The Cook Awakening

Falling Apart

May 8, 2018
Posted in: Grief, Life on Life's Terms, Living with Health Challenges, Meditation, Spiritual Practice

Healing is the natural impulse of sentient beings, given proper support. When trauma surfaces, it’s because our human souls want to work it through, so that we can heal. Our egos usually have an argument with the process. That needs to be honored very gently, not overridden forcefully. As a teacher of mine says, “The ego gets carried along with love.” This way, it’s possible to actually unwind the trauma, rather than get caught in loops of re-traumatizing the nervous system or getting lost in spiritual bypass, neither of which will resolve the trauma.

As mentioned in an earlier article, our first born did not have an easy birth. He came 10 weeks early. Our wonderful, rural hippie vision of a home birth scattered in the wind of the helicopter blades when I was airlifted to UCSF at 27 weeks of pregnancy with early rupture of membranes. I managed to keep him in my womb for 3 more weeks in the hospital on strict bed rest, but at 30 weeks gestation I showed signs of infection, so labor was induced. The umbilical cord was coming out ahead of him, so I was quickly prepped for an emergency c-section, he was intubated for 24 hours, my belly was stapled closed, I was on morphine, he was placed in an incubator for 4 weeks, he couldn’t nurse, I was transferred across town from him and had to bus in to the hospital, he was poked with needles multiple times a day, I could only hold him for 20 minutes every 2 or 3 hours….

Yes. That was a bad run on sentence. Our lives were a bad run on sentence for those weeks, an endless litany of fear and isolation and effort and sorrow and hyper vigilance.

Distorted full moon and street light

We all experience trauma in one form or another. It’s a part of my personal mission in life, to help people find the courage and tenderness to hold themselves in a way that supports trauma unwinding, to learn trust in the process of life living itself.

I did my first big round of trauma work in my early 30s. There was a wave of intensity that lasted about 3 years. I heard that was fairly typical, at least when dealing with sexual trauma. Therapy and meditation were what provided the glue that held me together while life as I knew it was falling apart.

I learned valuable truths and tools in those years that greatly informs my work today. I learned that who I truly am is not my suffering. Who I truly am cannot be injured. I learned that the sense experience of this body is a refuge when the shit hits the fan, emotionally. I learned that my breath is always available as a touch point, and, when used consciously, it will calm my nervous system when I get too activated, when I get lost in anxiety or worry. I learned that the truth of impermanence, the fact that everything changes, is a blessing that I can count on. That I am not alone, even when I feel at my loneliest. That every human being is vulnerable, and I am inextricably linked to every human being through that very vulnerability. I learned in my bones, that separation is just a story we tell ourselves.

Our son is 17 now. My husband and I have often wondered how his birth trauma would surface in his life. In general, he’s been a bright, fun loving, mischievous, incredibly creative boy.

Until this year. It was clear in January that something had changed. He was confused, and began expressing symptoms that sounded like anxiety and depression, if we didn’t choose to dig any deeper.

I won’t go into too much detail, as it’s really his story to share, should he so choose. But, once we identified the more physiological symptoms of adrenal dysregulation (thank you, years of health coaching, and a good PCP), it became clear that early trauma response was in play. Probably triggered by the challenging physiological sensations of the adrenal issues.

I am in awe of my child. I’m grateful for the work I’ve done with my own trauma and the training I’ve received over the years to offer my clients, as I have some concrete tools I could offer him about sitting in the fire of frightening, overwhelming feelings. At 17, he has been able to utilize those tools, as well as absorb the offerings of an early childhood trauma therapist that was recommended to us.

Here is Jesse, my son with his buddy Eli last Friday, performing a piece he created recently, integrating music production and live performance. That’s Jesse on the bass.

I’m grateful for the blessings of knowing that when things fall apart, there’s nothing actually wrong. We’re all in a process of reorganization. Evolution is not usually an easy process, but it is important. We can learn to be gentle with ourselves, curious about what’s happening, and patient about outcomes, in the process of healing and integration.

I was interested and heartened to read this symptom list on my son’s trauma therapist’s website as what her work can address, “These symptoms may include chronic depression, chronic anxiety, chronic pain, autoimmune, disordered eating, addictive behaviors, OCD, feelings of not belonging, isolation, disconnected from who you are.” I have seen over and over in my years of health coaching and counseling how trauma plays into physiological illnesses. It’s why my work has evolved from nutrition counseling to spiritual and emotional work. If the nervous system dysregulation isn’t addressed, it’s very hard to heal on the physiological level. It’s also hard to make the changes in diet and lifestyle that might be helpful when trauma isn’t addressed — let’s face it, healthy eating and movement are not high on the list of priorities when our energy is taken up managing anxiety and depression! For good reason. Judgment and shame are completely unwarranted about that, although far too often perpetrated on ourselves and others.

To be effective and sustainable, self care has to come from some inner sense of ease and welcome. It has to come from love. Eventually, self care driven by shame and self aggression will exhaust us.

Given the choice, wouldn’t you choose love over shame?

This entry was posted on Tuesday, May 8th, 2018 at 10:54 am and is filed under Grief, Life on Life's Terms, Living with Health Challenges, Meditation, Spiritual Practice. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.


4 Responses to “Falling Apart”

  1. Mand Says:

    Love Jesse! He looks so happy doing this. Be mumsy-proud. <3

    I know a lot about trauma and have read a lot about it, but you write it so well and wisely. And warmly. Thank you. It's timely; my youngest has just turned 18 and is in the throes of major trauma… good to be reminded that all things are part of healing, in the end… Watch and wait, and hold my arms out.

    Can't remember how / through whom I found you – so effectively, you "just arrived" in my Facebook feed. I'm glad you did.

  2. Durga Fuller Says:

    Aw, thanks so much for commenting! I’m glad I “arrived” on your feed.

    I think there’s no accident that trauma is arising right now for these guys, it’s a huge milestone age. I’d probably be dealing with all my trauma issues if I were coming of age right now in the world, too. Such uncertain times.

    Watch, wait, hold your arms out, indeed. And, breathe, for yourself. Let me know if I can help in any way. ❤️

  3. Chan Dani Says:

    <3 <3 <3
    Wonderful writing, sweet sister!

  4. Durga Fuller Says:

    Love you so much! ❤️

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