Meeting Violet the Hyper-vigilant Rabbit

After 11 weeks of intermittent shaking and tremors which would settle with resting, the seemingly-constant resting tremors, uncontrollable jerky movements and inability to walk properly returned.

Fear shrouds my movement as I move, unclear where it is safe to move, indeed of how to move at all. No stranger to fear, I know I have to go deep into myself and face it.

Guided by Christine, my gifted Feldenkrais practitioner and physiotherapist, I go inside and face my shaking, trembling fear. Instead of fighting the shaking in a vain attempt to hide it from myself and others, I learn to  actually go into movements where I can rest. Craving flexing forwards but fearing that I’ll end up a hunched little old lady, I am given permission to go right into the movement, to fully flex, to curl up like a little ball and stay there for a while- and breathe.

And it is here in my ball-like state that I meet ‘Violet’, my hyper vigilant rabbit. She’s small with big ears and spikey, violet-coloured fur. Violet sits in the space inside me ‘on guard’ and ready to alert me of the next threat to my nervous being. I just watch her to start with as she is easily startled. With guidance, I move into spaces where she can grow, filling internal spaces with violet light and trying to find a releasing, peaceful acceptance of what I find there. As I observe, Violet settles and the tremors settle. I can come out of this curved ball slowly and return to my upright posture with ease.

In reading further about Functional Movement Disorder, I discover that hyper-vigilance is part of the disorder. Phew! It’s not just me!

My sensitive nervous system is on guard, detecting eminent threats. Intense scanning of my internal and external world leaves me overly watchful and reactive. My self-control emerges to quash the reactivity and control my external behaviours, leading to exhaustion. Violet is my Super-scanner. That’s why she’s there, she’s on the lookout for threats or trauma. Sensory input such as smells, touch, being with other people and some movements set her off. When she’s very active, she wakes me with her shaking.

Now that I have met Violet, I no longer fear her. As she can only communicate through tremors, I listen to her and try to really hear her. Once heard, she is quiet. I endeavour to get on with ‘normal’ life.

My cognition dominates as I venture into exploring internal spaciousness. I have to let go of science and rational thinking just to feel what is going on. Is this part of the body-mind? – allowing the big mind to quiet to listen to what the body is saying at the interface, that ineffable junction of my being?

Slowly I am coming to peace with Violet, accepting that she is there for a reason for now. I am learning to let her fill my inside space and she slowly fades away. So I stop trying to hide her from myself and others.

I welcome Violet as I do a Feldenkrais ‘Awareness through Movement ‘lesson with Petra Koch about ‘Finding Spaciousness’  Beautiful guiding words find internal spaciousness. Thank you Petra.

For now, when my partner hugs my shaking body- he is learning just to kindly say ‘Hello Violet’.


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