My whole life I have defended myself with denial and turning away. That was all I had and it got me through. That strategy has also harmed me and people I love. When I was unable to accurately assess risk and see harm as it was happening, I was unable to identify and take appropriate steps to protect myself and my son. As I learn more about trauma and PTSD, I see denial as part of freeze of the fight/flight/freeze survival mechanism. I now see my pattern with softness and compassion instead of retroactively judging and shoulding myself.

It takes courage to look and be present. I see this all the time when I facilitate. People are often surprised when I point it out because we don’t always acknowledge this in ourselves. None of us would be doing this work without bravery. Without the ability and willingness to stay with and see what is arising, we are stuck in suffering. With the support of facilitators, I’ve turned toward and been willing to see and allow it all in.

I have discovered that real safety lies not in pushing it under or away. I am safe because I know in my guts I can be present with whatever comes up. I developed this confidence through the experience of staying with what is. I’m aware of the content of my thoughts. Notice and watch images and video clips of memory. Feel and pay attention with sensation and energy in my body. And experience the release when the activity of ‘my’ system/body/mind is seen as content and I rest as the awareness in which it all plays out.

Holding the space for a person to be authentic and heard is a blessing. We can hold that space for ourselves. Being heard and received by another human being who is not defending her or himself and not judging us is transformative. We can listen within ourselves with curiosity and without judgment. The more we are fully present, the safer other people feel with us and they can then look deeply too. This is a basic mechanism we all share. In this safety, we turn toward and open to it all. Living Inquiries and Natural Rest are tools we use in this community, and they are excellent tools.

Photo: stockimages
Turning Toward, Turning Away: Healing Trauma
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