So the other day I went to my shiatsu session. People ask me often if I have a therapist. I tell them I've moved beyond therapy and now have a full body worker! While I'm being funny, there's some truth to that. I lovingly refer to myself often as the proverbial "puke pucket." As a trauma counselor, I get to hear trauma all day long. It's important to me/for me to stay fully engaged and truly listen. So, I'm "catching" it all. Just as I advise my clients, I can't keep all that in my body, it can become toxic. So, I incorporate Shiatsu into my self-care practce. What's shiatsu? Read about it here.
As I was describing to my shiatsu practioner some pain I had been experiencing, she began honing in on the sore spots. She had to bring it to my attention I was bracing, rather than communicating to her she was "going too deep." We began talking about the difference between "hurt" and "pain." She made this amazing point, and it landed with me, and of course I translated it to my trauma work.
She said she wasn't hurting me, the "hurt" was already there. She wasn't injuring me, or causing me harm. She just happened to be working through the already sore spots. But I had to experience the pain to get to the other side; to release it. Her touch was simply triggering an already present pain.
When I work with trauma clients, the hurt has already been done. Working through it with the therapist is not "hurting" you. It's working (or wading) through the pain to get to the other side. It's important to remember you've already survived the real event, that's the most difficult part. Bracing, or creating resistance to the pain is counter-productive. Equally important is communicating an effective pace so you don't become resistant.
So how did I continue to get through my session? I became better at letting her know what was too much, too fast. I paid attention and paced my breath, using the inhale and exhale to my advantage. I worked with my pain instead of against it. I didn't avoid it. And of course, by the end of the session, she had isolated two specific muscles that were contributing to my headaches. I thought she was brilliant and a godsend. She was doing what she was trained to do as well as what she intuitively knew how to do. It's her skill, but the real breakthrough came when I shared with her where the pain was during my headaches and that gave her information to know exactly how to help me. It's a partnership, her and I, to remove my pain. She was trained for it, and I was built for it.