world. Of course, it’s mostly places with primarily brown/black people, so we could talk a lot about the difference of attention we are seeing now with Ukraine as opposed to those places. I’ve always questioned why we don’t see more of what is going on in those places as the media loves to show us shocking and awful things. Yet, we don’t. There are currently long lasting conflicts going on in many areas of Africa, S America, the Middle East and Asia. How much do we know about them? The answer is not much at all. It still a major problem that we give more support, attention and energy to white wars as opposed to others. We welcome those fleeing the horror who are white and want to turn away those who are not because of (though, we try to reason away the truth of it) race or religion.
I do think it’s easier to tune out what’s happening in places that we don’t think affect us (all war affects us in some way though) and I do feel that for many, people simply don’t have the capacity to pay attention to it all and still stay able to function in the day to day. Which is why it is important to learn tools to self regulate and/or have support in doing so. While I understand it’s hard especially after dealing with a pandemic and all that our own country has dealt with this last two years, when we close our eyes, ears and hearts to innocent people no matter where they are, we lose a piece of our humanity. We create more separation. We elevate our privilege rather than use it for good.
Privilege. I had my first realization of privilege as a teen. In 1996, weeks after I turned 16, I went on a two week trip to Russia with my school. That two weeks changed my life. It made me want to travel, to see and experience other cultures. It also made me realize how lucky I was. Russia was only 5 years out of being the Soviet Union. They were just about to vote in their second ever presidential election and there was a buzz about it. I was surprised how the younger people, who couldn’t even vote yet were so engaged in politics. After all, I barely paid attention to ours. They were excited for their chance to vote, for the future of Russia. They told me stories of the past, what it was like.
Russia was still a much different place than the US. I remember landing in Moscow to a very packed airport with military guys carrying large guns everywhere. The city looked nothing like it does now. I remember going to see Lenin’s perfectly preserved body and how we were told we had to stay against the edges of the room as we walked through and not to make any sudden moves. Again, guys with guns everywhere. The city was still not even close to modern.
By contrast, we visited government places and went to St Petersburg and saw palaces with gold everywhere, extravagant and rich. There is this type of divide in a lot of places, including here, but this was different.
Unfortunately, it was hard to stay in touch with them as the only way to communicate was through hand written mailed letters and it would take months for a letter to get there and months before we’d hear back. I have always been sad that I didn’t still have contact with them. I’ve tried to find them on social media over the years but no such luck. I have often wondered how they have felt about Putin. The people I saw were excited for something different, for more freedom and choice. The energy of it was palpable. And now, I wonder how they feel about what is happening. Have they come to believe the lies over the years or are they some of those people protesting in the streets, risking their lives or perhaps wanting to but afraid? I wonder if any of their children were sent off to a war they were lied to about, if they are now there wondering why they are there and wrestling with what to do as they feel torn between their duty and what to actually believe. Young people are sent off to fight for rich and powerful men’s wars. I have a LOT of thoughts and opinions on war but I won’t go into that now.
These experiences I had and what I learned, this war and others, the way people are oppressed, taken over, trapped all over the world, all make me grateful and see what privilege and freedom truly look like and here people are, refusing to do the smallest things for our fellow humans like wearing a mask. We are extremely privileged and take what we have for granted. We really have no idea how it could be. Most of us haven’t had to experience war or anything close to it. It’s easy to ignore it when it doesn’t happen to you. That phrase, “first world problems” comes to mind. And don’t get me wrong, everyone has their own shit and your own traumas and stressors are valid, but if we allow ourselves to sit with some perspective, we realize that a lot of us (NOT all) have it pretty good even if there are things we are lacking. Many, not all, are spoiled in comparison to other countries, even while we have many that are still lacking in basic needs. And that’s not to say that we shouldn’t have what we do, but that others should as well. Every human deserves to have options, clean water, food, shelter, healthcare, choice and freedom. And as long as there are people without, we should all care about that, both in our own country and across the world.
We are all connected. You can think of that in terms of faith or spirituality but you can also think of it just as humans, created in these bodies. We all basically come from the same origins if you go back to the beginning and then we adapted and moved to create all of these borders and cultures, religions and races based on how close or far we were from the equator. We became who we are now. But the origins, those first people (who were most likely brown, by the way) is where we started. We are all a part of each other. We have forgotten this.
The cost of war is not just monetary or infrastructure. It’s lives. It’s cities, landmarks, history, homes and family relics, family photos, innocence and faith. It’s a loss of humanity and hope for many. What is beautiful is to see the support for those fleeing. I saw that there are people on the Polish border with signs offering shelter, work and other needs to those coming in. I wish we saw this type of love for black/brown people as well, for those of Jewish and Muslim faiths. We need to do better. We can appreciate what is being done for Ukrainians right now and also hold this fact and vow to do better.
There’s a lot of talk these days about individual trauma and we all know that war results in trauma. But, we don’t talk enough about collective trauma. Collective trauma is the mental (and physical) reactions to an event/events that an entire society faces. Many times, we don’t identify this or even realize the impacts they have on us. Some examples: 9/11, impacted our entire country and beyond our own borders. The marathon bombing not only impacted those of us there, it impacted the entire city and beyond. The pandemic has been an ongoing collective trauma for everyone, across the world. War. War impacts everyone, whether we are conscious to it or not. It has ripple effects. All of the wars before and all that have happened in our lifetime have had an impact on us in some way.
So, how do we hold all of this? Well, the answer is we can’t hold it ALL. With the number of conflicts happening at this moment, a pandemic, racism, antisemitism, individual traumas, loss and every day stressors, our nervous systems can’t hold it all, all at once to the same degree. We have to find what works best for us, without fully ignoring the world. We can allow ourselves to at least be aware of what’s happening while also putting ourselves first if that is what it takes to get through our days. After all, we are no help to anyone or any cause if we are depleted.
We also need to face a reality. We have been living under systems that ignore our well being, ignore trauma and stress and the impacts they have on us. We have to push forward, show up fully, no matter what. There’s often no time to really process anything. It’s bullshit. We are not meant to go at that pace. Our bodies cannot handle it. We are seeing change but it is slow.
What CAN we do about all of this?
First and foremost, for anyone, especially if we are finding the every day stressors and our own traumas or experiences are too overwhelming to even face what else is happening in the world) we can do our best to find ways to learn to communicate with and regulate our nervous systems. When we can identify sensations/emotions/etc in our body and mind and use the tools that work best for us, we can give our bodies what they need. Maybe it’s grounding, maybe it’s needing a good cry, maybe it’s movement. Will it remove the stressor? No. Will it allow you to feel more in control and attuned so that you can reduce the impacts in the day to day? In most cases, yes.
Sometimes, we need to ride it out a bit. I have a lot of tools. I am very attuned to my body and it’s responses. But, last Thursday, those tools didn’t fully work. They worked temporarily but I had to allow myself to FEEL the anxiety, the sadness, the anger. I cried, I did some grounding. For me, that day, it was deep breathing and doing a puzzle. Do you have some favorite grounding techniques to pull from?
Because I allowed myself to feel what I needed in addition to using tools I needed, by the next day, it all eased. The anxiety was almost completely gone and the emotion, well, the emotion stays because watching people hurt, especially in ways like they are being hurt right now, always makes me emotional. I cry every single day about it. I'm angry every day about it. and that's okay. It's okay to feel these things when there is injustice and pain in the world. I’ve always said that if I stop having emotion over bad things happening, I’ve lost my humanness and become numb and I never want that.
I will share a list of grounding and coping techniques at the bottom of this.
If we give ourselves what we need, we then have more capacity to face what is happening around us and in the world. We can consume, though not at a constant rate, information on it (make sure it’s valid and not fake). We can take whatever actions we can, personally. Maybe that’s sharing information (again, real information, vetting what you are going to share) and using your voice. Maybe that’s donating. Maybe that’s a protest or rally. Your actions may also be in voting, in community work, in dialogue with others. Find the ways you can handle. Find the ways that work for you to both support your own system and still show up for the hard stuff happening in the world. Let's do what we CAN, no matter how small we think it is, from our corner of the world to try to make it a better place for ourselves, our loved ones and the future humans.
Check on the people you know who have been in war or war like situations, (this includes mass shootings), those families of those impacted by war and anyone else you know may be struggling right now.
Most of all, let's hope for this cycle of war to end that has plagued us for so many generations. War will keep happening because war creates more anger, hate, fear, power and then it just plays out again. But it start with each of us to create a different world, to find more love, peace and connection within and share it.
With hope and gratitude,
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This is simply a message from my heart. A message I know many need to hear.
Some of you may be thriving.
Some of you are so very tired.
You may feel like you are simply surviving (or barely).
You may feel hopeless (healthcare, I'm especially talking to you).
You may feel like you found yourself these last two years.
You may feel like you lost yourself these last two years.
Maybe you are lonely, frustrated, overwhelmed, lacking focus and drive.
Maybe you are feeling deep love and joy and like you are in flow and ease.
No matter where you are at, this message is for you.
Allow yourself ease. Winter is a time for rest and going inward. You do not need to jump into action. You do not need to start checking off a big list of goals. Allow yourself time to reset, to reflect.
2022 can simply be about starting to address and heal all that you've faced and felt over the last two years. It may only just be hitting you.
2022 can also be about connecting back to deep joy, love and hope. It can be about connecting inward and outward. It can be whatever you need it to be.
But it doesn't HAVE to be anything. You don't have to strive for the biggest and greatest. You can just BE, whether that is being in your pain and finding your way out or being in the glow from the work you've been able to create, personal or professional.
It can be about uncovering yourself again or about going deeper into who you've already uncovered, under all the layers of false stories, limiting beliefs and conditioning.
But no matter which parts of this describe you, go easy on yourself. Give yourself grace and love because you deserve it.
I have a FREE resource about self care and how we, especially as women, have trouble giving it to ourselves. It also offers a long list of what I call “bite sized care” to help you start small and expand in caring for yourself. This is followed by journal prompts to identify what needs to be addressed. This freebie also includes two guided breath work audios. Comment or reach out if you want it!
There are two parts to this short post. The first, 5 things I would go back and tell myself as child is a good practice to get into. I recommend trying it if you do not already do this. In my coaching programs, I guide clients in connecting with that inner child and giving them what they needed. While that work goes deeper, journaling it is a great place to start!
5 things I would go (and have gone) back to tell myself as a child.
1. You are whole just as you are. You are a mind, body and soul working in harmony to feel all emotions, endless love and joy. You do not need to “find yourself”. You are already right here. You do not need to find someone else to complete you. You are complete. You do not need to strive for perfection. There is no perfection. There is only wholeness and you already are.
2. You belong in the right spaces for YOU. You do not need to try and fit yourself into some archetype or false version of yourself to “belong”. If you do not feel fully safe or able to be YOU, that space does not have to be yours. You can find your people. You will find the spaces where you feel most alive, where you are wholly and completely yourself, fully expressed in every way, safe and loved.
3. You can be whatever you want to be. You do not have to fit in a box. You are unique and that uniqueness is loved and accepted. You will uncover what your passions are and you will follow those passions and create a beautiful and successful life doing what you love. You do not have to listen to what others feel you “SHOULD” do. You can follow your own heart. What is good for others may not be good for YOU.
4. You deserve LOVE. Unconditional Love. You are worthy of love. You ARE LOVE. You are worthy of loving yourself. It is okay to waver from this at times but you can remember to bring yourself back to love. It is not wrong to love yourself, to put yourself first.
5. Other people’s pain is not your pain. You may be hurt by other’s words or actions. That is not justified and you are valid to feel whatever arises when that happens. Remember that it is about them and not YOU. YOU are not at fault. YOU are not deserving of that pain.
On the topic of saying things to your inner child, I wanted to also highlight some things you may have heard as a child that may have had an impact on you to this day. Not every phrase said to a child will form a strong imprint but many do.
3 Phrases that can be harmful, that many of us heard as children.
1. What do you think you’re special?” We are all special. We are all unique and that is the beauty of us. Implying to a child that they are not special can make them believe they have to be just like every other person, rejecting their true self, their uniqueness. Pushing our true selves away has an impact on how we show up in the world and how we feel in our own skin.
2. “Children should be seen and not heard.” I remember hearing this a lot from many different people. People may argue that this teaches kids respect and to not be “in adult conversations”. What this phrase does teach is that children don’t deserve to have a voice, that their thoughts and opinions do not matter. This sticks with them as they grow and they may be unable to use their voice to speak up for themselves and their needs, to speak up for others in need, to express themselves even (and many times, especially) to those closest. It also shows up when a child or adult is/has experienced abuse or other harmful behaviors or actions. They may not speak up or tell anyone. (Of course, there is more to not speaking up here as well but it’s a piece.)
Children actually have wonderful thoughts and opinions that we can learn from and we should encourage that.
3. “Money doesn’t grow on trees.” If you heard this phrase, you probably heard it a lot and still do to this day. It makes us believe that money is scarce. It creates a lack mindset. It separates us from the truth, that money is infinite and always available. We have been made to believe that it is finite. We have been made to believe that there is not enough for everyone. But, when we step back and think about that, we see it is not the truth. If it were, no one would be super rich. This phrase leads to struggling financially, to not seeing that we can have as much abundance as we want and need. It can lead to living in a place of “not enough” or “just enough”.
Some journal prompts:
What would you go back and tell your younger self? Have you said these things to your inner child? What comes up and how does it feel to do so?
Do any of these phrases sound familiar? Are there others that you feel impacted you? How?
I'd love to hear from you in my group. I will be doing a series to share more phrases like this and the impact they can have.
Join us at The Soul Healing Sisterhood.
8 years. It’s crazy to think about all that has happened in 8 years. We certainly never thought we’d have the type of year we’ve had.
8 years ago today, I woke up, crying and afraid from a nightmare. I haven’t shared this much because I felt weird about it. While I believe we know things are coming, that we have strong intuition that can alert us, I was still in a place of being worried what others would think of that belief. I woke up, not able to remember anything from that nightmare. But, I felt this deep grief. I wrote it off to being worried about my cousin who was in the hospital but we had actually gotten good news the day before and were looking to hear about more good news that day.
As I opened social media, this was the first thing I saw. This quote.
“When life gives you 100 reasons to cry, show life you have 1000 reasons to smile.”
This quote would stick with me.
I had trouble shaking the grief that morning. I went about my day, a visit to my cousin’s sons, a visit to the hospital where my cousin laid in an induced coma, then to my favorite coffee shop to meet a friend. We were heading to watch the marathon. It was her first time and I was excited to show her this fun experience.
I’ll never forget the moments that felt like hours, the people, the words yelled by those around us including, “Don’t worry, it’s just an electrical explosion” (to which, I literally mouthed, “no. it’s not.”). I’ll never forget what I felt or saw in those moments and going forward. I will never forget the ringing in my ears, being unable to call anyone, our escape running across the city, the moment I finally ran into a restaurant my family was at having lunch and so much more, much of which I will never share because graphic details are not needed.
There is SO MUCH to my story that I can’t go through it all here. (I do have a longer blog that I kept through those years. I’ll link it at the bottom.) I experienced a complete numbness (and leg shaking) for about 5 days before intense and debilitating anxiety attacks began. I would experience a roller coaster for the next year and 8 months, bouncing between anxiety/hypervigilance/frustration and numbness/deep depression. The survivor’s guilt. The panic attacks were frequent, my leg bounced like a jackhammer constantly, literally daily. Everyone started identifying me with this even coming up with little nicknames. You can read a little about that and my determination to not let this become my whole story, here in my last blog post.
I experienced a lot of guilt and frustration over the years. I felt like I had no right to be struggling while others lost lives and had physical injuries. Two veterans helped me by being my friends and justifying my struggle, reminding me that what I experienced was nothing anyone is prepared for or could be prepared to deal with. Still, I found myself carry that. The strongest thing that reduced it was when a friend and amputee from that day told me that she sometimes feels it’s harder for those with invisible injuries because people can’t see or understand the pain. She told me, with her hand on mine, that what I felt was justified. I immediately started crying and realized I was still holding onto that feeling and needed to hear it from her.
It's the people. It's not just the team of support I surrounded myself with from therapists to healers but also the community and the love of the family we built.
You can say, this experience is where I found my voice, strengthened my faith, learned how powerful I am and gained so much perspective on what’s important, who was true and so so many other things. I woke up to so much that I didn't even know was there.
I found myself unable to have small talk and have to share what I was feeling on any particular day (because, hello, roller coaster) with every person I saw/talked to. So, I decided I had to just put it out there, on social media and then, turned into a blog. It was easier to just write it all than have a bunch of conversations. It was RAW. I shared it ALL. And something I did for myself and to share a voice for others who had the “invisible injuries” turned out to have an impact I hadn’t anticipated. People were finding solace in my words. Others were finding that they understood better how to help their loved ones though trauma (both this particular one and others.) It was worth putting ALL of myself and my pain out there.
I had never had my voice before like this. I always said things were okay if they weren't. I never spoke up for myself or others. I never felt I could. This changed it all.
I knew I could move on from this in time, if I put my faith in that. I knew I could learn and grow from this experience. The pain I felt, the pain others felt and the loss of life had to turn into purpose. I refused to believe that I couldn’t fully heal from this experience. I refused to believe that this would forever impact me in the way it was at that time. (It WILL always be with me but in different ways.) My faith wavered. I hit the lowest of lows in that first year. But, I always came back to faith. I knew that I could do this with a team of support and hitting it from every angle possible: therapy, group support, connection, spiritual and energy healing.
Trauma makes us feel powerless. In some cases, that is true to a certain extent. It wouldn’t be right to continue with my own story of power if I didn’t make clear that in instances of racism and the trauma it inflicts (or in instances where people are still experiencing their trauma like abuse), there is loss of power. I hope and will continue to do my part to fight for that trauma to cease so that the healing process can finally begin. For this, in my story and that of other traumas, I’m talking inner power in healing from trauma that is no longer actually happening. A one time event or a series of events that already happened and are no longer happening except in the after-effects can be healed. It may not be fully healed right away and/or make take quite some time but it can get easier and easier over time as you unpack and feel the power and inside of you. I reminded myself and was reminded by my support team, of this power.
I had already been spending years unpacking how we all experience trauma, how it presents and how it’s handed down (or not). But, this experience made me look even deeper in myself and in trauma as a whole. It led me to where I am now personally and professionally.
It also cemented for me that negative actions, behaviors and beliefs are rooted in some type of trauma and experience. I made it my hobby and then my life’s work to understand this and to help people heal.
As in times of struggle for anyone, we learn who our people are, who fully supports us, who can’t (due to their own traumas). We start to put into perspective what matters, how holding on to the past, how fear of taking changes, how staying in places that don’t help us grow and be happy isn’t worth it.
I had said to her before, “I feel like I lost a piece of my soul.” And then earlier in 2015, we did a “soul retrieval” and I felt just a bit more whole again. I also had someone tell me how they felt I had something trying to work it’s way out and my shaking made that obvious. I was surprised by this person saying it and it’s exactly what I had felt.
On this December day, in the midst of this session, I began to have what felt like a panic attack. My entire body got hot, I felt like I couldn’t breathe. I had a moment when I thought, “should I say something?” And then “No. This is supposed to happen.” So, I let it. I began to shake and I fell over and passed out. When I woke, moments later, I felt lighter than I had maybe ever. She told me that she kept working and that she felt an intense energy/entity leave my body as it went calm after convulsing. It was as I’d always felt, something was in me. I personally see it as me absorbing a lot of energies of fear/anger/grief on that day. I tend to absorb. That all, together, in my body for a year and 8 months, was now one energy. I was finally free of it.
The proof was there. I was in multiple situations over the next week that would usually cause my leg to shake uncontrollably and other physical anxiety symptoms. In these situations I was still. Completely calm and still. And I felt it inside. What had felt heavy every day, like a weight literally on my chest and heart, was clear and open. Once that energetic piece and the physical symptoms healed, I continued the spiritual and inner work on this and all other traumas and old wounds I continue to uncover.
I have made incredible friends, have seen so much humanity and love, and found light in the dark.
Now, to use that VOICE to speak and act on injustice, that FAITH to continue my own soul healing and helping others on theirs, that POWER to know that we all have more power inside of us than we’ve been allowed to realize and using it for good, that PERSPECTIVE to continue helping me see what’s most important.
You may not always feel like you have the power within you to overcome but I want to be here, to remind you that you do.
With gratitude and hope,
It was forceful and I could hear it clear as day. I was literally at the tail end of my first major panic attack. I felt like I was dying. I couldn't breathe, I was crying a cry I can't fully describe, as if everything was just pouring out of me, my entire body had been convulsing and my head felt like it may explode.
You see, I had been through a major trauma, a bombing. It was the largest traumatic event I'd experienced. The person speaking to me was someone with PTSD, so maybe that means she knew more than me on this subject? Maybe when she says I will have these severe attacks for life, she's right?
Everything inside of me said NO. That may be the story she (maybe unconsciously) was going to hold on to, but it was not going to be mine and I made decisions at that time that shaped where I am today.
I know how hard anxiety is. From this point on, I had debilitating attacks for quite some time. I also had anxiety when I was younger, though it took me a long time to realize it. I came from a lot of complex trauma as a child that I gained awareness around through my 30s. I've taken medication at times to help with it and once I faced the intense anxiety after the bombing, I decided my new way forward was to become friends with that anxiety, to stop ignoring it and fearing it and instead, become attuned to it, to create a deeper connection to my body and within.
After the bombing, I decided to not use medication. I wanted to feel and experience all of it. I had this sense that it would be good for me to learn every sensation, so I could feel it coming, identify the triggers immediately and stop it before it could take hold. This method worked for ME, but it would not work for everyone. It's important to talk to your support team and decide what is best for YOU. I did work with a psychologist who specialized in trauma/violence who also used mind/body connection techniques.
I combined therapy with many different energy healing modalities along with the process of allowing myself to feel my anxiety fully in the moments when it arose. I didn't push it away when it came. It was really fucking hard, but this combination of things worked for me . Medication may be the right option for some and temporarily, but do not let anyone tell you that you must live with it (the medication OR the anxiety) forever. Be open to whatever feels right along with the knowledge of your support team. Of course, every individual and experience is different but I invite you to explore many healing modalities before assuming that you will always struggle (a qualified therapist plus others).
The idea that you will always struggle is a false narrative and there is research to back it up. There is a program whose purpose is to help veterans with PTSD called the Headstrong Project. I remember reading an interview with their clinical director years ago where he made this point clear. When talking about PTSD and anxiety, he said, “It’s not weakness. It’s science. And it can be solved.”
Anxiety is a normal part of our nervous system response. Anxiety is also an energy, and energies can be shifted.
For more than 1.5 years after the bombing, my leg would shake all the time, just like a jackhammer. I remember one particular day, sitting in my favorite coffee shop, shaking as usual. The owner, an uncle figure to me, walked out of the back and said,
“I was thinking I could tape your legs to the chair and then your leg would stop shaking. But then, I figure your arms would shake and then I’d have to tape those too. Then your head may shake so it may be too much to tape your head down. But you know what I was thinking?”
“What?” I asked.
“That there’s something in there that is just trying to work it’s way out of you. So, you sit there and shake as much as you need. It will make it’s way out.”
“That’s exactly what I feel.” We smiled at each other as he went on his way.
I will tell you, I feel down to my every cell that this particular conversation nailed it. I knew it was an energy needing to be released.
I had absorbed a LOT of tough energy in that few minutes when the bombing happened and I continued to pick up more as I went along. I had a lot to release and that would take time.
During an energy healing session, I had what was similar to one of my panic attacks. I even passed out. When I woke, I felt a peace I hadn't felt in 20 months. I felt lighter, literally. I felt an overwhelming sense of calm. Over the coming weeks, this was tested. I was in situations where my leg would violently shake and I sat there with nothing. Others noticed and commented on it. I had become known as the “shaker” and here I was, completely still.
I went to a holiday party at a packed bar and I mean PACKED, where you could barely make your way through. I had barely been able to be in a busy place before this, running out feeling like I couldn't breathe every time tried. But, here in this bar, I stood in the center, people basically touching me on all sides, loud music and I was still and felt no anxiety at all.
Now, does this mean that I've never had anxiety again? NO. I get anxiety. Our bodies are meant to alert us, protect us and to feel energies of what is happening in our own lives and those around us. This is especially true when faced with new things, old triggers or things like, I don't know, a pandemic. I've never again had another panic attacks like I did at that time. When I do have any feelings of anxiety, it's mostly mild, showing up in ways like overwhelm, procrastination and other behaviors. Now, I have a whole toolbox to turn to thanks to the support and knowledge I gained.
I am honored to be able to share with you, the tools I have learned for this and other things that hold you back.