By in Other Therapies

How I Ended Up As a Somatic Practitioner Working with Trauma

One of my clients recently asked me to share “my story” of how I ended up doing what I do.  She made me realise that I had never told anyone this insight into my own personal journey to well being. In actual fact, I myself have only now begun to understand how I ended up doing what I do.

I am still somewhat amazed by the fact that this path that brought me to where I am now has been mostly instinctive and informed by a subconscious longing for repair and empowerment. When I embarked on the journey I had not the slightest idea where I would be ending up. I did not even know I was on a journey.

And so I decided to share this story with you in the hope that perhaps some of you can identify with what I experienced or it may help some of you understand your own instinctive or also “very conscious” quest for well being.

So here is my story.

My childhood was good in many ways. I grew up in the countryside, very much in touch with nature and animals. I got on great with my older brother. I enjoyed a lot of freedom at home and my parents provided very well for us. I honestly can not complain.

Of course, when you look a little deeper there are always a fair few things that create challenges to a child. It is part of life and nothing unusual. For some of us, there are slightly bigger challenges than for others and we also experience very different kinds of challenges. Mostly we prevail, but those challenges also leave a bit of a mark that may have an impact on our later lives.

So for me, my challenges mostly were around bullying. I was bullied by various caregivers from a very young age. At the time I had no idea that I was being bullied. As a child, you don’t know any different. I just knew that I carried a lot of anger and sadness. I developed a fair amount of self-hatred as well as frequent migraines and a thyroid disorder. I spent most of my time in a fantasy world where I could just get away from myself and those who bullied me.

I saw several Psychotherapists and Psychologists. It was nice to have someone to talk to, but I did not feel that I was being helped beyond that. I briefly took antidepressants. It was something I had been pressured into trying more or less against my will. I did not like how hyper and giddy they made me feel when underneath I still felt bad about myself. The side effects turned out so strong that they gave me the excuse I needed to be able to stop taking them.

I developed a dream of moving away from home to a different country where I could start a totally new life and be who I wanted to be.  And so I worked towards this dream. It turned out not to be easy at all to leave home. In actual fact, I developed anxiety and experienced several severe panic attacks when I attempted to even just go on holiday somewhere by myself. It was a really tough and lonely time of my life and yet the dream prevailed and I eventually moved to the UK to study at Art College.

The very fresh and different environment helped me be more able to actually explore who I was and I was no longer being bullied. Of course, it was a slow process and I still experienced anxiety, self-hatred and the tendency to isolate myself. But I was able to gain more of a sense of what I needed to help myself.

Looking for new things to explore I found myself drawn to dance.  It was something I could enjoy with other people, without necessarily having to interact much with them, which for me was often stressful. There was music and movement and that felt good. I experienced pride in mastering the physical challenges. And the most important part was that I experienced being with me and my physical container in the absence of anyone shaming me, criticising me or telling me that I had to use this opportunity to change. I experienced that it was okay and even fun to be me, here in this body, in this world, not only in a fantasy world.

At the dance school, I discovered Pilates. I loved it because it offered me another way to get to know and work with my body, that was gentle and without criticism. It was great to be able to do something positive for me that was all about NOT pushing myself. I noticed that I was getting pretty good at it without even having to try very hard. This was a rare experience so far in my life. It made me feel good about myself.

And so I trained as a Pilates Teacher and qualifications in many other movement therapies followed. The whole time as I enjoyed this new career I was unable to answer the question of why. When people asked me why I did what I did, or how it happened that I became a Pilates Teacher I would shrug and say “I don’t know. I just kinda liked it.” Even my family was puzzled at this development. This was a career move they had not seen coming for me. After all, I had a D in PE in my final exams at school.

While many of my colleges had amazing stories about how Pilates cured their back pain or brought them back to functioning normally after a difficult birth I just knew that I liked it.

When I worked with clients on a 1-1 basis I noticed that I was not able to help them as much as I had hoped. I always felt very connected and empathetic towards those clients who had been really suffering, who had been rejected in their search for help and who were being made to feel as though something was wrong with them for their symptoms being complex and not easily fixed.  I knew anxiety and numbness and anger and sadness very well, and what it was like to be made to feel that you are not normal and that you can not be helped.

I wanted to help, yet I could not help as much as I wanted. The movement work was often helpful to them to a degree, but there was a lot that would come up while working with the body and that I felt unequipped to respond to.

Meanwhile, I had decided to undergo further training with Polestar Pilates UK. I had chosen the training because it was a comprehensive course, focused on 1-1 work with the Pilates apparatus. So it simply felt like a nice deepening of my skill. It was purely coincidental that this course was of a much more creative, somatic and holistic flavour than any other Pilates Teacher training I had come across. As I was undergoing the training I found myself suddenly entirely in my element. My inner artist, my inner dancer and my inner health practitioner were able to unite in this new way of practising and teaching Pilates. And here I was introduced to other powerful modalities such as NLP, Feldenkrais and Somatic Movement therapy.  

I began to learn about the Nervous System and how past experiences and our beliefs can impact our behaviours, health and movement patterns. I learned about trauma and how it is held in the body. I absorbed everything I came across and trained as an NLP Coach and later signed up for Somatic Experiencing.

Not only did I finally understand why engaging with my body in a judgement-free way, through dance and Pilates, had been so healing for me, I now finally had found the kind of therapist that could really help me begin to shift what I was holding inside my whole life. It started with two NLP based practitioners who really made me feel seen without feeling rejected for the first time in my life. They helped me really feel different about myself and the world. Now have been working with a few different Somatic Experiencing practitioners intermittently. They helped me work with those deep conflicting patterns and the trauma that I am still holding inside my body.

Somatic Experiencing has taught me that I have a very sharp instinct and that I can trust my instinct. And looking back I can see how it was my own instinctive quest for freedom, healing and resolution that motivated most of the big choices I have made in my life. And I know it is working because now being 41 I am happy and comfortable to be my unique self with all the cracks and twists that make me who I am. I have not experienced proper anxiety or depression in many years now and I enjoy spending time back home where I grew up. Now it feels good to go there and to feel all the growth and strength in me that I did not have back then.  Of course, I still have my vulnerabilities and the old patterns and insecurities are always keen to come back when times are tough. But self-awareness and resilience allow me to deal with those most of the time and I still have my network of practitioners that I can draw on when I need to.

Healing for me started with embodiment after Psychotherapy and drugs failed. No one offered me a body-based way to heal. I had to stumble across it and find out by myself that it could help me. I would like to make it a little easier for other people who also seek help. And so that is how and why I became a Somatic Experiencing Practitioner and Movement Specialist, telling you my story today.   

If you are looking for somatic trauma therapy you can contact Kristin at The Body Matters on 01702 714968.

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