How Does It Feel in Your Body?

January 31, 2022

Black sneakers against an icy sidewalk.

Sometimes it’s hard to trust ourselves.

After a challenging chapter, lousy relationship, traumatic experience, or big life transition that rocks our world, we question whether or not it was as bad as we thought.

This usually happens if we’ve been gaslit at any point in our life.

Especially if we were gaslight inside the experience we’re leaving behind.

I remember when my relationship ended with Rodger (who I wrote about in Unravel: Rising Up and Coming Back from a Season of Living that Damn Near Killed Me), this is something I really struggled with for a long time.

I felt like I was being dramatic, like maybe things weren’t as bad as I thought. And people around me only knew (and often defended or even celebrated) different sides of him, so maybe I’d made it all up in my head somehow.

But my body always told the truth.

I had traumatic responses that were a direct result of my time with him.

My hands would go numb if you tried to hold them.

I couldn’t fall asleep next to a man.

I had intense panic attacks in response to normal, loving things.

My brain literally couldn’t make sense of why people wanted relationships.

My nervous system was on red alert anytime I left the house.

“Mind over matter,” I would think to myself at times, believing that if I just pushed through these things with the right mindset, I could get over it all and be okay. But my body never let me lie to myself; it held far too much trauma in its cells.

Similarly, while healing from my last relationship ending, I really thought I was/should be fine to be friends and stay in contact. “Why not,” I’d think, “he was a good, kind, loving man. There’s no reason to need a hard boundary here.”

But every time we texted, or I saw him in the world, my body made it clear that the damage of the trauma bond was real and engaging was too harmful and unsettling.

How does it feel in your body?

Not what you think you should feel, what you actually feel.

It’s far too easy to convince ourselves we’re overreacting, but the body never lies.

Trauma and grief get stored in our cells, our body is an animal with deeply rooted instincts, and our nervous system is far wiser than our minds could ever be.

It’s also important to note that trauma can (and does) occur in seemingly “normal” everyday situations. There’s no denying the impact, even if it doesn’t make logical sense that you’re having a traumatic response to things.

If you’re trying to convince yourself you’re okay, to “mind over matter” your way through something, or that maybe you’re being dramatic, I want you to ask yourself this question: How does it feel in your body?

If your body is communicating that something is wrong, trust that.

Honor it and set boundaries or take the space you need as quickly as possible.

It doesn’t have to make sense; it just needs tending and care.

And often, we need some support in processing it out of our system.

Not so that we can “get over it” and continue to tolerate intolerable situations or experiences, but so that we can have freedom from the triggers and trauma.

Trust your body’s responses.

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