How I Carry Trauma in My Body

The trauma of Brandon’s accident lingers in my body. I can’t always feel it, but I know it’s there. Because it shows up to say hi every now and again. It rears its ugly head in the form of digestive issues, skin issues, back pain, neck pain, mood swings, etc.

About a year after Brandon’s accident, I started experiencing severe stomach pain. The kind that doubles you over and makes you feel like it might be the end. Eczema showed up on my lips and my hands. I felt like I had no control over my body or my emotions.

I tried multiple elimination diets on my own, thinking I had developed a food allergy. But nothing seemed to be the obvious culprit. I saw a handful of doctors and begged them to test my blood for food allergies. “You just have Irritable Bowel Syndrome,” they’d say. “But what does that even mean? What causes it?” I’d plead. The nutritionist just shrugged her shoulders as she shut her office door in my face.

I had a similar situation back in 2008. I started having severe neck pain, seemingly out of nowhere. I would cry out in pain as if someone was stabbing me in the neck. I chased the source of pain during a time when my career was uncertain and my romantic relationship was unhealthy to say the least. Most doctors just looked at me like I was crazy as they handed over a script for pain meds. “But they don’t work! I don’t take them!” I would cry as they shooed me out of their office.

Finally, after two years of relentless seeking, I found a doctor who identified the cause of my pain. I had a tumor in my neck wrapped around my the nerves like a present. Within a few weeks, the tumor was removed and I was immediately pain free.

At the same time, I was embarking on an exciting new career and an even more exciting relationship with my now husband. Coincidence? I personally don’t think so. I think that the end of the unhealthy relationship and job uncertainty and excitement about the future gave way for the release of my neck pain.

Pain manifests itself in our bodies from the life-changing severe traumas and the smaller daily traumas we all experience in our lives. I believe we are able to release that pain once we’ve healed the trauma that caused the pain to begin with.

So why haven’t I healed from the trauma of Brandon’s accident? I don’t know the answer to that question.

Brandon told me the other night that I’d been through a lot. “What do you mean?” I asked. “The accident. The recovery. All of it,” he said. I just shrugged my shoulders and pushed it to the side like it wasn’t a big deal. I tend to stay in “everything is fine/it’s not a big deal” mode.

I’ve worked with some wonderful therapists, and I’ve talked and talked until I was blue in the face. I have noticed how I’m feeling. I have raised my awareness. I have continued to move forward in my life and my relationship with Brandon. And yet it’s still here.

I can feel it when the tears sting my eyes. All the emotions and the pain come bubbling back up. But I push them down hard. I won’t allow them to come out.

“I want it out of my body” I exclaimed to one therapist as I flung my hands in front of me in continuous movement, as if I was trying to shake the feeling that lingers out of my body. It’s a feeling that makes me want to get up and run. I want to run out of and physically leave my body. I want to run away from myself.

I think I hold on for dear life to the trauma of almost losing Brandon. It was too painful to bear at the time, so I just closed up my heart, slapped on a strong face and kept moving forward one step at a time. I didn’t allow myself to truly feel what was happening because if I had, I may not have been able to do what I did. I may not have been able to push and to fight for what Brandon needed for his recovery. I may not have been able to carry us through.

If I were to let go now, what would happen?

I’m afraid of the answer to that question. So, I continue to hold on to my trauma. Knowing that I can’t hold onto it forever - it’s already made that abundantly clear. For now, I’m writing about my pain to help release it. And I’m researching more ways to release the trauma from my body. I’ll keep you posted on what I learn.

How does trauma manifest itself in your body?


I am passionate about working with caregivers to help them create a more fulfilled life after experiencing trauma with their partner. 

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Brittany Bell /    Comments Share