Having experienced and witnessed domestic violence as a child, it wasn’t until a few years ago that I was able to relate that experience as being trauma, after reading a book about developmental trauma. It was a huge realisation.
Through reading and learning what the definition of trauma is, I recognised what had happened to me had resulted in having a nervous system that was on high alert to outside triggers, which also created powerful physiological responses, that the thinking part of the brain was not in control of, resulting in behaviours and responses that literally held me back, and kept me from developing the best life I could. I knew I needed to investigate further.
For you to understand the ‘why’ of what I do, it’s important to share with you the key parts of my life story, that I feel have meaning and significance in creating and shaping who I am today, and consequently, the gifts, skills and experience I offer others, in their path to recovery, healing and growth.
What I have learnt through my own experience, is that a healthy nervous system and calm brain, helps anchor and ground the consciousness of presence and life in the body. It creates a feeling and sense of safety, of being able to live in the world so that life can be met and enjoyed.
My journey to recovery started from a point of challenge and conflict. I was born in 1968 in a village in the South West of Scotland which had originally been built to house coal miners. I grew up in a time that was politically turbulent, and my home life was even more so, where I witnessed and experienced frequent domestic violence, until my parents divorced when I was 14.
The saving graces for me as a child growing up in that environment, were the joys of playing outdoors with friends in the local natural landscape which had forests, rivers and hills to explore and escape to. The other joy, was the gift of being artistically creative and I would happily spend hours making, drawing and painting.
Eager to leave home as soon as I was able, I did so at 16, venturing into the world of work. Working brought some form of focus and validation and I threw myself into it, starting as a sales assistant and then moving into retail management.
By the age of 21, I was working as a trainee buyer for a large Scottish department store chain. The career part of my life looked very successful to anyone looking in, however it hid something different. I was disillusioned by retail consumerism. The role at work couldn't fill the hole for self-identity and validation that I was desperate for. Memories of the violence in my childhood resurfaced repeatedly, and I developed an addiction to cannabis, as a way of calming down the turmoil and jangled state I felt inside.
I left the office one day and never went back.
I can only describe the next few years as being on a roller coaster ride. The high of meeting someone and falling in love, of being in a relationship and creating a home together. The low of watching the relationship spiral into dysfunction, through mutual addictions and destructive patterns of behaviour playing out, once again I was faced with the repercussions of the violent conditioning of my childhood. The relationship came to a dramatic and heart-breaking end.
This led to many changes in my life. A move to the South West of England and a decision to go to Art College in Plymouth. A deep enquiry into the nature of existence began. I experienced moments of expanded consciousness, of feeling connected to life, free from my past and conditioning, then contractions, when I felt the discomfort and pain of being alive in my body.
Finally, a crisis point was reached in my addictions. At 27, I stopped smoking cannabis and cigarettes and entered a committed quest to find wholeness and healing. My previous partner and myself chose to make amends to each other for the way our relationship ended. I also got fit and healthy and returned to Art College. Creativity once again helped me, connecting me to the depth of emotional feeling that had been repressed inside me since childhood.
After Plymouth, I chose an Art Degree course at Dartington College of Arts, where I also developed a strong meditation practice and studied Eastern spiritual teachings. It created the connection between my inside life and being able to express this on the outside; a dialogue between the unsayable and non-verbal into art and creativity.
My inside life became more focussed, with the path of the mystic opening a new doorway. My interest in learning healing modalities grew too. I moved to Glastonbury and for the next three years immersed myself in studying Esoteric Soul healing, as well as studying and practicing Therapeutic Body Massage. It woke me up to the positive experience of giving and receiving healing and therapeutic touch.
Although I experienced positive responses to a variety of therapeutic approaches and modalities, even after several years, I found that when I meditated for hours every day, I still felt irritated with the people I lived with.
I tried nearly every cathartic process available with short lived success. Trying to transcend and ascend the body didn't help with day to day living. So, after years of searching for peace, I was relieved when I discovered somatic based healing modalities and learned the definition of trauma; how it affects the brain and the nervous system, and how in turn that affects everyday living.
As life does, it invites new opportunity and so it transpired, that I was introduced to TRE (Tension & Trauma Release Exercises), and I embarked on a two year training to be a certified provider.
TRE has helped me, at last, feel comfortable in my body through the process of a slow sustainable release from the chronically held tension patterns, stuck in my body since childhood. I now feel more awake, grounded and present in everyday life, and have more energy and willingness to engage with life and grow.
I have recently completed phase 1 and phase 3 of training in Brainspotting which is another wonderful brain body based relational therapy. I find it to be a simple, powerful and profound therapy and I will be engaging with more trainings in it over the next few months into 2019.
Presently my practice is in Glastonbury where I live, and I am genuinely delighted to be living in a gorgeous place, where I look after a beautiful house, feasting on the vegetables I grow in the garden, with my beautiful cat Chunky. I continue to research and explore healing modalities that specifically relate to healing trauma and restoring the brain and nervous system to a calm and balanced state.