I did the things you’re supposed to do. I went to victim support. I went to the Havens. I went to the Women & Girls network. I got some one to one counselling, I graduated to the group therapy programme.
I thought I was better, because I’d taken my medicine. I wasn’t better. I was still numbing every emotion, through every conceivable way. Food, cigarettes, alcohol, drugs, prescription and otherwise. Cutting. I became a workaholic, working 12-14 hour days 7 days a week.
I had a meltdown, a breakdown, with hindsight it was maybe a breakthrough. The medicine was prescribed again: one to one counselling, group therapy. I then also had psychiatric help for about 18 months, which incorporated many modalities including EMDR. I thought it had saved my life.
Except it hadn’t. Because after, when I was discharged, and told I wasn’t mental anymore, I still didn’t have a clue how to be in this world, this world that had betrayed me so badly.
I felt ungrateful. I’d overcome (most of) the negative coping behaviours. I’d started sleeping through the night. I didn’t have panic attacks anymore. I was even weaning myself off the anti-depressants. I’d had some amazing help that had ‘cured’ me to the point I could say I was ‘in remission’, or even ‘recovered.’. And, yet, I didn’t know how to do life, I didn’t know how to be. I still didn’t feel ‘right’, I didn’t feel like I ‘belonged’ in the world, I still felt ‘broken’ and ‘fragile’. I didn’t trust my cure, I didn’t feel connected to anyone or anything, not even myself.
I thought this was just the way life was going to be. One day at a time. Surviving. Better than before, because no panic attacks, but still, not whole, not really living. Surviving.
I thought I was learning how to be a coach for my own business. What I found was, that in learning how to help other people, I was actually also learning how to help myself. I was learning how to start to feel connected to the world, to dreams, to future plans, to me, again.
My mind was ready; my body was not. It seemed to want to stay in the hyper/hypo yoyo, it wanted to sleep and collapse after any minor excitement. It was becoming my Achilles heel, and I resented it more than ever, holding me back, preventing me from doing everything my head now said I could.
Then, one evening, completely unexpectedly, something clicked. I was at a women’s retreat, the kind where you do lots of intensive & challenging internal personal work, not the kind where you have face masks and massages. It was an exercise in connecting with our inner vitality, our inner soul animal. I watched everyone connecting with tigers, lions, dancing, moving. And yet I was trapped, I couldn’t move; I was locked, frozen, in position. The tears started rolling down my face. I realised: I hadn’t forgiven my body for what had happened to me. My mind and my body were completely disconnected.
Up until that point I’d been dealing with symptoms and trying to control conscious thought. And although this had undoubtedly saved my life, what I really needed to do, was make peace with my body and start living as a whole human being again.
I’d found the missing piece to my recovery.
I have been working hard ever since, slowly reconnecting my mind with my body, my body with my mind. And it is this triumvirate of being able to self-rescue from our symptoms, re-discover who we are at core, and re-connect to our body so we can re-connect to the world that forms the central building blocks of the ReConnected Life Experience that I teach.
I feel honoured and privileged to have discovered this pathway. The traditional narrative for trauma recovery after rape is to focus on controlling, alleviating, or removing our psychological symptoms. Very few approaches tell us that we also need to do inner work on our thoughts, and integrate our body back into being. Too often survivors need to fashion their own recovery path, and it can feel like an uphill struggle. I have curated the knowledge, techniques and skills so that we can be empowered to find our way to our ReConnected Life.