What do you do when the memories play on loop and the voices of those that hurt you are dialed on high? How do you move on, when your brain and body are hooked on holding on? Well… that’s the funny thing about the brain. As much as it thinks it knows how to tell time — it doesn’t.
We rely on our sensory experience to relay information about where we are in time and space; sometimes there are experiences that rang so loud, cut so deeply, that they left neuro-physiological scarring; harboring emotions in the fabric of the muscle fibers and a hardness in the heart that acts as armor. The brain retains a hairpin trigger so as to ensure that those hurts never happen again. Purely out of protection for the human that is you.
The body is smarter than we are. The brain on the other hand can get lost in the muck of memories, emotions and broken belief systems that have served to protect — and defend you — from future experiences of trauma. Most of these “weeds” took root in your “flourishing garden” when an experience took place that called upon the loud & commanding signals of the survival response. Which then categorizes, logs and saves, the memory under “make sure this sht doesn’t happen again.” — It’s a really fat file… trust me.
In doing so it primes the body to be hyper aware of potential signs of threat that may be related to said file. This information is stored in the limbic system — more commonly known as… The Trauma Center and these experiences become core identifiers in the development of our self image.
They give us purpose, meaning and answers to the inexplicable. Unfortunately, when gone unaddressed, these high-fire-experiences become the source of, stubborn, fear-based beliefs and behaviors. When we have a hard time cleaning out the filing cabinet, we start blaming ourselves for the ever-growing stack of papers, each waiting on a stamp of acceptance and forgiveness. Contrary to popular belief, accepting, and forgiving others is the easy part. It’s receiving the stamp from and for ourselves that’s difficult.
When the trauma center is under fire, we yield judgements — of ourselves and others — anxiety, numbness and apathy, heaviness and fatigue. They become so heavy, that moving them seems nearly impossible — so “why try…” — trust me when I say, I get it. Let’s take some time to sort some files, rewrite some outdated story-lines, and surrender the narrative that’s held you back.
Here is a HUMAN’S guide to letting go so that you can move on from the past, experience and appreciate the present, in anticipation of an infinite future.
First thing’s first — What is the difference between a narrative and a story? Think about it for a sec… Ask that voice in your head that refuses to shutthefuckup. “What is my narrative?” For most humans it’s the inner monologue that plays on loop in the frontal lobe of their monkey brain. The voice that tells you all the things you’re not, could/should/would be — if you were only anything other than you are right now… that one.
The narrative is the story we tell ourselves to give meaning to our fear based behaviors. It excuses the behaviors and beliefs we wish we didn’t have. It protects us from potential attacks by making us the first to strike. The narrative is the outdated, hard lined, misinterpreted summary on the back of a bruised book.
The story — on the other hand — is still being written. I mean legit — it’s not even in the manuscript phase yet. It’s a major work in progress. There’s still typos and red squiggly lines everywhere. There’s missing commas and all kinds of things that reflect the work of progress it will always be. That doesn’t make it any less value. What it does show us is that you are allowed to make edits, punctuate, delete and rephrase some thoughts. It’s by no means a final product — nor will it ever be. I mean like.. maybe when you’re 6 feet under — but not a minute before.
You are not subject to the clamoring of an obsolete narrative. You are not beholden to the overloaded filing cabinet of fear, nor are you a victim to your past circumstance. YOU are a perfectly imperfect story still being written. You are author, editor, heroine and hero. You can say what stays and what goes.
When we are used to identifying with the narrative, noticing trigger points can be difficult because… if they’ve been there long enough… they just feel normal. To your brain “it’s always been this way so why change now?” ALAS YOU ARE STILL A WORK IN PROGRESS so all thoughts & emotions are up for questioning, promotions and demotions.
Begin by observing the experience with acceptance and non-judgement. Where are you experiencing the emotion, can you describe it in texture or other identifiers — and most importantly — what is it asking you for? Is it looking for answers, compassion or belonging? Is it maybe just looking for someone to listen?
Most of the files stored in the trauma center are there simply because they never got closure on their case. How can you, in your present awareness, offer even the slightest bit of acknowledgement, release and acceptance of the emotion at hand?
One you’ve observed it, Kindly escort it to its new anchor-point. Make it something that is mentally, or physically, within reach for your brain. Let the file know 1. It’s safe, 2. What you’ve learned about yourself since that incident, 3. How it did serve you — even if you don’t want to admit it — and finally — 4. Let it know that its okay to move on. It doesn’t have to live trapped in that cycle any more — because what was isn’t what is, and what will be has yet to be determined.
Sometimes the memory, or “file,” is stubborn and stuck in its ways. Sometimes the voice of someone related to the situation is stuck on loop shaming us for all that we did wrong and should’ve done better. THIS is what’s referred to as an energetic chord. A leech-like attachment that drains our mental and emotional energy, more commonly referred to as an Energy Vampires. They’re generally attached to cyclical thoughts, and emotions such as shame, fear, self doubt, and sadness.
And as my dad would say — “You can’t let ‘em live in your head rent free.”
The most effective chord-cutting strategies that I’ve found are writing, intention-based ritual, breathwork and forgiveness. All of which sound like really tall orders — trust me — especially if your brain and body aren’t exactly ‘buds.’ To cut the chord you must first, acknowledge its presence, then take note of what is and what is not yours. When you’re ready to let go, bring the memory/individual into the forefront of your mind and envision saying everything you’ve ever wanted to say — in a healthy, constructive and compassionate way. Then thank it for what it taught you, and respectfully inform it that it’s no longer welcome in your space. Period. Sorry — Byeee…
There are times when you let go, and that stubborn little vampire is holdin’ on for dear life. Whatever you have to do — even if it is removing them from your external environment — do it in the name of honoring what you are truly deserving of — not the narrative they’d rather have you believe.