The Issue of Survival…
“Are you ‘on edge’ and worrying more?
I wonder how many of us are experiencing anxiety on a daily basis? I don’t just mean noticing our worries at a cognitive level – I mean feeling insecure about ourselves at a core visceral or somatic ’survival’ level?
I am struck by how much fear there is about the place at the moment and how easy it is to feel fundamentally unsafe. I am not immune to this, and I suspect, neither are you. I notice that the current political atmosphere is triggering some very deep survival fears in me and in the people I know and work with. We do not always know where these fears come from or even how these ‘survival’ states are triggered in us.
After a lifetime of digging, however, I know exactly which archaic survival fears of mine are susceptible to being triggered today:
- A transgenerational issue when all family status, income and security was lost.
- The experience of life-threatening violence in the womb
- Being inexplicably separated from my Mother at birth
- Almost being starved to death
- Being attacked by knife on two occasions.
- Being almost drowned by an elder brother
And this is just what happened to me before
I was 6 months old!
I only accessed the significance of these archaic ‘Survival traumas’ to my adult life through a combination of bodywork, therapy and ‘funny’ family stories. The latter came in the form of:
“When I was carrying you, your father came home drunk one night and (hah hah) almost killed me”
“You looked so cute in the special room put aside for all the new borns”
“You almost died (hah hah) when you were borne because you could barely feed at all for the first 2 weeks”
“What a relief when the doctor cut your tongue (hah hah) so you could feed”
“We made sure to get you circumcised at 3 months old (hah hah) so you wouldn’t feel the pain”
“Your brother must have thought you were hot so he put the hose into the pram (hah hah) – the only way we noticed was because the water was pouring out over the edges of the pram in the garden.”
Because the part of the brain that stores memory is not fully formed until 3-4 years old, I have no recollection of these events. But they do not go away just because I have no ‘declarative memory’ of them. All these early dramas were held in my being through what is called ‘Procedural memory’.
Simply put, they stay around, held in the body, just waiting to be re-triggered. Which is why so many of us find the current political and global situation so distressing. All of our earliest and unremembered survival fears are being re-triggered. That is why we feel ‘on edge’ and spend so much more time worrying about things.
Whatever unremembered (and untold) traumas we are carrying in the body, it is now quite clear that TOUCH is the one thing that can change this ‘somatic picture’ and remove the triggers that constantly re-traumatise us. Whilst I have known this experientially after a lifetime spent in healing touch and Bodywork, the neuroscience is now explaining just how this is so.
To learn about the role that touch can play in soothing a traumatised population and to get right up to date with the latest neuroscience of trauma, why not attend my “Massage For Trauma” day? I may even be travelling to somewhere near to you…
I do hope you can make it to this day, because we are going to be learning how to impact the nervous system and dissolve trauma triggers directly through touch. Do be quick, though, because places are filling up fast!
By Gerry Pyves, NO HANDS Founder & Creator