All the things from the writing ourselves whole workshop office are now landed around my home — the pen cup is on the desk, the small timing clock is in my bag, the candle is on the home altar, the purple hanging that reads “Your body is precious / It is your vehicle for awakening / Treat it with care” lives inside the front door, across from the altar.
It is late and there is never enough time — tomorrow there will be more.
So I’m doing this work to be more present in my body, to inhabit what has felt uninhabitable, what has felt untrustworthy, what has felt unworthy of living (in) — working with a somatic therapist, paying attention (with as much curiosity as I can muster) to the triggers I still live in and shape myself around and asking about their wisdom, what stories they have to offer … paying attention to what I put into my body and then how I feel after. Another part of the work/joy, then, too, doing the things that this body likes to do: dancing, walking, singing, writing, reading-while-walking.
This isn’t like that — this is like something else. (That’s how it begins.)
Last night, I went to one of Vanissar Tarakali‘s workshops, Do It Yourself Trauma: Healing principles and practices to support your personal healing process. I want to follow my own instincts, these desires to let others both help and witness me into my body, to do the incredibly simple but also simultaneously (sometimes) devastating work of just noticing what’s going on in my body and letting it be. Last night Vanissar talked about emotional first aid (she talks about it on her blog here), and then we practiced some of what she described: grounding into the body, physical practices to meet and/or engage with particular feelings, appreciating the body for doing all that it does to take care of us (and this includes our trigger responses, the stuff we do that we don’t want to do anymore because it doesn’t serve us but it did serve us once upon a time), lots more. The three hours flew by! Here’s a great thing she said: if you beat yourself up for the ways that your body responds when it thinks it’s threatened, that’s going to seem like a threat! Whew.
What do I want to say about this? This morning I am both more achy and less — the armor around my shoulders (which last night I began envisioning like a pair of shoulder pads, the kind that footballers wear) feels softened. Not gone, just malleable; not penetrable, but able to shift some.
Good morning! How is this morning meeting you so far? I need a refill on my dandelion-nettle-tulsi-green tea, and the room is still warming up around me. Whew, I feel like I’m living with my ancestors in the dugout — I need some hot potatoes to keep in my pockets and at the foot of my bed.
Yesterday I had a second meeting with my somatic therapist — it’s interesting to have my therapy feel so focused around a particular topic and goal: getting more comfortable and safer in this body. She invites me to come into the room, and come into myself, to notice what I’m bringing with me in my body on this day. I try to describe, with precision, the tension in my shoulders — like a knotting up, maybe, I say, and she says, like it’s pulling on everything else around it? No, that’s not right — so I reconsider: more like a radiating, then, a core of tension that radiates out and ends up with tingles in my arms and neck. There’s a focus required, to be able to describe it clearly.
Good morning! Some places, today, it’s Xmas eve. Other places, for other people, it isn’t. However you are with whatever day it is, I hope you’re being easy with yourself this morning.
For me, for the people I come from, it’s Xmas Eve today. I’m not with them, but I’m remembering. I’m remembering how excited I used to get about what presents I’d be receiving the next morning (after having gone through the huge Sears catalog and cut out the pictures of the toys I wanted; my sister and I would create enormous lists for Santa on pages and pages of printer paper that my dad brought home from work (remember when the paper was all connected in perforated section? Yeah, that paper.), about preparing the plate for Santa (with carrots for the reindeer and cutout sugar cookies that we’d frosted and decorated for Santa himself — Santa always left us a note thanking us for our generosity, telling us how tasty the cookies were and how much the reindeer appreciated the treat; I learned the truth, I think, when I began to recognize my dad’s handwriting), about getting to go see whichever cousins we’d see that year, on my mom’s side or my dad’s side. There was something in this time of year (for awhile, at least) that made room for being excited about being excited, getting to live in anticipation (however painful!). I miss that big anticipation sometimes.
Now, though, I get excited about being in my home, about baking for others, about getting to share something new with someone who will appreciate it, about getting to reflect on the accomplishments and struggles of the last year, about connecting with cousins again (even just through xmas cards, it’s still a big deal).