Book Review: The Body Keeps The Score

“It takes enormous trust and courage to allow yourself to remember.” Bessel A. van der Kolk

Reading this book has been a long time coming, I was told to read it years ago when I was dancing because of how much trauma our bodies go through. Little did I know I’d get way more out of it than anticipated. I first tried to read this book when I was in a bad headspace thinking that it might help. That was the last thing I needed, I got through the into and couldn’t get any further. Instead, I picked up a book about a swimming club. I needed fluff and an escape and this book certainly wasn’t that.

After some time, growth, and medication I decided it was time to pick it back up. Also when I asked my little sister what book I should read from my bookshelf she picked it. Ican’t say no to her.

The Body Keeps The Score is a book by Bessel Van Der Kolk. If you don’t know what this book is about it’s how the brain, mind, and body work in the healing of trauma. It covers everything from EMDR to IFS to neurofeedback and more. There are so many compelling stories throughout that I found myself tearing up at points. This isn’t a fluffy everything is great for all of eternity book. It covers some difficult and challenging topics and creates a safe space for both yourself and those that are in the book.

The bottom line is this book is about hope. It’s about creating a world and a safe space where kids, veterans, victims, and everyone else can come together and support one another. It’s about showing the humanity in all of us and how insane our brains are at coping with trauma.

There is so much that I didn’t understand before reading this masterpiece of a book. I feel like I have a new sense of power within myself as someone that has been through some traumatic experiences. Healing is about reclaiming your life and looking yourself in the mirror and knowing that it’s you. It’s about not feeling like a shell of a person or a waste of space. It’s about expressing and talking about your emotions, and knowing that doing so is a brave thing to do.

The book covers how your mind and brain literally change after a traumatic experience. It also shows what trauma looks like at different times in life. For example, an abused child can have a different but simultaneously a similar experience to a war veteran. Another area that is covered is the strength of love especially in the lives of children and the burden that is recovering suppressed trauma from childhood.

After all of these somewhat daunting and overwhelming accounts is when we enter the paths to recovery. Where Kolk talks about EMBR, yoga, meditation, theater, and more. Like I mentioned earlier, there is so much hope in this book. There is a passion and a fire that is lights every time I look at it or read a page. Where there is hope there is healing, where there is healing there is safety and trust. These are all crucial parts in the process of healing your mind, brain, and body.

I finished the book while sitting outside on the patio, I nearly cried. Whenever I saw myself in the people that were talked about in the book I got a renewed sense of hope. If they can make it through so can I. Instead of crying I got up and stretched, I moved my body since I told a lot of tension in my body. I allowed myself to relax, breathe, and simply feel.

This book is an intense read, it isn’t something to pick up and breeze through but it shouldn’t be. There is truth within those pages, there are stories of survivors that need to be heard, there is hope that needs to be shared. There’s an honest struggle and resilience within Kolk’s patients and himself, no sugar coating, no nervous laughter, just the truth.

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