Are you haunted in the spaces of intimacy?
What happens when wounds predominate the psyche and either withdrawal or retaliation clothes the wound? When I meet people, sometimes I see the hauntedness in their faces. It is as though the shock of separation whether in the form of betrayal or grief curtains their being. It looks and feels frozen. The eyes don’t blink as much, the facial muscles have lost their natural pulsing and responsiveness. It is as though they are waiting to be pounced on or to pounce at another. When I witness this, I just want to hold the other and allow the frozen stream to thaw into tears, anger or laughter. I just want to invite them into a protected secret garden with full permission granted to wail, lament, pause and stare into unknowing. To shake, rattle, shimmer, rock to and fro, and allow the movement to continue into its fruition. And when the time is right, to cast aside the veil of hauntedness and return to living.
This is what happens to the body when haunted. It rigidifies. The diaphragm doesn’t move as much. The lungs take less air in order for the self to appear invisible. Oxygen comes in through movement. The pulsing of the coming and going creates something new. It enlivens but also generates new information for our learning systems to adapt, and move closer to our potential. When we hold our breath we rob ourselves of the opportunity for the new to create itself into a wider range of possibility. Remember that when we scan the environment for a sense of safety, we look at the presence or absence of movement to determine if it is okay. Is there any large animal for example that will eat you up or beat you to a pulp? Even men who meet each other in the downtown cafe size each other up and an unconscious hierarchy plays out. To not stand out, we also make ourselves smaller. It is a good strategy as a temporary solution and in an emergency (when our survival is threatened). However, if it is a chronic stand in life, it distorts one’s development. We see this individually as well as a community and a nation.
Fear and anxiety immobilizes. Energetically, it appears as a fallen down structure or a collapse in the energetic anatomical parts. I recently bought a van and I noticed that when I drive on the road, other cars give me space. It is a protective mechanism from their part (having a small car to a big car). I know this having a smaller built physical body. Often while walking in public spaces, I am usually the one who gives way to others.
From the perspective of the physical pulsing of the nervous system, fear and anxiety feel erratic, quick, short like a live wire jumping. The central channel is unstable with a “false” outer covering making up for its lack of stability. The effect is rigid, forced, reactive, scared, undifferentiated. Perhaps the presenting outer appearance looks assured, confident, but upon closer examination, the person is really unsure, unsteady, ready to dismantle. That individual can also be unpredictable in its actions and behavior.
If there is a held in aggression, then the jaws are held in a particular way. Almost a sense of being sewn in an unnatural way. Holding one’s voice (yes aggression is a natural form of voice too) also affects the hyoid (tongue bone) and the sternocleidomastoids. In my experience, the voice is linked to the heart and lungs, to joy and grief. Differentiation is reduced here like a puppet with only a limited number of string managing the upper torso and controlling its directions. Remember that this isn’t turn on and off consciously. There is a learning and skill development correlated to capacity enhancement around the increased versatility in expressing emotions. If someone is in a wheelchair, you give space for them to navigate the narrow hallways. Yet we don’t do this with those we love with different emotional abilities.
What is the cadence of your striding and your resting? What are the movements of your spaces inside your mouth, between the ribs and arms or the spaces between the fingers? What is the pulse of sorrow in your chest? Is your belly elastic, pliable, hard, numb? Is it tender or thorny? It is not possible to truly be intimate with another if you don’t know how to be intimate with yourself. These are skills of awareness and movement that are teachable and can be learnt. How you physically and energetically move in the world can be brought more into consciousness so you choose more and more how you want to be. This is the collaboration I co-create with my clients and students.
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