I have been seeing my new therapist, Sarah, for about 3 months now and I feel great about the work we’re doing together. It is a mix of talk therapy and Somatic Experiencing (SE). SE is a body of work dedicated to resolving both acute and developmental trauma which can be practiced by professionals as diverse as psychologists, massage therapists and midwives.
At one point Sarah and I were talking about the various medical procedures my son has undergone since he was an infant throughout his diagnosis and treatment of both diabetes and celiac. We were both of the opinion that he has probably been traumatized to some extent from these experiences and that the effect of this trauma probably makes it more difficult for him to regulate himself emotionally under stressful situations. Sarah said she highly recommended a slightly eccentric SE practioner named Catalina who does SE healing/bodywork and has done amazing work with some of Sarah’s other patients and their children. I was so excited and curious to try this!
I have now taken both my son and one of my daughters to see Catalina several times and have been so fascinated by her work with them that I decided I had to try it for myself. I did a 1-1/2 hour session with her today and it was incredible (I hesitate to use that word lest it sound hyperbolic, but it truly was incredible). At first she guided me through various movements as we talked about several different physical traumas I have experienced (e.g., surgeries and injuries). Then I laid on a massage table while she held several points on my body (chest, solar plexus and neck) and I shared about events surrounding my father’s death when I was 13. Throughout both of these phases, the emotional experience of what I was sharing was punctuated by various physical sensations throughout in my arms and legs. Toward the end of the session, I told her that my solar plexus kept wanting to tighten up (definitely a feeling of protecting myself). Catalina pressed her finger (or thumb, not sure) into my solar plexus very deeply for several minutes. I soon went into a deep state of calm. My body felt like lead sinking into the table and I didn’t want to move or talk — I just wanted to stay in that place of complete stillness and relaxation. Suddenly and most unexpectedly, my solar plexus jumped, I gasped and then had convulsing sobs which trailed off after about a minute. According to Catalina, my solar plexus opened up for the first time in many, many years.
I’m now going through the rest of my day noticing this feeling of openness and “alive-ness” in my abdomen. It’s a feeling that is simultaneously profound and subtle. This post is about as much analysis as I can apply to an experience that was decidedly non-intellectual, so I’m now going to stop thinking about it and just feel the feeling.