In Florence, Italy, I stood in a hall. Around me were lots of animated Italians. I noticed how much more expressive they are than us Brits.
My course partner and I danced our life stories. There were tears as we bared witness to each others stories.
For some things there are no words. They just do not match our traumatic visceral experiences.
Sometimes words can’t be spoken, as the body goes into speechless terror.
The Boca’s shuts down. The part responsible for speech and your breathing pattern are not accessible along with the whitaker area.
However there is movement; dance, and song too (which uses different muscles to speech).
When words were limited during the course, we were invited to dance our stories, in all its dramaticness of rising and falling.
I danced my struggle to lift my body from the floor. Repeating the movement of a body so heavy it will not lift. The depressed state, I had once fought, was hauntingly acted in dance and movements.
I will never forget the power of those dances. How we cried. There was not a dry eye anywhere in the room. Letting our bodies speak without words was so powerful.
We forget that sometimes words are not enough, that trauma is held in our bodies.
It makes sense that it is therefore that our bodies slowly let go of the trauma, not in one big release, more in tiny bits.
I learnt from Babbette Rothchild that trauma is like a bottle of fizzy coca cola shaken up.
You open it too quickly and it will make a huge mess. Tiny tiny cap twists, allows for us to open the bottle without spilling a drop. We learn to put on the breaks!
I learnt so much with Babette Rothchild, many moons ago, along with Dr Bessel Van Der Kolk, and his wife Lica Keys. Stephen Porges too and so many more fabulous teachers.
Many survivors I I know do not move their body, they feel self conscious, they hold still in shame.
I notice everything is held in from our voice, to our energy. Held in, rather than let out. The British are quieter than other cultures.
We simply do not do justice to people’s recovery journeys, when we offer just talking therapy. To paint, dance, sing or even box out your story. These are all possible too.
Bessel told us “offering CBT to trauma survivors is like offering running therapy to an amputee”. I’d agree, trauma is not cognitive.
Trauma is all about the body, that we choose to ignore. It can’t be rationalised away. It is processed, released felt and all of us will have our own ways to do this.
One size, one model will never fit all, when words are not enough we use our bodies. They speak a powerful language.
I have enclosed a few resources that I have found useful. I hope they help.
This post is inspired by Francesco Mammana who reminds me sometimes words are not enough and the wrong ones may even get in the way.
It’s been a while but there’s a few spaces free if you need some support.