It’s a full moon and it’s glowing due to the cloudy sky. While I admire the beauty, my mind goes to a previous session I had with a client and I wonder if she is okay. It is amazing how many triggers go unnoticed in our daily routine. Something as simple as a full moon will never be that simple again since one of the worse experiences my client has ever had was during a full moon.
“Trauma is perhaps the most avoided, ignored, belittled, denied, misunderstood, and untreated cause of human suffering.” -Peter Levine
Trauma experiences are stored in our bodies. When we are exposed to life threatening events all the sights, sounds, smells and tastes are stored in our memories. When we are exposed to those same smells or sounds at a later time, we go back to the experience where we feared for our lives. We don’t seem to notice that our hearts are racing, palms are sweating, or that we are short of breath. We just know something is making us feel scared.
When explaining this sensory experience to others, I often refer to 9/11 and the twin towers. I guide them (with their eyes closed) through the experience of walking down the street in New York City. I have them imagine listening to the cars honking their horns, enjoying the taste of their coffee or tea, noticing the smell of roasted peanuts, feeling of the sun or wind against their skin. Then I make a loud sound that startles them and have them imagine the sound of the plane crashing into the building, the smell of smoke and sight of the smoke and ash. The sight and sound of people running and screaming out of fear. Then imagine the sensations in the body, goosebumps, heart pounding, sweating and other feelings associated with fear. I imagine many people who were there on that day may be triggered by the horns beeping, the smell of the roasted peanuts or smoke that can be coming from anything insignificant. Even the taste of coffee may affect them. That is how trauma can affect our bodies.
“There is no timestamp on trauma. There isn’t a formula that you can insert yourself into to get from horror to healed. Be patient. Take up space. Let your journey be the balm.”- Dawn Serra
I can’t help but notice how beautiful the sky is when it is brightly lit with a full moon. Now I am reminded of her fear during those nights. I hope that together, by processing her trauma experiences, we can work through this so one day she can notice the beauty of the full moon again.