I use Insight Timer, the meditation App, daily. I practice every morning and some evenings, especially if I'm sitting in my home enjoying my happy-hippy plate of veggies and for some reason feel like I just cannot get my body to relax.
My stomach is tight, as if someone were squeezing me-- I struggle to breathe. Just breathe. My shoulders are tense, my neck is in pain, and it feels as though my entire thirty-year-old frame is aging at twice the average rate.
My solar plexus swirls with pain and cuts off the light trying to get it-- leaving me feeling low in confidence, powerless, and with a gnawing, annoying victim mentality.
I'm aware of all of this-- and that my body is responding to a trauma of the past. One that is not currently happening in the present moment, but something that has already happened.
Dr. Russell Kennedy, author of Anxiety Rx, calls these "alarms."
Say, for example, a man is approaching you late at night with a knife looking not so nice-- naturally, your body will set off some alarms to get out of there.
Normal alarm in the body.
People who have suffered Big T Trauma, will still feel that same alarm-- even if there is no man coming toward you with a knife looking not so nice.
The body stores trauma.
When I started reading Dr. Russell Kennedy's book, it was hard for me to make it through the first half because it was all about how trauma is deeply embedded into our systems. The first half of the book made me feel even more powerless and hopeless.
I was well aware of my embedded traumas and how they manifested in my body. Tight stomach, difficulty breathing, fight or flight mode...
His story was very relatable. Dr. Russell Kennedy's father died by suicide after battling mind-altering mental health issues for his entire childhood. Dr. Russell Kennedy strived to become a doctor that would help people in a way he felt he couldn't help his father.
Dr. Russell Kennedy suffered through two divorces.
He had a deep, embedded alarm inside of him that would sound (loudly) whenever he got close to another person because his father had left-- and what if he lost this person too? It was almost impossible for him to course correct. He couldn't properly connect.
He improved his situation by taking care of his inner child, his inner anxiety, the voice inside that was afraid of being abandoned again. He had logical reasons to feel afraid, but after years of practice, he was able to self-soothe and take care of his own attachment wounds.
"I realized I needed to be that safe adult for my inner child," he said. "I had to tell myself, the parts of me that were terrified to be abandoned again, that I'm here and not going to leave. I've got you."
This book was extremely helpful for me. I notice these sensations in my body, and anyone who has read my book can easily see the patterns of trauma manifesting in me. It's only now, in my 30s, that I can speak to my inner little Emmy and she isn't afraid to be herself-- to love again. To allow love in.
To let life happen after trauma.
If this resonates with you at all, I highly recommend checking out The Anxiety MD.