We’ve all been given experience that we’ve been unable to process consciously. This is one of the basic characteristics of trauma, unendurable emotional pain that hasn’t been able to find a relational home in which it can be held.
There are times in my clinical work when I’ll meet with someone who is really suffering, but they can’t actually feel that pain. They’re not able to make contact with the felt quality of the open wound.
Instead, there’s a protective numbing, a dissociative shut down and collapse into the somatic unconscious. From here, the lost orphans of psyche and soma burn, ache, and long for holding.
This response is coherent and makes sense based on what happened earlier in their lives, and was an adaptive response in the face of survival-level anxiety and annihilatory panic, to the very real threat of psychic disintegration.
Trauma is the experience of de-linking – left and right, top and bottom, limbic and cortical, body and mind – and linkage occurs through the felt sense of safety.
Where we find a way, guided by mercy and grace, to touch that experience, hold it in love, make sense of it, and integrate it into a new cohesive narrative.
Slow and safe. I’m with you, and you’re safe. I’m with you and you’re safe. You’re no longer alone. And you’re safe.
The psyche will reassemble when it feels safe.
The body will reorganize when it feels safe.