The Connection between Repression, Chronic Pain, Awakening and Mr. Bean
Encouraged and surrounded by wonderful friends, I spent a good part of the last 10 years on a healing journey to a point of full recovery, completed training in a host of modalities, many somatic inquiry based at its core, and then built a practice serving others.
However, something held me back from sharing my story in more depth outside of my tribe of trusted souls. Having worked in the last few months on bringing into consciousness the subconscious programming that kept in force the repression of my voice, using KI repression tools, this repression is slowly lifting, and I am feeling more and more called to share my journey of recovery.
I am very grateful for the Kiloby Inquiries, a comprehensive set of somatic inquiry tools I have been exploring and experimenting with almost daily for the last half year. Practicing somatic inquiry tools for years, for myself and in my work with clients, I had previously noticed in my work the presence of ‘repression commands”. For example, a block prevented me from sharing in public or accepting invites for a few podcast interviews, and “pushing through the fear” didn’t feel like making a difference to the automatic freeze response. I became very curious about what skills would help to go deeper and resolve the need for these commands. Then I saw a video with Scott Kiloby talking about repression barriers (Thank you, Universe). The KI tools align with many somatic inquiry tools I have utilized in my life and practice for years, so I signed up. The proof is in the pudding.
I am a human being reclaiming her voice. I like to do that today by writing. I am work-in-progress. I write from my heart. I am open to being wrong. And I am aware that this feels messy and a little scary. Here we go, anyway.
We are human = We are vulnerable
Even if we work very hard to push that vulnerability down to the basement of our psyche.
I tried. For most of my life.
Raised in a family where many emotions were repressed, I was considered a very ‘sensitive’ child. This was seen as a weakness; my tears were considered an affectation, and this kind of ‘drama’ wasn’t tolerated. I learned to invalidate and swallow my feelings until they became disguised from even myself, buried underneath a blanket of dissociation and amnesia. You may wonder what this has to do with repression and chronic pain. Everything.
This is not a story of blaming. Fully seeing that there is no real choice until there is consciousness, this is only a story of response-ability. Becoming fully conscious of unconscious root causes contributing to suffering, their necessity ceases to exist.
Fast forward, a perfect storm, including burnout and a health crisis over a decade ago, became the catalyst for my healing journey.
Some truly fascinating synchronicities led me to dive into Dr. John Sarno’s work, Gabor Maté, and several other pioneers challenging the current scientific paradigms in conventional medicine, in particular the Cartesian split, advocating instead for a more holistic biopsychosocial model.
On my path to full recovery, I have followed the breadcrumbs of these synchronicities. It was my own mother’s recovery after being told that she was terminal when I was 11 years young that planted the seed to challenge instead of resigning to a life-sentence of pain management.
This health crisis became the catalyst I needed to dive deep, seeking resolution, liberation, healing … and following my longing to belong.
I see this sameness with fellow travellers who are walking their journey, which appears to be mostly motivated by pain and suffering, whether it’s emotional or physical. Often a combo, like it was the case for me.
Many, just like I was at the beginning of my journey, are unaware of the profound impact of repression, trauma and chronic nervous system dysregulation on their pain and suffering, including illness. Many still seem to find this hard to comprehend, spoon-fed with the dogma of the Cartesian way of thinking. Thankfully, research in neuroscience and psychoneuroendocrinoimmunology (PNEI) provides more and more evidence of this connection, including emotional repression and trauma contributing to the manifestation of illness and chronic or persistent pain. I know this played a key role in my struggle with chronic pain and cornea tissue breakdown. I chose at the time to dive head-first into healing myself instead of managing symptoms, determined to get to the root while also using the benefit of modern diagnostic tools offered by conventional medicine and getting several second opinions vs opting for the surgery that was initially scheduled a week later.
In my experience, nothing is just mental or emotional or physical. We are whole human beings, and like a mobile, if one element is touched, it impacts the whole. This compartmentalization of mind and body only serves an increasingly traumatized society.
Coming to a place where we can accept that we humans are vulnerable at our core and that people need people will not only resolve the stigma that mental health still has, but also create the kinder and more compassionate world we so desperately need.
We are all interconnected and evolving beings, in dire need of learning to take care of everything that constitutes being human.
From daily physical hygiene, healthy nutrition, to emotional and mental well-being. Ourselves and each other.
As I am musing about my journey, I vividly remember sitting in a circle at an Awakening workshop (by Duane and Catherine O’Kane, founders of Clearmind International). A snapshot comes to mind from the first day of the workshop, wondering what on earth I was doing here, and then a few days later, very surprised about my own capacity to feel such deep love … love for all the beautiful human beings I was surrounded with, most of whom I only met a few days before … and love for myself. It felt like my heart had burst. Burst through the wall I had built around it.
I do not know how to better describe it than that this experiential workshop woke me up into my heart.
The drop recognizing the ocean …
With dissociation and amnesia keeping pain repressed for over three decades, driving so many decisions in my life,
I had no idea how much all the trauma and repression stuck in my cellular body created the suffering that I was experiencing (physically and emotional disconnect) … after all, I was taught only to look forward, to focus on the silver lining … “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger" and “don’t pull old cows from the ditch (Dutch expression meaning we don’t talk about any uncomfortable things that happened in the past)”.
I had no idea that some of the skills contributing to what society defines as a successful career were in fact, unhealthy trauma adaptations.
In hindsight, I am pretty certain – though willing to be wrong here – that if we look closely enough, we will find that many organizations that are considered worldly ‘successful’, are blatantly benefitting from the pandemic of trauma and repression, where every human being suffers in isolation. In my humble view, it’s time to redefine the meaning of ‘success’.
I found myself sick and tired of pretending I had it all together, all while knowing no other way …
Sick and tired of all the daily micro-aggressions and harassment at work.
Sick and tired of suffering in silence, stuck in between the four prison walls of loneliness in which I had locked myself. Only showing the parts of me that I deemed acceptable, like the confident, strong, reliable, and goofy parts.
Sick and tired of being celebrated for successfully building bridges between organizations and people over all time zones of this planet while feeling unable to connect intimately with myself and other human beings.
Sick and tired of my incessant ability to fight for justice for others but unable to address the abuse I endured and witnessed.
Sick and tired of my compulsive need to do everything for everyone, subconsciously training everyone to treat me like a doormat, with shame throwing away the key to the prison I put myself in when my repressed anger erupted like a volcano on those who didn’t cut me.
Sick and tired of my compulsive need to do everything I could to make any scars invisible, as if nothing happened.
Working more - Caretaking more - Achieving more - Fixing more - Drinking more - Smoking more - Arguing more - Praying more - Meditating more - Eating more
At various periods in my life, sometimes all of them overlapped…
And a few more destructive patterns, which I may share when I feel ready.
In that workshop, I took the red pill (thank you, “Matrix”). I find it difficult to find the right words for this experience, but it felt like a rebirth, becoming alive, even when part of it felt excruciatingly painful.
What I had up to that point in time recognized as personal, suffering in isolation, I recognized as global … realizing that the beauty of wholeness has nothing to do with some abstract concept of pristine perfection … It has everything to do with welcoming all parts of yourself.
I love to make an analogy here with the Japanese art of Kintsugi … a completely different view of broken or damaged goods than we do in the west … Kintsugi art highlights and celebrates the cracks, imperfections, flaws and breaks in pottery … Pottery is broken purposely and then, by a very sacred process, all the pieces are glued together with a liquid gold turning it into a unique piece of art … Perhaps this could be the same with our shattered pieces of humanity and wounded parts of ourselves … and each of us gets to choose to integrate these and create our own masterpiece of wholeness?
For years I hid my scars, not wanting to burden anyone, and shame kept my mouth tightly shut. Also, I simply didn't know otherwise and was ignorant of the high cost until ultimately my health broke down … in disguise the breakthrough of my new life. A life that led to full recovery.
As part of a highly experiential transpersonal psychology program at Clearmind International, I did a Family of Origin study, and a genogram. This entailed detailed research and a timeline of all major events that influenced my family (both mom’s and dad’s side) for four generations and a detailed diagram of all emotional dynamics and patterns between all the family members. Deeply understanding and processing the transmissions that landed on me from an intergenerational trauma point of view was pivotal in my journey.
Cause and effect resolved, black and white merged, perpetrator and victim, blaming … nothing made sense anymore, and everything did, all at the same time.
Writing up the timelines, it was also then that I realized that my health crashed at about the same age as my mum’s did. Participating in a workshop with Gabor Maté at the time made me curious if epigenetic patterns of trauma could have contributed to all of this … From where I stand now, years later, it feels true to me that we all carry levels of individual, cultural and intergenerational trauma that can wreak havoc in plenty of ways if remaining outside of the radar of awareness, but that bringing this into consciousness can also bring profound healing.
My healing journey continues, and I continue to "human" along. At various points in time, I have been delusional (tricky ego!) in thinking I have surely done enough inner child healing work … meanwhile, I have eaten enough slices of humble pie to realize that the journey is not about getting to some destination of enlightenment. It is about being human. Welcoming all of it. Riding this ride called Life.
I chuckle here, recalling a comment once made by one of my teachers “enlightenment is catnip for the perfectionists” 😉
You may start wondering where Mr. Bean comes into the story … How to start welcoming all of you, is where he comes in. Well. Kind of.
What many don’t know is that my second studies many moons ago were in Business Administration with a major in Marketing.
My last job in marketing was in 1997 as an intern working on the campaign for the Mr. Bean Disaster Movie. If you don’t know Mr. Bean (Rowan Atkinson), research him. He’s funny. My main role in the campaign was to create engagement through developing a telephone game in collaboration with M&Ms. As I am typing this, I am trying to remember if the concept “social media” already existed in the 90s 🤷🤔
I didn’t enjoy selling, so that was a very short-lived career. However, I do remember the formula taught to connect with clients. Your target audience needs to
🦋 Know you
🦋 Like you
🦋 Trust you
In the marketing world, this is generally referred to as the KLT-factor.
And exactly applying this concept to oneself, learning to know, like and trust myself opened the doorway to feeling more alive and deeper joy than ever before … besides leading to full recovery.
One of the biggest catalysts for growth on my path has been learning to trust my gut and my emotions and the ability to discern in current triggers between the present and amplification from past wounding.
Getting to know ourselves is about learning who we are, connecting the dots, and becoming aware of the drivers of our suffering. It is also about validating our experience. We are so used to emotional invalidation (“You are too sensitive!”, “Stop being so emotional!”, “Don’t you dare!”, “You have no reason to feel [xxx]” etc etc).
Befriending ourselves means embracing all parts of us – what we *believe* is the good, the bad, and the ugly. [please know that I am writing this with complete non-judgment]
Like Hansel and Gretel, following the breadcrumbs and my longing to belong, I have found home closer than I thought, by learning to open the door to my heart and trust my experience of life. This doesn't mean I have no more struggles, it means I know how to find my way back home.
Last but not least:
Though this journey is often initially driven by suffering as its primary motivation, ultimately, it is not about feeling better.
Instead, healing is about becoming better at feeling … and feeling better comes with being better at feeling …
In the end, in my experience, the relentless quest to feel better or ‘become happy’ loses its grip, most of the time at least … I am still a work-in-progress 😉
Reading through my musings of today, I feel reverence and deep gratitude for all the somatic inquiry tools that are becoming more and more known.
I deeply hope that all together, by giving our children the gift of our healing, we can create a map for future generations to grow and evolve simply because they choose to, not because suffering drives them to …