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August 26, 2022

The Pain We Carry: Searching for Physical Healing Through Emotional & Mental Therapy

I lay on his table, my eyes shut, tears streaming down the side of my head and pooling into my ears.

I had never been to an osteopath before and wasn’t sure what an osteopath did. What I did know in that moment was that an osteopath hurt.

His strong hands pressed deep inside my stomach, shifting my internal organs, squeezing and twisting them like putty until I wanted to scream.

When it was over, I drove home, traumatized inside and out. Tears still streaming from the pain, the invasion, and the release.

For the next couple of days, the muscles around my stomach felt like they had taken a pummeling.

Since about March or April, I’ve endured pain in my right hip. Some of you may shout, “It’s your age! Getting older sucks, haha.”

First, . . . . no. I’m not 80.

Second, the pain likely was sparked by improper posture when writing or working (sitting at a computer all day); improper posture when working out (without a mirror or a trainer to shout me into position), or improper expression and release of emotions.

My physical therapist, massage therapist, and chiropractor friends each took turns working their magic on me.

The chiro informed me that my hips were uneven by about an inch, and he helpfully snapped my pelvic bones back into the skeletal alignment they were meant to be in.

The massage therapist used her body weight to press deep into my iliacus and piriformis muscles – painful, but relieving.

The physical therapist showed me the proper ways I should be standing, exercising, and how I could improve my form.

All the adjusting, elbowing, and cracking me into place helped initially, but the pain has continued. I can’t even walk my favorite beach without the pain crying out and causing me to cringe or limp.

The osteo suggested an internal issue was the source, where my left side muscles are pulling more than is fair, and consequently, the right hip overcompensates, creating pain.

Possibly.

The additional holistic advice the osteo gave is to fast for 3 days. This would give my body a chance to cleanse, break down from the inside out, and allow all the internal parts to function properly.

Maybe there is something to this. I would have liked to try fasting this past week, but plenty of friends are in town, and they all want to eat.

What is interesting to me is that the pain is located in my hip.

Our hips hold unconscious tension, old emotions, and deep vulnerabilities. This can stem from one significant trauma, or be a stack of lots of little stressful events, creating a situation where feelings like sadness, grief, fear, and worry are stored and never released.

Perhaps my ongoing hip pain is psychogenic, and I have trapped stressors and emotions causing the pain. Maybe I haven’t sat in my emotions long enough to process them thoroughly and cry them out.

Sometimes I will cry in yoga. While my yogi neighbor might feel slightly awkward stretching out in a half-pigeon pose on the mat next to me (sorry, yogi neighbor), crying during yoga is a beautiful thing. It’s safe. It’s genuine. It’s respected. It’s peaceful.

However, the crying and stretching aren’t enough to heal my hip.

I wonder about this last one, the hip pain caused by internal mental or emotional stressors. What if business stress, relationship tensions, and money worries over the years all compounded into creating this acute hip pain?

What if, in my hustle and drive to grow, learn, and succeed, my emotions were pressure-cooked down into the very fiber of my being? In the marrow in my bones? Particularly, my hip bones?

Sometimes we can push ourselves so hard, that we get to a point where our bodies have no choice but to scream, ENOUGH.

Given all of this medical and holistic advice, I am still unsure of the source of this horrible pain, causing me to squeeze my hip and grimace every time I rise from a chair.

It could be physical posture. Mental stress. Emotional disarray. PTSD from something in the past.

Perhaps it’s a little bit of everything.

Perhaps my poor posture and ex-pat entrepreneurial lifestyle finally created a stress-induced opening in my body to release the pressure.

A place where the pain could shoot out through my hip, like a poorly cocked and shot pistol that wasn’t properly pulled from the holster.

In addition to my search for mind and body wellness, I have also started seeing an EMDR therapist (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) that targets the healing of distressful memories. In particular, memories that shape patterns of behavior, patterns that usually end up getting us in trouble.

My first session was a few days ago, and while I can’t go into too much detail here just yet, it was a doozy. The discoveries were intense, emotional, unexpected, and awakening.

But after, I felt lighter. My therapist told me that in our very first session, I “dove in deep, right out of the gates”, to blend metaphors.

What does this mean happened to me?

It means I tapped into some pretty severe and much-needed healing.

This healing EMDR therapy will undoubtedly help my own personal growth, soften my flaws and reduce my triggers. The results will enable me to work through mental blocks and emotional messiness, and ultimately help me become a better version of myself.

But will it also help my hip?

Maybe. Time will tell.

For now, I will keep standing while I work, stretching the way I was shown to. I’ll try fasting, and likely go in for another tummy pummelling by my osteo friend and hope for physical improvement. I’ll allow myself to get teary in yoga. I’ll keep going to EMDR therapy, healing from the inside out.

So stay tuned.

And take care of yourselves out there. Of your mental health. Of your emotions. And of your hips.

~ Christy

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My stories are pretty good.

Christy Nichols
Author |  Life Purpose & Book Coach | Curator of Transformational Experiences | CEO at Venture Within | Purposeful Travel Advocate
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