At the end of a recent session, a client said to me, “I feel older.” I knew exactly what they were talking about. During our sessions together, this client got in touch with memories and sensations from the time when they were about age 8.
Before my own experience of ‘growing up’ as a result of SE work, I had no clue that a feeling like that was possible or would be a revelation. Or that this kind of a-ha was wanted or needed. I had no awareness that anything was pressing in or holding me back from feeling ‘grown up’. All I knew was that I felt stuck in some ways and that I wanted to feel better. So I got help.
Memories are interesting. In my personal sessions I hadn’t connected to a particular age or experience from my childhood. I did connect the emotional pain and stuckness I was experiencing to things that felt familiar and from a time – actually many times – during my childhood. Setting that painful energy free with SE work and allowing it to process and integrate opened something up. I experienced an expansiveness that hadn’t been there before. I admit it sounds a bit weird but the healing I experienced translated to a sense of feeling more grown up than I ever had before. I was well into adulthood when this happened.
Growing Up Kind
This phrase had come to me after those sessions with my SE practitioner. I remember thinking, “Oh, this is what growing up feels like.” Kind of strange, but it also felt just right. The opening I sensed was gentle, compassionate, wise, and most of all kind.
Some gears and fittings inside me had shifted and ~ click ~ an earlier piece of me, one that I hadn’t realized was stuck or stopped, was in its right place. Freedom. Safety. Ease.
“It is…as if their personality has definitely stopped at a certain point, and cannot enlarge any more by the addition or assimilation of new elements.” ~ Pierre Janet, pioneering French psychologist, philosopher and psychotherapist in the field of traumatic memory. 1859-1947
My rational mind and my ego are sort of obsessed with wanting to understand this stuff and also assure me that I’m not imagining things. The above quote from Pierre Janet gave me some insight and felt reassuring. I’ve experienced doubt about the fact that I’ve carried trauma. I sometimes tell myself that it isn’t real. I think It makes sense that we’d doubt it because its really difficult to see the energy that’s trapped in the nervous system. But it’s there. I’ve felt energy move its way out of my body. I’ve experienced automatic movements (that I wasn’t consciously making) that were a completion of some past shock. But the main proof is that I feel better and am way less stuck than I used to be.
We can all have the experience of discharging energy that’s trapped in our nervous system. When we can follow the sensations in our body with curiosity and wonder the process creates growth which allows expansion. Sometimes it takes time. If you have the ability to connect with yourself, pay attention to one sensation at a time, then follow it and notice what happens next*, you might be amazed and surprised by how much better you feel once the sensation shifts, moves, or slowly dissipates.
Unhelpful thoughts drop away, blame fades, new possibilities appear seemingly out of nowhere.
*To do this well, it’s helpful to set aside judgement and be willing to soothe the part of the self that’s trying to figure out what it all means. Figuring it out is similar to fixing. There is nothing to fix. The courage and ability to explore sensations and your body’s messages is essential. You’ll know when you’re ready. And it might mean that you need some help.
One of the messages my body gave to me was the phrase, Growing Up Kind™. It resonated so much that I use it for my work. I’m completing a curriculum that supports educators, parents, and students with connecting to their body and mind. There’s a preview of the curriculum which mainly covers settling the mind with mindfulness and fun tools that help clear up some of what’s happening in our heads. Working on the mind can be helpful whether or not the body is carrying trauma. You can find a preview of the curriculum here. Growing up kind is what’s helping me make the final product possible.