The Body Has Become a Living Expression of Trauma

Table of Contents

by Heidi Hanson

artist, writer, trauma survivor

Memories of California

When I lived in California, my boyfriend would drive me from Berkeley across the Richmond Bridge and way out past San Rafael up into the hills, practically to the ocean.

Richmond Bridge
Richmond Bridge
Driving To Therapy
Driving To Therapy

When civilization seemed to disappear and we reached the peak, where tall eucalyptus shed dry pods and sickle shaped brown leaves onto the sun dappled road, we would turn left into the mountainside neighborhood to visit my therapist.

I was still in a state of shock in many ways. My body was not my own. The traumatic experiences of the past still reigned supreme over the landscape of my body. I was a slice of time, the rest of my life forgotten.

In the hall was an orange long hair cat, happy. And in her office there was an altar, flowers in a vase and soft green walls. Outside the ocean was far below wild tangled trees.

Somatic Experiencing slowed things down to present tense, and in this quiet grace, portions of the inner landscape would emerge. Something tense, something terrified, something ashamed, they would murmur stories, and they would be carefully felt, seen and heard.

Slowing Down, Sensing Within
Slowing Down, Sensing Within

Then boyfriend and I would sometimes continue on to Muir beach. Or even, one time, all the way to get oysters at Drakes Bay.

Driving to Therapy
Driving after Therapy

Muir Beach was the place for the Best Stones to collect. There really was nowhere else in the whole world with stones this perfect and round and beautiful. I would walk and stare into the stones, waiting for one to announce itself. I was in a brief period of calmness after therapy.

Beach Stones
Beach Stones

But just the next day my body would be lost again into trauma.

The tissue of the body has become a living expression of trauma.

Even today, I perceive only part of What Is Real Now, and my body still is triggered into fear response a lot. Although things are much better, the body still expresses past moments in time.

Heading Home
Heading Home
heading home

PTSD and the Body

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