In the first blog on this topic, we talked about the impacts of abuse and mentioned some tools for healing. In the second blog, we focused on the impact on your sexuality and ability to interact lovingly with others. In this third blog, we focus on the pain and releasing it from the cells of your body.
When great trauma occurs it is often too intense for the person to cope with. They escape it in some way. It may be by pushing the pain down in their body – swallowing it, holding it deep inside locked in the cells and muscles of the body. Others push it out, try to escape it by pushing it away, pretending it didn’t happen, not wanting it to touch them ever again. This keeps it in the person’s energy bodies and it does still affect them and touch them, just energetically. It is like the black cloud walking along behind or above them. Either way, the pain and trauma stays with you.
You can tell the trauma is still there by the bodily reactions when someone comes close to you. Do you react in fear? Does your breath stop or become shallow? Do you flinch? Do your muscles tighten? Do you try to shrink and become smaller to avoid their touch? Do you become angry and resentful? Do you puff up trying to become bigger to warn off the person and protect yourself?
Clearly, any of these reactions show that the body is not relaxed and at ease, the body is not feeling safe or trusting of other people. This shows the body is still locked into the trauma and is in a state of fear, not love, not peace, and certainly not joy. It can be. You just have to release the trauma out of the body.
The trauma is stored within the cells and muscles of your body. That’s why you get tight muscles. They’re literally frozen, tensed up in fear, ready to react to defend yourself, run away or freeze and be still so you hopefully can hide and not be seen.
It is exhausting for the body to be tense and on hyperalert so much. This tension and the trauma underneath it can be released out of the body so that your body relaxes and so that your mind doesn’t feel a need to be so defensive. Relaxing the body results in the mind softening and your defences melting. We literally thaw out the frozen parcels of trauma stored within the body so they can melt away.
One way to do this is through ‘tremoring’. Your body has an inbuilt shaking mechanism to help shift out the trauma and tension from your body. All mammals have it. The shaking uses up the adrenaline and cortisol, the fight or flight chemicals that were created in the life-threatening moment. If you couldn’t run away or fight back at the time, then these chemicals didn’t get used up. They stayed in your body resulting in the tension and clenched muscles.
Your body was primed, ready to fight or run, but it didn’t get to and afterwards the body didn’t relax fully. It still felt on edge, nervous, anxious, because these chemicals weren’t discharged. The trauma activation never got released. Later when we get triggered, when our body startles easily, is on edge, even if there is no real danger, it is because of these unfinished trauma activations.
You can use ‘Tension and Trauma Release Exercises (TRE) to help the body complete these activations, to use up the fight or flight chemicals through shaking, resulting in the body finally being able to relax, to know the war is over, that you survived and you’re okay.
TRE is a very simple process and once learned you can use it yourself forever for free, to release stress, tension and trauma. If you’d like to learn more about TRE click here to watch some videos or to book in an appointment in person or an appointment online to learn TRE. It is well worth doing so your body can finally relax.
Another important process for helping the body to relax and to complete the trauma stored within is inner child recovery work. When you get triggered or scared it is actually a younger part of you that is triggered and scared.
By becoming conscious of your bodily reactions it enables you to start self-soothing. You can tell yourself “You are safe, it’s okay I’m not in danger here”. You can self soothe by holding your own hand, so to speak, or lovingly stroking your arm or your hair. This calms the body, to know it is held and cared for. I have literally stroked my own hair at times of distress and it feels like a safe adult is brushing the hair of a vulnerable child, and this act of self-kindness leads to a softening of the emotion and relaxation back to peace.
Basically, you become the protective, loving parent of the scared child within you. There is literally a scared child inside you and an angry one and a mad, bad, stomp on all the bad guys one who wants to punish those that hurt people. These are the parts of you from the time that you were that age and experienced those things. You can easily access these inner children by closing your eyes and asking to see them.
At first, they may be hiding from you, you might just sense a closed door or a room of furniture with the inner child hiding behind the sofa, just peeking out at you. You need to win their trust, to have them feel you are safe, you will be there for them and they can tell you how they feel and what they need and you won’t reject or abandon them.
In time as you imagine sitting and talking with them, they will start to trust you and come closer, they will start to share their deepest secrets about what hurt them the most. Listen to them, reassure them you love them and that they were not at fault. It was not their fault if someone older sexually abused them or interfered with them. Many inner children may be confused. They may have allowed the contact to occur because the perpetrator was being nice to them, showing them love and tenderness when others weren’t. When it is a parent, step-parent, Uncle, Grandpa or family friend involved, it is extra confusing to the child as that person was known to them, was a safe space, but then all of a sudden wasn’t.
The child may not have thought what occurred was wrong, they may have thought it a game, only to find out later it was labelled as bad or sinful. There are lots of different scenarios.
The point is your inner child is likely to feel confused and until that is cleared up, they won’t feel comfortable trusting anyone else who enters your life. They will always be cautious and on guard, wondering if this new, supposedly safe person is going to one day hurt them like the family member did. Therefore, they don’t relax, they keep their guard up and stay alert for danger.
In this way, they refuse to let love in. Even if the other person is genuinely authentic in their caring for the person who has suffered abuse, it is difficult for the abused person to accept it, believe it or reciprocate it. This, of course, has detrimental effects on relationships and prevents true intimacy and the feeling of being loved for who you are. Without love coming in from within – to ourself, or from without – from others, our cup becomes empty and we can fall into despair, depression and feeling worthless, unloved, unwanted and think the world is a horrible place.
Yet the love and the light is there, good people are all around us, we just have to learn to let the love in, and to do so we need to allow ourselves to feel vulnerable, to take the risk to love and receive love, to surrender to life and its process of awakening.
While the inner child is still confused, scared, angry or ashamed this process is blocked or minimised, often to the point of almost complete annihilation. Anyone who dares to show you love or acceptance becomes seen as a threat, a bad person or foolish one because if they truly knew you, you think they shouldn’t love you, and hence if they do they must not be very wise, smart or worth much. So you judge them and push them away.
To stop such patterns you need to heal your heart, talk to your inner child, send it love. Any time you feel scared, know it is your inner child asking for reassurance, wanting to know you are aware of its concern, and you are taking care of the situation, that you will keep them safe and it’s okay for them to go play or have a nap. They may prefer to stay with you, clinging to the back of your leg, watching to make sure you do handle whatever interaction is occurring that has led to their nervousness.
In time, once they have seen you do handle it and keep them safe, then they will relax and go play, they will become a joyful, innocent child again and this frees you the Adult to also enjoy life again. Your body relaxes, so much so, that when someone approaches you, you do not react with fear or hesitation. You can welcome the person and interact joyfully, peacefully, light-heartedly. It takes a long time to reach this stage, but it is worth the effort.
All it takes is becoming conscious of your patterning and comforting your self, your inner child, becoming the good parent to it and guardian of it, and in time it will relax. Then the pleasure is amazing. You can stare at the leaves moving in the tree and feel transported into a magical place again, you can feel the awe and wonder that a little child feels for life. You can see the beauty and love all around you and you can let it in.
You can let yourself receive love and goodness and the Universe pours it into you. It always has been doing this, but our defences have stopped us receiving it. With those defences melted away, we can finally accept the goodness and allow ourselves to have a happy life, with friends, love and peace. It is wonderful to do so. Blessed BE. Amen.
By Jodi-Anne (25 Dec 2015).
2 thoughts on “Healing from childhood sexual abuse (part 3)”
Hi thank u for sharing this everything thing is so me I was abused from the age of 3 till I was 15 I have and I suppose I’m still going through alot of it
Many blessings to you Jackie, healing from that level of abuse is a long and challenging journey. I pray you find peace and happiness as quickly and as easily as possible. ?