I had grand ambitions to send this out earlier, but there are intentions, and there are the hard realities of getting the Kid from practice, grocery shopping, appointments, and then there was having to go get guinea pig bedding for Cookie.
I thought I would explain what happened when I did a breathwork session with Amanda Fletcher, a certified breathwork practitioner, writer, teacher, physical trainer, and all-around genuine and compassionate human being. I try to avoid superlatives in life, but I do think she warrants the use of these descriptors (Amazing! Great! Wonderful! etc..) because she is a brave soul. BTW this is not a paid ad.
In 2018 I got divorced from a two-decade marriage. The trauma reverberated after the papers were signed. A friend told me it was one of the worst divorces she had ever seen. It. Was. Crazy. It’s now five years on since it had kicked off and I’m out the other end and yet the dynamics of the relationship itself, the leftover trauma, still remains.
Most people who subscribe to this newsletter know that I try to situate myself within a social and historical context—this means I’m an Asian American woman living 132 years from gender equity with the privilege of education, a family support network, and basic employment with health insurance (even if I’d make more working at a grocery store).
Over the last several months, my left eye started twitching again—how my stress manifested during my divorce. While I knew divorce was trauma, the feelings were about coming to terms with staying married—despite knowing that my marriage was terrible. And for all of my ability to logically reason, I had bought into the idea that a successful marriage is measured by the superficial barometer of time. A success would have been to divorce earlier. I cognitively knew that we only act upon what we know, but at the same time, it was hard for me to move into self-forgiveness to the level required to fully feel better. In short, the eye twitch meant that the convoluted fear and anxiety, the trauma, it was still in there. And what is the idea that I haven’t fully made peace with? That I stayed. I have to keep reminding myself: It’s OK that it took that long. Self-forgiveness.
I booked a breathwork session to help release buried trauma that remains in the body.
Breathwork: The Session
I sent Amanda a list of songs, hard to do as it underscored what I already knew, that I had stopped listening, singing, in short hearing during my marriage. In order to stay in a physical mindset that keeps you in a negative situation. I had to will deafness. I did sing for awhile when my child was young. But I stopped listening to music in the same way. The result was that I could recall very few certain moments of songs and sound, and really very little from the past few decades.
Then on the appointed zoom link time, as she’s in LA and I’m in HNL, Amanda led me through different exercises, some were writing, some were reflective. Some I did in private away from her, (talking to a mirror) some I did with her. I danced. I did deep breathing. Two inhales in through my mouth from my belly and then heart; one exhale out through my mouth.
After a while, I went into a deep state of calm. I felt a vibration in my hands, wrists, and arms. Big sensory moment. I’ve felt this at various times—when having sex that is really connected, when in a deep state of presence in the physical self, when my body becomes seamless with a sound or desired movement—freedom. The vibration took place in my arms, hands, and wrists—significant as I’m a writer.
I cried. Anyone who has had a deep intense massage knows how your body can release through crying. Interestingly enough, it was similar to the experience I often have in hula (I’ll write about hula in another newsletter, it has really changed my life.) It’s when the inner life becomes exposed and surfaces.
I stayed in this physical position on my back listening to music on my headphones, for a long while, thinking about my hands and arms and wrists. I thought about writing. Because frankly, the reason I even arrived at the situation of going to Amanda was because I was feeling blocked. And the reason I was feeling blocked was I couldn’t get at what I needed to write. Fact. Fiction. When we write, we can enter this type of trance state and I couldn’t get there, or maybe, it was just too uncomfortable because of the subject.
Writing is how I saved myself, time and time again. Words are what I come to in and where I find a way to belong. It is on the page, it is in the ocean, the mountains, but most profoundly, in the abstract corners of the imagination where I can find a place to exist and be. Narrative is a constant quest. The circles of story and self, to me, are always opening, closing, unfolding, rolling in, rolling out. I’m the story. The story is me. The story is the world. The world is story. The physical body is the vessel through which the story comes to flower. But there is always more.
As I was coming out of the breathwork session it occurred to me that writing, is the way I can heal and forgive. When we write, we continue to process—knowing always that trauma and life are not linear. In short, the breathwork session inspired me to share with you, Dear Reader, and discuss more esoteric elements of life. The whys on the life I’m living. I hope some of this resonates with the way that you are living too.
As for the eye twitch? Yeah, it’s still there. But it’s calmed down. And I move to think differently to quell it. Thanks, Amanda. I recommend a breathwork session with IG @theamandafletcher https://www.amandafletcher.me