The Mind Body Connection: Overcoming Abuse & The Effects of it physically, mentally and emotionally. Growing up never did I think I'd become so weak I'd tolerate and allow abuse in my life. I've survived a marriage that exposed me to this topic. And this weekend I finally made a mental connection to how abuse is linked to our bodies as we push through many areas of life. Namely, physical fitness.
I was never any top athlete in school but I had an athletic and track style frame. I was raised focused on music but I prided myself on pushing through many things when I worked out and did hard manual labour. And after my first marriage, I didn't experience the physical signs until after my second marriage broke down.
I no longer desired to be physically active. I poured myself into work, drove everywhere and slowly didn't really give it my all. I thought I'll just get back into a gym and it will be ok. i'm just out of practice. So I bought a gym membership. Nope, that didn't work. I rarely went. Then I got connected to a trainer who apparently helped people through their issues with unique practices. That didn't work either. I got judged and dismissed for the emotions I was feeling as I worked out and the real issue was still missed. So I changed gyms. I was still hearing the same things...in the sense that you just need to push through. The difference was, they were SO supportive and loving! I felt safe. Such a great environment!
You know when you are physically working really hard, in a gym or doing manual labour and your muscles start to ache and get fatigued? Or when you are trying to train for cardio and your heart and lungs feel the pressure from working hard? I had that but it was intense. And with it came an overwhelming rush of emotions. I wanted to cry, pitch a fit, punch something, yell and scream. It hurt so bad to even go for a speed walk. Or sometimes, any walk. I did a hike at my daughter's birthday and I damn near died. The first few feet in as we inclined, I started to complain and said to my girls 'go on ahead of me...I'll be far behind and will hold you back. I don't know if I'll make it.' Then I had to stop myself from crying! They stood there staring at me with a mixed look of shock, concern with borderline they almost wanted to laugh cuz was I serious? We had just started. I did cry. The whole damn time. Off and on. I try to run in my Taekwondo and training and I stop when the pain or heavy breathing hits (ok, so we need to exercise caution...but the point is I couldn't push through).
That 'burn' that everyone raves about brings out inner dark Junella. The kind that wants to lay down and die. I thought it was hormones, depression, anxiety...maybe even arthritis. I had no desire. So I would take days or weeks off from training and disappear for a period of time. Many of my trainers too would get snappy short rude tones from me and long winded emails about how I couldn't do it and other shit. I'd keep thinking WTF is wrong with me. As I'm sure they have too. But yesterday...mystery finally solved. Over a quick pep talk from my daughter. We were out and I was telling her this. I was even crying! I said I have to learn to push through.
Then she said this to me: 'You went through alot of physical pain. Alot of trauma. It's quite literally possible your body and mind associates the pain of pushing through with the pain of holding someone abusive off.'
I stopped crying and stared at her. That's it! That is exactly how I feel every time. The same emotions. I've been to hell and back. I've been thrown down stairs, pushed into and through walls, punched, slapped, kicked, picked up off the floor by my throat, been sat on and smothered, had a phone cord wrapped around my neck and tried to be strangled, thrown on the ground and had a shelf pulled down on me, had a knife held to my throat, been punched in the side of the head and tried to be pushed out of a highway speed moving vehicle going down the road, been slammed in a door repeatedly, and when I was 9, was groped, had clothes torn off then sexual actions were taken, hit/dragged by my hair and held down while shoving a snake down my shirt just for the sheer enjoyment of watching me freak out. I've seen abuse. I've also gone through emotional and verbal abuse. There was also concern and suspicion I was poisoned with rat poison in small doses as an open bag was found open months later and I had been quite ill with symptoms that matched. But it was never provable. So I've seen alot. So have my kids.
Many people do not understand the physical effects your body goes through when you are abused. I had suffered abuse years earlier and that led to damage that caused me to suffer a miscarriage. I had my pelvic floor damaged and injured. That resulted in no longer being able to have children and led to years of having to restrengthen and heal it. I'm good now, it's strong and back where it belongs and I've healed excellent. I lost the majority of my hearing in my left ear from abuse and lost a baby that was to be my daughter's twin. My hips are buggered and not placed correctly and my left knee has suffered damage. As a result my body has developed Histamine Overproduction. I react sometimes daily to different things. It hasn't been pin pointed to anything specific. I just react. Then it goes into remission for months. Then just shows up overnight. I'm a work in progress.
So when my daughter said that, I finally after years got some relief just knowing. This will now help me moving forward. In a weird way, I even wonder if I see the person trying to make me push through as a form of an abuser. Not literally, but I wonder if that's why I experience so many emotions. I said that to her and she said what you should do is put yourself through workouts for awhile and force yourself to push hard. Feel the burn. Feel the difficulty breathing and push yourself. Cry while your pushing through so you only see yourself pushing. Work though that then start training again with someone, once you've sorted through things. (I should pay her as a side counsellor...she's quite wise!) The energy, strength and the burn of pushing through is what you experience when you are basically fighting to survive abuse. Muscle fatigue sets in. You only have adrenaline to help you. Then that too depletes your body of nutrients.
I take Taekwondo and I have a love hate relationship with sparring. It is so great to learn but taking a hit from someone else is intense. It vibrates through your body and I have to work through my memories and develop control. Lifting weights and doing a cardio burn class...damn difficult. But each second I last longer than the last is a victory. The best breakthrough I've had yet was this past Sunday. I trained for about 1.5-2 hours. Of course I stopped when I needed to but was encouraged in a healthy way to keep going. I had to do a set of kicks and punches going up and down the room. And when I'd stop for a breath I took light hits to the body to prompt me to keep going. This at first caused me to be caught off guard. I felt panic and shock and anger but I was safe with someone I greatly trusted. And it was the best thing for me. I was able to push through on some levels I never could've before. I made great progress.
I've since gone shooting, which is very effective. Being in an enclosed space and feeling the vibration of the shots in the room was therapeutic. (Pics below)
Since then I've done some research on the mind body connection. Our minds are amazing little buggers. They can convince us that we experience trauma even after the trauma. Here's some tips on what to do for your own self care as you heal. I'm going to incorporate these:
1. You aren't crazy...you are recovering from trauma. Give yourself a break. Rest when you can. Get up and do it again.
2. GET CONSISTENCY: whatever what may be! You HAVE to develop a daily routine and be accountable to that. Discipline and consistency are the toughest things coming out of any adversity. It becomes mundane and moot. But is critical and necessary.
3. Start by getting up as early as you can. To the point it hurts a bit. This develops a tolerance to the pain.
4. Eat cleaner. Giving yourself the clean food will help detox you and overtime reset your hormones which will increase your abiity to handle stress.
5. Journal. Write down your fears and communicate them to yourself. Maybe not to everyone else. You need to get it out. Vent on yourself. Then read it later. Then destroy it. Go through the motions and get it off your chest.
6. Get in a safe environment yourself or with someone you trust and push until you feel the burn. Then take a quick 30 seconds and push again. But no stopping. Set a time limit. 5-10 minutes of that to start.
7. Take self defence. You'll never feel safe until you do. So take that into your own hands.
8. Get a hobby that brings you zen. Meditate or get into nature.
9. Meditate. If you have faith then read your bible. Start to retrain your mind to think positive and expect only good.
10. Get away from haters. They want you there. Nice and toxic. Where they can play with you. Tell them to fuck off and hire it out to deal with their sorry ass if you need. But don't succumb to it. Rise above.
11. Get some good friends and get out and laugh. Let your hair down and learn how to feel happy again.
12. Get a handle on your budget and finances. Paper your debts if your have to. When money is out of control it sets other things off course.
13. Your trainer or accountability people are not your abusers. Read that again.
14. If you are in a relationship, have some great sex. Learn how to have a great orgasm. Awesome way to create those happy little endorphins and bond with that person you love.
15. Go on a trip. Even to your back yard. Get to the mountains, hike, lay on a beach...get some adventure. Pushes you out of your comfort zone.
16. Friends and Family time: schedule it. Practice the things that are hard to heal from. Be kind and do something generous for them. Give them your time. If you need to, communicate you are relearning and need their patience and understanding.
17. Get serious about your business and grow your company if you are self employed. LEARN! Never stop learning! Don't ever allow yourself to again depend on anyone outside yourself.
18. Honour those who were there, they are your people....remove those who weren't. They aren't your people.
You are a survivor and you can do this!!!! Enjoy a few pics of what has helped me! Volunteering and helping people helps me too. I do alot with my kids, namely my daughter and it has created a bond that is special. These 18 points plus are needed in the healing journey. If you haven't read the blog THEtour, read it and visit the website: www.thetourjourney.com. This is what we are doing through this project. We launch Oct 26th with a 'Be Your own Hero' event and will be helping people in the future through our family charity 'Raymond House'.