The Idea of Shock

I’ve noticed something in my body since my brother suddenly died three months ago, shocking me and others close to him.

I still can’t believe it. One day he was here; the next, he was not here. There was no warning. He is not here. I miss him very much.

Ever since, when I think about him and other events surrounding his death, my head cocks like a dog who just heard a sound it didn’t recognize, and my body starts; it jumps quickly, making a sudden movement.

As I went through that experience for the 10,000th time, I realized that when I say “I was shocked,” I am not speaking figuratively. It is literal. My nervous system experienced a shock, and whenever I think about it, my body expresses that movement—the feeling of being shocked.

So on Friday morning, when I recognized this, I exaggerated the movements. I let my body follow through with how it needs to process this tragedy in my life.

I also recognized that there had been shocking events in the past that still live in my nervous system because they have never been given full expression. And how this underlying tone is everpresent, although not always visible.

I cannot think my way out of anger, shock, or grief. Any emotion. I have to feel into them, have compassion for myself and what I’ve been through, and allow my body to have the expression it wants and needs.

I offer this reflection to you because trauma stores itself in the body. Shock is a real blow to the system. It is through feeling feelings and allowing the body to make movements that may have gotten thwarted at the moment for any number of reasons that we can soften the blows.

Letting that voice inside finally be heard and recognizing what we’ve been through allows our wounds to heal as we gain faculty over our emotions.

It is possible to heal. I want you to know this.

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