{#Transparenttuesday} There is NOTHING Wrong With You

I’ve been thinking a lot about fear and trauma lately.

Mostly this is because I’ve decided to write an ebook about the effect trauma has on body image, and all my research has me deep in the scientific recesses of fear and the survival instinct.

But also (as you know if you’ve been following my journey) it’s because I’ve recently let go of the last layers of fear that were leftover from my own personal story of trauma, and because I want everyone to feel this safe and worthy in their own bodies.

So let’s talk about fear.

People do not historically enjoy feeling fear, even going way out of their way to avoid it. But fear is amazingly useful. We don’t want children to be scared, but we DO want them to be afraid of touching hot stoves, and running in front of traffic, because healthy fear means survival and adaptation.

The key word there is “healthy,” though.

If an animal in the wild gets the shit scared out of it, it goes through some really basic stages of processing that fear, so that when the threat is over, the fear is over. That’s why animals in the wild don’t experience any kind of trauma. Trauma just doesn’t exist.

But as humans, when we get the shit scared out of us, we don’t go through those basic stages of processing.

Instead, a physiological cycle in our bodies is begun but not completed– we mobilize a huge amount of energy, but don’t properly discharge it.

And this is how we arrive at “trauma.”

Interestingly, while trauma doesn’t affect animals in the wild, it can affect animals who are domesticated. Something about being domesticated keeps them from being in touch with their basic animal survival instincts, just like us.

Anyway, the crazy thing about fear and trauma is that it’s so poorly understood.

I mean, you probably learned about the fight-or-flight response in like 10th grade, right? I know I did. But it wasn’t until a few years ago that I learned about the freeze response, which is another survival response. (Think of an animal “playing dead” when running or fighting doesn’t seem like the best option.)

The freeze response is responsible for a HUGE amount of trauma in general, since if you really did fight or flee from a scary experience, you would naturally allow your body to finish the necessary stress cycle and discharge the extra energy by running or fighting.

When we freeze however, we often stay “stuck” in that frozen place after, for weeks or months or even years, with the stress cycle always trying to complete itself and failing. This is the cause of most trauma symptoms- stuck energy that didn’t get properly discharged.

Now let’s think for a moment.

Who is more likely to run from or fight off a threat– men or women? Exactly. Men were, as they historically have been, the “neutral” subjects of scientific study. A man, if confronted with a threat, is a lot more likely, on a biological level, to know that he stands a chance of running or fighting.

But that’s not the case for a woman.

Personally, I have never fought anyone, and I’ve never run away from anyone. Have you?

What I’ve done instead is either to freeze and dissociate, or even HELP the person who was harming me, to minimize conflict and harm. (This is actually a whole other can of worms called the tend-and-befriend response, and I could go on and on about that one too.)

I had felt extraordinary shame until I learned about the freeze response, since I didn’t fight off the guy touching me without consent, so maybe… I secretly wanted it? Or maybe there was something wrong with me deep down?

Learning about the freeze response made me suddenly realize that my body was just doing it’s job to protect me, and I didn’t run or fight because, frankly, I stood a 0% chance of succeeding at either.

The more I learned about trauma, the more I learned that a lot of my “issues” were just the long lasting effects of trauma. This was a major key to forgiving myself, rebuilding trust in myself, and learning to like myself again.

Listen, sometimes working through shame and fear is incredibly painful, complex, and time consuming. I know that. But in some cases, like mine, working through shame can come in the form of a simple explanation of goddamn physiology.

So to that end, please allow me to state this plainly and clearly:

You are normal.

There is nothing wrong with you, and you are not broken.

You went through something scary, and it triggered a normal survival instinct to take over. You froze, not because you thought it was the best thing to do, but because your body took over to protect you, and that offered you the best chances of survival.

Maybe you even smiled and pretended it was ok, or furthered the situation on your own as though you were into it. Even if that’s the case, there’s still nothing wrong with you.

There is nothing wrong with you, and you are not broken.

For a variety of reasons, you probably didn’t discharge the energy that showed up due to the scary thing that happened to you, and that’s normal but unpleasant.

Weeks or months or years after the fact, maybe you discovered that you struggle to feel your body, you feel numb or hollow inside, you feel chronically helpless and disempowered, you’re constantly anxious or afraid, you have random symptoms that can’t be explained, you struggle with behaviors that you know are bad for you, or you simply struggle with body image.

There is nothing wrong with you, and you are not broken.

Woman, please believe me.

What happened to you was not your fault, and there is nothing wrong with you.

Everything I just mentioned is the perfectly normal and natural response to un-discharged energy from a trauma.

And, while I can’t tell you how in a single email, I do promise that it’s possible to discharge that energy, no matter if you remember exactly what caused it or not. It is possible to move forward without the constant fear, and to finally feel safe enough to remove your armor.

There is nothing wrong with you, and you are not broken.

I will keep repeating this until there is nobody left to repeat it to. I will write the book to prove it.

I see you, and I know you, and I love you.

All of you.

Every single bit, even the parts of you that you’re convinced are dark and unlovable.

They’re not.

Nothing about you that frightens me, and nothing about you could convince me that you suck.

All that shit you hate about yourself came from somewhere. It protected you somehow, from something. And as such, I honor it and respect it.

I also hold space for you to let it go someday, if you no longer need it.

Yours in healing and expansion,

<3

Jessi

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