In 1978, trying to understand the depression I was experiencing and hoping to find some relief, I made some drawings. As I look closely at this image from that series, I see that nothing inside my body is connected: the ribs are separate; my sternum is an isolated plate; my shoulder bones aren’t touching my arm bones; and my hands are missing–helplessness incarnate. In fact, I seem to be breaking apart. My throat is especially constricted and the top of my brain is non-existent, perhaps having blown off. What a disturbing picture. And why are my cheeks bulging? The circles in my face–nostrils, mouth, eyes–reveal vacantness. For me, this image is connected to my early operation, but how?
I do not know whether I received anesthesia before my surgery at twenty-six-days-old. (Babies who needed operations or medical procedures were not routinely anesthetized until the late 1980s.) I do, however, know my body’s verdict: I did not. Note the following experience that I recorded in my journal two days ago. I woke up with my jaw hurting. This experience is not unlike many mornings of my life where I wake up gritting my teeth, fists clenched. Today not so much the fists, but my jaw was so tight from grinding my teeth, and my head and neck ached. These words after sleeping all night in a comfortable bed, having gone to sleep without a problem in the world. To me this behavior is a powerful example of PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder). Years ago, I was diagnosed with TMJ (tempero-mandibular joint disorder), but night grinding comes from somewhere. And my body tells me that that somewhere was my surgery at three-weeks-old without anesthesia.
I have made a commitment to get to the root of the issue and resolve this somatic body pattern forever. I know I can do it. Here are two of my initial strategies: affirmations and Middendorf Breathwork. I’ll keep you posted.