I was nervous. So many survivors had expressed interest and places were fully booked within hours of a single post published on Instagram – but what if no one turned up when it actually came to it? Or worse, what if they all came and left disappointed? Worse even, what if I wasn’t able to hold a safe space for everyone?
The reality was very different from these fears.
The first person to arrive was holding a beautiful bouquet of flowers: she offered them to me and told me how much my talks and writings had helped her. Her flowers were a ‘thank you’ even before the workshop had begun. I felt that all my fighting had been worth it just for this moment.
All those who had booked were present. They were there. They trusted me. This practice, this trauma-focused movement language, this thing I had created out of my desperation to survive trauma, to navigate my way through horror, to articulate my emotions, to process my experience, to reconnect with my fragmented self, to heal...this thing now had a name, a space, and people to share it with. I wanted to honour these survivors’ trust and offer them all I possibly could.
After a long day of deep explorations, everyone voluntarily stayed to talk and prolong this shared experience. The messages and survey responses I received afterwards all echoed the warmth I felt. And in this warmth I realised something powerful:
We, trauma survivors, had created a space that was safe and healing. A space undefined by societal definitions of victims or clinical expectations of patients. A space that was ours, a space that held our vulnerability and our strength, a space that encouraged movement through and beyond trauma. A space no else had offered us.
From there we continued to build. After this first workshop was another, and a next, and gradually a path was drawn. At some point I paused and asked: where should we go next? Seven survivors took the time to be interviewed to share their thoughts on TFML and its future direction. The most striking finding was how passionate each one was to see TFML become a therapeutic intervention and how enthusiastic everyone was to help make this happen: the need for survivor-led body-based approaches to healing trauma was clear.
Today, this PhD continues to pave the way toward understanding the embodied experience of trauma and creating new ways of healing, defined and led by survivors.