Jenny's a tall and willowy woman in her late twenties, has been in treatment wit me for several years. She is a trauma survivor who wears her scars well. Her sparkling blue eyes, dazzling smile, and sunny disposition masks her darker childhood wounds. We have been working on her trauma for a year, but she seems discouraged today as she beings her session.
"I am so pissed off." Jenny says.
"Why is that?"
"Because I had another trip to the dentist."
"How did it go?"
"It was awful. I had to have him give me anesthesia so to keep me calm, and that stuff always makes me feel sick."
"Is that what made you mad, your reaction to the anesthesia?"
"No, it's the fact that I had to have it." Jenny says in an exasperated voice.
Jenny's father was a sex offender. He had anally and orally penetrated her and ejaculated.
"Going to the dentist is always a painful experience." Jenny continues. "It always triggers painful body memories for me. It is almost unbearable for me to have my mouth forced open. It reminds me of my father forcing me to hold my mouth open to take his penis. Sometimes I feel faint and dizzy. I see stars in front of my eyes. I have a gag reflex. Just having my teeth cleaned can be a traumatic and overwhelming feeling," she explains wit a crunched up face, dramatizing her disgust.
Jenny's discomfort is not limited to the dentist chair. Certain foods and textures have a similar triggering reaction.
"It is impossible for me to eat tomato seeds because it reminds me of a similar texture in my father's ejaculate. It makes me gag. Also, I have a hard time eating peaches, and I refuse to put mangos and avocados in my mouth because I can't stand the textures."
But by far the most difficult somatic response for Jenny is a spontaneous body memory that she has been wrestling with for many years.