THE SECRET LANGUAGE OF THE BODY
I often think of everything our body is telling us through signals, pain, numbness, tingling, contractions, infections. It is a message that we’re translating or not …. playing “hide and seek” with your body seems to be an impossible mission. You translate its message correctly or not. There are no nuances, meaning you do not translate half of it and the pain level decreases a bit. It is either white or black. Understanding the message that your body is sending you through a symptom is sometimes enough for it to disappear, other times not. Clarification, however, is the first step in “working with the message,” it is the work from psychotherapy.
Roda is almost 65 years old and among many medical issues she also suffers from panic attacks. She says she has always had them, but recently they’ve become stronger. She comes from a family that has been the victim of harassment from the communist regime. Her maternal grandmother got the information that somebody from the party would come to her house that night and might arrest her and confiscate her entire fortune. Her husband (Roda’s maternal grandfather) was already at the police station as he was under investigation. Her grandmother took charge of the situation, packed as much as she could fit into a cart, and gave the rest of their things to some neighbors she trusted for safekeeping. She took the children and left the village as it was getting dark, so that nobody could see them.
I asked Roda to imagine what she would have felt if she had been in her grandmother’s shoes. I also asked her to imagine the entire social and historical context, to consider how a family was living in the country at that time, with all the details related to the means and the ability to communicate and to travel. I also asked her to take into account all the details of everyday life and the status of women back then. She had powerful revelations about her grandmother’s experiences during those times and she understood how her body “let out” all that her grandmother could not process then as she had to cope with the situation at hand and act promptly to save herself and her children. She later discovered that she had lived many other of her grandmother’s experiences: betrayals from people close to her, losses. I will tell you more in the articles dedicated to the “Anniversary Syndrome”.
It is said that what has not been expressed with words will be communicated through the body. Pains, secrets, blows, sadness, torture, abuse, all find their way into the body memory and seek to “get out” when the “carrier” is able to translate and contain the message from his/ her ancestors.
Lilian is 30 years old and is distressed because her dermatologist sent her to therapy. Areas of her skin periodically show pigment loss: on her arms and legs, and sometimes on the inner fold of the arm and forearm and of the leg and thigh. A summary of her family history says that her maternal grandfather went on a religious mission (as a Protestant pastor) while Liliana’s mother was only 12 years old. They also had five other children. They lost track of the grandfather shortly after his departure. The family believed he had been killed. Her maternal grandmother never mentioned him again, although she heard some rumors that her husband had found someone else and had another family. In the family, the topic of the grandfather was limited to only one piece of information, that he was killed while on a mission.
The faded areas of the skin were nothing else but the “holes” in her family’s history, which initially seemed to be unrelated. Her family history was missing important pieces of the puzzle. Moreover, the two faded body folds symbolized the water separating the two islands between the grandfather’s two families, or, why not, maybe the grandfather’s two lives (double life).
Lilian decided to find out what happened. When she began tracing her grandfather’s footsteps she found out that he had died two years before she started her search for him, and that he had actually settled down and had another family on another island, running away from the poverty in which he had lived with his family in Ambon.
The body is a wise ‘man’ who keeps tabs on you but also on your ancestors. A wise ‘man’ who knows when to get the memories out, when to stop you from going down a wrong road and how to guide you on your own path. It might just be the best possible mentor there is.
How does the body remember? What does the body remember? Why does the body remember?
The answers are more and more detailed, that is, the psychological explanations have been corroborated by the neuropsychological ones, and more recently by those from the field of genetics, namely epigenetics.