by Jennifer Stevenson
The other day my buddy instinctive mind directed me to an interesting site about using the idea of soul retrieval in psychotherapy. She’s been practicing soul retrieval by going through her old journals and poetry and her mother’s voluminous files.
Soul retrieval was not covered when I was in grad school studying therapy. We did discuss therapies like Rolfing, where a trained physical therapist does radical and painful bodywork, such as separating layers of muscle by force. The process can result in traumatic flashback, so this work must always be performed in tandem with a “talking cure” therapist, who can help the patient grapple with emotions that have been buried in the body and are released during the bodywork.
It occurred to me that if emotion and memory reside in the body, then surely the soul is in there too.
So is what I’m doing now with my body–swimming, riding horses, and roller derby–a form of soul retrieval?
I do find I am experiencing flashback from time to time, as I break through some athletic barrier–master some new derby move, conquer fear while jumping a horse, swim more than 150 feet underwater on one breath.
At first it seemed that the triumph of getting my body to do what I never could do before was somehow reversing itself, crashing and burning in some dreadfully ironic, negative way.
Then I recognized the feelings as flashback. And now I know that I’m not losing the triumph. I’m getting two triumphs for the price of one. To quote Jerry G Bishop (“Svengooli”), Sometimes ya gotta dig the mummy up before you can bury it again for good.
If I can get strong, after a lifetime of being told “stay weak,” what else will I recover that has been lost to me?
Has the universe taken away parts of you, long ago?
What are you doing to say give it back?