Apology NOT Accepted!
"I'm so sorry for dumping all of this on you!" she said with a big sigh. "I know it's not what I'm here for."
"Well, actually, quite the opposite -- I'm really grateful you shared that with me, because it's important information for me to know so I can be of service to you most effectively," I respond.
She looks incredulous. "No really. THANK YOU," I emphasize again, "for sharing that with me. I know it's not easy to be so open with vulnerable information like that."
She looks as if she's considering the possibility that I might be sincere.
I take the science tack. We talk about how trauma, like the experience she had just told me about, gets stored physiologically in the body. "When we encounter experiences that are "too much" (in whatever way - too physically or emotionally painful, too terrifying, too much sensory information, etc) for us to integrate that experience in that moment, we store the energy of that experience in our bodies. That energy can come from the physical force of a whiplash injury during a car accident or it can be the energy released within our own body from a fight-or-flight response in which, for whatever reason, you didn't get to physically burn off that cortisol and blood sugar spike by kicking butt or taking off. That stored energy - which like all stored energy is potential energy - can look like anything from tension within the muscles, to changes in hormone and neurotransmitter activity at the cellular level, to changes within the very epigenetic structure of the DNA. So your trauma is deeply relevant to the physical body work that we're doing here today." She nods hesitantly.
"The good news is that the stored potential energy is just that - POTENTIAL. In the systems that I work in, we see that energy, when released appropriately back into circulation, harnessed for amazing - even miraculous - learning, growth, and healing. It can be the ultimate way to take your lemons and turn them into a nourishing tonic or magical healing brew."
This piece of the explanation seems to connect more for her, and she palpably relaxes on the table. We make more progress in the next five minutes than we have in the past two weeks.
"Thank you," I say again as she leaves. I'm truly grateful to have been able to be of greater service.
"Thank you!" she responds. Her eyes fill with tears, and she gives me a big hug.
This scenario is not at all uncommon. I have SO many patients apologize to me for bringing up what's going on with them emotionally, but the truth is that our emotional well being is a CRUCIAL aspect of our healing. I WELCOME the opportunity to understand more deeply what is going on with my patients, so I can best help them to release and discharge whatever is no longer serving, fill back up with peace, embrace love for themselves, deepen into trust in their intuition, and truly integrate their experiences, harnessing that energy that was creating imbalance and dysfunction and transforming it into embodied wisdom.