Emotional Anniversary Events
Early mornings are my favourite time for contemplation and meditation. This is when social consciousness is silent and after a restful night’s sleep, the mind is clear and filled with creative thought, enthusiasm and excitement.
During my morning musings, I remembered a couple of years ago I attended a Breathwork course and the facilitator compared our mornings to the beginning of our lives and as the day progresses it represents times from birth, adolescence, adulthood to old age and then our transition and it was surprisingly accurate as to how I play out my days, and then also weeks, months and years connected to the life experiences, traumas and cycles that I have lived.
Observing this, I could clearly see that at certain times of the year I would feel overwhelmed, sad or anxious and when I compared the times of those occurrences, I realized that I was witnessing anniversary events. An anniversary event is when we experience a traumatic or joyful event that repeats almost at the same time in the day, week, or year. When we recognize a cycle and the connection to the emotional and physical reaction to the originating / initial / inception event, we gain more clarity on how to resolve the trauma. Identifying an anniversary event, understanding what type of trauma responses usually get triggered by that event and subsequent events, can prepare us to stop the emotional cascade of hormonal responses. This triggers the release of catecholamines, including adrenaline, noradrenaline, and cortisol. This chain of reactions results in an increased heart rate, blood pressure, and breathing rate. In order to prevent more damage that is caused by this reactive state of continuous trauma responses it is beneficial to identify these unconscious anniversary events.
As an example, it seems that every year November my mother would have a traumatic physical event and when I stepped back and compared the time cycles over the years as to what could have triggered this cyclical response (which causes a lot of heartache, anxiety and fear for me), I realized that this Anniversary event originated with my father’s death on the 24 November 1990. When I felt into the ripple effect it had on my life, I realized that this doesn’t only affect myself and my mother, but also the rest of our family.
Knowing that this is a possibility every year, I have become more present in my responses to what is playing out and being clear and present with what this event is trying to show me about my unresolved emotions. Our brain’s primary mission is to keep us alive. When the anniversary of a traumatic event occurs (like my father’s death), it seems that just the memories of that event (conscious or unconscious) can trigger an emotional response; and for which there may be no external stimuli present. To keep us safe, the brain may search for, or even invent, external stimuli, but this is a distraction from the truth; and the truth is that we still harbour unresolved trauma, which needs to be looked at and resolved.
The reactive responses we learn from unresolved trauma activate one of the four trauma responses: fight, flight, freeze, or fawn. Being constantly in a fight or flight response creates a permanent state of fear, anxiety, aggression which in turn causes adrenal fatigue, digestive problems, neck and back pain and the list goes on. The pain and discomfort from the physical symptoms create more fear, agitation or aggression and this vicious cycle eventually causes more serious conditions if not addressed.
When one of my clients experienced a traumatic break-up, the anger and resentment set her up for an anniversary event where she would unconsciously pick a fight with her partner every year the same time. Their argument is trivial, but the emotional trauma response indicates unresolved trauma from the inception event and, going forward, is incredibly damaging for herself, her health and her partner.
She eventually realized that she needed help and contacted me. Initially she requested a Traumatic Incident Reduction (TIR) session. However, the fear of having to talk about what happened was too overwhelming so I recommended she begin with a Craniosacral Therapy session. With Traumatic Incident Reduction (TIR) it is extremely therapeutic to be able to voice the experience without judgement, advice or shame but every individual is different and sometimes the trauma is embedded so deeply within the subconscious that it takes time to get to a point where a client can speak about the traumatic event. This is when Craniosacral Therapy is the perfect modality, especially when someone was physically abused, experiences intense physical pain or does not have the words to describe what they are feeling.
Craniosacral Therapy calms an agitated central nervous system, it creates a state of relaxation that helps the body to experience stillness and in that calm state, release tension, especially in the fascia. The fascia is an interconnected system of tissue that surrounds and supports the organs, muscles, tendons, ligaments, tissues, nerves, joints and bones. When this system is compromised or when the body is stuck in a holding pattern due to a traumatic event, it can restrict the movement of muscles and tissues, causing pain and other health conditions, so it’s important to keep fascia healthy.
After the first CST session, my client immediately felt like a burden was lifted from her shoulders. This is something I often hear after a session. They always report a sense of relief, feeling more free, relaxed, and calm.
The ripple effect of resolving our trauma has a life changing influence on every aspect of our lives and our relationships. We are slower to react and instead, we create, we have a sense of self-worth, peace, and confidence. Joy is restored and a sense of fulfillment arises.
The same stream of life that runs through my veins night and day runs through the world and dances in rhythmic measures. It is the same life that shoots in joy through the dust of the earth in numberless blades of grass and breaks into tumultuous waves of leaves and flowers. It is the same life that is rocked in the ocean-cradle of life and death, in ebb and flow. – Rabindranath Tagore