A note from Amy Jo: This week I’m pleased to share a guest article by my friend and colleague Karin Green, who is my co-creatrix in the Healing Sexual Trauma Weekend we’ll be offering in Seattle this fall. Karin’s article describes some of the healing perspectives and opportunities that ShadowWork offers. ShadowWork changed my life and the chance to marry these powerful processes with the work of healing sexual trauma specifically is a huge opportunity that I’m VERY excited about. We still have room in the September weekend, so if you are considering it, I hope you’ll set up a time to talk with us further about it.

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At some point in our life, many of us find ourselves stopping for a moment and wondering:

How did I end up here?

How did I end up in this career or relationship?

Where did my dreams go?

When did I become like my mother/father?

Where did I lose my power?

When did I stop loving my life?

ShadowWork® is a powerful and helpful resource when we seek answers to these questions. It can assist us in unlocking that which we don’t know about ourselves and revealing the hidden patterns and impulses that lead us to where we are in the present moment. ShadowWork is a personal growth process which brings our magnificence out of the shadow and into the light, allowing us to explore our inner landscape and evolve more and more into who we really are. It’s a way to face hurt, fear, and anger and learn get past them and live our lives fully and joyfully. ShadowWork gives us the gift of loving ourselves for the journey we have chosen to live in this life.

Photo credit: Pablo Miranzo / Foter / CC BY 2.0

We all have a shadow side to explore.

There can be great healing to be found in the process of understanding the causes and motivations behind our choices and decisions—the ones we made that got us to where we are today. It’s important to gain clarity and understanding around the specific event or past traumas (often located in early childhood and hidden in our memories) that prompted us and continues to push us to make decisions that look like, “I’ll never be that way” or “I’ll never do it like that” or “I’ll never let someone get that close again.”In those traumatic moments, we make promises to ourselves and decisions that are meant to protect us in a situation where we might not have that much control. At the time it was wise. But keeping those promises long after the event often brings us nothing but pain, disconnection, and suffering and keeps us from living the life we’re meant to.

As adults, childhood trauma (physical, mental, and/or emotional) often isn’t remembered as an actual memory, but our bodies always remember. When we store trauma in our body it can manifest in many different ways; some examples:

  • There might be stomach pain when we find ourselves in particular situations.
  • Our shoulders might be painful and tight as if the burden is too much to bear.
  • We might experience sharp pain in our sexual organs in intimate situations.
  • It might show up as a choking feeling every time we try to speak up.
  • Our feet might ache when our boundaries are broken and we are not speaking up. 

In ShadowWork, we have and use many tools and techniques to heal what needs healing. Often with a trauma “wound” we can access the body’s wisdom and finally release the old trauma that’s been held in the body.  ShadowWork guides us into the traumatized space so we can ritualistically and metaphorically “pull out” that which is choking the throat, or throw off the burden, or give the burden back to the one for whom we took it on, or we might be able to remove that which is causing the sharp pain, or stomp our feet and set a clear boundary.

Our bodies hold so much wisdom and our subconscious talks to us though them. Often after we release or heal an old wound, our subconscious will allow other deeper memories to float up to our conscious mind. This healing process is like peeling an onion; when we remove one layer it allows another layer to surface. Sometimes, you might choose to remove many layers at once, or maybe cleave the onion to its core, and sometimes removing one layer is all that is needed to create profound healing.

As a ShadowWork facilitator, I have witnessed many such metaphorical “pulling out” of trauma and pain and I’m still fascinated at how powerful this technique is and how permanent the healing can be—regardless of what the trauma was or its cause.

Healing sexual trauma adds another layer in the process since the perpetrator is often someone we know, and sexual trauma and sexuality in general is still a taboo subject. Often victims of sexual trauma take on the responsibility for the event by feeling like they could have done something to prevent or avoid it. This emotional and mental complexity adds many layers to sexual trauma—and ShadowWork can address these different layers with tools that are incredibly effective.

As a victim, it might have been too dangerous to say NO, so we learned to not respect our own boundaries—we may not even know where they are. A ShadowWork session will use specific tools to help you find where your natural boundaries ought to be and how to set them clearly. Additionally, as a victim, there might not have been anyone around to care for you or protect you, so ShadowWork can help you find and strengthen your own inner support and protective self so you can always be there for yourself. Sometimes, victims also internalize the voice of the perpetrator; this might show up as a strong inner critic voice which constantly beats us down. Again, ShadowWork tools can help create a dialog with the inner critic and transform it, leaving a sense of peace and strength.

I believe in the power of this work to heal and I’m committed to sharing it with others. For more information about ShadowWork or to contact me, please visit www.shadowwisdom.com or email me at Karin@shadowwisdom.com. 

About Karin Green

Karin Green is a Certified ShadowWork® Group Facilitator and a Transformational Coach who believes that any person can transform their past trauma, use it to be a portal for healing, and that your personal story can be whatever you choose it to be. She supports others in finding their innate ability to find that which gives them joy and make healthy choices for themselves, and she is ready to assist you in achieving your goals, finding your purpose, and living your joy.