It’s the call you don’t want to receive… “there’s a problem with your test results”.
A little over 12months ago my GP called letting me know my pap smear (cervical cancer screening) had come back with abnormalities.
Not cancer. But not the news you want to hear.
I was a little shocked, scared.
Yet logically knew many other women & friends had this happened too.
Most of all I was surprised. I trusted my body deeply & felt a little sad, and confused that it would “let me down like this”
(Loving reminder: have you had your pap smear lately?)
Fast-forward a few weeks & I was in the Gynecologist’s office, my legs spread in stirrups while they took a biopsy to see how severe the changes were.
Even the most routine medical procedures can create trauma.
Especially those procedures that puncture the core of what it means to be a woman.
This wasn’t the last time I’d be opened up, or biopsied.
It wasn’t the only time I was at risk of medical traumatization.
Over the following 12 months I had two more examinations & one additional biopsy.
Every single time – I felt violated.
When we consciously consent to a procedure, we are bringing our mind’s – YES to the party.
But what does our body feel?
Does our body give a YES?
Is she ready to open?
Do we even stop to consider this part of ourselves?
Before each examination & biopsy I placed my hand on my yoni (vagina) & spoke to her about what’s to come. It helped a little.
What was really interesting to me – and the part that I want to speak about today – was what happened during the procedure.
Like most women, I felt vulnerable.
I felt violated.
I began to freeze up.
I witnessed myself enter into polite conversation with the doctor.
I smiled and laughed & dissociate from my vagina.
Part of me pretend this wasn’t happening & I froze it out.
Have you ever felt like this? Weirdly dissociated from yourself & who you usually are during a stressful or traumatic event?
The freeze response is a less-well-known acute stress response.
Most people know fight and flight, but freeze is the silent third option our body defers to when running away (flight) or fighting our way free (fight) isn’t an option.
When we freeze, our body immobilizes & plays-dead. We shut down feeling, sensation and essentially self-anesthetize (numb out).
Once you are frozen, the only thing left to do is revert back to the most socially acceptable version of yourself. The polite-girl who doesn’t make anyone else uncomfortable. Who says the right thing & gets on with it.
That was me on my first biopsy – Smiling at the doctor while she cut a piece of my cervix out.
Then told me she wanted to cut more out & would book me an appointment ASAP.
I smiled. Said yes. Felt nothing. And left.
Deep down I didn’t want (part of) my fucking cervix cut out.
I didn’t agree with this plan of action (but the polite-girl also didn’t object…)
But I hadn’t spoken up. Why? BECAUSE I WAS FROZEN.
Trauma can freeze the body.
When we freeze the life force energy & stress we experience in that acute moment is bound up to be dealt-with another (less threatening) day.
As I left the doctors office, I felt an overwhelming surge of repressed anger, frustration, sadness & hurt well up. A vision of my cervix as crying tears of blood swam in front of my teary eyes.
I knew I needed time to deal with the bound-up frozen energy of this event.
So that my body could process the trauma.
Instead of storing it for another day.
Knowing about this ‘freeze response’ made me feel like an empowered, healing woman as I lost my shit & became a crying mess in the car park, post biopsy.
I wasn’t just “overly emotional” or “over-reacting”.
I was dealing with the unexpressed stress that had accumulated.
Unexpressed stress can accumulate in a million ways…
- Stubbing your toe, getting in a minor traffic accident or getting a fright.
- Ignoring your emotions, feelings, and sensations.
- Taking actions & making decisions that dis-honor your deepest truth.
Life is a series of stressful events.
If we don’t learn to deal with that stress, in empowering ways, it builds up in our body.
Layer after layer. Lifetime after lifetime.
Until our nervous system is swimming in a sea of unexamined & unintegrated micro- and macro-traumas.
By the time my next biopsy came around – I had a plan.
I knew that it was most efficient & powerful for me to release the stress in the moment it was being generated (instead of saving it for another day).
So I consciously put the polite-girl aside.
I gave myself permission to do whatever I needed to feel what was going on.
This experience was different. I was there for it.
Not freeze it out. But feeling it happen.
I’m not sure my gynecologist has ever seen someone cry so much during a procedure.
She was worried she was “hurting me” (she’s actually a really lovely lady).
But it wasn’t about the PAIN.
It was about the intensity.
It was about the vulnerability.
It was about the emotional chaos swirling inside me.
Embodiment is about feeling to free.
I had to feel this physical & emotional procedure (trauma) to free it.
There are specific tools & techniques to do this safely.
These form part of the “embodied skill set” we examine in modules 1 & 2 of the embodied woman program.
We’re opening enrolment to The Embodied Woman Program shortly. If you’re interested in knowing when that happens, enter your details here
But to begin with, when shock or micro-traumas enter your life pause to ask:
– Am I feeling this?
– Am I numbing out? And if I am, when am I going to pause to process this frozen stress?
A NOTE ABOUT RESOURCES:
My cervical CIN3 changes ‘spontaneously’ reverted after some love & information from a whole team of practitioners including:
- My own embodiment practices
- This great group discussing the risks of LLETZ procedures
- My naturopath, acupuncturist, chiropractor and this great cervical connection program (which I’m only just doing now)
I’m incredibly grateful that I took the educated & monitored the risk of supporting my body to heal, rather than jump to an intervention. But we are all the expert on our own body, and it’s your truth (which sometimes lives UNDER the stored-stress of your freeze responses) that’s the key decision making in approaching your cervix.
As always, I’d LOVE to hear what lands for you from this post & any questions you might have. Let me know in the comments below.