Healing in Asia
I arrived in Singapore on March 1st this year. Apparently, some part of me thought it would be a good idea to land in a new city, new country, new (temporary)house on my actual birthday. (Must pay closer attention to that sort of detail in the future.)
The process of leaving Kenya after 11 years was complicated and emotionally draining and I arrived pretty shattered. (At least I managed to book the VIP arrival service.) I shifted all four of my suitcases into my new little house in Katong and cried. The tears were unexpected, but, cathartic. I was very fortunate to have friends in Singapore who invited me to dinner and even managed a birthday cake. By the time I walked home (and walking SAFELY at midnight was one of many “delights” Singapore offered), I was properly exhausted.
I spent the next few weeks walking around my new city, working remotely, and researching doctors, lab prices, and TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) practitioners. New city, same old health issues.
I still wasn’t sleeping. Still didn’t feel good.
My first stop was a TCM (traditional Chinese medicine) Clinic that came highly recommended by the tried and trusted Facebook Expat Singapore group. (There’s a FB expat group in every city and they’re a goldmine of information for tourists and new residents.)
After a full health assessment (I told the practitioner EVERYTHING), I had a very powerful acupuncture session. After the session ended, my practitioner advised that he felt that I could really benefit from a blend of Somatic Coaching and CranioSacral work which can help heal chronic PTSD.
CranioSacral Therapy (CST) is a gentle, hands-on approach that releases tensions deep in the body to relieve pain and…
The surgery — the removal of my uterus — brought my childhood rape and assault front and center. I didn’t understand why. Quite honestly, I’ve attended very wonderful therapy over the years and I was mad that “it” was back, again.
IT was exhausting.
My inner dialogue was brutally honest. Could I actually live another 30–40 years if this horror kept recycling through my mind and body?
And, honestly, I didn’t feel like I could endure it.
During my first Somatic session, I learned that when anyone experiences trauma, our tissue receives the trauma first. Our minds interpret the trauma and embed it as memories. PTSD. If the trauma isn’t removed from our tissue — our cells — then we are never really healed.
No matter how much therapy I completed — good therapy, worthwhile therapy — the trauma never stopped. It went quiet from time to time — but it always managed to cycle back around.
It wasn’t easy. In order to address and remove the “flesh memories” (I had to get a Harry Potter reference in here somewhere), I had to relive the assaults in granular detail. I had to go into a part of my memory that I have always avoided — even in therapy. I’ve never expressed any details of any of the attacks — ever. I remembered all of it but never shared details.
The hope was that, if I was able to get through it in all of its detail, then I would come out the other side and the ‘weight’ of the trauma would be removed. That’s the simple version. The cycle would really be broken.
I’ll be honest. The sessions were rough. But powerful. During each appointment, I laid down on what was essentially a massage table (fully clothed) and closed my eyes. As my practitioner began her energy work (a very light touch on my head, shoulders, feet — wherever the energy sent her), I started to see “vignettes”. The vignettes started with a sitting Buddha who sent a healing white light throughout my body. I would always end up in a green meadow. Grass, pine trees, a breeze.
And then, the light stopped, and I encountered various “versions” of myself. I called them 5, 6, 7, and 13.
5 was little and afraid (that’s when the abuse started). She was my Fear.
6 was almost feral — filthy — and living in a very dark corner. She held my Shame.
7 was crying. She was my sadness.
13 was my Anger. I was 13 when I fought back and stopped the rape/abuse.
And me, in the Present, was just trying to hold it together.
If I sound schizophrenic, rest assured, I’m not. But I did have Dissociative identity disorder (DID). A mental health condition. Someone with DID has multiple, distinct personalities. My soul was split into jagged shards and they needed to be brought back together. I couldn’t live my life controlled by my fragments anymore.
For the next two months I explored the various pieces of my soul and brought them all back together which meant that I spent a lot of time “listening” to all of them. I listened and I apologized for not protecting them and for not acknowledging them. 13 took the longest to come around. I couldn’t blame her. 13 was the reason it all stopped. 13, her anger, got me through every tough part of life because she was the fighter.
But I didn’t want to fight anymore. I didn’t need her anger anymore. I didn’t want to live in anger anymore. But if I wanted to pivot away from anger, I had to give her a voice and thank her for all that she did and tell her she could rest. She didn’t know how to rest. She only knew how to protect. 13 took a very long time to trust me.
At the end of the journey, the fragments came back into my body. I had one visualization of them “elbowing” for room. I was one person for the first time since the age of 5. It felt like a new day.