Thursday, August 30, 2012

The Body's Stories.

I was a guest on a lovely webcast this morning, telling my story of being a caregiver, the rewards and challenges of caring for my Father, and coming to terms with things that he did to me as a child that have affected my adult life. As a result of maintaining my blog, and being asked to participate in the webcast and other publications, and working on my new book, and talking to all the people I've been running into lately who have a caregiving story, the story of being my Father's caregiver and the reality of what I went through and continue to go through is really in the forefront of my mind. And it makes me remember the events from the beginning, and ponder on what a different person I am now, and what, and who, participated in making me the person I am today.

I became a person who was willing to let go of control, and mend my relationship with my Father, and grow emotionally as a person. I wasn't able to do this all on my own, however; I've done much of it with the help of an amazing somatic therapist. I truly don't think caregivers can do the work they do and stay reasonably sane and healthy without at least the help of family and friends, but at best, with a good therapist. I participate in a type of therapeutic bodywork called SPRe, or, Somatic Pattern Recognition, and it has changed my life - for the better.

How many times as a caregiver, have you been triggered by something your loved one did or said, that probably wouldn't trigger a professional caregiver; and felt your guts grow upset and acid? How many times have you felt anger and resentment that you are giving so much time and energy and care to a parent who didn't really care for you as a child; and felt your back go out? How many times have you watched other family members leave the work to you, or refuse to visit your loved one, or maybe criticize the care you're giving the one time you show up; and felt your jaw tighten and crack so you didn't say the hurt words you wanted to say? All of these things happened to me, they were part of my body's stories, along with a lot of other unpleasant and painful holding patterns, both emotional and physical.

We all keep traumatic or painful events locked up in our body's tissues, so that when a situation duplicates what we've experienced before, that somatic dysfunction comes out as pain, or holding, or weakness. We keep these same emotional tangles in our minds; old belief systems and patterns, things other have told us or we've told ourselves, old stories that keep us from moving forward and discovering something new. These are the body's stories and it is up to us to stop ignoring and stuffing them down, listen to them with respect, and help them heal.

I had plenty of these physical issues, emotional patterns, and family trauma, and I began working with them before I had to care for my Dad because I wanted to do something differently in my life - I wanted to get rid of old patterns, find out where they were from, and then start new. My therapist, Jill Ableson, began to help me do exactly that, by working with my body and my emotional state simultaneously, healing me from the inside out.

When the time came to care for my Father, she helped me navigate the emotional minefield of caring for a man who never cared for me. She helped me learn how not to be triggered by his behavior and words, and she helped me learn how to let go of trying to control others and their behaviors, teaching me new ways to be in my body and new emotional ways of coping. Most importantly, she helped me not to disappear into my old patterns and ways of being so I could be the healthiest person for myself and the healthiest caregiver for Dad.

I firmly believe that every caregiver needs some sort of therapeutic support, because even without old and outdated family ties and patterns and ways of being, this would be a tough job; its only made more difficult by being family. You need someone who understands and can give you the necessary tools to create something new for yourself and often for your family. I don't believe that you can separate the mind and the body; each must be held, listened to, and changed together for true healing to happen. I am grateful every day for what SPRe has brought into my life, and how it has changed me for the better. You don't have to suffer emotional and physical pain, especially when it is worsened by caring for another. There are ways to heal your body's old stories so that there is room for new, brighter and more functional ones. for more information.

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