The humiliation and discomfort that crept up my body as she pointed to each beautifully written poster was a body memory I will never forget.
As we ventured through the elements of my life's time line I cringed at the thought of all this exposure. Not only were we writing these things down and saying them out loud there was a presentation piece within this method. That's right, I had to sit there in front of my class of 20 men and women and listen as my peer counselor told the story of Brittany. The story of all of the bumps and bruises, the traumas, the accomplishments, the missteps, and the steps up. Until that day I had never felt so utterly vulnerable and exposed.
You may be cursing the curriculum of this college at this point. Shocked and appalled that they would put us through this program of degradation and difficulty, but in their defense the staff that facilitated these release sessions did the most amazing job of creating space and safety in all of our classes.They were always available after sessions. They made it very clear that anyone thought to not be participating in the rules and upholding the mission statement was coached around what was going on for them. Conflict resolution and the clearing method was used rigorously as we checked in about our feelings every single day.
It was our job to be the holders of space when each person went up to bat whether it was to do a presentation or to speak their mind about an ill feeling that they may have had, I would say this is one of the most valuable skills I have ever learned. Being able to communicate your feelings respectfully without having to take care of someone else in that moment opened up my awareness to how I was showing up in all of my relationships.
Back to the TRS, after my peer counselor told my story to the entire class room it was time for the physical reenactment of a few key memories that had left me feeling like I could never express my full self. I wont get into detail here as that is part of what my future book will be about but I will let you know that each of our classmates took turns representing a person in our family and embodied their character so we could speak to them in a way that completed the process of whatever trauma we were trying to make it through. As you can imagine there was a lot of emotion behind each "play like" expression in this "anything goes" atmosphere. We yelled, screamed, cried, cursed and went full throttle on a stand up punching bag with a yoga mat to get the energy flowing through our bodies, as we released years of pent up anger and frustration. Each classmate that was not participating sat on the edge of their seats silently cheering on their peers in what felt like to me as the fight of my life ! We switched from scene to scene and moved the props around the room to make it feel real. All the while our peer counselor was standing right next to us coaching us into a frenzy of self-expression. It was hard but the reward was so rich it was a no brainer for me to follow through with this process.
When I felt like I was fully complete in my TRS I found my way over to the couch that we had moved into position to receive feedback from the group. For some, this was the scariest part of the process but for me it was like landing on a bed of pillows. Each one of my classmates took a moment to congratulate me on slaying my demons, they gave beautiful heart-felt empathetic responses. The warmth that I felt that day offset the incredibly difficult task of bearing my soul and taking back my power.
To end this ceremonious experience we stood in a circle, hand in hand and listened to a song that represented us and our journey, hand picked by us. I will never forget the day that I was vulnerable enough to crack myself wide open and let all of what I had been carrying out, so I could make room for all the beautiful things to come.