Annie Lane: Somatic therapy could help with trauma

Published 6:20 pm Tuesday, December 28, 2021

Dear Annie: I’m a 45-year-old-male and have had many traumatic events in my past, including abuses too bad to name. My problem is, as I was growing up, I was so mistreated that I never learned how to feel. I had to suppress everything I was feeling and disconnect from my emotions and body to survive.

Now that I’m grown and have been seeking mental help for almost 17 years, I still can’t connect with anything inside. This has led to relationship failures, lost jobs and more. I live every day on a flat plain of numbness, and yet I believe that I am worthless and undeserving of anything I receive from anyone. That includes kindness, love, help or gifts.

I have been through five therapists and as many psychiatrists. No one has been able to diagnose or help in any way. Each and every one of them has come up empty-handed and told me that I should seek help from “someone better” without giving referrals or suggestions as to whom I should be talking to.

As a result, I have begun to distrust the world of psychological treatment.

All I want is to live a “normal” life and not run everybody out of it.

—Numb and Lost

Dear Numb and Lost: Thank you for writing to me. First off, no one has a “normal” life. Everyone has stuff. But what you want is to be out of pain. I am sorry that you had to endure all sorts of abuse. No person or child should ever have to. The question is, how do you heal from that?

Congratulations on trying to find help. It looks like the five therapists you saw were probably not trained in trauma. You might try and find a somatic therapist. Somatic therapy is a type of therapy that helps treat post-traumatic stress by releasing bodily sensations that come up in everyday life. The therapist works from the inside out, starting with your body instead of just talking and reliving the traumas over and over again. I would recommend reading Dr. Peter Levine’s book, “Waking the Tiger.” Another good book for trauma is “The Body Keeps the Score” by Bessel van der Kolk. Both could be great resources on your journey toward feeling better. It’s a cinch by the inch and hard by the yard.

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Dear Annie: What an amazing soul you are, and your duty to do for others before yourself speaks loudly of your ability to be truly unselfish. Thank you for the experiences and advice you have shared with the world. It surely is a beautiful light to help guide those who struggle through the dark paths.

—Grateful

Dear Grateful: Thank you for the kind words. It is an honor that so many readers share their stories each week.

“Ask Me Anything: A Year of Advice From Dear Annie” is out now! Annie Lane’s debut book —featuring favorite columns on love, friendship, family and etiquette —is available as a paperback and e-book. Visit http://www.creatorspublishing.com for more information. Send your questions for Annie Lane to dearannie@creators.com.