I spent so many years feeling broken. I felt like I didn’t belong, anywhere. I felt like something was inherently wrong with me and that I was simply not a lovable person. I was filled with shame and felt convinced that I was completely forgettable. The heart ache this caused me threatened to overwhelm me.
I learnt to hide these feelings. I hid behind drinking, behind jokes, behind competence. Sometimes I just hid, literally hiding under my duvet covers. I ignored texts from friends, I cancelled social get togethers at the last minute.
Have you ever felt any of these things? If you have or another version of them, I want to remind you that you aren’t alone and it isn’t your fault. Much of the mental health system has been built on labelling people with diagnosis rather than showing them how their nervous systems are actually working perfectly to protect them.
When we look at WHY our nervous system might be actively self-protecting it becomes absolutely clear that there is indeed nothing wrong with us, in fact we have perfectly functioning nervous systems that are responding exactly as they should to protect us from a threat, whether perceived or real.
When we experience trauma and are unable to resolve it, or we experience chronic low levels of stress, this experience is stored in our nervous systems and is essentially locked in time. This is important. If the stress is constant, or the trauma remains unresolved, your nervous system will keep protecting you from ANYTHING that reminds it of the trauma. If you didn’t feel safe speaking your truth, or being heard, or being you, then it is only natural that your body senses danger when asked to speak, be seen or heard.
This well-orchestrated self-protective system is working day and night, scanning our external environment as well as our internal environment for cues of potential danger. When you are triggered, you may feel hyper-vigilant (tense, lots of energy, anxious, a feeling of impending doom) or stuck in freeze (lots of internal energy but unable to move) or shut down in a state of immobility or collapse (feeling out of body, numb or depressive). Believe it or not, this is not a broken system. This is a system that is working perfectly!
When you are able to signal to your nervous system that the danger has indeed past, we are able to discharge our autonomic responses of fight, flee, shutdown or freeze and re-establish connection with our social engagement system. This social engagement system is where we feel safe in our bodies and in the world. We may experience joy, love, satisfaction. In this state we can have fulfilling connections with others and society, we are able to nurture ourselves and others.
Somatic healing supports nervous system regulation and resilience. Co-regulation in a positive therapeutic relationship can help restore your connection with your body, once you are able to tap into your felt experience, you can begin to regulate your own system, and support it to feel safe.
What I know for certain, is that you are not broken.