Trauma was and has been the dominant experience of my life, first because it was so very, very, early, maybe in utero, and secondly because it was a violation on multiple fronts, physical, sexual, verbal and even mental, and thirdly because it was non-stop for a long time. These were my formative experiences. They formed me, programmed me, dominated me, as all formative experiences do. Mine just happened to be not very loving or supportive.

In my present day life, I have been attempting to bear witness to my every action and reaction hoping to deconstruct why I do the things I do, why I have had the life I have. I want to understand myself, to remove the mysteries. Of course this is a very protracted endeavour and many days I fail miserably at keeping track of myself, it is so difficult to focus on the witnessing when a maelstrom beckons 24/7. Yet this witnessing practice has borne many, many fruits and I am so much more aware of my life then before. And yet there is always “further”.

Being constantly on guard due to trauma has understandably derailed my many tens of thousands of attempts at self awareness. I was always suspicious that there was something out of place but could never get enough distance from the storms to glimpse a larger view. Yet in recent years I was able to soften the intensity of my hyper-vigilance just enough to see that there was something wrong with my perception of the world. This was the crack that let some light in (to paraphrase Leonard Cohen). This light became an ally in the war to solve the mysteries. At the time, however, I had no clarity on what the hell was happening to me. My own personal world war was raging within, I was both protagonist and antagonist, I was the fuel and the flame, I was the aggressor and the victim. Even when I was home I was lost.

I do not feel a conscious need to remember and give voice to the nasty things that happened to me as a kid, but it is apparent that my body has other plans. This body remembers it all, it has been trying to give expression to the violations in ways I am only just barely beginning to understand. My body’s “voice” is thunderous, relentless, and demands to be heard and my challenge is to be present for it, to listen and allow, to witness and to feel …. my god, to feel.

This continues to be my challenge, to be present for the pain. It will not pass otherwise.

4 responses to “Presence

  • renovatio06

    Again, muchos kudos on this insight of yours! Epiphanies like this are no small feat IMHO and experience. And I think, another ingredient to healing can be to give ourselves – and I’m taking the liberty of lumping myself in here… 😮 – credit for the work we do. I think, I once read somewhere that the healing journey from trauma is in many ways like the proverbial/literal hero’s journey as it requires similar amounts or degrees of courage, perseverance, stamina. Unfortunately, in this world the most reckless get to have “it all”, not the most mindful. Nonetheless, such is our journey. And again, without meaning to sound patronizing or any such thing, I’d like to commend you on yours and on your sharing of it!

    Liked by 1 person

  • zastre

    Someone once observed that many bring to their own self-watching a gaze that is blemished, damaged, toxic. And I shudder to think of how the actions of an abuser are the actual maleficent creators of such a poisoned gaze in the eyes of the abused. You have worked steadily and mightily to clear that lens which your body has served – to recover the body as gift and mystery as opposed to the body simple as a receptacle. And I wonder if the voice of our bodies – all of us! – are also at times grabbing us by the throat if only to insist that we’re more than our biography, we’re more than the things that have happened to us…

    Liked by 1 person

    • photosentinel1953

      That we are more than our biography? …… Most assuredly this is so, and many times I have thought that I understood this clearly, that the confusion had been laid to rest. Yet as your words so perfectly state, the “gaze” was blemished, damaged, toxic.
      I have cleared the lens, I have an understanding of my life that lays to rest any sense of blame or shame or guilt. And so imagine my surprise when, after all of this “cleaning”, I come to understand what so many have written, that the last frontier of healing from trauma is beyond reason and safety …. it is the body … with it’s own growling voice that reminds that truth lies on the other side of the chasm.
      The emotions behind this blog post were like an ambush, I was even angry that I had to write it: after all, hadn’t I crossed this off my list already? Just frustration, I guess….

      Liked by 1 person

      • renovatio06

        (Li’l trigger warning again): From my personal research coupled with plenty experience, finally the understanding seems to solidify in research and therapeutic personnel that healing from trauma MUST happen via the body’s responses and signals it sends. From very direct and longlasting experience, we “knew” it all along. But those who dedicated their careers to this very hideous condition don’t seem to have understood this too well until perhaps only years ago. Dr. Peter Levine was on to something with his first book and his ongoing research and experiences as a therapist has reconfirmed his approach and results. Dr. Stephen Porges added some interesting aspects that seem to at least contribute to some of those physical – strictly speaking: neurological (!) – responses in the body.

        As of late and when trying to explain trauma to non-affected individuals I find that likening the condition to something like e.g. Parkinson’s makes it a little easier to get the message across. And am I really convinced that the nucleus and gravity of symptoms are rooted in the neurological “apparatus” in our brains, which recent findings by scientific and medical circles have shown. What’s so difficult here is that the physical responses that our bodies send MUST be like this given our biological/neuronal “hard wiring” in the brain. In a way then and paradoxically so, healing from PTSD seems to involve “unlearning” or at least attenuating some of our most basic, primal survival instincts… 😮 But apparently it can be done given latest research results from phase 2 clinical trials through – and even fairly quickly through only a small series of MDMA-assisted therapy. They report a recovery rate of 83% as opposed to only 21% from conventional modalities.


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