Georgia was sitting in front of me. You might remember her. Her body was activated. She could feel the pain across her back, rippling in waves. Her throat was full. Her eyes threatened tears that she said just weren’t coming. “What is wrong with me’ she gulped. We looked at each other. I tilted my head towards her and smiled gently with my eyes. Georgia had only been sitting in front of me a few minutes. This was our first exchange of the session. We are used to talking with each other. So I said nothing, but I showed her she had my full attention. I waited for her to continue.
I’m not sure what’s wrong. Her.
I can work out why I feel like this. Her.
Already this morning I haven’t been able to settle. It’s like I have energy flowing through me, and not in a comfortable way. Her.
What happened this morning. Me
Nothing unusual. Her.
I did forget that my husband needed the car, and I drove to work in it. He called me with the children out the front, he had booked them into a show. Where was I. Her.
I was quietly working away. I was doing my job. I didn’t realise I had done something ‘wrong’. I didn’t know I had put everyone out by not remembering a conversation I had with my husband last night. Her.
I got such a fright I practically ran out of the office to get the car home. I was jittery and unsettled and couldn’t think properly. Her.
I tried to talk to myself out loud. Tried to understand and calm down. The truth is, I couldn’t get through to myself. It felt like I was trapped in a wave and couldn’t surface. I’m still jittery. What is this. Her.
Is it familiar? Me.
Yes. It is. Her.
Where do you know it from? Me.
I’ve always known this. It’s a part of my life. But I don’t want it to be. I want to be free of this constriction. This heaviness that I feel in my hands, neck, stomach. Her.
Georgia didn’t anticipate an event in her environment. She forgot that her husband needed the car, and she took it to work. When her husband called to tell her, she was triggered. Her situational anxiety flared and she couldn’t think (because her fight, flight, freeze response had kicked in, leaving her 'thinking' mind out of the loop temporarily). In her lifetime, Georgia has experienced trauma with a capital ‘T’ and a lower case ‘t’. In this case, an event where she was surprised by something that she forgot triggered a deeply ingrained response. She was now unsafe. She had forgotten something. This was the root cause for her. Her response felt over the top for the event that had spiked it, which was why she was here, talking to me, about it. It didn’t make sense to her.
I asked her to close her eyes and follow the thread of this experience back to the original event. Georgia realised that it came from an abusive and controlling father. Whose irrationality over lost car keys, or forgotten items was horrifically legendary within her family. Where everyone jumped and scurried to make it better. To make it stop so they were safe again. Where these events couldn’t be predicted, and therefore couldn’t be controlled or the impacts reduced.
Georgia’s root cause trigger was still playing out in her day to day life. And why? Because those original traumatic experiences were not integrated in her body, or mind. Her body remembered those past experiences, as though they were happening in real time.
Here’s the kicker: Until Georgia’s body and her mind know something together, it will remain unknown to her conscious experience of life. So these triggers of traumatic past events will continue to be re-experienced as a reminder of the integrative work that needs to be done.
This work can be done in many ways, but for most people, Georgia included, it’s best to do this in the supportive environment of a trained professional. A psychologist. For those of you who think this is something that you might like to explore, I urge you to find a good psychologist who is trained in trauma counselling. Don’t stop looking until you feel like the bond you need is there. This type of integrative work can change your life. Georgia knows this, and part of her giving back to the community is why she is sharing the work that she and I are doing, with you.
Do you experience events or situations like these?