Many times, I have touched upon the topic of how unresolved things from the past can harbour in the body as body-emotion, manifesting as “stuck” energy…otherwise known as symptoms. Well, today, I got right back to base with some of mine, which is interesting since to organically reach the point where the body is ripe for opening up the original hurt, it has to be at the stage where it is getting close to wanting to heal “everything”. Of course, the natural response of the mind is often to shut-down vague recollections of some past event that we don’t remember fondly but there lies the problem…we shut it down consciously, yet the body continues to harbour the irritation or pain, at the subconscious level, which then has no choice but to manifest as imbalance or some other symptom, that feeling of perpetuation in the body (on and on and on in perpetuity = “chronic”) and, of course, where one “off-kilter” energy tends to linger, other sticky energies will attract, leading to escalation (the “snowball” effect).
The reason my “thing” came up was because I was standing there in a qigong routine, thus my body was upright yet open and surrendered into the neutrality of it, a bit like a meditation whilst still full engaged with my physicality but, as ever, my mind ambled off into a random thought, the clue that something was knocking at the door of my consciousness. I got into pondering about my refreshed biography shared on this site yesterday, in which I described how I had been in a RTA a decade or so before I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia. The trivial thought passing through as I stood there was that I don’t really consider what happened to be a RTA as that conjures up “car accident”…and I was on a bike at the time (one of several ways I have tended to trivialise it). When I was not quite 22, I was hit side-on when a car skipped the lights and drove into me and I suffered injury to my back.
Out of the blue, whist playing this back, still in the flow of my qigong, I suddenly realised I had misremembered that accident all these years. In my mind’s eye, I had a well-established “video” of me crossing towards the front of the hospital (yes, only I would make sure to get run-over right outside a hospital!) when, in actual fact, I was cycling to work so I would have been going from the front of the hospital in the other direction. In other words, I was hit on my right side.
The right side of my body has been the side where I have experienced nearly all of my physical symptoms, for decades. From painful or unstable right hip, to polycystic right ovary, to right-sided mystery skin lesions, to right-sided tinnitus, to right-sided headaches and neuralgia, to right-sided referred tooth pain and other myofascial mysteries, to burning right shoulder blade and repeated frozen shoulders, my right has been where its mostly played out. I have put it down, for years, to being right-side dominant, not to that accident.
Suddenly, I just knew all this had provenance in the original “minor” accident and I don’t necessarily mean in a physical way as-in something on my right side got permanently damaged, although (since I couldn’t afford physical therapies and received just two “free” treatments at my local clinic plus a fistful of pain meds) there is some chance of a prolonged misalignment, especially as years of having to compensate for lost balance can put the body under tremendous strain, which did come up in later therapies. But no, really, what I sense here is an emotional injury, lodged inside me from that original event. Failing to acknowledging which side of my body took the hit, or how much of a hit it took, has been like a deflection of attention that my body has been shouting out about, like an unheard, indignant child tugging at my hand for attention and me stoutly ignoring them.
Haven’t I just been exploring my unheard emotions of all these years, having realised finally that I am a highly emotional INFP; though you wouldn’t think it as I have perfected the cool-calm exterior, so much so I even fooled even myself! The fact I had managed to keep from myself that I am an INFP for so long is telling, also a big clue as to why I am making leaps and bounds in my self-realisation about a lot of things, now I know. I am able to admit to myslf (the evidence is there in spadeloads) that I actually lead with my feelings as my dominant function, not some minor sub-plot, and yet, all my life, I have worked so very hard at suppressing my emotions as hugely inconvenient, undesirable and attention attracting, thus, when the accident happened I suppressed those too. It had happened, there was nothing I could do about that, I couldn’t afford treatment or a lawyer so I just shook myself down after a few days and carried on, as my parents had trained me to do!
Yet now, in the more open and receptive state I seem to have got myself into recently, I can genuinely recall the shock of it, the visual/sensory memory of flying over the bonnet and windscreen (which I can recall, even though I can’t remember my journey right before it happened), all the people standing around, the ambulance and being taken to hospital, which had never happened to me before. Most of all, now I have opened the box, I can feel some of the intense circumstantial emotions beneath all that, which means they are still harboured in my body.
Perhaps because I was the same age as my daughter is now, I can strongly relate to how intense that time of my life was. How I was already finding the transition from university to work (as had happened just 6 months before) extremely hard and that realisation is fresh in my mind given some of the conversations she and I have been having lately. In particular, the realisation of just how callous, ruthless and uncaring the “outside” world can be was starting to penetrate my coherent inner world, even before the accident, but this really drove it home and sent a shock wave through my system. I was out there, on my own, and it was dog-eat-dog, I came to realise; something for which none of my previous life experiences or internal wiring (deep introversion, high sensitivity, neurodiversity) had prepared me.
In particular, the besuited guy who ran me over, who had been on his mobile phone (almost nobody had mobile phones back then!), driving too fast according to witnesses, and didn’t see the lights had changed, impregnated his uncaring demeanour into me as a witness took down his details and slipped them into my pocket whilst I lay on the floor tended to by ambulance crew. I can recall he was most eager not to have charges pressed, to not be there, to rush on to where he was headed. I had no money to spare at the time, as I was paying off my student debt, and was told by Citizens Advice that it would cost more than I could gather to make a claim so I simply dropped it, even though I could have done with some treatments being paid for, enough to cover the extra leave I had to take, the job transition that led to and getting my bike fixed. A few weeks later I was walking through the train station (my new method of getting to work), having had to change jobs as the one I was in deteriorated rapidly after the accident. My former boss had had no tolerance for my time off and kept a hard-fast rule that none of his staff ever sit down or even lean in the gallery where I worked, and he would watch us from the cctv in his office to make sure we didn’t, so I had taken the first alternative job, even with its long commute. As I headed across the station forecourt, I passed the very guy who had run me over, he recognised me too and did that thing where people hesitate, open their mouths and, instead of asking how I was, he pointed and let out a laugh, a sort of guffaw, and hurried by into the crowd….like we were two people that had shared a joke at a bus-stop, not like he had run me over. I never forgot that. I never truly processed it either. Instead, I probably carparked it along with a stash of other unprocessed emotions I had about the whole episode.
Basically, I just tried to pick myself up and carry on like it never even happened. Six months into travelling to work on a train that took nearly an hour to get me to work, often standing for all or part of the journey, I no longer dwelled on the root cause of my low physical tolerance, my lack of robustness and deep tiredness, the niggling overwhelm from standing, not even when I came down with some sort of fatigue virus and was signed-off work for almost a month, which led to having to find yet another job, this time cycling to work again, though much further to travel than before. I had got into a spiral, yet I wasn’t seeing it…I was just trying to get on with things, as people do, and feeling emotions around it would only (as I saw it) unhinge me or get in my way.
This is what we do; we bury this stuff and a whole trajectory gets started. Though pain niggles were always there from then on, I had no means for dealing with them…not till much later in my twenties, when my income and necessity forced me to pursue various therapies. Emotions came up in those sessions, but never emotions to do with that accident…only what had happened subsequently…as though they were locked away or fenced off deep inside.
That original stash of emotions, I now realise, was quite a mix…all the anger, the frustration, the self-righteous rage with that man, the way I felt so helpless and devoid of adequate come-back, recovery time or even treatment because of lack of finances, the sheer disappointment in human behaviour, the shock that people could be so ruthless, uncaring and fixated with covering their own backs, no humanity or apology, not a word of care, not even from myself. I suspect one of the biggest shocks for me was because I was coming at the situation from the “sheltered” world of my family and academia, where I had kept to my small niche of decent people who cared and the reality that not everyone is like that hit me like a sledgehammer, my abrupt entry into adulthood, a shock I never got over. Then I did what we all do to cope…I normalised it. In other words, I accepted it, felt I could do nothing about it and so I buried all the feelings, deep-deep inside of me. Only one problem: they always come out sooner or later, in other ways, as illness, as breakdown or as pain.
Just seeing all this clearly as though floating up effortlessly from the root of my mind, this morning, as I moved through the graceful gestures of my qigong felt like a powerful release, or at least the beginnings of one. Allowing acknowledgement of these emotions is to take a giant stride towards, finally, not attempting to shut them down or minimise them any more; not telling myself “that was all years ago…don’t be so silly” (which could so-easily be the internalised voice of one of my parents) but allowing the feelings to float up to the surface, to carry weight, to arrive front-and-centre of my inner vision where they can be seen fully without that awkward eye-roll to the side (the same as that guy gave me when he saw me).
The irony is that, for many years, my job was to interview people that had been in road traffic accidents and so many of them would tell me how therapuetic our interview had been because I had helped them to sit with all their emotions, all the minutiae of what the accident brought up for them, nothing being too small to mention and acknowledge. Thus I would help them to draw the kind of information out that they otherwise had no means of processing since nobody ever seemed to ask them about some of the things I did, or they felt they were simply expected to brush them all under the rug and move on, not make a fuss, but it was my job to really care, to take it all down, including all the psychological details and circumstantial consequences we tend to brush off as a fact of life. In other words, I saw them and heard them out. In fact, I became so adept at that job I was allocated the most traumatic accidents to deal with as well as the most minor (giving all my fullest attention because what seems trivial often isn’t to the person involved).
Yet, because what happened to me was over a decade earlier and because I had trivialised it for all those intervening years, I never thought to sit down with myself in the same way, pushing that original event to the back of my mind as unimportant compared to all the years of health problems since. I also didn’t realise, back then, that I had such sensory processing challenges, that processing the abrassions of everyday life was sometimes a major trigger and chore for me so that processing this was probably more than I could easily digest. Sometimes, it’s just happens to be the smallest, least obvious thing, the very first thing in a trend, that trips us up the most and that’s where we need to give our attention.
By ignoring my own feelings, I had internalised that guy’s behaviour…done the same to myself as he did to me, joining him in his denial. I am starting to see my self-denial, over this incident and many things, including my denial about just how huge and defining my strong feelings are, how BIG emotions are such an intrinsic part of me and not to be kept under lock and key, hidden away as some sort of inconvenience; they need the space to come out, to be seen and to be heard. To realise this is transformative, like mist clearing, a light breaking through. Not because I blame myself for how things were before but because I can release myself from joining in with behaviours that are not mine. Today, I intend to sit with my actual feelings about this, even if they feel rather old now…to take them for a walk, to spend time with them, to write about them like this and in my journal, and to use a wonderful healing modality that I want to tell you about soon (Havening) as I feel into them, though EFT is another method that could be used in these circumstances. I don’t expect them to last long but they deserve to be heard out fully now…such is the path of healing.