In my experience, although chronic shame resolution work involves slow, incremental shifts, when very deep early needs for external protection are finally met, it can shift the very foundation of someone’s experience in a profoundly curative way.
Can you remember a time when someone said, “Can I tell you a secret?”
Were you intrigued? Did you feel a slight stirring inside? What sort of revelation did you prepare yourself to receive?
Isn’t it funny how images and connotations, interpretations and expectations can make the body respond in certain ways?
What do you experience in your own nervous system when you expect a client is about to reveal some secret traumatic event? How does your body physically react? With impulses, shivers, goose bumps? Perhaps a sense of dread and queasiness in the belly, a catch of your breath . . .? While such disclosures are often necessary and vital to treatment, there are also other secrets that can bring healing to soma and soul.
Roald Dahl, author of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, simply and profoundly captures the point when he writes, “The greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places.” This wise truth was delightfully demonstrated recently in a session with Neko, a twenty-two-year-old client with mild developmental delays, whose strength and soul wisdom had been hidden in the unlikely location of a traumatic past.
Part of me always anticipated motherhood with warmth, accompanied by an inner mantra: ‘I’ll have kids by the time I’m 30’. I guess this was my personalised version of what Melanie Holmes calls the ‘motherhood catechism’ in her book The Female Assumption: The schooling of females to assume that they will someday become mothers (Holmes, 2014: 9). It’s strange to recall that even by the late 1990s it wasn’t obvious, to me, at least, that child-bearing was and is a choice – the first time that I had paid attention to the pronatalism of our societal messages.
My final decision not to procreate emerged from a dream, the day after lunching with my best friend, Vicky, and her sharing with me the happy news of her pregnancy. My life was taking a different path. Yet it had dawned on me only a few years earlier that having children wasn’t compulsory. Realising this, I had made the provisional decision not to have them, to sit with this and to see how it felt, after years of never having questioned that I would one day become a mother. It’s 14 years since I dreamed that dream, the beginning of my researching and writing about elective childlessness. The day after that dream I found myself deciding to write the book that I had failed to find, eagerly scanning online booksellers.
What was I seeking, searching the web for the book I couldn’t find?