Book Review: Moving Beyond Trauma

Image description: The book is held up against a blurred outdoor background. The cover is white with black text and an illustration of delicate blue, purple, and green leaves.

This book changed my life.

Seriously, this blog isn’t monetized, I’m saying this because I genuinely feel like this book changed my life, for the better. Much better.

“Moving Beyond Trauma: The Roadmap to Healing from Your Past and Living with Ease and Vitality” by Ilene Smith might not be a sex book as is the typical topic here at The Unlaced Librarian. But the understanding I gained about embodiment and working through trauma is, in my opinion, a cornerstone to becoming more intimate with your sexuality. As well as being an excellent resource for improving your life overall, if you have trauma you are working through for any reason, not just as it relates to sexuality.

In this book the author explains Somatic Experiencing and shows how these concepts are applied to working through trauma and making peace with past experiences.

A big point of the book is that talking through these traumas or past experiences is helpful up to a point. After that, you could end up just rehashing the story over and over and not make any progress at moving through. This is definitely where I had found myself with my issues.

I didn’t understand why I comprehended so much in my mind yet I was still stuck. Logically I knew the causes of my issues, how they were impacting my life, and the things I needed to do in my life to get me through and make my life better. Yet when I was in the situation with other people out in the world, I just froze or fell back on old unhealthy ways of dealing with it in the moment. In my mind I would be empowered and ready to stand up for myself but in the moment I would shake, not be able to get my words out, and feel small and powerless.

This book illuminated the fact that even though I had untangled things in my mind, I had not addressed the issues in my body. And this book gave me the tools and information I needed to do so.

I was into mindfulness and Somatics before I read this book, but the way the author presented this information finally made the connection for me. There are so many ways the author explained things that just clicked and helped me begin to untangle things I’ve been struggling with for years.

There are so many things I liked about this book and I can’t get to them all here, so I’ll touch on a few.

This book gives a lot of information, but at a very manageable pace. At first I thought the pace was a little slow but as we got into the thick of the text I thought the pace was gentle and steady.

There is a wide range of case studies used as examples to illustrate concepts that I thought were inclusive and helpful. I especially enjoyed her experience working with men as sometimes I think men can get left behind in conversations about dealing with trauma and have fewer tools available to them.

The assessments in the book were also helpful and gave me real, understandable data about myself. Often in self-help books the assessments aren’t particularly insightful, but I found these were. They aren’t presented as healthy on one end and unhealthy on the other, but rather differentiates between different ways of coping and shows where you are at. These were also especially useful because on a few of the assessments they showed I had already worked a lot in that area and I could focus my attention on the places that needed more help.

For me, Somatic Experiencing has been the missing piece in dealing with the hardships and hang-ups in my life. It’s also what makes my life so much more fulfilling now that I am the healthiest I’ve ever been. SE is for healing and also for thriving! This book does a great job at showcasing practical and attainable ways of using SE in your life. I know some people think SE is some sort of tin hat theory. “Breathe deeply and listen to your body” just doesn’t cut it. Of course it doesn’t, because SE and its role in our lives is much deeper and more important than that. Getting there can be tricky, but with books like this I hope more people, like myself, will unlock the connection and finally work through things they’ve been struggling with for years or longer.

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