A personal journal recorded over 3 months of TRE
(c) ANETTE LAKER
During a visit to my physiotherapist in July 2013, I mentioned that I was diagnosed by a dermatologist with an auto-immune skin disease. He immediately stopped working and asked me this question… “What was your childhood like ? Have you had any traumatic experiences in your life?” I had been a patient at his physiotherapy practice for the past 5 years, and the reason why he asked me this question, was that he knew that I suffered from chronic pain, had some health issues and had been in hospital for several operations.
My first response was that my life was very ordinary and that I have never had any trauma in my life. He started asking questions about my medical history and took notes on the facts that I shared. Recalling certain happenings was so overwhelming to me that it was as if the flood gates opened up. I was overcome by emotion and I just felt so sick of being sick. Up to this day, I never realized that certain things that happened to me, count as traumatic events and that trauma and long term stress have been the cause of so many of my health problems.
He referred me to a doctor who practises integrating medicine with a holistic approach to treatment. At this point in my life, I didn’t really want to see another doctor, but decided to try this one more time. This doctor suggested that I should consider doing TRE (Stress and Trauma Releasing Exercises). This really changed my life!
My health before starting TRE
I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia (chronic muscle pain) and chronic insomnia in 1997. At first I could barely walk or get out of bed. This was a very stressful time in my life. In the following years, the fibromyalgia was treated with a little success, but I had some other health issues as well.
In 2004 things got worse. I hurt my hip and back in an accident and had unbearable pain for many months. Coping with fibromyalgia taught me to ignore pain and just keep on hoping that tomorrow will be a better day. People don’t always want to hear you complaining so I carried on with a smile.
Things got worse since 2007 and for the past 7 years I was really struggling with my health. I had to come to terms with and make peace with the fact that I was only half the person that I used to be. To survive with pain 24/7, I had to give up so many things that gave true meaning to my life.
Between 2007 and 2013, I’ve been to 15 different specialists for various health issues, also to a chiropractor, physiotherapists, herbalists… Everyone just treated the symptoms that I described, and nobody looked at the bigger picture of my medical history. I have been in the theatre for 5 different operations (eyes, ears, throat, hips and knee) and 3 more times for other smaller medical procedures. I also had several out-of-hospital medical procedures. I had MRI scans, PET scan, mammograms, Barium swallow test, sonar of thyroid, bursa and of kidneys, many aspirations of cysts in my breasts, 13 painful laser treatments in eyes, had extremely painful injections in trigger points, injections for bursitis, I was on loads of medication… We spent thousands and thousands of rand on medication, treatments,diagnosis to find answers and cures.
I had hip and knee surgery in 2007. The doctor made a mistake and had to operate again 6 months later. I preferred to have an epidural during the procedure. Although I thought I was very brave then, I only realize now that, being awake for 3 hours in theatre, caused a lot of trauma to the body.
This second procedure was not successful either. I still had a LOT of pain! It was even worse than before the operations, and I was referred to another orthopaedic surgeon for a second opinion. After several diagnostic tests, he couldn’t tell why I had so much pain, prescribed very strong anti-inflammatory and pain medication and suggested to my husband that I was neurotic! I felt that this was such an insult by someone who didn’t even know me!
A year before this incident, my GP told me: “I know spiritually and psychologically you are sorted out. I know that, if you tell me that you have pain, I don’t have to wonder if there are other reasons for the pain. I know it’s real.
I won’t even start suggesting anti-depressants or other psychological reasons that might be behind your pain.” For seven years I held onto these words of encouragement and knew that I didn’t have to doubt myself or feel neurotic.
In 2011 I had 2 operations on my eyes a month apart. I didn’t want to be anaesthetised during these procedures. During the second operation, the doctor accidentally burned me under my eyelid in an area that there was actually feeling. It was extremely painful!!! My body went into shock. The doctor started to panic and handled the situation very unprofessional. As there was no anaesthetist nearby, I told the doctor that I would try to stay calm and let him finish the operation. After the procedure the staff took me back to the ward, but forgot about me. Nobody came to attend to me for a very long time – I also had no bell to ring for assistance to get to the toilet or bring me pain medication. By the time I managed to get hold of someone, my only wish was to call my husband urgently. I only wanted him to get me out of that place! When I heard my husband’s voice, I went into full shock. Instead of shaking it out (at the time I didn’t know the importance of shaking when you are in shock), they gave me medication to calm me down. For many weeks after the operation, I woke up at night with anxiety and fear. Still, being the superwoman (or rather stupid woman), I was too proud to admit that I had a problem, didn’t want to go for counselling, as my GP suggested, and didn’t take any medication for anxiety or insomnia…
I have lots of problems with cysts in my breasts. As I have a family history of breast cancer, I need a mammogram almost every 6 months.
Apart from the pain and struggling with my health, I had a lot of disappointments that I had to deal with… My life came to a complete stop! Between 2007 and 2011, I had to stop teaching, counselling, couldn’t even travel very far,could not gym or walk like I used to, couldn’t walk along the beach or go hiking on mountain trails, couldn’t go to movies or concerts, couldn’t go shopping with my teenage daughter. Even eating out was some days too painful. Going on holiday was quite a nightmare. I only managed to do the most basic things in life that was necessary to keep my household and my husband’s business running.
By the grace of God, a dear friend suggested that I go to a physiotherapist, Pierre Kruger. By that time I have been on crutches for almost a year and my muscles had been very weak. I had unbearable back and muscle pain. It was a very long and slow process to rehabilitate my muscles.
Apart from the chronic pain that I still had during this rehabilitation process, I had bronchitis and pneumonia often, was diagnosed with hypothyroidism, still had insomnia, skin problems, colon problems, trouble hearing and had a Zenker diverticulum (in my throat) which caused choking when I was eating.
Other stress factors
During this difficult season in my life, the company my husband worked for had financial problems. This caused a huge financial burden on us and a LOT of stress!!! He resigned and we got a good opportunity to start our own company in 2009. I started to work for him, but found it hard to cope with so much responsibility, demands and stress, while having pain every minute of every day.
From middle 2010 to beginning of 2012, my husband’s new business went through a very rough time because of the worldwide economical recess. In the beginning of 2012, God did a wonderful miracle for us. My husband got a wonderful contract, which ended all our financial problems! We were enormously blessed!!!
The turning point was when Pierre (my physiotherapist) suggested I should go to Dr Carl Bredell. He was the first doctor I paid a visit who took a holistic approach at my health, was interested in my medical history starting even before birth. He started his treatment with intensive blood tests, changed my diet and prescribed alternative medication. The most important part of his treatment was that he encouraged me to see a facilitator for TRE.
In preparation of my first appointment with Dr Bredell, I wrote down my medical history from childhood to that day. What a revelation that was to me! I realized that, during all these years and with all the problems and difficulties I had, I never once saw myself as a sick person or as someone struggling with my health. By the grace of God, my faith and spiritual strength carried me through all of this and prevented me from falling into depression, although I sometimes felt that the darkness and sorrow was overwhelming me.
In a way, I think the huge financial difficulty and stress we went through, took a lot of focus off me and my health problems. My highest priority was to stay strong for my husband and help him through this enormous burden of surviving in business… I had to stand by him like he did for me in very difficult times. He never ONCE complained about all the costs and sacrifices he had to make for me. For my children’s sake, I tried to keep things as normal as I possibly could.
Starting the TRE Process: Attending a 6 week group
I was at first very sceptical about doing TRE. I watched videos on You Tube and really could not see how this shaking could bring healing into MY body! For the sake of Dr Bredell, I decided to experience this and see if it would really do what they claimed it would.
By the time I started TRE in February 2014, I still had a lot of pain. I was able to go for short walks though (1 km per day) in my neighbourhood, but only on days that I didn’t have to do other walking (like shopping) as well. I still couldn’t go hiking in the mountain or along the beach, as my muscles weren’t strong enough and that would make the pain worse. Driving long distances was still very painful and uncomfortable. I had severe insomnia and my loss of memory and concentration was a HUGE concern for me and my husband. I felt very uncomfortable when I talked to people, as I would stop in the middle of a sentence and completely forgot what I was saying.
I decided to really embrace this initial 6 weeks of going through the TRE Process. It was like a last straw to trust this process to bring much needed healing to my body.
The changes slowly occurred after a few weeks. I only expected physical changes, but what really surprised me, was the wonderful emotional changes that happened. At first when I started TRE, I was sometimes a bit emotional, but I didn’t block the emotions and allowed myself to go back to the memories my body wanted to go back to. One of the advantages of TRE for me was that I didn’t have to talk about my pain or things from the past.
Understanding trauma and stress
One of the most significant things that I have learned during the TRE Process was to understand what trauma is and also what effect long term stress had on the body. My family was in Wolseley during the earthquake of 1966. I was only 6 years old at the time, but that event had a huge impact on my life. I also experienced other forms of hard and soft trauma in my early years. 23 Years ago, I had a miscarriage while we were on tour in Europe. I didn’t have time to grieve and just pushed down all the emotions and sadness. I carried on as if nothing had happened. A few weeks later I got shingles.
The birth of my first child a year later was another traumatic experience. Both my child and I had complications and we both almost died. I could only see my baby when he was 4 days old. The pain of not being able to see your baby and not knowing if he would live was unbearable. This caused long term stress as doctors couldn’t tell us whether he suffered brain damage during the birth process. For the next 4 years he had serious separation anxiety because of the fact that we were separated after his birth.
I never realized that the impact of such a trauma had an influence on one’s subconscious mind, and that it could influence your health for many years along the line. Through TRE I also learned that stress experienced over a long period of time could have the same result/effect on one’s body as severe trauma, like an earthquake or a serious car accident. I never got any counselling for ANY of these terrible experiences. I started to realise how trauma and stress through many years slowly but surely influenced my physical health.
I know today that trauma and long term stress blocked my creativity, self-confidence, senses, peace and joy. It resulted in lack of energy, insomnia, chronic back and muscle pain, auto-immune disease and even my social interaction was influenced by this. I started to avoid people. I realized that I had symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
Entries from my journal during this time
Since I started TRE I kept a journal to see the changes in my life! Here are some of the entries in my diary:
After the first two weeks of doing TRE 4 x weekly
“No more swollen feet. Circulation in legs is so much better.”
“I have less pain!”
“I am drawn into myself and avoid people.”
“I am very emotional and cry a lot.”
“I still struggle with insomnia and concentration.”
“I have headaches for a week from detoxing.”
After the first four weeks of doing TRE 4 x weekly
“Backache is better!”
“I am not so tired anymore – feel more energetic and much stronger.”
“I embrace all the memories that are coming back! Want to deal with it now for good!”
After the first six weeks of doing TRE 4 x weekly
“Lot less pain in my back, hips and legs!”
“No more insomnia. I feel energetic and alive!”
“No trouble anymore with memory loss! Mind feels clear and bright! Concentration is MUCH better!”
“I feel in touch with my body! Creativity starts kicking in!”
“My senses (smell, taste and hearing) are improving.”
“I become intense aware of the joy of physical touch. Just being close to another human, gives me much joy!”
“I am intense aware of my surroundings. The words “to be in the moment” get new meaning!”
“I look forward to a total new life!!! I have so much more energy than before I started TRE! My life is filled with
dreams, plans and visions of a new future!”
Looking back after 6 weeks of TRE 4 x weekly
At the end of my initial 6 weeks of doing TRE, I got a beautiful vision of a picture in a children’s colouring book. It was one of those pictures where you have to connect the dots to see the picture. God spoke to me and showed me that, through this process of healing, we have connected all the dots in my life. There are things in my life that I didn’t want there and some things I have buried away so deeply, that I never even spoke about it. God showed me that all of that were necessary to give definition to the picture of my life. Every little detail, even those things that I hated and didn’t want there, were necessary to make it a more complete and lovely picture! For the first time I made peace with everything that happened to me. I came to a place where I could embrace, not only the good, but also the bad experiences. It was all necessary in the process of me becoming the person that I am today.
After eleven weeks of doing TRE 4 x weekly
“The quality of my life has changed enormously, because my chronic pain is much better! Thank you God!”
“I can walk much longer distances than before I started TRE.”
“I felt a LOT of relief and healing after this session. Before the session, I felt like something was stuck in my throat! I never realized that I had so much sadness deep down in my spirit because of 10 years of my life that were “wasted” as a result of no doctor who could help me while I was struggling. It all came out!! I feel that I have a new life ahead of me.”
After thirteen weeks of doing TRE 4 x weekly
“Feel so alive and in the moment like never before in my whole life! All glory to God!”
“Feel relaxed, peace, lots of joy! FEEL GROUNDED!”
“Feel like a fountain bubbling with fresh water!”
“I have much more self-confidence!”
“I feel calm under pressure!”
“I am much better with setting boundaries in my life!”
“I do not take offence so easy anymore!”
“I am much more aware of the fact that every day counts! Instead of just going through the motions of “doing” life, I tend to live every moment to the full! My perception and feelings about things are so much stronger! It is like my eyes have been opened and I see things in 3D!”
“I haven’t composed music for so many years! I am sitting in front of the piano now and the music just flows from my spirit!”
“I am grateful to have TRE as a tool to manage pain!”
“I have the courage to share with people some of the things that happened in my life. That encourages them and empowers them to do the same.”
Entering TRE Level One training April 2014
I decided to train as a TRE Practitioner and began the Level One training about 2 weeks after my group process ended. My TRE healing journey continued and deepened as follows:
The TRE process continued and by the 3 months, had completely changed my life!!! I PRAISE GOD as Creator who helped us to rediscover the need for the body to “shake” out stress and trauma. We were created with this wonderful mechanism to allow our bodies to heal itself. For so many years, I trusted God to do a miracle for me and heal my body. Now He did the miracle in a completely different way that I thought it would come.
Struggling with my health for such a long time, brought me to a place where I could make peace with my situation. I accepted that I have a life that is very limited and that I cannot do what other people of my age can. When you are rebelling against a situation that you cannot change, you become unhappy and have no peace and joy. During the struggle, I tried to find my joy in everything I still had and could still do. When my health started improving through the process of TRE, the idea of ‘getting better’ and ‘getting back to normal’ was quite scary. I realized that I have created a comfort zone for myself where I operated and felt safe. The whole idea that I now may have the opportunity of having to get out of my comfort zone and walk into a new calling, was really scary. I had to completely change my mind from seeing myself as a person with a lot of limitations to someone who is healthy, capable and able to take on new challenges (like training to be a TRE Provider). (See Marianne Williamson’s Poem at the end.)
It took me some time to realize what happened to me through the process of TRE. The healing that I so long hoped for is actually happening. AND I GOT SO MUCH MORE THAN I HOPED FOR!!! I didn’t only receive physical healing,but also healing from stress, trauma and wounds of the past that I didn’t even realize still had an effect on me. I could see that some of the things I experienced were buried deep in my subconscious mind, and contributed to my pain and suffering…
For 7 years I was tested in the deepest roots of my beliefs, my faith, my vision, my passions… Without really having a choice, I had to put everything that I lived for, on the altar, and I had to cope with a life of pain and suffering. Like a person that had to accept living with a disability, I had to make peace with what happened in my life.
In 2011 I got a prophetic word: “Behold, I have refined you, but not as silver; I have tried and chosen [tested] you in the furnace of affliction…” (Isaiah 48:10-11) Through the years I have been tried and tested in the furnace of affliction… For His sake and only to His glory! I thank God for this new place in my life. All glory to GOD!
It is as if my life had to take a very painful detour in order to find the potential of the TRE process, experience the physical and emotional healing and to get to a place of being completely grounded. Becoming a TRE facilitator is a total new calling, a new path on which my life will be going now. The aspects that I have learned and experienced in 3 months opened up a whole new world for me. It is my dream and passion to help others to experience what TRE did for me.
This lovely Poem from Marianne Williamson meant a lot to me during our training. It encouraged me to believe in myself and be true to my calling:
” Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
The way my life changed, is a wonderful testimony of what TRE can do for anyone. In my mind the most beautiful testimony was my husband’s words after he listened to me improvising on the piano: “Just think, if TRE could do this for you in 3 months, can you imagine how it can change the world…”
Because of my own personal TRE healing experience I am now committed to taking TRE to others. This is why I have decided to train in TRE. It was always my dream and passion to guide people to a better life. Doing it through TRE is like a dream come true. My own experience was that it not only brings healing for trauma from the past, but brings healing to the body, mind and spirit. It doesn’t change your circumstances, but TRE changes the way you perceive and cope with your circumstances and every day stress.
I see myself as a facilitator not only for individuals, but also for groups. I have many years experience in working with groups and it is my vision for the future to make a difference in my country by helping many people through TRE.
23 weeks after starting TRE
I’ve just experienced the most wonderful miracle of my life! My husband and I went hiking in the Kruger National Park a week ago. In January this year, I couldn’t walk further than 1 km per day. At times when I pushed myself to go longer distances, I had a lot of muscle pain the next day. I was also unable to walk on the beach, as that caused too much pain.
Since I started TRE and the inflammation got better, I managed to push myself to walk a little bit further. Up to a week before we went on the hiking trail, I was too scared to push myself to walk further than 3.5km per day. I was quite anxious because I didn’t know how my body would cope with walking long distances in rough territory. What followed in the Kruger Park was an absolute miracle. I managed to walk almost 27km in 2 days without any problems or pain afterwards!!!
This is a huge breakthrough for me! I am at a place in my life right now, that I am able to make a huge mind shift from seeing myself as someone who was almost disabled to someone who really is healed. What a wonderful privilege!