Somato Respiratory Integration
– Personal Relationships
Stage One of healing happens when we accept those parts of us that have been wounded, abused, neglected, shamed, or misdirected. Physical parts, or conditions of our life story, as this fictional personal relationship story illustrates.
Storytelling – in green boxes – to illustrate comments in blue text below:
They had been dating for only three weeks. It had been several long years since Celina had been involved in any romantic relationship. “Ah, so good, so good, Jason is the man I’ve always been waiting for. Except, darn, something just doesn’t feel right at the moment, but I don’t want to spoil it.” Driving through the beautiful, rolling countryside of Virginia, a three hour trip to their historic destination, Celina, in the passenger seat, was doing her best to sound like everything was cool. But what a relief, she noticed, when Jason had to stop for gas and trip-related information that she knew would give her more than just a few moments by herself.
A time to check in and take stock of what was going on inside. “When did I start feeling this way? Oh ya. It was our last date. It was that look he made that just, Aaaah! That look that uncle Jacob would make when I was being made to feel that I was an embarrassment to the family, for not having the refinement and elegance that my older sisters and nieces were always noted for.”
Jason’s facial expression was just after Celina had told him something she was so proud of. How she had handled a difficult situation at work, in which she had to speak up for a co-worker she felt was not being given the recognition that others would easily have received if only her co-worker wasn’t so bashful. A few minutes passed of wild, imagined scenes before Celina noticed her embarrassing rage being projected towards Jason as well as her uncle Jacob.
“Uh-oh. He’s going to come back to the car any minute. If I keep feeling this way, it’s all over, and then I’ll be regretting this for the rest of my life – how I messed up the chance for the man of my dreams. Nobody will ever know”, she lamented, “the challenges I’ve had to deal with from being made to feel like the odd-ball in the family. Oh God…..” Celina closed her eyes. Quietly, she felt the presence of teachers or other elders – elders from her life or from stories – when a brief remark or wise look of understanding was conveyed. Images that stayed with her as a quiet source of comfort and guidance.
Relationships, when healthy, move dynamically through a surprising range of feelings, stretching our capacity for growth and discovery. This typically gets derailed when we keep, as we so often do, a pent-up interpretation of an event, sometimes a relatively minor event, to ourselves. Unresolved emotional trauma from earlier years will commonly create supercharged reactions, as is the case here with Celina.
Any story we have about our life that carries emotional charge into a relationship, without being honestly expressed, will ultimately destroy the intimacy. As long as the motivation behind the emotional charge is not candidly revealed, it will continue to own the person’s life, along with their relationships. Oftentimes it can even be the story we would like to share, but only if we get to brag about what we had to endure.
The victim craves for the same recognition as the hero. But for the victim to be as psychologically free as the hero, there must be compassion. Compassion especially for the persons blamed for creating our victimhood, whether that be our parents, family members, people from other economic or social status classes, races, religions, countries, quite often one’s self as well – whomever we tend to blame. It helps nonetheless to have an understanding that all of us, from time to time, are confronted with emotions that seem all too ready to be expressed in ugly ways.
The nature of human beings is actually a biological composite of:
• The oldest part of the evolutionary ladder, the reptilian brain. This “department” of our busy-body nervous system is responsible for preparing us for our basic survival needs, just in case the other “departments” are out to lunch, or too darn slow to completely pick up the ball. Its main preoccupation: Is this something to be attacked, withdrawn from, eaten, or have sex with?
• The emotional brain, the nervous system “department” common to all mammals, giving rise to our rich emotional life. Along with emotional intelligence – a term that’s often used when we’re “connecting the dots” and in the flow of things, or not.
• The human cortex, that part of the brain that can mentally articulate and freeze in time a story about an event, as well as introduce new ideas relating to any particular event.
When the victim acknowledges and accepts that there may be conditions under which he or she would commit the same atrocities that the abuser inflicted, when there’s compassion for those human weaknesses inside of us as well as them, then the victim is a hero, a hero in building new bridges of understanding and appreciation in all lives directly and indirectly touched upon.
Just then, Celina was a bit startled when Jason opened the car door, coming from an unexpected direction. For a brief, unguarded second, Celina’s anger was stirred.
Jason: “What’s wrong?”
Celina: “Oh nothing”, painfully aware she was being way too slow in re-gaining her composure.
A few brief seconds passed before either one knew what to say, with natural body language taking over. On a gut-level, body language, universally understood by all mammals, exposes all motivations, allowing any secrets to only be skin-deep. In this case, there was enough awkwardness to make it uncomfortably obvious to both of them that something had to be dealt with.
Jason, cutting in, as Celina gasped for the first word: “Alright, what is it?”
Celina, helpless in knowing that there was no point in hiding anything, yet with no way to be socially graceful about it, on the verge of tears: “I didn’t,…” Now whining, “I didn’t like that look you gave me”.
Jason: “What look? What ya talking about?”, shooting back, irritated that he could be accused of hurting somebody just by being himself. A look on my face!? For God’s sake!
Celina: “Well, when we were in that restaurant last Saturday, and”
Jason, about to explode: “I told you! The waiter knew what he
was doing, and he still wasn’t…”
Celina: “No! Let me finish.”
Jason: “Ya, ya, ok, go ahead and finish. What else am I doing
Celina, exasperated, but managing to speak in a controlled, slow,
firm tone of voice: “It has nothing to do with the waiter. It was after I finished telling you about how I spoke up for Maryanne at work.”
Jason: “Oh. Well, I did feel bad about that.”
Celina: “About the look you gave me?”
Jason: “What look?”
Celina: “You looked at me like this.”
Jason: Sigh. “That’s probably because I was feeling bad for when I didn’t speak up for Charlie the other week at my office.”
Within seconds, the romance was back on track, for now anyway.
This exchange illustrates gaining more clarity, although somewhat haphazardly, with what there is to acknowledge, a major aspect of stage one. However, when the conversation was out of control, with accusations flying at near supersonic speeds, we have initial conditions for stage two taking over. Stage two, with or without anger, requires polarity.
As the spine and spinal cord – the central nervous system – becomes free of holding on to frozen tension patterns through NSA chiropractic care, the unresolved effects of stress and trauma cease to have a gripping effect – so the person is no longer compelled to react like a “puppet on a string” during such encounters.
Nonetheless, there are a few helpful guidelines, along the lines of what’s recommended by certain coaches or therapists, for “clearing the air”, in personal relationships:
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