Healing Has to Be Body-Based

What I had to learn the hard way, and almost by accident, is that healing the mind and the spirit was, at least for me, only possible by focusing on body-based healing strategies. And I can tell you that many, many women I’ve spoken to have found the same to be true.

The first thing I can tell you is that dissociation was a huge problem for me. My PTSD and other stress caused me to dissociate from my body. I’m not talking about a clinically diagnosable dissociative disorder. What I mean is that I felt like my body was a suit that didn’t reflect my mind or my personality. I felt trapped in a body that didn’t match my insides, a body that had betrayed me. A body that was numb and overweight and clumsy. Due to severe stress, I’d gained 75 lbs in two years onto an already-large body, and it had stopped feeling like my own. I know now that was part of my PTSD, the root of which was my childhood abuse. Later, I would discover research that concluded that adult women who’d been sexually abused as children were literally off-balance. We sway when we stand and often bump into things when we walk. In general, we are not spatially in-tune with our physical environments. The abuse has messed with our equilibrium.

See what I’m getting at? The body and the mind are connected in ways that science is only now beginning to understand, but that anyone who has suffered a trauma knows all too well. The thing is, our trauma has caused our nervous systems to get out of whack in a major way. In fact, for many of us, our brains have been rewired to be in a constant state of fight-or-flight.

Our goal in healing then because to ‘reboot’ our nervous systems back to the factory setting. You can’t reboot your nervous system in talk or group therapy, or by reading a book. The only way I’ve found to do it is through the body-based methods listed below. I’ll tell you right now that the method that finally succeeded in rebooting my nervous system radically at a cellular level, in a way that seems to be permanent, was Somatic Sexological Bodywork immersion retreats (see link below).

If you are not getting long-term results from mental-based treatment or talk therapy, I urge you to consider refocusing your efforts on your body. The first steps are to bring yourself back into your body, then to teach yourself how to love it and be present in it.

On this website, I plan to explore various methods that worked for me in great detail, but I’ll list some of them out here so help you on your journey:

Easy Practice: During your daily shower, tell each body part as you wash it how much you love it and how beautiful it is. Can you do that? For a long time, I wasn’t able to perform that exercise with certain body parts that I’d been conditioned to hate. It took me more than a month of daily practice to be able to speak kindly to my ankles, for example.

If you have found other body-based treatments that were effective for you in healing your Woman Wounds, please share in the comments. Thank you!

~ Melissa



I Find Myself

I find myself healed. Not only healed, but thriving. Finally. Talk therapy didn’t work miracles. It helped, sometimes. And sometimes, it set me back. What I know for sure is that it didn’t heal me. As I stumbled onto each new treatment or strategy that helped me heal, I grew more frustrated that I only seemed to find these things by stumbling upon them incidentally and with great luck. And only because I never stopped searching.

The more I spoke to other women, the more I realized I was not alone in my frustration at the lack of information. If you have cancer, there are so many informational sites and forums you can go to. If you suffered a physical trauma, like a car accident, there are support groups and forums ready to welcome you. If you are an adult child of an alcoholic, there’s a support group for that. I’m an adult child of an alcoholic, but that’s not all I am. And, besides, group talk therapy has never healed me, not fully. It has only helped me cope. There’s a big difference.

Do I sound angry? Sometimes I feel angry about how long it took for me to learn about all these effective ways to go about healing, and how much energy and money I spent on things that didn’t work. Stumbling around in the dark is no fun. Then again, I’m on the verge of 40 and I know from experience that I’m one of the lucky ones to have learned how to heal and thrive this young. So many women don’t allow themselves the time to devote to their healing until the kids are grown and gone. Or until they leave their husbands. Or both. So many women never fully heal. I’m not a psychologist or doctor. I’m not a professional healer. Who I am is a survivor of child sexual abuse, childhood physical and emotional abuse, domestic abuse, a failing marriage, a brain tumor, PTSD, and more. I have an ACE (Adverse Childhood Experiences) score of 9 out of 10. To give you some context, a score of 4 or higher is the highest risk category. And yet, I thrive. I didn’t for a long time, but now, I can tell you that with confidence. I learned how to heal and now I am thriving.

You can, too. I want to help you explore how. I want to share with you what I’ve done, the books I’ve read, the Ted Talks and videos that helped, the research I’ve uncovered, the specific kinds of therapy and treatments that carried me through breakthroughs. I want to invite others who have healed and learned to thrive to share their experiences and knowledge with you, too. We need to create a forum where women can help each other learn how to heal, giving practical advice and testimony that other women can learn from. This is how you heal. With help from other women, with the right combination of tools and determination.What about men? Men need to heal too. You bet they do. But men need to heal themselves from different wounds then women carry, and I am not the one to lead that journey. As a woman, I’m here to support other women in their healing, as so many women have supported me in mine.

You want to heal. I’m here to help. We’re all here to help each other.