*Note-This post is graphic, and because it is about a form of trauma and loss, may trigger memories and deep feelings in the reader. It’s also long. I have committed recently to sharing whatever comes to the page in these early mornings. I hope it serves you in some way. xo Lisa
I was a bleeder.
When I was young and in my childbearing years, my body bled when I didn’t know how to manage the intensity of what was happening. I was the last one of my friends to get my period, almost 15 to be exact. And in a strange way I loved my cycles. I had waited a long time, and I loved the ritual and the intense connection to my body. And it was intense.. painful, out of control bleeding, brutal cramping, it was not pretty. And yet I felt so connected to something which I could not have named or articulated back then. These periods were an event. I would get pale, I would become seriously anemic. In a funny way I never minded.
At 22, when my father was dying, near the end, I was diagnosed with endometriosis. A kind of bona fide second chakra disorder. The uterine tissue displaced and growing out of bounds causing pain and more intense bleeding. It’s trapped where it does not belong and cannot exit the body properly.. in effect trapped and creating pain and symptoms. I remember that. An elegant metaphor for the grief and sorrow that I could not allow proper space, trapped, causing pain. A procedure just a few weeks before my Dad died at 52. I was 23. In pain and had been bleeding heavily including episodes of hemorrhages for over a year.
My body was weeping.
Bleeding from the domain of the sacral chakra, the energy center of the womb and of our sexual self, where my feminine and creative nature lived. Things out of balance. Not knowing how to grieve, running from the pain, the pain for all intents and purposes displaced, backed up and trapped.
And if I am telling the whole story I was creating other pain in the second chakra. Through promiscuous and often meaningless sex, I tried to distance myself from this excruciating loss that had I’d had to witness for over 9 years. Watching my father fade.. my giant of a father, 6 feet and 4 inches, a bigger than life personality, powerful, creative, a visionary with whom I’d had a complicated and sometimes turbulent relationship.
The boys and men I turned to in an attempt to escape the impending loss.. a pattern that began in my teens and lasted until I was about 30. Creating more pain, more confusion, more damage. Looking for love in all the wrong places only made the pain worse.
How the hell do you process this kind of loss? You bleed. You take it into your body, into your biology, and let the body express it, partly out of consciousness, waiting decades patiently to be sorted out.
I weep for that girl. I see so clearly the pain, the wish to merge with another in a mournful attempt to beat back death. I feel that grief for myself at that age without judgement. I try to stay in Water-Bearer mode that I sustain with others, and try to practice the non-flinching capacity with myself and my long tainted innocence.
At some point I remembered how to cry again, how to sob, in therapists’ offices, to the posse of surrogate mothers I cultivated, to trusted friends. To my brother Sam of course, now also gone. Eventually to the men I married and loved as an adult.
There are times we just cannot carry that much pain. Our bodies have to bear some of it, addictive patterns have to mop up some of it, our psyches have to bury it, our intellects have to gloss over it. And that is a blessing. Because we are not ready, the pain and our choices will surely destroy us, we are too fragile.
And in my late twenties, I learned to sublimate all of it in a more positive industrious way. Finally on track with career, in graduate school for a Masters in Clinical Social Work, completely devoted to my clinical internships and my clients I poured all of this into learning and excelling. Another kind of connection. Still second chakra territory, feeling, creating, learning, expressing, developing my intuition and way of seeing and knowing… the tides turning a bit.
My first pregnancy, with Luke at 34-35, stirred it up again. At 11 weeks into my first trimester, another massive bleed. So dramatic in the middle of the night was the bleeding that there was no possibility of it not equalling a miscarriage. And yet as I’ve already given away, Luke showed up on the ultrasound at the hospital that next morning, a miracle. Looking back at this threatened loss of a being with whom I was already wholly in love, with a baby I saw in perfect accurate detail from the moment he was conceived on Thanksgiving night in New Hampshire. Here was my body repeating the trauma again enacting the trauma of loss, again through the bleeding.
The threat of loss replaying, my body trying to get my attention. When it was time to deliver this magnificent baby of mine, i spent 25 hours in labor, with literally ten Residents sticking their arms up me to see how things were going, to end up with an emergency caesarean section and finally my gorgeous auburn headed blue eyed baby, Luke. The other piece worth noting during this pregnancy was the (sorry) daily vomiting. From the moment I conceived right onto the delivery table. I was so sick. I look back and realize I was panicked. My body was in a sense beyond my control. Having watched my father die for almost 10 years, fears were becoming reactivated and my then husband had very little emotional capacity and I had to turn to my close girlfriends, all of whom had already birthed their babies and could offer comfort and attention.
The day I left the hospital, the scar became infected from strep bacteria, requiring in-home intravenous therapy three times a day… that scar still lays over my second chakra… a place that both births required being opened.. layers of skin and muscle and tissue being cut to birth my gorgeous boys. And I will tell you, that this scar acts up fairly often…
Oh our bodies. Our precious sensitive bodies holding so much trauma, so much memory. Taking the hit for what we aren’t ready to process and know.
Because it doesn’t just leave, these leftover energies of the lovers, of the traumas, of the sicknesses and terrifying bleeds. There is a repository of mixed energies here. The many gifted women healers of the world know this well, and teach us the importance of what is sometimes referred to as ‘Womb Work’, ways of clearing the energy so the body is released from what should no longer be taking up space.
I watch women closely. When I used to sit with clients in my home office, or on the psych unit, or on the crisis prison unit.. wherever.. I would notice that if one was available, women would hold a pillow in front of their bellies. Their precious soft vulnerable lower chakras. The move to protect instinctual and typically not conscious. All the times I’ve done it myself, The protection, the hiding, the cushioning.
Not to mention the padding or weight that we often add. It makes perfect sense to me that we want extra layers there. To cushion all of the pain, the betrayal, the loss, the abuse, the longing, the shame, the guilt, the bleeding, the abortions, the miscarriages, the rapes, the disrespect, the unwanted attention and the energies of our past lovers. Add to the mix all of that which we inherit… the generational patterns of the lineage, and their traumas, their shame, their beliefs. Let that sink in for a minute. It’s not just about our history. You and I absorbed all sorts of stuff from our mothers, grandmothers, aunts, sisters and so on… And we absorbed the energies of the lovers we let into our bodies.
There is a lot going on here my darlings. A lot.
I know as you read this, the synapses are firing, you are remembering, trying some of this on, fitting some of the pieces together, maybe weeping tears of your own. This is deep, painful, tender work, freeing these energies you have held these long years. Even allowing yourself to remember, takes so much. It’s wrenching. These stories of ours, so many shared, collective, historical, ancestral…what women bear.
The recent campaign of “MeToo” seen on social media, to demonstrate just how many of us had received unwanted sexual attentions, sexual trauma, rape, abuse… is there anyone who hasn’t? And in our culture, we are relatively free compared to women in other countries. Or women in war-torn countries where battles are fought against women’s bodies. My body wants to double over in pain when I think of all of the sexual trauma. Women bear these wounds often silently, even amongst ourselves. Our own government still trying to police our bodies, makes me want to shriek.
When Trump’s revolting claim about grabbing women without consent made news last year. I watched as all sorts of women were re-traumatized. And what my friends and I ended up discussing in a sort of awe, was that most of us hadn’t even told our friends. It didn’t occur to us to discuss our sexual trauma most of the time, we dutifully buried it.
And this in itself is noteworthy given the ease with which we sometimes give up our other secrets. Not these. These we kept close to ourselves, buried deep within our bodies, often erupting at times when these parts were unknowingly activated again. The shock of remembering that which we found ways to dissociate, to disown.
Long suppressed memories returned. Unwanted sexual attention. An incident long ago that I now realize was date rape although it was not violent. The series of sexual advances that began when I was young that I always thought were my fault. The ways I let my body be used, trying to drown out the sorrow of losing my father. The weight gain to protect myself along with the diversion and drama of disordered eating… all of it a painful and related mess, impacting my sense of self for decades. My sexual self, still vulnerable at moments, still holding memories of unwanted encounters too many to go into here.
My second pregnancy, not quite as traumatic. Less vomiting, less overall fear, The diversion of a toddler helping to ground and focus me. This time I did a planned caesarean, thank you very much. And yet still complications as the anesthesiologist chose to override my morphine allergy and deliver it anyways, leading to such vomiting during the surgery that I couldn’t even hold my new baby for several hours. It was bad. Really bad. I cry when I remember Nicky’s birth and my knowing that as soon as I could, I would divorce my babies’ father.
I have two very healthy wonderful sons, now 23 and 25. The birth experiences impacted some of my sense of my body. I tried to release any disappointment I had in my body’s reaction, I had a sense of the fears that were being stirred. I also left that marriage as fast as I could, the week my babies turned one and three, which I have never regretted.
Also, in case you’ve never heard this, there is vicarious traumatization. If you’re an empath, sensitive to the feelings of others, somebody who takes it all on and often loses the ability to discern which emotional energies are yours and which belong to somebody else, you may also absorb their trauma. This happened to me most visibly on the prison psychiatric crisis team with women who’d experienced things I could not imagine, things that gave me nightmares for years, things that broke my heart, things that at the time I did not know how to heal beyond keeping a stash of candy and distracting toys in my desk drawer to offer meager comfort.
So what do we do with all of this? You may feel stirrings of old traumatic memories just from reading this post. Or you may have buried some things so deeply that it will take something else to animate these past events. I have never been one who believed it was a good thing to dig for these memories. They will emerge if they are meant to and if you have some capacity to tolerate them when they erupt. Until that time, leave them be, trust me on this.
After my experience with so much trauma in the prison and in my experience as a psychotherapist, hearing so many painful stories from so many women, I was moved to study trauma, and the methods that healed. EMDR was new back then and I immersed myself. And I saw many women find relief and freedom during that time for which I was profoundly grateful. I have healed much of my own over many years, with many wise and gifted women healers, those able to listen deeply.
There are many ways to heal. I always turn to the page (obviously). Writing moves powerful energies, allows the body to release some of it, while placing the memories, the rage, the shame, the confusion, the self-doubt and blame, onto the paper instead. Transferring it from one container of the body to a journal. This can really help given space and a regular practice and a willingness to purge it along with the judgment and beliefs.
There are healers and shamans who help restore the spirit, rebalance the body, clear what isn’t ‘ours” and more.
I also believe that when we access and tap the natural creative expression of our second chakra, and birth any moment of creative choice, we heal what’s there. Even creating a meal, planting something in your garden, writing an email to a friend, creating a playlist… small acts of creation allow the powerful energies of this chakra to support you.
There are processes such as the ones shared in these articles, that are more for those wanting to do it themselves. https://urbanwellnessmag.com/2016/03/03/cleansing-the-aura-of-past-sexual-partners/ and https://www.sacredwomanawakening.com/single-post/4-Ways-to-Reclaim-your-Vital-Energy-in-Relationships. There are also ceremonies, create your own or try this Court of Atonement http://www.amyjosings.com/Court_Of_Atonement.html
I would beg you to move towards this kind of healing. Your feminine center, your sexual self, your beautiful creative energies. If your second chakra is wounded, it’s hard to build from there, hard to fortify the other energies. It’s foundational. Those wounds deserve to be freed and healed. Don’t be afraid to go there, or if you are, don’t go there alone.
See what you feel called to. Trust that. Start small. Be committed to as much compassion for yourself as you can muster. This is sacred and deep work. Healing for the layers and layers of memory and experience we hold in our wombs and sacral chakras. And of course, as always, I want that for you. And as always, I am here with many years of experience and compassion born of much of what I’ve written here.
With all love and every blessing for your brave wise heart and your brave wise body….
I am available for consults to talk about all of this, to see how I can support you in the work that I do. If you’re interested in talking, know your fears and your past will be held gently and I will tell you if I think I can help. xo