Thoughts on Trauma and Movement

by Juan Villegas

Journaling is how I get my thoughts out of my head, so I don’t have to keep dwelling on the same thought process repeatedly. Journaling helps me to let go of emotional baggage. When I began journaling I did not like it at first, I felt it was difficult, a bit useless and part of me wanted to write the perfect thing. Now I cannot live without journaling and I have let go (I think) of the need to write something meaningful.

Movement is how my body heals and becomes more intelligent, movement is sort of like journaling without words. A way to let go as well. Years ago, my body knew that I had to start a long healing journey, even before my brain knew it. I began to dance and to practice mindful movement: I loved moving with purpose and mindfulness, without knowing exactly why and to be honest, I am not sure if I still know why, I just know that movement found me.

Both Journaling and Movement are tools that I use to heal from abuse that happened to me years ago, and when I write about abuse, I struggle, but when I perform, my body knows how to express better.

Part of me feels like ‘abuse’ is such a big topic and this blog post is for me to begin that conversation somewhere somehow. I have no idea where to start, perhaps if I am not sure where to start is because I am not ready to revisit what happened. Perhaps my body is still trying to digest the trauma left in me, but I have revisited it so many times before, in my art, in therapy, in journaling, so why do I feel unsure of where to start the conversation?

10 years ago, Michelle, a dance classmate of mine, and I came up with the idea for a dance piece titled ‘Here | There’. Our idea was to improvise trying to control each other’s bodies. We presented it when we were back in university and what the public perceived was quite different. To us, it was about control, to them it was about abuse. Perhaps control is a form of abuse!

I wanted to share clips of that video, but I delayed sharing it for a while, because of how the dance was perceived when it was presented at first. I was not sure if I was comfortable having a dance performance about abuse, because I was not comfortable talking about this topic and maybe I was more comfortable letting my body speak instead. Sometimes I feel that the body is more intelligent at communicating than words are and that my body has more tools to deal with trauma than my brain does. So, a question comes to mind, should I maybe continue to express myself through movement instead of through writing?

I think abuse is a topic that is being talked about a lot recently, a lot of people are speaking about their experiences and traumas, and I think, more openly than before. Part of me wants to be part of the conversation and part of me is terrified of the conversation. Why do I feel terrified? am I afraid I’m going to say the wrong thing? What is the right thing to say? Am I ever going to feel ready to talk about abuse? What kind of abuse am I even talking about? Is it verbal, violent physical, or sexual? Is it all the same and does it matter? At the end of the day, it is still abuse. Thoughts?

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