I’m often reminded of the power of human connection. Today it was while watching Andrew Tatarsky, from the Center of Optimum Living in New York, speaking with Gabor Mate, both powerhouses in the world of harm reduction and addiction.
I met Andrew Tatarsky while attending the PsychNetworker in 2019. It was also when I was able to see Gabor Mate present on using plant medicine in therapy. There was a major overlap between the two sessions – our society is hurting from childhood wounds. Today’s conversation brought the same message.
When you think of trauma, you likely think of big, ugly events. But what if trauma wasn’t the event but what our body did with the event. In all actuality, trauma doesn’t have to come from something bad happening to us. Many times it’s as simple as something not happening that should have. (This is summarized from Gabor Mate) Think neglect.
Many forms of parenting, often thought as healthy, can lead to longterm detrimental effects. I think of “hands off” parenting and “letting them cry it out”. I was one of those parents with my children. Esentially I was asking my infants to self regulate their nervous system, something we now know is only possible after we learn to co-regulate.
Pause, what is this self-regulation and co-regulation you are speaking of, Michelle?
In simple terms, self-regulation is the “conscious control of thoughts, feelings and behaviors”. Co-regulation is the precursor to self-regulation. We learn how to self-regulate through the nervous system of others. When you can feel safe and seen by another, your nervous system will start to relax and with enough practice, you can learn to better do that on your own. Think of the parent-child relationship. For a more detailed read, check out this blog post. I also love the work of Deb Dana.
Today’s talk was about addiction and the astounding number of people we are losing to overdose. “The question is not why the addiction, but why the pain,” a common mantra of Gabor Mate.
What do we do with the pain? We have to find support or we numb it. Addiction is the numbing. It’s a coping mechanism.
How can we find support that is safe? That’s often a common question. Maybe you live in a toxic household. Maybe you are isolated. Many of us don’t have safe human connection. Who can hold space for you to feel? It’s scary. But until we feel, we will be avoiding it. The only way to avoid it is to numb it. We need to feel the pain.
Talk therapy is a great place to start! We need qualified support. But here is where I can come in. Talk therapy is neck-up work. But what about the rest of our body? I believe in a holistic approach. I’m the body part. Therapist can’t hold their clients. I can.
As a trained listener, I come to our sessions with unconditional positive regard. I start by asking how you’d like to connect. That might look like sitting together and talking until you are comfortable with minimal touch like holding hands or sharing a hug. It might look like more traditional cuddling. I’m there to soothe your nervous system, to support your safety, to hold space for your pain.
In today’s webinar it was said that often times the fundamental traumatic event is not being accepted for who you were in childhood. If it’s that simple, most of had that experience and are likely still carrying it with us.
There is profound healing inside of relationship. That’s my work, to share a safe relationship with my clients that includes nurturing touch and compassion. I provide safe human connection.
Interested in learning more, either as a therapist or a client, let’s connect.