Coping mechanism are an interesting domain of study in psychology. For instance, take stuttering: A problem that affects many children, some of whom take it with them long into adulthood. Many speech therapists understand the problem as being one of an inability to cope with pressure. Often, the solution to repair a stutter is to help the patient recall their earliest memory of stuttering and helping them gain an understanding of how it arose by identifying this external pressure. It could be something as simple as a mother or father yelling and over disciplining a child or asking for answers to questions the child may not have had the intellectual capacity to understand or the vocabulary needed to produce a response.
In moments similar to these, the stutter emerges as a way to cope and justify a delay. It becomes an outward manifestation of the unfair pressure being exerted externally by someone with a complete imbalance of power. Another way to put it is that the crutch becomes a way to hide or protect one’s self from the assailant. Much the same way a child hides under the covers when they think there’s a monster in the room. It’s irrational, yes, but it creates sufficient emotional distance to allow the individual to cope with the situation while also giving the assailant pause. Once these therapists unveil this to their patients, in most cases, the stutter goes away. And it’s a beautiful thing to witness, like a silk knot easily being untangled that could have been untied long ago had it not been held onto like armor by the patient.
Traumas in our life trigger these types of coping mechanisms in many different ways. Stuttering is just one of many. But just imagine: What if stuttering hadn’t been viewed as a problem to begin with? Society could have chosen to see it as merely an aspect of our human diversity. Perhaps even something we should celebrate, champion, write non-discrimination laws about and create company quotas that forced a certain number of stutterers to be employed? Maybe we’d even have stuttering parades and push an agenda for new words to be included in our vernacular to further accommodate this disability? A myriad industries would emerge to cater to stutterers and they’d be a source of tremendous revenue to others whom could have found ways of benefiting from this condition.
No, that would be irresponsible and hateful. Being loving to a victim of stuttering is not the same as convincing them they don’t have a problem. Doing so merely perpetuates their difficulties but even worse still, the bullies that caused it.
Coping mechanisms manifest themselves in many ways among humans. Overeating, hair and skin color changes, body modification – essentially anything that changes you in some physical way can become your method of “hiding under the covers”
I believe that a loathing of the self, be it manufactured through guilt, or otherwise, may lead to a phobia of one’s own person. These individuals will likely proceed to consume recreational drugs or modify themselves physically in ways by which to hide themselves from themselves. Methods including tattoos, piercings, hair or skin color changes and even gender reassignment may be some ways of doing so. As long as the self is dissatisfied with the attributes of the self,specifically those that are innate and traditionally unchangeable, a downward spiral of debt will ensue leading to profound anxiety, depression and even suicide. Consequently the only ones that will survive such a mental state are the very rich. And why among the wealthy are found circulating many warped individuals.
As a society we need to be mindful of distinguishing between what are the symptoms of a problem from what is merely natural beauty. And unfortunately I’d wager that over half of our economy is based on perpetuating problems, not solving them. Take junk food which satisfies the cravings of taste but not of hunger. It is perfectly designed for over consumption. It’s a food, yet it does not satisfy or satiate the body’s appetite. The grievance of weight-gain naturally emerges for those that consume it out of which are borne a myriad weight-loss industries. And when these fail to address the problem, as they often do, depression and disease arises for which the pharmaceutical and medical industry come into play, which send you into further downward spirals toward further debt and eventually desires of self-annihilation. And to the “aid” of suicide victims (or their burial) rouse even more industries from social workers to morgues . It’s a long chain of grievances that moves our economy from one industry to the next, each which profit from people’s suffering. Lawyers, for instance, LOVE creating new laws because each law is a trip-wire beneath the feet of the average citizen that can trigger a fine, jail time or more legal fees. The prison and military industrial complex, our government, churches. All these institutions have all found ways of capitalizing on grief and guilt, and by extension, have also perpetuated them.
One of my first clients was one such victim; A trans woman. She was gorgeous. Had she not written about it in her message to me I would have thought she was a natural wom(b)an. She came to me because she suffered from restlessness and was constantly anxious about her looks and eager to do more and more surgical procedures on her body and face so she could be “perfect”. She said:
It’s just never enough. There’s always something else I can do to make myself look better
She was spending thousands of dollars on this and working really hard hoping to save up for the next procedure. But I knew this was a fool’s errand, for external beauty only begins to fade at her age (she was 30) and if she couldn’t find a way of being happy with herself now, she would be completely distraught throughout the remainder of her adult life. So after a long conversation getting to know each other, I gave her a shoulder rub at a park and guided her thoughts into presence. We sat there alone and witnessed the seagulls roaming about and waves splashing up against the docks. A small fishing boat arrived and its lone sailor fastened it with rope. Every sound, every clunk and splash was delicious to the ears and the sight. The breeze was cool and refreshing under the October sunshine. The moment couldn’t have been more pristine. It was beautiful and I sincerely hope that through it she gained an understanding about how valuable it is to be alive and enjoy every moment one gets to be a part of.
She opened up to me later on and what I learned about her upbringing confirmed everything I’ve written here. A combination of abuse and abandonment lead her (“him” at the time) to seek foster care, an experience from which he emerged as a she like a beautiful butterfly.
A few days after we met, she asked me to her place for a full body session. That night, we went into her bedroom, she undressed fully and got under her covers. There was no intention on my part to do anything other than bring her comfort and relaxation. But in the back of my mind (I’ll admit) I did wonder if she had something else in mind.
I kept most of her covered as I worked on her back. I used the best oils I had which were naturally scented with rose oil.
you can push harder
She said. To which I responded “I know, I’m just getting started.” I like to begin with very light touch and wait for the body to let go of itself. I can feel it even before I begin touching. You witness the body sink another inch into the covers creating a pocket of air between the client’s back and the sheets. They fall parachuting gently over the skin signaling it’s time to dig in. It happens and I begin to touch deeply. Not to stimulate the muscles or the bones, but to send a vibration of love throughout the entire integumentary system (the skin and fascia). I started with her back and worked my way gradually to the dimples of venus. I circulated my thumbs on each dimple repeatedly then stroked them both up from beneath the coccyx and then up through each shoulder blade. Her body was incredibly supple and her skin impeccable. It was as much a joy for me as it was for her I think. I told her she could be a model. She giggled and said she had tried but didn’t quite have the right body type.
Fifteen minutes later I exposed one of her glutes. I continued being amazed at the transformation she had gone through. How could a creature this beautiful be expected to go into the men’s restroom? She was pristine. I felt like I had been transported into a magazine where everyone was perfectly crafted and naturally bronzed. Her tan Philippino skin might have had something to do with it. Good genes never hurt. I stroked the glutes following the natural slants each muscle fiber has as it connects firmly from the pelvis onto the lateral muscles found along the femur.
It was then I slipped my fingers down to the inner thigh and discovered that underneath it all, there are some things even a shattered heart can’t let go of.