After graduation from my BA program, I wondered how, when, where – or even IF – to share the story of my journey with Developmental Trauma Disorder (DTD), which was researched and presented in the form of my thesis. I stumbled through the healing of chronic physical pain and DTD using movement and art to excavate the tiny jewels of untapped and forgotten unintegrated experiences held in my body. Although my thesis was actually a hypothesis – I found very little research to support the entirety of my topic. I was also approached by a publisher to submit my work. They were extending inquiries to potential authors regarding book publication topics, ideas, and genres. I responded and was immediately contacted. “Write the book”, she said. She went on to say that her sister was in the mental health field, and that all of the research literature what just that – research. And the literature was focusing on the perspective of the professional, not the person or the client. The discourse was all about methods, protocols, efficacy of approaches, statistics, co-morbid disorders and diagnosis, the DSM, etc. No one, she said, has published anything from the client’s perspective. Her idea was to use the personal narrative from my thesis, extracting all the research of course, and to self-publish the book. She made it clear that people who are impacted by and experience chronic PTSD, Complex Trauma, and Relational Trauma aren’t telling their story. Do it. Write it. Finding community through commonality can be a key turning point toward wholeness.
And so I decided to share it all in a blog. Why? First, a blog is way more fluid, immediate and flexible than a book. Now don’t get me wrong, I love books. Hardbound, glossy cover – nothing grabs my attention like a beautifully crafted book cover or a trade paperback in a gorgeous color – turning those pages and curling up with a cup of tea, hmmm, delicious. However, the immediacy of a blog is much more satisfying – it soothes my solution oriented personality.
Second, I wanted to share my story in general because I hope what I’ve experienced and am writing about is useful to someone who may be experiencing something similar to my journey. I hope that people might benefit from this information and in turn, from the technique of combining movement and art. To be clear, I’m not advocating that people do trauma recovery on their own. No. I engaged with these two approaches under the watchful eye of professionals, a strong support group of friends and peers and with the helpful aspect of using research to disprove or validate my own experiences. And because I rarely do things as others do – in order, with a plan or within some sort of linear framework – I felt it was important to stay true to who I am when I considered using a blog platform. I’m a gypsy. A Creative. Random. Chaotic. By the seat of my pants. Third, there are costs involved when self-publishing a book, and self-publishing is expensive. At the time I just didn’t have these funds available to me nor did I want to do a GoFundMe. Add up the costs for color images, editors, and more and it was an expense that I didn’t want to take on. I looked at other platforms, but some required me to turn over publishing rights, which I wasn’t willing to do.
There is also a level of authenticity I find very refreshing in writing a blog – it’s uncensored and imperfect even. Ultimately, I also wanted to make this information accessible to as many people as possible. Not everyone enjoys reading actual books the way I do, not everyone leaves the house, or shops at malls (gross), or wants to read a long, drawn out boring scientific research paper published on butchered trees or even recycled paper, and bound between more paper. Not everyone can afford to purchase new books hot off the press (or used ones for that matter). Life sometimes requires that discretionary income be used for other purposes such as medical bills, food, car repairs, a new pair of shoes for the little human as they start their first day of kindergarten. That is of course, if discretionary income is even available to many folks. Access. Equal access. People enjoy a vast array of information found on the interwebs, learn new things, study and research a plethora of topics and share their own personal narratives. And so, a blog.
Writing and publishing the book would also have been too straightforward, and frankly even boring for me. I can add my artwork to a blog as I see fit and update it whenever I want. I can take the thesis and edit out all the science leaving only the bare bones of it – me, nekkid and skinless. Which is fairly close to what I’ve done here. While my narrative is the underlying story, the science has INCREDIBLE value. Why? Simply this – the science and research provided me with a lens through which to examine my experience. Only then was I able to see myself and say, ‘YES!! This is true for me and I’m not fucking crazy!! Screw all those other people. My body is telling me something!’ So my experience, and the telling of it, is both a personal narrative and based in clinical research. I don’t include too much of the science here in my blog. After several years of writing formal papers in APA style, quoting and citing so many researchers and professionals, reference pages, abstracts, and bibliographies, I’m taking a break from all that. Not out of disrespect, but out of sheer exhaustion.
Suffice to say, this path of mine has been influenced by numerous researchers, theorists, and professionals; Freud, Jung, B. F. Skinner, Carl Rogers, F. Alexander, Angeles Arrien, Anna Halprin, Shaun McNiff, Damasio, S. Talwar, Dan Siegel, Bessel van der Kolk, Stephen Porges, Ken Dychtwald, A. Fogel, Thomas Hanna, D. Juhan, Wiley and Karr-Morse, A. LaPierre, Peter Levine, Lewis & Lewis, J. Lilly, V. Lusebrink, Gabor Maté, B. Naparstek, Ogden, Minton & Pain, J. Piaget, L. Pierce, E. Laughlin Glaser, R. Sapolsky, C. F. Saylor, R. Scaer, Shapiro & Rosenfeld, Senge, Scharmer, Jaworski & Flowers, Verny, and B. Wolman. This list is not complete – there were many more along the way; movers and dancers, mentors, peers in college who invited me to collaborate in their projects which ultimately opened some personal / psychic doors for me, and all of my studies in religion, philosophy and spirituality. And if you really want to read my horribly written thesis, I’m delighted to let you slog through it. My apologies in advance. In defense of my Bachelor’s education, my lack of skill when writing my thesis is not fault of the institution I attended. The times I fell short are a direct result of my issues with Developmental Trauma Disorder. And so my thesis is a tough one to read. If you only want the references or the bibliography, I’m happy to forward that to you.
I’ve had so much love and support along my journey – my children and family – my sister is the keystone here, numerous friends from all over the world, my Naropa University family who embraced me, saw me as I am, and who encouraged me every step of the way. There have been mentors, hard lessons and uncomfortable situations which mirrored almost perfectly all of my childhood experiences – each moment designed by the universal laws of matter and energy to help me unwind implicit somatic memories and patterns of function both in my body and in my life. Yes, there is a deep wisdom in the body. Much more deep than I could have ever imagined.
In Chasing Shade, I discuss Developmental Trauma Disorder (DTD), how it impacted every aspect of my life across my entire lifespan, and what I’m doing today. Every blog post related to this topic falls under the heading of Chasing Shade. The early chapters dealing with my childhood and adult experiences of living with and transforming DTD are numbered and the follow up posts are not.
May my journey and this work be of benefit to human beings. With deep love and appreciation ~