If you're in NYC, I hope you're either safe while out in the snow, or made the smart decision to just stay in bed. I'm at work. Meh.
I took part in a trauma yoga training last weekend. The instructor exuded the brightness and fluidity of a woman who knows who she is without question.
Her level of objective support is why I'm making a point to *finally* seek out therapy.
As a rape survivor, these sort of trainings are extremely difficult. The goal is to learn how to teach folks to maintain safe, inviting spaces for students who've survived domestic and sexual violence, as well as traumatic experiences as a whole (war, neglect, socioeconomic stress, and so on). Many yoga classes do not offer this sense of inclusion, so it's a great training for yoga instructors. But it's equally awesome for doctors, school teachers, and anyone else whose work involves direct contact with people!
This was the second trauma-informed yoga training I'd done. I attended a daylong trauma-sensitive yoga workshop last September and knew that although I cried my way through, I wanted to deepen my awareness of how other folks experience trauma in their own bodies.
After the workshop, I signed up for a three-day training. Day one was fine; meeting other strong women who also share this desire to work with folks who've survived domestic and sexual violence creates an automatic connection. But by the end of day two, I knew there was NO way I'd be back for day three. I was unable to speak, my brain was deplete of thoughts other than the circling flashbacks. I withdrew from everyone, and chose to put the training on pause.
(*Note: none of this was intentional triggered by the teacher(s)! Everyone experiences triggers in their own ways, and you can't determine what's out of bounds for everyone. My issue was not seeking therapy sooner, which I will dig into with a future post!*)
Oddly enough, these experiences didn't curb my desire to keep going.
I'll finish the first training come April. And the training from this past weekend wasn't as debilitating as the first one, but perhaps that's because I knew what to expect. Day one was the first time I'd ever spoken about my rape to a crowded room, or to more than one person at a time, no less. One woman said my words were "empowering." I don't remember what I said, but I spoke of bklynprose, my strength, and what I believe I'm here in the world to do (that being what I'm doing on here!).
On day two, I lasted until about 3:00 PM. By then, I could feel myself dissociating from the information. I was learning about what I already experience, was overwhelmed by the stimulation of particular questions and the loudness in the room.
As one of at least a few people in the room affected by sexual violence, I knew I wasn't alone, but I felt completely alone.
By the end of day two, my body began to react. My hands were shaking, I compulsively bent and cracked my fingers. My limbs curled into themselves, refusing to let anyone in. I felt like I was living inside this shape that decided to do whatever it wanted. I came home and was so angry I wanted to break everything in my room. I cried and wondered how different my life would be without a rape story.
On day three -- the last day of the training -- I arrived over an hour late. I treated myself to breakfast instead of attending the early morning yoga class since I was running late, anyway. I walked in and the teacher was happy to see me, though my bags and few hours of sleep didn't return the excitement. Other folks greeted me, too, while I wore this entire scowl across my face. Lol. I spent most of the day silent, writing, and listening to music (other than when the instructor would check in with me) until about 4:00 PM. That's when something inside me opened up.
By this point, I avoided all partner work. I didn't want anyone touching me, and I didn't want to touch anyone. But I joined one of the last activities of the training, and my partner, a nameless woman that I didn't get to speak to afterward, got me to smile again. We laughed through a back-to-back exercise that required us to pull our bodies up from the floor just by latching our arms together. Other folks surrounding our disarray laughed with us.
When the teacher asked for feedback, I told her how hard the weekend had been, and how good it felt to finally smile again.
How often do we trust that our bodies will steer us in the right direction? We shame our bodies, we harm our bodies, we tell our bodies what we aren't capable of before trying. But in us lies all the direction we need.
Trusting our bodies is as vulnerable as writing. We're left to see and feel all the stuff we don't want to deal with. It shows us loud and clear what's good and what's wrong, but we need all this. We need stress and trauma to present themselves. We need a concrete way to see and feel what needs to be released. That's what my body did for me last weekend.
If you're NYC local, I bet you're surviving Storm Stella! It's not too bad out here. I hear it's currently raining. >.<
If you dug this post, give us a holla below or via any of the social links (which are also below!). And if you need a reason to justify holding off on things, here's a link to my last writeup, "On Procrastinating Wisely And Putting Relationships First."
Happy writing, Happy Tuesday, and cheers to living. If no one's told you this today: Somebody needs you here. you are loved, seen, and heard.