Last Thursday, a dermatologist cut out a melanoma on the back of my leg just below my calf. It was a slow spreading kind and since I caught it early, I am told that it hasn’t metastasized. That’s the good news. I didn’t think the surgery and recovery were going to be a big deal. But I got twenty stitches instead of the projected seven, and I have to spend two weeks with my leg up on a pillow. And yes, it hurts when I walk. A much bigger deal than I thought it would be.
Here’s the part though that I want to discuss. As I lay down on the table while the doctor suited up, I had an experience that helped me understand how I coped with my infant surgery. The journal entry that I wrote shortly after the surgery explains it best.
What a gift that I was only given a local and so was conscious and aware of my body’s response to being cut. The old somatic pattern came raging back. When I lay down for the surgery, my jaw went through a series of unlockings–spasms of about twenty shakes until it settled down. In order for my jaw to relax, my bottom and top teeth could not be aligned; I had to let my bottom jaw slide out to the left.
My jaw spasmed once more–shudders of many shakes–and settled back down. The only way I was comfortable during the skin surgery was to let my bottom jaw slide left a half-inch, which made an awkward fit for my teeth. Also when I lay down for the skin surgery, my right scapula (shoulder-blade) locked–a terrific force that gripped. I was eventually able to relax it.
All my life, my jaw has been misaligned due to gritting my teeth from the infant surgery. My teeth and jaw absorbed the pain. Gritting nightly stayed with me since that time. The pain must have been extraordinary to tense me up like that, to burn it into my brain, to create such an entrenched pattern. My gums weakened and made me susceptible to gum disease. As I got older, my molars became brittle and cracked. All my molars are crowned. And the scapula lock dates back to the early crisis as well.
In my life, when I lay down for sleep, my body goes into lockdown unconsciously. My jaw clenches and my right shoulder-blade locks, which has me breathing in a way that minimizes breath movement in the area of my infant incision. I became aware of this pattern years ago in my study of Middendorf Breath Work, which has helped me become aware of my outdated somatic patterns and move beyond them.
I have come full circle: incision then, incision now. Let me move into a new future–no more cutting. Let my somatic pattern be released once and for all. Let me find a new way to hold my body in trust and in freedom. Let the old electricity and the old alarms be just that–old. Let me release the trauma buried so deeply in my body and brain. Let me be trauma free. Freedom calls.
This post brought tears to my eyes. What an astounding awareness you have developed, you have clearly worked so hard on revealing the gifts and messages of your trauma–how brave!!
Thank you, dear one, for being a witness.
Wendy, what an amzing experience. So revealing and confirming of everything you have been battling with all your life. I’m so grateful this surgery is now receding into the past, and that it has been such a significant part of your growth in understanding, ownership and healing.
I’m also grateful that despite it being more extensive than you’d expected, the surgery seems to have “got it all”. We want you around for many more years, shedding light, sharing your sensitive knowledge, and telling others your story – we know for the benefit of many.
Get well soon – give yourself time to heal – and more than physically.
Thank you, Fred, for your loyal brotherly love. Isn’t it amazing how the body records distress and how fervently it holds on unless you consciously put a stop to it? I’m ready for my body to be a sacred place of peace and generativity rather than a battlefield. Let a field of flowers be sown and the fragrance take wind. Let kindness root–for me and all survivors of infant trauma and trauma of any kind.
That you are able to verbalize these thoughts so well and share them with the world is a great gift to us all. We can understand other’s trials a little bit better. I am sorry for the pain you have had to struggle through. I hope you are right and “the old electricity and the old alarms be just that–old”. I wish you the best.
Thank you for your heartening comment. It’s wonderful to know that when I reach out, someone can use what I am offering in some positive way. I am grateful that my words bring some clarity to experiences that are often challenging to describe. I just subscribed to your blog because I see that you are reaching out, too.