I’ve had this photo of me with my boxes ready to share with you, for over 5 years, but I never published it.
I knew there was some magic in moving homes, which I’ve done a lot in my life. I wanted to find it. I had glimpses, like the moment I snapped this selfie, but mostly I was way too ashamed and embarrassed to admit how much I have moved homes in my life, as a way of coping with trauma. It took me years to understand it, have compassion for it, then see how something so many see as unstable and shameful, actually served my wealth.
“Why can’t you stay still and stop being so chaotic?”
“What’s the matter with you, that you keep moving?”
“You’re so unstable, Gina.”
I’ve heard these shaming statements my whole life—mostly by loving people who meant well, but still. I internalized them. I believed there was something wrong with me. I believed I needed to fix myself, in order to be accepted and loved.
I will get to where such shaming statements come from, in a moment. For now, let’s be clear that I take a stand for “staying in our own lanes” in life, to let people be how they are, unless they are doing harm. I take this stand because aside from dealing with children or pets, or other innocent beings incapable of protecting themselves, it serves everyone’s highest and greatest good. In every situation, always – building wealth being no exception!
Here’s what I mean. If we see something that someone is doing that we don’t like, it’s up to us to ask them if they would be open to hearing our take on things. If they say yes, then we get to lovingly and respectfully share what we’re witnessing and experiencing with them, then make any requests, as we see fit.
Processing our emotions as we go is our responsibility, because these statements —which are unmanaged emotions being shot out at another person—create harm.
So, yes, I moved a lot (A LOT) when I was healing from the significant trauma I experienced at school as a teenager. It took me the better part of two decades to recover.
These shaming statements only re-traumatized me and prolonged my healing, though. It wasn’t until I was able to detoxify each and every one of them from my being that I could release the shame, and not just “be fully me” but also see the gifts in them, for me and everybody else around me —including the very people saying such things to me.
This is what “highest and greatest good” looks like, baby!
The Good Reasons Moving Has A Bad Rep
Did you know that on the list of all possible stressors that human beings go through, moving homes is at the top?
This is because we have internal homing mechanisms as human beings. Moving often throws this out of whack.
It really is chaos. It’s expensive. Things get broken or go missing. Our human bodies take time to calibrate. We feel exhausted, need to take time away from things we normally get done. We watch our pets and children and loved ones get stressed.
In other words, I get it! Moving really does suck. In no way am I spiritual bypassing saying here by saying that moving is hunky dory and the world is just being silly and judgmental on this one. I understand why it’s frowned upon, not socially acceptable to move often. There’s good reason for it!
But there’s also more to the story, as you’re always reminded of, reading my blog, where we go into the deep.
Safety is Everything
When it comes to unresolved trauma, it’s all about safety, because if you don’t feel safe in the world, your whole life becomes about reacting, instead of making decisions that feel good to us, then acting in alignment with those decisions in a grounded way.
When we’ve been through trauma, our bodies automatically react to perceived threats as if we are in a life-or-death emergency.
It’s important to note here that even when the perception is off, that is, the situation being perceived as a threat is not actually a threat to our safety, our bodies will still react as if we are not safe.
A trauma survivor’s response then should never be dismissed, judged or rejected as wrong or delusional, because it *feels* real to them. It feels the same to them, as when you are going through an actual emergency.
Your heart rate goes through the roof. You can’t think because your blood is pumping to your limbs to catapult you into action, along with mounds of adrenaline. This is what survivors feel, whether someone looking on the outside, perceives the situation they’re in as an “actual” emergency, or not.
Healing the traumas within us is the key to stopping our nervous systems from reacting to non-emergency circumstances with full blown emergency trauma responses. This is how we get restored, back to solid, accurate perceptions of threat, not to mention a life free of the chaos our bodies experience every time a threat is perceived as real, which for some people—including myself—can be an almost all day, continuous experience.
I say this with all my gusto: living like that is absolute hell, because our bodies are not designed to experience continuous crisis mode.
Naturally, we have the ability to move through a crisis, but not to live in one forever. Our “repair and restore” resources, which are perfectly designed to restore our body back to natural calm and safety after an actual dangerous incident, will get worn down, depleted, and eventually be forced to adapt in a way that completely malfunctions, and harms the body it is meant to protect.
This is when long-term health challenges affecting the human nervous system, tissues, blood, brain, endocrine system appear and often lead to death. This is how critical healing from trauma is—especially if you have a “Gypsy moving” coping response like I did, which created even more chaos in my body and world.
Our Perfect Defence & Restoration Mechanisms
Every trauma survivor who is carrying unresolved trauma within them, has either moments or the continuous experience of not feeling safe, even when they are in safe situations.
I want to emphasize here that I am *not* referring, in any way shape or form, to people who are in unsafe situations, because feeling unsafe, and having internal alarm bells going off inside of them, then behaving accordingly, IS the healthy, normal response, when we are not safe.
By way of example, my mother used to rescue abused horses. She would soothe them back to a state of enjoying life again, as they were born to do.
When those horses first arrived at our home, though? They would flinch at everything. I would raise my hand up to their mouth to give them a treat, and they would wince and rush backward, like I was about to attack them.
This wincing was a natural and healthy response to living in an abusive situation, their bodies just hadn’t restored yet to detect the new safety they were living in, in the present moment. They needed time to adapt to their new safe circumstances. In the meantime, their trauma response was wincing and flinching every time someone raised a hand around them, even when it was to feed them.
This happens with people, too. Because I almost died when I was badly attacked by our high school football quarter back, I too had these responses whenever I would get into romantic relationships with men. I also started moving homes as a way to cope with my perceptions of the homes I moved into as being unsafe, which I will talk more about in the next section.
It wasn’t until I resolved my trauma, that I stopped having such reactions to the men in my life. I also stopped moving homes in a chaotic, disruptive way, too.
Human, horse, or any other mammal or being, we all need to heal from trauma, to calibrate back to the state of natural safety that we were meant to exist in, in this life.
For our horses, that looks like living in a consistent abuse-free setting, over time, so that their nervous systems could calibrate back to safety.
We are all mammals, so have basic similarities in our nervous systems, but for people it’s a tad more complex, because of the extra areas in our brain that have evolved over time, which our mammalian counterparts like animals, did not experience.
Why Would Trauma Make Someone Move Homes?
People have different reactions to the dangers they perceive.
These reactions range from outright attacking to running, hiding and fleeing from whatever is triggering them.
Again, the important part here, is that it’s an erred perception when it comes to unresolved trauma. That means that what they perceive as being unsafe, is not actually unsafe —especially not to the life-threatening degree that their whole nervous systems are going into red zone emergency mode over —but they behave as if it is an emergency.
Feeling unsafe then leads to feeling disconnected and isolating ourselves also contributes to this moving response, because we don’t feel anchored in or rooted anywhere. Plus when we’re rushing to find a new home, because of a danger we perceive in our current home, we don’t have the resources to properly assess the new home we’re moving into, which means we set ourselves up for not being happy.
This, and, the usual odds of finding good home matches in any rental market, leads to moving a lot. Think about it: We’re all alone, making decisions in a hurry, in a defensive flight mode state, where we can’t think properly, so chances are we’ll choose a place we’re going to need to move from again soon. Perhaps because of an unstable landlord, unhealthy living situations, or regular life things that come up like leaks or unexpected mold discoveries, that cause one to need to move. Again! Again and again and again. Leaving us with a long list of addresses on our credit reports.
This is exactly what was happening with my Gypsy Moving Response!
My Gypsy Trauma Response To Moving
I’ll never forget the moment in therapy when the heavy barricade of suffocating walls I had lived behind much of my life, came crashing down, freeing me up to live a happier, more wealthy life.
Early on in therapy, I would talk badly about myself, for most of the session, every session, week after week after week.
My therapist would be there, correcting, correcting, re-aligning this very common way that people are entrained to be, when they experience trauma: hating themselves.
“I’m like a freakin’ gypsy or something,” I said to her, feeling that all too familiar nausea of self-hate rise up within me. I didn’t like it, but I was used to it. I thought every human being lived with it.
“Gypsy Gina,” she said, with a huge, warm, loving smile.
At first I felt so angry, I wanted to leave the room, feeling like she was poking fun at me, or berating me, but in time? I came to see it as beautiful as she did.
She wasn’t coming from the place of self-hate that I was, so she showed me how my moving experiences, regardless of how many times I had moved, or how many peoplejudged and TSK TSK’d me, that these moving experiences made me ME.
They contributed to all I am and all I am capable of today, which I can say now, in full integrity today, is pretty amazing.
Moving Homes = Moving Into More Alignment
Think about it like this, to use a direct example, that simplifies things —just keep in mind, before I share this, that your trauma reaction didn’t have to be exactly like mine, with physical home, to experience what I’m now forever coining as the gypsy moving response.
Yours may be moving relationships, for example. As long as you were moving in fear, due to past traumatic experiences, it is a coping response that prevents you from being fully resourced, fully present, and fully in your power, in the present moment.
For me, I ran from homes like a mo-fo! It was my flee response. We are all wired as human beings to have “flee” as one of our responses to danger. For me, this was misfiring often.
There were only a handful of times in the over thirty times that I have moved in my forty-six years of life, that my perception of danger was accurate.
Living with a man whose emotions were out of control and who often became volatile, and had a history of calling the police on women after his explosions and provocations, was one good example.
Other than that, they were situations that triggered me, that could have been worked through to the point that I would stay living in the same place, had I been fully resourced and not ruled by my past trauma.
The Gifts in That Gypsy Life
I must say here, that I also just have an adventurous spirit. I got to see many new places when I moved neighbourhood to neighbourhood, or traveled around North America, living in Air BNB’s I would rent for a few months of time each (I count each of these as my addresses, by the way).
I also sharpened my organizational skills, I mastered the art of paring my material belongings (and emotions and energy!) down to what I really enjoyed and needed only.
The greatest gift of all, though? Each time I moved, each time I honoured my fear—despite whether those fears were an accurate reflection of real danger or not—I was honouring myself.
I was learning to trust myself. I was learning to feel safe with myself. I was gaining my sea legs, as they say, and it was actually the most perfect way to do it, because after I made it through the chaotic parts, I felt capable. Stronger than ever. I felt like I was rescuing myself, that I could make it on my own, no matter what.
In this way, moving actually made me feel safe, and while it hurt feelings when I left suddenly, and for my loved ones who were attached to their material belongings, my moving in my rushes, taking forks or knives that were theirs on accident made them feel like I was thieving them (which they always realized when I was settled and willing to give anything back I may have taken by accident) I wasn’t harming anybody.
I was not creating harm, I was reacting and coping, and as you now see, also healing myself, making me a better friend, lover, family member, in the end, all the while.
This is why those shaming statements are so harmful, and prolong the healing process for all survivors.
It’s also why I see moving, in all the shadows it can sometimes have attached to it, as being “for me” and ultimately, being for the highest and greatest good of everyone who’s lives I touched.
Not everybody understood that about me. The people who did, who chose to rise above their judgment, their angry responses, their feelings of betrayal —which are all valid and which I see and honour and acknowledge in them too by the way—those people are still in my life, in my inner circle of humans I trust and love today.
They celebrate my Gypsy past, honour any Gypsy impulses that may still arise today, just as much as I do.
Shame has left the building in my world, will you escort it out of your world, too?
Stay with it,
XO Gypsy Gina