Waking the Tiger: Prologue; Giving the Body Its Due
I have to do something. Even for myself. Despite my posts, I have been looking for help- someone to reach out to who can give me answers instead of platitudes. Thus far, most people have offered an errant “Mmhmm”, as if that’s some indication they were even listening, let alone being what could even vaguely, at a squint, be seen as supportive. I get no credit for such efforts either. As previously mentioned, I am just burned out- with almost everyone and everything. It sucks having no support system at all and still be expected to be part of ones for those around you who actively choose not to be a part of yours.
A counselor (not even a therapist, because getting one of those is pretty well impossible here) suggested this book, Waking the Tiger: Healing Trauma by Peter Lavine. My parents (who are the closest thing to a legitimate support system I have but are too far away to be a regular, active, or integral part of it) purchased it for me, hoping it could help. As part of my journey, and my concerted effort to actually bother reading this thing and hoping it makes a difference, I’ve decided to record thoughts on each chapter- not as a review but more so how I relate to the material and what I garnered from it. Here goes.
Emotion always has its roots in the unconscious and manifests itself in the body. -Irene Claremont de Castillejo
I wish I could say that I don’t know why this is happening to me. The tragic reality is that for the most part, I do, and that changes nothing. To those around me, no matter how concisely I try to explain how I am doing or why, they do not see the rationality in it. Even when I do not believe myself crazy, those around me still do. I am always on the defense trying to explain that what I am going through is acceptably normal- just more overwhelming than I know how to cope with. I live in this strange alternative reality where those I live with don’t understand at all the body/mind connection- don’t try to empathize at all what this is all doing to me because they are not experiencing it. Here, emotions are as mythological as Unicorns, or as shunned as disease. I am primarily a sensing and feeling person. Imagine where that leaves me.
As a person with needs, I feel that I am often viewed in a disassembled manner, where each aspect of me is split apart from the other, and they do not intricately intertwine or share relationships of any kind, where each purpose they serve must do so separately and with implicit obligation, and without effect on each other at all. I relate very much to the notion that trauma begets trauma, and I have tried very hard all my life to sever its generational connections in my family. I don’t want to bring this on my children.
According to this book, I suffer from a virtual library of traumas: PTSD, GAD, Developmental Trauma, Shock Trauma. Yes, there are many misconceptions about trauma. I do feel self-conscious, and unfairly judged, and treated poorly as a result of it. I’ve tried in adulthood not to hide it out of shame, to feel comfortable asking for support or help, to try to come to terms with it. Instead, what that has brought down on me is a silence so deafening that I feel smashed in the power of it. Many people approach their understanding of it with personal experience (i.e. “That’s not how I reacted/felt with similar experiences so tough shit.”, “When I was young we didn’t have the luxury of feelings.”)
The book says that body sensation, more than even intense emotion, is the key to healing trauma. It asks that I be aware of emotions swelling up inside and how my body responds to them. It says that if my feelings are too intense (i.e. “Rage, terror, profound helplessness”) that I ought very much to seek a therapist. They are all of those things and more at any given time, and I have reached out for help. I can’t even get an ounce of compassion, let alone help.
I’m trying despite that all, to put myself on a road to life beyond trauma. I sincerely hope this book helps me.