Womb Prints: Trauma and Pain Stored in the Womb (Part 2)

The womb space, like the rest of our body, acts as a messenger. It lets us know when it’s unhappy- when we’re unhappy. More than that, it lets us know if we feel safe- to express ourselves, to let go, to enjoy, or even to simply feel.  It lets us know when there is an emotional conflict or imbalance within us. The womb space is an energetic bowl or container, and like these vessels, it holds the ‘water’ of our emotions. It holds imprints of our emotional and relational history- what I like to call ‘womb prints’.

The womb and heart are connected, in that they are emotional and relational energy centres in the body. But they have their differences. The womb centre is more connected to our sexual, sensual, ‘animal’ self. It is instinctive and develops at an earlier stage of childhood. One could say that the material stored here can be buried a bit deeper in the unconscious than our heart’s wounds, which could have to do with cultural biases. I think the material we carry here is often related to childhood trauma, early attachment, and/or sexual trauma. Also, when we carry a baby in our womb, epigenetic studies have shown that the mother’s emotions and traumas can leave an imprint on the baby.

This post is ‘Part 2’ of ‘Womb Prints: What are you carrying in your womb space?’ which introduced the womb as container and asked us to investigate the nature of the emotional ‘water’ we are carrying in there through simple exercises.

In this post, we will go a little deeper into exploring possible scenarios and histories that can leave us with womb prints that can create unhealthy energy patterns and manifest as illness or physical symptoms. For me, this is an exploration, and an area of questioning and reflection. I am not an expert, just an observer and learner- from my own experience, those of others and books and articles on these topics.

I feel it’s important to note that my suggesting these correlations in the following scenarios does not mean that I believe every time we have a physical symptom or disease that a previous trauma or emotional wound is the cause. Even if it was, it should not negate the validity and physical nature of the illness- healing support must be accessible to patients. I don’t believe victim blaming does any good. Mental health and physical health should both be taken seriously. There are resonances, and observed connections between traumas, emotional pain and health. But do not misconstrue this with a victim blaming perspective that the physical pain or illness you experience is emotionally-driven hysteria, your fault for not being ‘well’ enough, nor that mental health is any less valid than physical health.  It seems these days there is a lot of misunderstanding between all these things, but that could be whole other post.

What I am talking about here is possible emotional + physical resonances. Curiosity about the relationships between our emotional experiences. Intergenerational legacies, past life experiences and our embodied experience. I believe body, mind, emotion and spirit are all connected and influence each other. But I don’t think it’s that important to assign ‘cause’ to one level of being, and ignore the others, because usually there is something  happening on all levels. Notice patterns, and let that inform the healing process.

For parents: we are human, and if we have passed down wounding to our offspring, guilt and shame are not very helpful. We must foremost take responsibility for our own healing and hold respect and love for our offspring. We do our best to take care of the next generation. We can only do our best in this moment. We take this awareness and decide what to do with it.

Now, let’s explore some possible scenarios that may resonate with the experience of pelvic pain, difficult periods, a womb health issue, or issues around fertility, pregnancy, birthing, sexual health issues or relationship issues.

Intergenerational womb trauma scenarios:

This can be something we experienced as a baby in our mother’s womb that left an imprint on us emotionally. So, it is intergenerational- passed down to us, ours through osmosis.

What if your mother suffered sexual assault or any type of abuse during her pregnancy? You may have absorbed the impact of this on her womb and internalised some of her fear and pain as your own. Now, perhaps you subconsciously fear men or sex. You may be unable to have your own fulfilling relationships due to mistrust. You begin to feel shame or guilt about this, and feel that something must be wrong with you. Nothing is wrong with you at all. You can’t help feeling this way, and it isn’t your fault. But there is a reason behind it and it had nothing to do with you. You picked it up in the womb from mom, and now experience life based on her trauma. This isn’t mom’s fault either, of course! It’s just the way that energy flows- like water, it flows downward until it is cleared.

What about our mothers or grandmothers who were pregnant during a war or political upheaval? Perhaps she didn’t know if she or the baby would survive, and lived in constant fear and anxiety. She may have not felt that it’s a good idea to bring a baby into the world. Maybe she gave birth in a very traumatic way or unsafe conditions. The impact of that leaves an imprint on baby. Baby grows up and is afraid of loud noises, lives in anxiety and doesn’t know why. As a grown-up they are experiencing infertility or are unable to carry a baby to term. There is an underlying trauma passed down affecting their life today. Again, not mom’s fault, or anyone’s. But the originating trauma creates a cascade effect that can go all the way down to great grandchildren and needs addressing in order for the pain to be healed.

Present-day womb trauma scenarios:

If intergenerational effects weren’t enough, we have plenty of ways our womb may be carrying pain from our own experiences in life. Rape-culture, oppression and governmental control over abortion rights are examples of social stresses that we may carry in our womb space. If we can’t feel free to dress or express ourselves without threat, live in a culture that normalises objectification of our bodies, or don’t feel we have the rights over our own bodies, how can we not have a womb space imbalance or womb health issues?

Our tender sensuality, sexuality and sense of body-sovereignty are contained within our womb-space- if that feels under threat in any way, it will recoil, contract, rebel or yell for our attention through symptoms of pain, illness or imbalance.

One more example of womb prints includes loss- Perhaps you have had a miscarriage or multiple miscarriages or a child loss in the past. You are actively trying to get pregnant and having difficulty. The imprint of your past losses is still being held energetically in your womb space, blocking the possibility of new life, because the pain isn’t fully processed yet. The grief may need to be processed, cleared and the womb space renewed before conception can occur. A pregnancy following such loss can feel challenging. You may not readily want to bond with the baby for fear of losing them. This can affect your relationship with them through life. It is important to be compassionate towards yourself, and perhaps seek support from a therapist in conjunction with embodiment work when there is trauma history such as this.

Childhood trauma scenario:

A childhood trauma can affect us in present-day intimacy issues in relationships. For example, a parent may have abandoned you and your family, leaving you to wonder if perhaps you are unlovable or it was somehow your fault? Perhaps you now attract partners who are emotionally unavailable or non-committal, triggering your abandonment fears. You crave a secure, loving attachment, but instead keep attracting abandonment, triggering your past trauma. There is an underlying feeling of shame and guilt inside you that manifests as perhaps low self-esteem and so you seek pleasure through casual sex to fill the void. It feels safer because it doesn’t go deep enough to trigger your abandonment. But it isn’t truly what you desire, so this conflict between wanting commitment and getting short term pleasure may try to get your attention through contracting STI’s or experiencing pain during sex. Your womb stores this deep desire, and lets you know through various symptoms that there’s a disconnect between what you really want and what you are seeking to fill the void.

As I explored in my previous post “Ancestral Trauma, Gifts & Wisdom- Healing Our Tree“,  I feel that my endometriosis is at least in part a manifestation of an energetic imprint from my family lines of women who suppressed their creativity, true desires and child-loss grief for too long, over too many generations, in the name of duty, the work that needed to be done, and to remain ‘good’ in the eyes of the church. Hard-working, faithful, ‘good catholic women’ who had many children, but didn’t have the freedom to live their truth. Perhaps I was one of them in a past life, or lived similarly. And now it’s time to change the pattern.

The symptoms, illness and the pain, are messengers of your deeper truth, which is longing for expression. Your unhealed wounds. Your inner child. The womb centre’s energy needs to flow. It needs to move. Its job is to help you process and release the past, and birth new ideas and creations into the world.

 

The examples above are just possibilities and there are a myriad of other scenarios of womb prints that block us from our flow.

I feel like there is a Part 3 coming on this subject, specifically to address healing, so I will leave this here for now and see what wants to be expressed on this topic later…

If you are reading this and interested in healing your womb space, please check out my offerings at Willowroot Healing Arts!

 

It’s not ‘all in your head’. Your pain is real.

The most common and unfortunate story I hear from my fellow endo warriors it is that they were dismissed by doctors when expressing the excruciating pain they were in. They were told that it’s ‘all in their head’, or ‘it’s just part of being a woman’. 

While, I am very lucky to have not had this exact experience, I still have absorbed this messaging through our culture.

Women with endometriosis historically been told that we have this disease because we are too ‘career driven’ and ‘need to stay home and have babies’. Well, having had a baby myself and not being able to be career-driven, because my pain made that impossible, I can attest to the falseness and insult of this statement. Sure, pregnancy can reduce symptoms temporarily, but they almost always return with a vengeance afterward. And, what about the 30-50% percent of us who have infertility? To say this to someone with infertility is a slap in the face.  

A Reader’s Digest article I was just reading about dismissal of women’s pain mentioned a woman with vulvodynia (a pain condition of the vulva causing painful sex) was told ‘You must be having marital problems. Have a glass of wine before sex- it’ll be better’. It also mentioned that women with migraines were routinely perceived as ‘Type A upper-middle class women who just can’t relax.’ A woman with endo with recurring ruptured cysts (talk about severe pain!) was told ‘not to worry, it’s normal’. 

Dismissal can lead to normalising pathology.  Many of us are walking around with serious ailments, and are dismissed as ‘drug seeking’ or ‘crazy’ if we reach out for relief. And this is not just limited to women. I found an interesting study which showed that this is a routine perception of people who possess ‘feminine personality traits’ across genders.  

There clearly exists a bias perceiving ‘feminine’ with being weak, moody, hysterical, and over-dramatic- which is another word that too many endo sufferers hear.

Despite being feminine-appearing and emotionally sensitive, I consider myself to have a high tolerance for physical pain. Having endo got me used to a certain level of pain, so when I went through drug-free childbirth with back labor, to an 8 lbs 8oz baby, I found that to be less painful than many of my periods. 

When breastfeeding, I had a yeast infection in my milk ducts which created hot stabbing knife-like pains through my heart every time I breastfed. I bit my lip, in tears every time, worried my daughter would absorb my emotional pain through the milk. But, I continued to breastfeed instead of bottle feed because of the prevalent ‘breast is best’ messaging of the time. I was suffering in order to do the ‘right thing’ for my child, but I was depressed and in misery. After 2 months of failed topical treatments by an ill-informed and rude male doctor, I finally got proper medication from an empathetic female OBGYN and decided to incorporate some bottle feeding. Despite the judge-y guilt-trips of parenting culture at that time, I knew I had to bottle feed in order to preserve my sanity and for my daughter’s benefit. I didn’t want her to associate eating with guilt or misery. I wanted our feeding time to be a positive, bonding time. I finally listened to my instincts, and was glad I did. I had to push for medication, deal with a doctor’s dismissal, ineptitude and rudeness, I had to face my self-doubt and shut out the naysayers. But thankfully, in the end, I got what I needed. 

As for period pain- what is ‘normal’ anyway?

If over-the-counter pain meds and heating pads do little to quell your pain- or you faint, vomit or find yourself unable to get out of bed and do your normal routine, you may have an underlying pelvic health issue and should bring it to your doctor. Other symptoms to watch out for can be: Painful intercourse, painful bowel movements or urination, infertility or very heavy periods. But, even if you don’t have these symptoms and feel something is ‘off’, it may be worth visiting your doctor- or more than one, as many women have to do before getting a diagnosis.

What it feels like…

I often had to take Advil for days before my periods began and through them, in order to still be somewhat functional. Even then, it sometimes barely took the edge off, and just getting to the bathroom was hard.  I would either be bed-ridden, pass out, vomit or shake from head to toe for hours. That is definitely not normal. But, I ‘sucked it up’ and dealt with it, incapacitated for several days a month because in my mind, this suffering was just ‘part of being a woman’ and seeking stronger pain meds would either be futile or proof of my inherent weakness.

I didn’t take my own pain seriously because I was encouraged not to. There is a cultural bias that keeps us from believing women- in medical settings just as much as in court rooms. So much so that sometimes we believe that perhaps, it is all in our head. We lose trust in ourselves, and put the power in others’ hands. What a convenient way for patriarchy to stay strong.

Endo is not considered a fatal disease, as it cannot usually kill someone on its own- but the chronic pain can become so severe that suicide is far too often seen as the way out. I know what that dark space feels like. This alone is a crucial reason for prioritising early diagnosis and proper care. 

We should not be normalising a state of being that leads to suicide.

If I could share one piece of advice, it would be- trust yourself. You know your body best. Keep seeking help and answers. Don’t give up. If your periods are debilitating, heavy, so painful that you are vomiting, fainting, or not able to get out of bed, seek out help! Demand a referral to an OBGYN. You are not alone. There are options. Even if you are dismissed by doctors, don’t dismiss yourself. You are the expert on your pain. 

Words from the Womb…

This is the post excerpt.

Welcome to my blog. It is a compilation of personal experience, observations and questions relating to embodiment and womb healing- what does it mean to be embodied? How does trauma affect our ability to be embodied and what is its impact on our womb health? What is ancestral/intergenerational trauma? What is the Sacred Feminine? How does oppression and social conditioning affect our relationship with our body? What about past lives? What does it mean to have ‘our issues in our tissues?’  Exploring the relationship between ourselves, our body and nature. The Sacred Feminine. Mother Earth and Patriarchy. My perspectives come from awareness of the interplay of mind, body, emotions, spirit, cosmos, society, oppression and The Great Mystery. Love and respect to All Our Relations.
Thanks for reading!