Category Archives: somatic experiencing

extremities

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I saw Catalina this morning (it’s self-care Wednesday!). I was planning to talk about my fear at trapeze, but we got sidetracked by a conversation about how my body reacts when my kids fight (which they seem to be doing a LOT lately). Overall, I think I have a pretty good perspective about their sibling spats (i.e., they are a necessary and even important part of my kids’ growth — learning how to interact with others, how to deal with conflict, etc.) But when the sparks really start flying, I can feel my solar plexus start to batten down the hatches and go into crisis mode.

Now that I am much more present in my body, I notice that when I’m under stress or threat (because they kids are fighting or because I’m worried about a work deadline or because I think I have disappointed someone), I can feel all the energy in my body get sucked into my abdomen. It’s as thought the air raid siren has sounded and every neuron is running for the bomb shelter. Because I have successfully been able to release the chronic tightness I used to feel in my chest and solar plexus, I am able to calm myself within a relatively short period of time once I’m past the “crisis.” But I’m really interested now in actually getting ahead of the phenomenon.

I’m really going to focus on staying present in my body over the next few days when the kids go at it. It will likely feel a bit scary or unsettling to keep my extremities fully-energized (like I am leaving myself exposed to a metaphorical punch in the gut), but I suspect it will ultimately allow me to set smarter and firmer boundaries.

Stay tuned.

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ambivalent

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Good morning. It’s a beautiful not-full-time Monday morning. I dropped 2 of the kids at school and took the 3rd to the orthodontist. Now I’m back at home wondering what I’m going to do with my morning. Of course, I am always feeling the pull that I could do some legal work to fill the time, but that’s too predictable and that’s not growth. I’m continuing to work on dismantling my need to be “productive” during any time period in which I don’t have any external demands.

Later today I’m heading to a trapeze class with my friend Maile. Flying trapeze is my absolute favorite activity and I completely dread going every time. more…

blanket

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We spent a nice week in NY with David’s family for Thanksgiving. Now we’re back in the flow of things at home.

This morning I had an appointment with Catalina. It almost surprises me how much I look forward to sessions with her . . . like my body is anticipating the way my molecules are going to shift.

Today Catalina started by pressing on two points (one in my chest and one between the edge of my solar plexus and my right-hand rib cage). She asked me to report any sensations I experienced while she did that. What I noticed was that my body really wanted to hold on and really wanted to let go at the same time. She told me to just allow the sensations to pendulate and then asked me to picture what letting go would look like. I closed my eyes and all I could see was a wash of blue but I didn’t say anything. Catalina then asked again “What does letting go look like? The ocean? The sky?” I laughed and told her about picturing an expanse of blue that could have easily been either the ocean or the sky. more…

connection

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Ever since I read the book Screamfree Parenting by Hal Edward Runkel (one of the best parenting books I have read, by the way), I have been looking for ways to be calmer and more connected during emotionally-charged interactions with my kids. When my kids have strong emotional outbursts (tantrums, yelling, slamming doors, sibling fights), I tend to take on my kids’ emotional state. While I’m trying to handle the situation and set boundaries, I am also fighting against in my own internal maelstrom and feelings that “something is wrong.” This conflict between my attempts to reason and my emotional flooding results in me getting reactive (e.g., yelling or withdrawing) or trying to fix the “problem.” I really want to find a calmer place in those explosive moments so I can be a guide for my kids rather than a participant in their drama. more…

pumpkins

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Today the kids don’t have school because there are parent-teacher conferences. These days always used to be frustrating for me. I would make plans for the kids to do something fun with the nanny while I went to the office. Today they get to be with me. I’m taking two of my kids to a farm/pumpkin patch, but my oldest daughter is hanging out with a friend. There is a voice in my head trying to make me feel bad that I worked right through the years that she would want to hang out with me. There is some truth to what that voice is telling me, but it is not the whole truth. And, more importantly, if I listen to that voice, I will sit in regret rather than be open and available for the ways I can be present for my daughter today.

On another note, I went back to Catalina this week. We worked on the tightness in my chest. I have experienced strong sensations of heaviness, constriction and adrenaline in the center of my chest for as long as I remember. Catalina and I talked through some life events that may have contributed to these sensations as she alternated pressing on points on my sternum, ribs and holding my feet. Our conversation centered mainly around two events. The first is when I was in my early twenties and having a surgical procedure, I had an allergic reaction to an antibiotic which made it extremely difficult to breathe as I was going under the general anesthesia — pretty terrifying. The second was my dad’s death when I was 13 and the way I withheld expressing my grief. Catalina encouraged me to take my attention off of the sensations in my chest. She said that by obsessing (my word, not hers) on the tightness in my chest, I reinforce the idea that something is wrong. Instead, she encouraged me to focus on the feelings of my arms and legs being relaxed and the solidity of the connection between my feet and the floor. I have been experimenting with that the last few days and have been really successful at restoring a sense of calm in my chest.

Off to the pumpkin patch!

jump

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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! more…

session

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I am feeling inspired. I had my second session with my new therapist, Sarah, this morning. She is starting to work with me, through Somatic Experiencing (“SE”), on the physical sensations associated with how I protect myself emotionally (that might not be an accurate description, but it’s at least how I’m understanding it at this moment). I have felt instantly comfortable with Sarah and have been able to dive in very quickly. I know a few other patients of Sarah’s, and I have felt quite certain for at least a year that I was going to see her at some point. Sarah observed that I responded very instinctively to the SE work. She shared my sentiment that our working together felt like a natural step on my path to . . .well, wherever I’m going.