I called my mom in September one year. I was in my late thirties. She answered the phone, “Hello, what’s wrong?” Taken aback I replied, “What do you mean, what’s wrong?” There was something wrong, I had a terrible kidney infection but she had no knowledge of that. ”It’s September.” She said, “Every September you call with a major problem. It’s been that way all your life.”
I thought about it and she was right. Every September since I was a wee girl had been a difficult transition. I would get sick, get hurt or have some emotionally difficult, stressful event in my life.
“You know what? That’s true!” I exclaimed. ”When you were little, you were sick every September. Strep throat, poison ivy…it was always some drama every September.” We began to explore it. ”Why do you think that is?” I asked. ”I don’t know. It wasn’t school, you liked starting school. I thought maybe it had something to do with…OH SHIT!” ”What?!” ”I was going to say maybe it had something to do with your birthday and that your dad and brother were always starting football season so they weren’t around to celebrate but then I remembered something else. When you were two weeks old I left you, Sean and Colleen with Aunt Audrey while your dad and I drove from Pittsburgh to California. You were born August 16th so that would have been the beginning of September and we were gone for two weeks.” ”California?! You left me when I was two weeks old?! Aunt Audrey had four children of her own! I was two weeks old and you left for two weeks? That was the equivalent of my whole life to me.” “I’m sorry,” she said. “I didn’t realize.” ”Why did you go away when I’d just been born?” “Your dad wanted to go. We were thinking of moving there. And if your dad wanted to go, we went. I’m so sorry.”
Nervous system pattern imprinted.
A flood of emotion came over me. I felt sad for that little infant who’s mother was gone for as long as she had been there for her. Adult me knows she was left in a safe place but I suspect infant me didn’t know that. My Aunt Audrey would have had seven children under the age of ten on her hands with me as the youngest, a two week old infant. I felt angry that my mother was so unconscious and controlled by my father’s whims that she would agree to leave her two week old infant for two weeks to drive to California. I mean, what was the hurry? And what was he thinking? She had just given birth!
Shelly and her Mom, Doris
Once the shock, sadness and anger had lifted I felt compassion for my mom. She was twenty one years old and had three children under the age of four years. Now, in her sixties, she could acknowledge the impact of this decision but she felt powerless then. We don’t make decisions based on what we will know in the future but on what we know and understand in the moment. I also felt a wave of compassion for my two week old self. I imagined the stress she must have felt being separated from her mother for what must have seemed like an eternity to her. Next, I felt grateful that my mother did return and that I was having this conversation with her. Since that conversation Septembers have been less tragic. The subconscious controls more of our behavior than does the conscious mind. When a pattern is set into the nervous system the anniversary of it acts like an alarm clock, triggering the system to awake to the trauma without any conscious recognition of the source. The conversation with my mother gave me an opportunity to change the pattern. I acknowledged that September is a time when I will likely feel less robust, more fragile. I began to acknowledge the event and honor it. I still, now in my late forties, feel the pull each September on my energy. I feel the propensity to fatigue but if I change up my routine, take a holiday and consciously reduce my load I am able to make it through without crashing.
I have witnessed this pattern in clients, friends and family over the years. Conscious recognition of difficult anniversaries of trauma really does seem to diminish their dominance. Give yourself the gift of taking a moment to think about what unconscious behaviors may be effecting your quality of life. What traumas have been significant to your life? Death to close friends or family members? Personal tragedy? Without dwelling on them, make a note of the anniversary and as it approaches give yourself a little more space. Notice how you feel emotionally, does your energy wane? Rather than try to push through, acknowledge it and do some self-care; get a massage, go for a walk, rest a bit more, cry if you feel the impulse to even if there is nothing currently happening in your life to cry about. All of this can help to soften hard wired nervous system pattern rendering it less damaging to your health.
Shelly Shelley, LMP is a Certified Advanced SOMA Practitioner, Certified Visceral Massage Therapist, NYR Organic Consultant and Reiki Master. She has been in practice as a LMP since 1996. In addition to her private practice, Shelly has served as a post-graduate instructor and workshop facilitator for the SOMA Institute. It is Shelly’s goal to assist her clients in sharpening their own ability to listen to the wise council of their body in order to live a life of full of vitality, beauty and meaning.