What Survivors of Infant Trauma Need

People who’ve suffered trauma early in life often experience a difficult relationship with their bodies. We can feel like prisoners in our own skin. The pain was probably too much. Perhaps the way we were handled was traumatic. Maybe we were even forced into uncomfortable and restricting positions in order to undergo a surgery or receive medical treatment. Often, we were separated from family, which frightened us.

Some people traumatized early in life need to know that it’s safe to inhabit their bodies now, to really be in them. They need support, maybe even touch in a place that’s frozen or wounded in time past. A touch that tells them that it is safe to return home, that they can trust the process, and that their body is beautiful and strong. We need reminding of the fact that our bodies healed and that our bodies are powerful. A ritual of return.

I’ve often wanted one for myself. Each morning as I settle in to meditate, I face a feeling of great fear that I am not safe in my body. I am afraid that if I fill myself with air and breathe fully that I will die. I’m not sure when I learned this, but I do know that my survival hinged on my not bursting my stitches. I am grateful that I was saved, but the cost has been great; I am still frozen and must thaw daily. Daily, I self-talk and breathe my way into a feeling of trust, allowing myself to know that all is well.

Many survivors of invasive medical procedures still quietly suffer. Physically we are healed or are able to cope with our physical problems, but inside we are still on lockdown, unable to extend our emotional wings. We want so badly to fly but are restrained by old trauma. A ceremony is needed, in which a lost sense of wholeness is restored, and we are re-integrated into our community, our struggle honored, leaving us to live at peace in our bodies.

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