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"The Work" in Action

Yesterday, I experienced a "traumatic event". Or, at least, it could have been traumatic - it had all the makings of an experience that could overwhelm my body and push me into extreme survival responses. And yet, in the direct aftermath of this experience, I feel stable, oriented, and grounded. Frankly, it feels like magic - which is often what practicing somatic work feels like in these moments.

My sweet dog, Rocky, had some kind of seizure yesterday - or at least that's what it looked like. I am not an experienced dog parent; he's my first pup, and I've never had such a helpless little being depend on me so completely. I am, in short, pretty obsessed with him.

So when he began to spasm and shake uncontrollably, I freaked out. The slurry of chemicals that my body produced shot me into action - I called the vet, I walked him over there, I waited, and I walked him back home. And throughout the experience, I found myself gathering little supports. I texted friends asking them to send love, I noticed the color of the clouds in the sky as I raced him to the vet, I canceled my plans for the night, I drank water while I waited, I ordered comforting food, I put on The Great British Bake Off, I casually tracked my body's responses as I ate, and I let the slurry of stress chemicals subside. I noticed the familiar muscle soreness that often sets in after a stressful event, and I gently massaged the areas of tension. I noticed excessive rumination and did some bilateral stimulation exercises. I let my brain focus on the cheerful bakers on screen, and found my way into restfulness.

And I didn't collapse into freeze response, which is my body's habitual pattern after every stressful event I've ever experienced. I didn't leave myself, I didn't crumple up into myself, and I didn't simmer in shame about everything I could've done better.

This is the power of years of practicing somatic and nervous system work. Life came at me, and I met it. I wasn't toppled.

Of course, this experience is an example of a quick dose of survival physiology. Rocky recovered very quickly and is fine now, all of his results came back normal, and as usual, bodies of all kinds continue to be mysteries; we have no idea what happened.

Longer-lasting and chronic stressors are incredibly taxing on our bodies and require continuous and exhaustive support. Freeze continues to be my body's habitual response when I forget that I need consistent and sometimes seemingly exorbitant support.

And I am in awe of my body's buoyancy and resilience, now that I've learned a solid chunk of the user guide.

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