Way back many years ago around the time I was 14 years old, there was an incident that happened with me and my younger brother. I don't think I had hid this experience from my consciousness, but I never fully realized just what impact it had on my life. In reality, I just chalked it up to another one of those experiences from my traumatic past that I had to heal and work through. In fact, I thought I had worked through it, but then healing trauma is a process, not necessarily an end point like so many often believe.
In this experience, my mother (God rest her soul) who hardly ever whipped us, got upset with something my younger brother and I were doing. I cannot even remember what it was to this day that sparked the whipping. I really doubt it was much of any significance. In our house, the slightest breath could get you whipped. I recognize she was having issues with my father and more than likely took that out on us, rather than dealing with it in her own life.
As we stood there though, we were both ordered to pull down our pants and strip. Keep in mind that I was 14 years old and my brother was around 8 years old. As we stood their naked, I was humiliated and embarrassed and feeling vulnerable in every sense of the word. It was most likely the purest definition of vulnerability. I don't even remember the whipping or the pain, but I remember feeling the embarrassment and the protection I wanted to give to my younger brother. I remember putting my right hand around behind me and trying to shield my younger from the pain that was being inflicted upon our bodies and our souls. Let me pause here to cry, because I can barely write this without being overwhelmed with tears.
Of course, when you are being whipped, there is little you can do to stop the aggressor. It was shocking enough that my mom would whip us, let alone make us pull down our pants. I could only think about showing signs of sexual stimulation in front of my mother or my brother. A million thoughts went through my mind and my body just numbed out hoping that it would soon finish. I don't recall if it went on for 10 minutes or 10 hours. I just checked out. It is all I could do at the time. It is hard enough now for me to stay present as I write these words.
On that day, a part of me was left behind trying to hide myself from a major moment of embarrassment and shame and humiliation. A part of me wanted desperately to protect my younger brother as I had always attempted to do in so many other experiences with my father and older brother. Yet, I could not stop him or myself from being hurt physically and emotionally. I felt powerless once again, up against an adult and against life.
Unfortunately I never realized that I left a part of me behind in that experience. I didn't realize just how much this major moment of embarrassment and shame had stuck with me all my life. It had tainted how I saw myself, and it had proved to me that my self image was not of power, but of having to hide my innermost being from everyone around me. I did not realize just how much this impacted each and every day, holding and keeping me from my full potential in life. It seemed like another routine experience, but it has been the foundation of such a poor self image and powerlessness.
As we worked through this and did some release and forgiveness work, I found it a struggle to fully put together in my mind of what happened. It almost seemed overwhelming and too great to deal with. There was so much to process.
The next day I had a session with Dr. Paul Canali and by the time I got on the table, it was all I could do to hold things together. As my moment got closer, the emotions kept bubbling up inside of me until I was about ready to burst out in tears for no apparent reason.
It didn't take long on the table before my hand and arm hurt so badly with pain and felt so numb that I could barely move my arm. When Dr. Canali asked me to put pressure against his hand, I just could not do it. It felt like he was asking me to move a mountain. While my right hand and right side of the body felt powerless and ice cold, my left side felt full of life and strength and warmth. As we began to work through the physical sensations that were coming to the surface, I began to see the image in my mind of holding my right hand behind myself and trying to protect my little brother. It was then that the physical symptoms in my body began to make sense. The more I connected with them and saw that these were the manifestations of the experience a long time ago, the more I began to feel life coming back into my arms.
Yes, the tears came to my eyes, but finally at last I was releasing something that I had held in my mind and body for many years. For a long time, I have struggled with pain in my right shoulder and arm to the point where it feels like it is paralyzed and I could not understand this. Now I am beginning to make that connection for the first time in my life.
There is nothing I can do to go back and change the past. I can't stop what happened to my little brother and I can't stop what happened to me. All I can do is work at continuing to heal myself and nurture the little boy who was wounded. I'm not sad that this experience came up in my session. Actually, I am happy that it did because it allows me to reclaim a major moment of embarrassment and shame in my life. Without this healing session, I would have continued to carry this on.
I am once again reminded that healing trauma is a process, not necessarily an end point. Healing is a journey that takes us deeper and deeper into the core of who we are and what gives us life. I could choose to stay stuck in the experiences of my past and hide from the awareness of them, or I can choose to go in them and find freedom and empowerment for my life. Each one of us has that option as well and my prayer is that we will all embrace the journey within so we can claim all that we are in this life.
For more on Kathi Angeli, read "I Am No Longer Alone". Kathi Angeli can be found at the Regency Health Spa in Hallandale Beach, FL - http://www.regencyhealthspa.com/
For more on Dr. Paul Canali, read my book, "Hope And Possibility Through Trauma". Dr. Paul Canali can be found at Evolutionary Healing Institute in Miami, FL. http://www.evolutionaryhealinginstitute.com/
Blog Post And Images (c) 11/20/12 by Don Shetterly
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