Keep pulling. Those threads are more closely woven than you think.
There’s a story that I haven’t shared with many people, but let me start out with a thought...
When I’m working with clients, I try to err more on the side of “existential” than “analytical.” I think it’s the Gestalt psychotherapy influence, but rather than find “the reason why,” I tend to think it’s more useful to stick with the two pillars:
- Now, &
What’s going on right here and right now? And how is it occurring?
What are you doing with yourself right now? And how? What’s OBVIOUSLY happening with your structure? With your self?
That’s the existential approach: observe what is, and work with that.
But I’ve found that some of the analytical work from the OGs in body-oriented psychotherapy is really insightful too.
We’ll revisit that, but first story time.
This whole journey of body interest started when I hurt my hip in jiu jitsu in college. It was bad enough that I couldn’t walk for stretches. I hid it pretty well (by smoking way too much too often), but I was in pain more often than not.
I was miserable.
I remember multiple nights going down to the lake alone and just sitting there, wondering how I’d gotten myself so fucked up.
Maybe I could dip in and forget about it?
Nah. I couldn’t do that to my family. And my friends. There must be something else...
So I searched and searched.
It took years before I started to feel better. It was the combination of natural movement, somatics, and Gestalt work that clicked things into place.
Things are so much better now.
For the past few years I’ve thought I’d “figured it out.”
But as I’ve been digging deeper into embodiment work and that old school body psychotherapy, I realize that my hip issue wasn’t just a jiu jitsu injury.
It was the culmination of a lifetime of habits and patterns. The way I’d been using myself for my entire life simply primed me for that injury.
A number of times during some of this “vegetative” practice, I’ve had recollections of a memory from when I was a kid...
My dad had taken me to a water park, and we were on a “lazy river” in a couple of inner tubes. I was maybe 4 at the time.
Somewhere along the way, he noticed that his wedding ring had fallen off. My dad being my dad, he went back upstream to find it, letting me float on solo.
I freaked out.
I couldn’t swim. I was by myself.
That’s a bad combination when you’re 4.
And I’d forgotten about that until very recently.
Here’s where the analytical side comes into play. I’ll give you some shortcuts:
- Your arms are all about contacting the environment
- Your legs are all about supporting within the environment
- Your spine is all about your self-image
- Your right side is archetypically masculine
- Your left side is archetypically feminine
What I’ve come to realize is that my hip injury (right side = masculine, remember) may have emerged from a lifelong pattern springing from that one instance of not being able to find support (from dad) within the environment.
I think I internalized that the only way to survive is to be like my dad: analytical, closed off, obsessive, workaholic.
And holy shit what a realization this has been.
I look back and see these patterns play out all over the damn place in my relationships: romantic, professional, social.
Now look, this might just be a convenient story that ties things together in a neat bow.
And if it is, so what?
We’re story animals. It’s “right” enough to turn me into a way more functional human being, and isn’t that what it’s all about?
Moral of the story: keep pulling. Those threads will unravel.
PS This post was originally sent to the subscribers of The Ecosomatics Daily Dose. It's where I send thought-provoking emails that change how you live your life to your inbox each day.