Release and Renewal
Remember to remember. So poignant, yet so true as we often choose to forget those things that cause us pain and discomfort. It has helped to remind me why I’m such a strong advocate for safe, nurturing touch and presence. The clarity came about 3 weeks ago. Since then, I’ve been digesting and assimilating the impact of what I chose to forget and then rediscovered, in order to let go and move forward.
Being “seen and heard” in entirety is something I’ve avoided most of my life, until now. By avoiding I believed I was protecting myself, but the truth is that it only caused more pain. Self-soothing with alcohol, sugar and exercise proved to be outlets of avoidance and did not provide long-term relief of the anxiety I suffered from. It feels vulnerable to share this, but it also feels right to do so. I recently rediscovered that I was sexually abused in my infancy and early toddler years. I say rediscovered because I had detached from and subconsciously forgotten this part of myself as a survival instinct. To be clear, it was not at the hands of any of my family members, nor do I hold any blame, judgment or anger towards them; I love my family and am grateful for their continued love and support in my life.
However, this trauma has had a drastic impact on my life. I became clairsentient and clairvoyant at 4; I was able to feel the emotions and physical pain of others. It was a terrifying place to be. I had no idea how to vocalize what I was experiencing and there were situations that would cause me to freeze in fear; stage fright was one of them. According to Stephen Porges’ Polyvagal Nerve Theory (PVT), in relation to trauma, there are 3 levels of functioning when dealing with stressful/challenging situations, and the degree of stress influences which level of functioning occurs based upon whether the situation is perceived as safe, dangerous or life threatening:
- “safe” (level 1) situations result in normal social engagement;
- “dangerous” (level 2) situations result in a hyper vigilant state, also known as“fight or flight”;
- “life-threatening” (level 3) situations result in immobilization, also known as “freeze or fold”; we completely dissociate.
I dropped into a state of hyper vigilance, where I stayed for many years suffering from anxiety. The withdrawal and detachment from the trauma translated into subconscious self-abuse beginning with a black eye and near drowning at 4, followed by years of sports injuries and emotional abuse. At 12 I was suddenly able to feel energetic layers – separation and integration of body, mind and spirit. I felt so displaced. In my early teens I felt like my paternal grandmother was the only person who seemed to understand me. She passed on when I was 14, and subsequently I shutdown and withdrew deeply into myself. I believed myself to be a victim and carried that mentality through college until this past June, having been subjected to more sexual and emotional abuse in the interim. Defending myself was challenging, because when challenging situations arose my throat would seize and I lost my ability to speak, often dropping into an immobilized state. Because of this I struggled with intimacy and relationships for years, and only recently have learned how to allow and create healthy relationships in my life.
I became a Physician Assistant (PA) because I had a strong desire to help others heal. This was a hard course. For those who have gone through PA school, you understand; it’s no joke. It’s a calculated subtle process of abuse; the best PA’s are those who are the most resilient, but at what cost? Our programs are a condensed intense version of medical school. My body rebelled and I developed mononucleosis (a.k.a. “mono” or Epstein Barr Virus) in my 2nd year of graduate school. It wasn’t until I changed to a 100% plant based diet almost 2 years later in 2009 that my body fully recovered at the physical level. I consider this a tipping point in my life because when I made this change it positively affected my emotional health.
In 2012 I met an inspiring woman physician who verbalized her belief in my potential; it was the first time I felt truly seen since my grandmother had passed on. She recommended that I read “Drama of The Gifted Child: The Search for The True Self” by Alice Miller. This book and her belief in me changed my life. Yoga found me, and it’s been an amazing journey ever since. I packed up and moved 2,000 miles away to a new state, leaving behind everyone and everything that was familiar, except for my 2 cats. I devoted myself to practicing yoga and meditation, and as I did the layers of the self-discovery onion started to unravel. I opened chakras and experienced higher energy sensitivity and heightened intuition. I learned how to be present, how to breathe, and most importantly how to respond and not react. This awareness brought me out a constant state of angst and “fight or flight”; I became aware of energy in a new way as I started to socially engage.
In my work as a PA I had noticed that compassionate touch and presence had a profound impact with patients and their ability to heal. In February of 2016 I had a profound experience: in speaking with a patient, I became a conduit. I felt a Divine presence of love within me, guiding my actions and words. This particular patient had been severely traumatized and had a miraculous turn around afterwards. It was Divine, Godly intervention. It became clear how essential physical, emotional and metaphysical touch is for health. It also became quite apparent that I didn’t “fit” in the system anymore. It was an uphill battle until I resigned. Time constraints and system protocols made delivering consistent touch challenging. So, after 7 years of practice and over 21,000 patient interactions across the disciplines of spine surgery, inpatient family medicine, internal medicine and digestive health, I took a leap of faith and made the decision to resign my position as a PA in November 2016.
It would be 7 months before I found my true path of service. I explored Reiki, pranic healing, shamanic journeying, cranial sacral therapy, Hakomi, essential oils; but something was missing. When I was introduced to Nuad Borarn in June 2017 I felt like I had come home to myself. I learned that it is a medical folk art with the intention of love and compassion at its core. Compassion and medicine combined; it seemed too good to be true, but here it was right in front of me! The most profound aspect of this art is the delivery of touch with the intention of Bhakti yoga, loving devotional service. This intention combined with the rhythmic, flowing compressions provides feelings of safety and trust within the receiver allowing for the release of stored emotional traumas and associated behavior patterns. It balances mind, body and spirit by inducing a deep meditative blissful state. In this art the giver is the receiver and in this way it has helped me to evolve, release and awaken in ways I didn’t believe possible. It was the devotional component that healed my trauma. After years of lost faith I’ve come home to God again through practicing this art and my teacher’s guidance with mantra (prayer). Practicing mantra has released heartache, traumatic flashbacks and deep-seated grief I had detached from and avoided for so long. I feel reborn and alive again.
So, when asked WHY I offer the service I do, the answer is not short, but it is in full integrity. I am a strong advocate of touch in its many forms (physical, emotional and metaphysical) and particularly Nuad Borarn, which touches on a deeper level than any other healing art I’ve studied or experienced, because of my own experience with trauma and the ability of this art to provide the healing I needed. So with the ushering in of 2018 I welcome in this renewed faith and subsequent release of pain and suffering. I share my story for therapeutic reasons and also to bring the following awareness to those who have experienced trauma: you are not alone, it is possible to heal trauma through touch, and safe touch does exist. Impossible = I’m possible.
Much love and gratitude to you,