All client details and identifiable information has been changed to maintain sacred confidentiality.
Fiona arrived at the door wearing a bright pink cardigan and hosting a perfect blow dry. She flashed me a huge smile and apologised for being late. I smiled back. She was actually a few minutes early.
Fiona was 56 and had four grown up children from two marriages. She sat down and once she had caught her breath, she talked a little about how everything was fine but she sometimes had some pain in her lower back. Along with that she had been trying to lose weight but kept falling back into old patterns of 'indulgence' where she would 'spoil herself.' She had been overweight her whole life. She spoke of her health and back pain with an usually upbeat tone and an unwavering positivity. I started realise that being vulnerable was an unfamiliar and difficult place for Fiona.
'How bad is your back pain right now, Fiona?' I asked.
'Oh you know, you just get on with it don't you,' she replied with a big smile. 'That's what my dad always told us'
Getting on with it was what Fiona had done her entire life. Even now, revealing the degree of her pain or discomfort was not coming easily.
As I connected with her body there was a feeling of it having not been touched in a very long time. Almost as if it had been abandoned, or given up on. The fluids were slow and sluggish and felt like they were accumulating in her abdominal area with nowhere to go. Her legs were heavy and constricted as if they were being held down. Her lumbar spine was compacted and heavy and her pelvis was completely frozen. There was a density in her upper cervical spine which was constricting her throat muscles and her liver and pancreas felt overloaded and expanded like a bloated belly. I noticed her body surrounded by what felt like a thick cloud or bubble.
This was her bubble of protection. It put her body and emotions at a distance from her, so she didn't' have to feel them. She had created a cloud of comfort and as long as she kept eating, it would keep her safe.
I slowly brought the bubble into a field of awareness and acceptance until it felt like I was holding it between my outstretched hands. I understood this bubble had become her body now. It was not something that could be immediately removed, or destroyed. It was a deep and significant part of her. It held the emotions and defences that needed to be integrated and understood rather than thrown away. Within this cloud was the key to her inner clarity and body connection.
Rather than hating her body and resenting the weight she had accumulated which put her in a cycle of self hatred, sadness and then craving for comfort (food) Fiona needed to be able to come into relation with the bubble in a way that was manageable and not overwhelming. Overwhelm would trigger the same defence, to eat and suppress.
I held the bubble and invited it into the picture, almost holding it so that it could be seen with more clarity. Her body began to respond. The fascia in her lower back started to soften and the fluids started to flow faster through the body. Her heart centre and liver came into focus expressing what they had not been able to because there was no witness willing to allow them to. Her lumbar spinal vertebra began to move with a thumping sensation.
Suddenly Fiona started to cry.
'I'm sorry I don't know why i'm crying, I don't get emotional. I don't do emotions...'
I reassured Fiona that she could express whatever was coming through without needing to understand it right now.
Fiona's crying turned into a deep sobbing. She had finally been given the permission and acceptance she needed in order to express her emotions. Her belly thundered up and down almost as if it was speaking through her tears. Her body began to release layers of deep, decades old sadness , supression and grief.
'I was never allowed to cry as a girl. I just had to get on with it.' she said. 'That's what my dad did. He told us to smile or shut up'
'What would you do when you felt sad inside as a girl, but you couldn't find a smile?' I asked
'I would find something to eat. Then I would forget why I was sad.'
As the session continued Fiona was able to see and experience her body releasing not just it's protective defence but also years of childhood repressed sadness that was never able to be expressed. She started to understand that her father's approach to handling the emotions felt within the family were not the only way to handle emotions. She started to realise that she had held onto this need to be strong for her family and through two marriages, and in the process she had never allowed herself to be vulnerable or take support. Over the years, this had built up into a strong association that vulnerability was dangerous. Afterall, there was a risk that if the door was opened, too many years of emotions would flood through.
Over the course of three sessions we worked through the various blocks and tension held in Fiona's body, relieving the lymphatic system and liver and settling the pancreas. In each session she would cry and then apologise for it, always mentioning how uncharacteristic it was and reassuring me that she wasn't a sad lady. Soon the emotional holding and need to be incessantly strong started to soften in her system, so did her lower back, as the muscles relaxed into a healthier pattern of expression. Her frozen pelvis had more mobility and her back pain had disappeared. Her heart centre had expanded and her throat and heart had reconnected and started to move intune with each other.
In our final session, Fiona lay down on the table and immediately began to cry. Tears streamed down her bright red eyes. We met in a wordless space. My heart opened to embrace the little girl who had never been able to cry without being told to smile, and the adult woman who had held it together in order to be the pillar of support for everyone around her.
That final session marked an important turning point. Fiona wiped her tears away and looked up at the ceiling, and then at me.
Crucially, she didn't apologise for crying.
'Thank you for expressing yourself without apology. It's beautiful to meet you'
Fiona smiled and allowed herself to cry. The tears came throughout the whole session. The next day she reported sleeping very deeply and more peacefully than she ever had. Her body felt different, more alive, and she wanted to nourish it with good food. Her back pain was gone and she was feeling less bloated.
Two weeks later Fiona messaged me to say she had started swimming lessons and she had dropped a few pounds which she was very pleased about. And she had written a letter to her dad.
When we experience emotional trauma, it can be easy to fall into patterns of suppression and denial. We may try to push our feelings away in order to cope with the pain, but in doing so, we only perpetuate the cycle of suffering. However, through compassionate healing practices, it is possible to break through these emotional barriers and find a path to healing and wholeness.
Fiona had experienced years of emotional suppression, starting from childhood. She was taught to "just get on with it" and suppress her emotions, particularly sadness. Over time, this suppression manifested in physical tension and discomfort, including chronic lower back pain, digestive issues, and a persistent feeling of heaviness in her body.
However, through compassionate self-enquiry and somatic healing practices, Fiona was able to begin to break through these emotional barriers. By connecting with her body and exploring her emotions in a safe and supportive environment, she was able to release deep-seated emotions that had been held in her body for decades.