Does the Pain of Deep Trauma Ever Go Away?


Author’s Note: This is a very personal article and before you get to it I want to share a few thoughts and disclaimers.

First, this is based on my experience at a workshop this past weekend so it’s still fresh and a bit raw and probably not my best writing.

Second, if you have never experienced emotional release work, please don’t let my experience scare you away. Not everyone has such intense experiences – although many do – and the potential benefits are huge!

Third, while the work I did this weekend addresses the deep emotional wounds I carry, neither this article nor the work itself is meant to encourage what Caroline Myss calls “Woundology.” I believe the vast majority of us carry wounds from early childhood traumas. Woundology is a victim-based place where you seek – usually not consciously – to hold onto your wounds and to blame the circumstances of your life on past traumas and the people involved in them. Emotional release work, on the other hand, addresses those wounds in a positive manner that acknowledges their presence, seeks to diminish the “charge” they hold and minimize the influence they have on your thoughts and actions.

So with that in mind, here is the article.

This weekend I participated in a very powerful workshop called Naka Ima. My first Naka Ima experience was ten years ago and after that one I wasn’t in a big rush to do it again! But a few weeks ago when a good friend mentioned that there was another one coming up and that she would be participating, my inner guidance system started going off and it was clear that I was supposed to be there.

With my birthday journey to the Grand Canyon beginning tomorrow, my time felt a bit compressed but I could sense that a big shift was possible at Naka Ima. Just as I sense that there is something waiting for me at the bottom of the canyon, some letting go or opening up or insight or … I don’t know. But whatever happens down there, the Naka Ima work has been great preparation for the trip.

Letting Go!

Naka Ima is about letting go of core attachments and the work can be quite intense. On both Friday and Saturday, in the “Triad” work, I had deeply cathartic emotional/somatic releases.

Now before I share my experience I must admit that I have been avoiding any kind of emotional release work for quite a while. I’ve done a LOT of it over the past 10-years and I’ve been feeling frustrated that, even after doing so much deep – and I mean DEEP – personal work there always seems to be more. I was questioning whether emotional release – ritual or breathwork or this Naka Ima work – was the answer.

How many times do I need to go into that abyss of grief and anger, despair and rage before I reach the bottom? Does the pain ever end? And if it doesn’t what is the point of re-experiencing that trauma?

Those were some of the questions I had going into the weekend and I voiced my doubts to Deborah Riverbend – the facilitator. She assured me that in all the years she has been practicing and teaching this work that she has NEVER seen a case of “never ending grief!” According to Deborah, the pain does end. You do reach the bottom of that abyss.

That was extremely wonderful to hear and I’ll keep you posted as I continue to explore this work about whether or not I’m the one exception! 😉

We all have wounds

Most of us carry wounds. Some are extremely deep, some not so much. There may or may not have been a specific traumatic event or incident. But whether you were abandoned, betrayed or abused, neglected, rejected or smothered you most likely have some inner wound that influences your thoughts, feelings and actions.

Like me, I’m sure you’re pleased to know that there is an end to the impact that wound has on your life. You CAN release the charge and start living free from the unconscious impulses of that wounded place within you.

On the first day of the workshop I dove right in and worked with the grief I carry from my adoption once again. My story, that my mother “didn’t want me,” that I was abandoned and betrayed, unwanted and unloved, has deeply influenced the way I create my life. The story seems to weave its way into just about every aspect of my life even after more than 15-years of intensive personal work. So on Friday afternoon, when we moved into our “triads” I was feeling very ready to drop in and let go.

By now, I’m quite skilled at going into emotional release. I can tap into the vein of grief very quickly, perhaps because it is still so close to the surface. So moving into the grief was not a problem. But I was encouraged by one of my triad partners to “find my edge.” She wondered what would allow me to discover a new, deeper place of release and healing.

Are you willing to be seen in your woundedness?

I quickly found the edge: Was I willing to be seen, really seen, in my grief?

Closing my eyes, curling up in a ball and letting the pain come out is pretty easy for me. There is a sense of comfort in that space, a familiarity that feels welcoming.

Staying connected to my partners, looking into their eyes as I was deep in the pain and anguish of the adoption experience was terrifying. To see and feel their love for me as I was expressing my woundedness was almost unbearable. I felt an overwhelming urge to close my eyes, to curl up into that protective ball and run from their love.

But I stayed there with them. I allowed their eyes to anchor me to the present even as the cellular memories in my body were fully immersed in and releasing the pre-verbal trauma from my adoption.

newborn-babyAt some point the process moved into a spontaneous “rebirthing” experience. As my body began experiencing and expressing the trauma of my birth it became difficult to know where the emotional pain ended and the physical pain began.

At times it seemed like I was experiencing the birth from my mother’s perspective. The involuntary movements of my body and the ripples of pain moving through my belly seemed to reflect a mother’s experience during labor and birth.

It actually makes sense that I would have “encoded” my mother’s experience in my cellular memory. After all, in that moment, we were still connected, still “one” being. Our experiences were merged and so, too, perhaps did our cellular memories become merged. So releasing her pain from my body was a welcomed blessing.

Welcome to a world of love

As the intensity of the experience began to decrease an image flashed into my mind of the “welcome” I received into this world. In that image I saw myself looking into the eyes of my mother for the few minutes she held me before I was taken from her arms. As I looked, I saw and felt her fear and pain, anger and anguish.

There was love there also: hidden, dampened, muted and merged into the other emotions. And as that image flashed into my mind I knew that it was time to experience being born into a world of love. I wanted to “come out” to welcoming, loving eyes and arms.

So I asked for that experience, I asked to be rebirthed into a world surrounded by love and acceptance rather than fear and anguish. And my partners made it so. They bundled me up in blankets and laid on top of me, creating pressure as if I was still compressed inside the birth canal. Slowly I pushed my way out and into the light and into their welcoming arms and eyes and hearts.

Because my body was so “in the experience” of the birth, that reenactment, even though it was not very “realistic,” had a major impact on my psyche. I obviously cannot change the actual events of my birth, but I can reprogram my memories of that moment.

You can re-create your memories

In essence I was “tricking” my mind into re-membering my birth experience. Brain researchers have discovered that memories are extremely elastic. Contrary to what researchers believed until quite recently, memories are not fixed. They are fluid and mutable: The very act of remembering something actually recreates the memory.

So why not take advantage of that mutability and consciously recreate the memories from a traumatic event? If I can insert an experience of being welcomed with love and joy into my birth memories, maybe I can shift the way those memories influence my present day thoughts and actions.

It’s certainly worth a shot!

One thing I do know is that after this weekend I feel much lighter, more open and receptive to the love and blessings in my life. I can still feel the remnants of the grief swirling around inside of me and my body feels like I took it out for an Iron Man Triathalon (well maybe only a Tin Man)! But my psyche feels so much more present, awake and engaged in this moment.

I’m looking forward to deepening that presence while I’m down in the “womb” of the Earth – the Grand Canyon later this week. And I’m looking forward to celebrating my Re-Birth-Day while connected to her nurturing, loving energy.

So does the pain ever go away? Does the grief ever end?

Deborah Riverbend believes it does. I’m hopeful and open to trusting her. And I’m very willing to experiment with my life. I’ve made a commitment to follow this rabbit hole down, down, down and see just how deep it goes. I’ve made a commitment to participate in as many Naka Ima triads and other emotional release processes as I possibly can over the next few weeks and months to see if I can find the bottom of this hole.

I’ll let you know!

Leave a comment below and let me know your experience with Emotional Release: Have you found the bottom? Have you discovered a place where your trauma no longer holds an emotion charge?

I won’t be able to join the conversation until I return from the Grand Canyon next week. But I look forward to hearing your thoughts when I get back!

Tagged: Five Things You Don’t Know About Me


I’m it.

Alexander Becker over at WOW has tagged me in the Five Thing You Don’t Know About Me game. Thanks for the tag, Alexander.

So here they are, five things you don’t know about me.

1. Let’s start at the beginning. About one-hour after my birth, I was given up for adoption by my biological mother. Six-days later I was picked up by my adoptive parents. At 23, I searched for and found my biological mother. Six months later I flew to Phoenix to meet Joan and my half-brother, Noah.

At 28 I searched for, found and visited my biological father. He’s a fly-fishing instructor and guide for Orvis. So most of our time together was spent fishing. Fine by me.

Much of the psychological, emotional and energetic healing work I have undertaken in the past 20-years has focused on the many complex issues connected to this event. One of these days I may actually complete the book, Raised By Strangers, An Adoptee’s Search For The Truth, which documents my healing journey into and out from the shadow of adoption.

2. My Virgo nature comes out in full force around dishwashers. I’ve been known to unload two-thirds of a dishwasher just to squeeze in two, maybe three additional plates. My wife teases me mercilessly about my “system” for the silverware tray: Each utensil has its own section, knives in the back left corner, teaspoons middle left, big spoons front left, you get the idea.

Sounds a bit obsessive, I know, but if you try it sometime, you’ll be amazed at how quickly you can unload the silverware tray!

3. I spent 7-months working with Jean Leidloff, the author of The Continuum Concept (aff). We were writing a parenting book that would have followed-up and expanded on the ideas in the Continuum Concept.

The book was never published – that’s another story – so I never got paid since I was working on a percentage basis. (Silly me!). But even without the money, I am extremely grateful for the time I spent with her and the information I learned.

4. In 1983-4, my sophomore year at Syracuse University, I was a member of the cheerleading squad. It was pretty incredible doing back-flips in the end-zone of the Carrier Dome in front of 50,000 people after SU scored a touchdown, or walking around with beautiful women standing on my shoulders during a basketball time out.

5. When my daughter required 5-days of care in the NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit) immediately after she was born, I dropped everything and spent most of my time there with her. There was no way I was going to let her stay isolated in that plastic box. (Are you seeing a theme here? Adoption, Continuum Concept, Attachment Parenting, isolation in NICU?) It was a profoundly healing experience for me. It was as if, by being there for my daughter, I was able to heal some of the wounding I experienced being left alone for the first six-days of my life.

And here’s a bonus one since I couldn’t decide which one to cut out!

6. I spent most of my 8th grade year completely wasted. (I guess this means if I ever run for president I won’t be able to say “I didn’t inhale.”) It was the thing to do: at least it became the thing to do among the group of friends I had hung out with since first grade. One time I actually passed out and fell off the bench at our local Brigham’s ice cream shop. As you can imagine I didn’t do so great in school that year!

One day during the summer before 9th grade, I walked into my friend’s house and saw lines of cocaine on the table. A voice inside me – my guardian angel? – screamed at me to leave. I did leave and never hung out with those guys again. I’ve never smoked pot since then either.

I know it sounds pretty boring. It was for a while, but lately, I’ve found plenty of non-drug-induced ways of getting high!

So that’s it. Five Six things you previously didn’t but now do know about me. You can’t ask again, because there’s really nothing left. All my secrets are out. Well, most of them, anyway.

Thanks for asking Alexander. Now, I’m going to tag, my friend, Christine Sisk, David at the Glittering Muse, MsQ at Qmusings a relative newcomer to the blogosphere with some great writing and great ideas, Richard Lemmon at MindPlunge and another relative newcomer worth visiting, Andy over at Thoughtful Consideration.

You’re it!

Thanksgiving, Family And The Millionaire Mind

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Thanksgiving is just around the corner, and the corner is right here!

(Ed’s Note: This was supposed to come out on Wednesday, but it was hiding in my drafts folder instead of scheduled for posting. So use your imagination. And I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving!)

Tomorrow morning, my wife, daughter and I begin our big Thanksgiving adventure.

We’re flying up to Boise tomorrow morning to spend Thanksgiving with my biological mother, Joan, her mother and brother, his wife, and my brother, Noah. It will be the first time that we have all been together.

From there, Melissa, Ella and I will pile into a car with Joan and Noah for the drive to Boulder for two days of sight-seeing in Noah’s relatively new hometown.

Then Joan and Noah will watch Ella while Melissa and I head down to Denver for three days at T. Harv Ecker’s Millionaire Mind Intensive seminar.

Then, on Monday it’s back to Oakland International.

It’s no coincidence (never is) that I’ll be with Joan and Noah in the days leading up to the Millionaire Mind Intensive. If you haven’t read the book, Secrets of the Millionaire Mind, it’s all about understanding and changing your “financial blueprint,” the mostly unconscious thoughts and beliefs that influences your relationship with money.

My financial blueprint is definitely connected to my adoption experience. Over the past few years I’ve noticed an interesting pattern: Whenever Joan (my biological mother) is coming to visit or we are going to visit her, my income takes a major hit in the days and weeks leading to the visit.

I’ve been working on this pattern for a long time. And I’m happy to say that the dip before this trip was not as acute as in the past (nor was my reaction to that dip) but there was still a noticeable decrease in my income.

I’ve heard that this seminar is extremely powerful, and I’m hoping to implement some major blueprint revisions!

From a personal growth perspective, spending a week with Joan and Noah immediately before the Millionaire Mind Seminar is absolutely perfect: If anything is going to activate the parts of my blueprint needing revision it’s time with these two people. And I say that in a very loving way.

So I’m looking forward to a holiday adventure on many levels. I’ll keep you posted as much as I can during the next few days. And, if I don’t have time to get to the juicy details, you can look forward to hearing more after I return.

The Language of the Pain Body


I’m just now digging in to Ekhart Tolle’s newest book, A New Earth: Awakening To Your Life’s Purpose. In it, he offers a more detailed exploration of the Pain Body than he did in The Power of Now. And this exploration has definitely heightened my awareness of the manner in which my Pain Body speaks to me.

Just yesterday, after writing about my 30-day trial of arising at 5:00 am, I got a taste of the language of the Pain Body.

As I was getting into the shower it occurred to me that I had not told my wife about my plan to wake up at 5:00 am for the next 30-days. “Why haven’t I told her,” I thought. And then a voice that was very different responded, “Because she’ll take it away from you.”

That was strange, I thought, but my curiosity was aroused so I asked, “What do you mean she’ll take it away from me?”

“Oh, she won’t do it ‘on purpose.'” The voice replied. “No, it will all be very subtle. But you watch. If she finds out about this, you’ll notice that Ella starts waking up at 6:00 or even 5:30 in the morning.”

The voice had more to say, but by that point I was aware that it was my pain body speaking to me. And I could very clearly trace that voice and the belief system that the Pain Body was expressing all the way back to my adoption. The experience of having the one thing I wanted most in all of the world – my mother – “taken away from me” has become the fuel that my Pain Body lives on; fuel that is still burning even now, almost 42 years later.

And the reason that fuel has not burned out is because the Pain Body is a master at conserving its own fuel. The Pain Body burns anything else that it can find in order to save the precious resource of its initial painful experience.

As I stepped into the shower yesterday morning, the Pain Body was attempting to throw more fuel onto the fire, fuel that would have burned up my relationship with Melissa. That is how the Pain Body works.

But this is where the Law of Attraction comes in. Once I recognized the presence of my Pain Body and its desire to draw me out of the present and into the quagmire of an old traumatic emotional/energetic experience, I was able to ask the question, “How do I want to feel in this moment?” That one question brought me fully back to the present moment and allowed me to step out of the grip of my Pain Body.

“How do I want to feel in this moment?” So much power in such a simple question. When you have the presence to ask that question, you have no choice but to answer. For me, in that moment, I was quite clear that I did NOT want to feel the sense of dread and resentment and anger that the Pain Body was attempting to arouse by pointing out the possibility that Melissa would “take away” my newly found morning time. I did NOT want to slip back into that familiar but painful place of rehashing and re-experiencing the pain of my adoption.

What I Did Want was to feel good. I wanted to feel the peace in which I had been fully immersed during my alone time earlier in the morning. I wanted to feel the enthusiasm that I was feeling about the extra time I had to write and share my writing with the world. I wanted to feel calm and trusting, confident in the knowledge that Melissa will support and encourage me in my effort to take actions that lead me to deeper happiness and peace.

With those answers I felt the heaviness of the Pain Body slip away, unable to hold onto me, no longer able to pull me down into the depths of its darkness.

And as the cleansing water continued to wash down over me, I offered my thanks to the Pain Body for helping me become even more clear about what I want, and for giving me the opportunity to envision a more supportive, open and joyous relationship with my wife.