Interview with The West Coast Trauma Project

"The body remembers, the bones remember, the joints remember, even the little finger remembers. Memory is lodged in pictures and feelings in the cells themselves. Like a sponge filled with water, anywhere the flesh is pressed, wrung, even touched lightly, a memory may flow out in a stream." -Clarissa Pinkola Estes

I was honored to be invited by Guy Macpherson, the Founder of The West Coast Trauma Project to participate in his Trauma Podcast. In our conversation we explore what lead me to embark on the work of addressing and healing sexual violence and various layers of personal and professional evolution in being part of the anti-sexual violence movement and the healing arts field. We also discusses how my yoga practice was impacted by sexual trauma and its evolution, working in the advocacy field and balancing personal sustainability, how Somatic Experiencing has been a resource, and we talk in depth about the vision for The Breathe Network and the people - survivors, supporters, clinicians and healers. 

You can listen to my interview here and I encourage you to explore The West Coast Trauma Project's website to listen to interviews with national experts in the fields of trauma and resilience.

 

 

    The Physiology of Resilience

    The unanswerable mysteries surrounding my “story” of surviving sexual violence, like many survivors, I imagine, are far too many to count. Over the last decade though, it is the miracles that have accompanied my healing that increasingly stand out. While the intricacies of any single event of sexual violence could never be fully captured, even if detailed in a lengthy novel, a film, or on the stage – since words alone cannot depict the magnitude of the experience(s) – there are ways that the heart and mind can grasp individual “chapters” of the fuller experience. One unique component of my story is the significance of the song “With or Without You” by U2, which was playing on my headphones while I was out for a run in a majestic forest and precisely at the moment of my attack. This hauntingly evocative love song was forever changed in an instant. I am not exceptional in having a “trigger” (or multiple) that evokes a strong connection to the event – for some it is a film, a type of food, a season, a scent of perfume, a ceiling fan spinning, a book they’d been reading or the way the light looks on their bedroom walls at dawn. For me, it was an 80s pop song.

    Sexual violence pervades all of the sensory organs and then lands in the spirit. “With or Without You” is directly linked to a present moment memory and surge of sensation from that crisp Friday morning in May. I hear the song and I see the exact spot on the trail where I was grabbed. I feel the pressure of an arm across my chest and cold metal on my face. I taste salty warm blood in my mouth and recall wondering – what had happened to my face? I remember the view of a snow-capped volcano, piney treetops and a horizon that had no end. The expansive sound of my screams moving into deafening silence still irritates my ears. For years when the song would play on the radio, in a restaurant, at a party, or in my car – my range of responses included freezing, crying, moving into total silence and then embarking on the losing battle of either resisting or re-playing disorganized images of the scene. Over a span of years, I became increasingly skillful at navigating the delicate balance of how much I could allow myself to feel – in that moment, in that space, in that company. The song has surfaced at pivotal times, but the incident that leaves me with a sense of awe, a feeling of both longing and fulfillment, and total wonder about the purpose of my soul within the space of our endless cosmos, was the day I received my Pegasus tattoo.

    Read more here.