November 2014, by Karin Green
As adults, we often don’t remember the physical, mental, and emotional childhood traumas we experienced, but our bodies always remember. As children we store trauma in our bodies. In traumatic moments, where we can’t control what is happening, we make decisions that we hope will protect us, and we make promises to ourselves. The decisions we made were the best ones we could make at the time, but they were based on a child’s understanding, which often doesn’t have the whole picture.
In adulthood, a childhood trauma can manifest in many different ways. For example,
- we might feel as if we’re choking when we try to speak up.
- we might have pain in the stomach when we go into certain situations.
- we might have tight, painful shoulders as if we’re carrying a heavy burden.
- we might have sharp pains in our sexual organs when we’re intimate with someone.
- we might have aching feet when our boundaries have been shattered and we haven’t spoken up for ourselves.
Although I am not a specialist in trauma, I have training in recognizing its presence and assessing whether a person can benefit from doing Shadow Work® or should see a trauma specialist first.
“PULLING OUT” THE TRAUMA
The first step in healing the effects of trauma with Shadow Work is to get clarity and understanding. Shadow Work® is a powerful and helpful resource for discovering the promises we’re still keeping that are bringing us pain, disconnection and suffering.
Once we see more clearly what effects of trauma we are still living with, Shadow Work offers a variety of tools and techniques for healing. One of them is to “pull out” metaphorically what is choking the throat or causing pain in the stomach or feet, or to “throw off” the burden from the shoulders. This work can access the body’s wisdom and release trauma from the body. Once the trauma is out, we can give it back to the one for whom we were carrying it, or we can stomp our feet and set a clear boundary.
As a Shadow Work® facilitator, I have witnessed many people metaphorically “pulling out” trauma and pain and I’m still fascinated at how powerful this technique is and how permanent the healing can be, regardless of what the trauma was or its cause. I have used this process myself to remove a painful stomach ache that would appear every time I had to speak up for myself. After pulling this pain out in a Shadow Work process I no longer have that pain. Today when I do speak up for myself there is a slight discomfort in my stomach, but the pain is gone.
SEXUAL TRAUMA AND THE FOUR ARCHETYPES
Sexual trauma can be more complex, since the perpetrator is often someone we know, and even discussing sexuality is difficult or even a taboo subject for many people. Often the victim of a sexual trauma believes he or she is responsible for what happened, thinking they could have done something to prevent or avoid it. As children it may have been too dangerous for them to say no, so they learned to drop their boundaries. In the Shadow Work® Model, it is the Warrior part of the self that knows where the lines are, and when we bring Warrior energy out of shadow, we learn where our natural boundaries ought to be and how to set them clearly.
In moments of trauma, we felt fear, anger and grief, and those feelings are still with us, in our bodies, preventing us from living our lives fully and joyfully. It is the Lover part of the self that feels, and Shadow Work® provides a safe ritual container for uncovering and releasing these feelings from the body and bringing Lover energy out of shadow.
In childhood, there might not have been anyone truly caring for us and loving us unconditionally. The Sovereign part of the self is our internal parent, and bringing Sovereign energy out of shadow restores our lost self-love and self-esteem.
A child who is the victim of sexual trauma internalizes the voice of the perpetrator, and it can show up in adulthood as a strong inner critic voice that is merciless. It is the Magician part of the self we work with to have a dialogue with the inner critic and transform it, leaving a sense of peace and strength.
Shadow Work® gives us the gift of loving ourselves for the journey we have chosen to live in this life. As we come to understand why we made certain decisions and promises, the ones that got us to where we are today, we can experience great healing and evolve more and more into who we really are.
Karin Green is a Certified Shadow Work® Group Facilitator and transformational coach in central Massachusetts. She offers workshops and individual coaching in person or via Skype. Read more about Karin or visit her website, ShadowWisdom.com, where you can also download the free workbook, Bust Your Inner Critic, Reclaim Your Joy.
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