I read a post yesterday on that dreaded social media platform we all use, and it inspired me to share my story today. One of my colleagues in the Guild has a rescue dog. This beautiful soul was so terrified that, for the first few months of arriving in their home, she could not be touched at all. Eighteen months on, she is getting better—love and understanding will do that. Her behaviour still gets crazy, but they know it’s fear-driven, and they’re still working on what her triggers are. Two steps forward and one back. It’s a slow process to heal, even in such a positive environment.

As the saying goes, in order to go forward, we may have to go back a little, and as the “momentum” builds (see what I did there), the more we travel forward and less back, along the path of life.

Personally, life has been digging a few craters in my path. Over the years, I have learned to navigate around these craters, but as in the path through life and that of healing of the mind, body, and soul—that is not always a good thing. Going around slows you down and causes you to take a step back in your life’s path.

So, instead of learning how to manage these craters—with tools (physical and mental) to help climb or fill those holes so they are more navigable in the future—I bypass them, never truly healing, slowing down to a virtual stop where my body, mind, and soul cannot take anymore. I now stand in another huge crater with a long line of unresolved craters behind me—I need to climb out and take a step forward.

With the help of my marvellous husband, truly wonderful friends (love ya Ju, LaLa, Trini, and Becki), my new counsellor, and of course ME, I am starting the climb, using tools I should have used years ago and moving up and forward. Slowly. The “momentum” of healing will build. I am sure.

I am very aware that however long my body has been dealing with trauma, it may take that long to heal from it. During our training as clinical canine massage therapists, we learned that understanding this is a vital part of the treatment process, and we approach each dog and their history with empathy. The consultation is as important as the treatment. We need to be aware of everything that the body has experienced—however small or trivial it may seem to the owner (Kahu).

Trauma is stored not only in the body but also in the mind and soul. Therefore, to truly heal, we need to support all these aspects of our beings.

As I write this, my body is going through its healing crisis from the physio treatment I had yesterday. I know I hold the majority of unspent emotion in my neck and shoulders, which not surprisingly gives me tremendous headaches. I know the treatment has worked as I feel like poop today, the worst it has been. This is called the Herxheimer reaction and is a really good thing, I promise!

Dogs are brilliant at managing this stage of healing. They will listen to their bodies and sleep, drink more, and retreat into quiet as their bodies purge toxins and emotions released from tissues that have been treated. They sometimes become lethargic, vomit, and have runny poop too, but fortunately, it should only last approximately three days. Therefore, explaining this reaction/process to the Kahu of my clients is so very important.

Trauma, in any form (body, mind, soul), causes fascia to dehydrate and tighten. More tightness = less flexibility = pain = more tightness = decreased flexibility = more pain!! The body enters the circle of pain. Yes, emotion can do this to you—I have first-hand experience!! So our job as Clinical Canine Massage Therapists is to break that circle by treating the fascia and the body (muscles) that it weaves through. The best way to think of how fascia works is to think of a spider’s web. The body is woven together by an intricate web of fascia. It penetrates through every muscle fibre, around our organs, into the bones, and our skin. If you tweak one tiny strand (through trauma), the whole web sets off and can be damaged.

However, we humans plod on, don’t we? Rest? What’s that? Heal oneself? Never! But I’m learning NOT to keep plodding on. So many of us are good at telling other people to take care of themselves, but we don’t take our own advice. Is it selfish? Is it because it’s hard? Or because we’ve been brought up to feel it’s a weakness? Is it because we want the world to think everything is peachy? Yes, it’s all these and more!!

That’s why, instead of travelling a six-hour round trip to my uncle’s funeral today, I will take care of myself, put myself first, and use this time to rest, write this blog, and heal.

As always, thank you for reading.

Lou xx

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