I found myself in a pretty compromising place earlier this month. It was emotional, ugly and painful. Yes, therapists have bad days too.
I am a part of a group that meets one weekend a month for 9 months to complete a training. We meet all day, arriving in the morning and leaving around dinner time. For the last 6 months it has been a challenge for me to find my place in the group dynamic. I haven't been successful in my attempts to connect but hey, that happens.
Without going into detail as I do respect the privacy of the group, I had an encounter with them that left me emotionally wounded and bleeding from the inside out. I was shamed and belittled for sharing my truth about an experience and it was quickly made clear to me that there was not enough room for my feelings amongst the group. The worst part was that it happened just before lunchtime leaving me the remainder of the day to finish the training.
Immediately shame took hold and I wanted to assess what I had done wrong. The answer was NOTHING. It got me thinking about how often we shame ourselves for the way we feel? The flood of aggression, presumption, patronizing, negativity, blame, hurt, that was placed on me was too much to pack into my physical body at one time.
I love what our bodies can do. Recognizing the pain of being emotionally pushed around, my body instinctively wanted to relieve the pressure by crying. Thanks, but no thanks, no one wants to cry at school. But it was too much. Ugh, the build-up behind my heart spilled over into trembling in my voice and up into a stream of tears. So I cried at school.
It was full on cry no hiding here but the funny thing is I was still fighting myself. Fighting the tears that were already there. The rest of the day I pushed that shit down like nothing was wrong. There was no way I could trust these people with my sadness and better yet, they clearly relayed the message they didn't want it anyway. This space was officially unsafe.
Minute after minute, it was a constant battle with myself to suppress my feelings. It was agonizing. I was suffering and it was exhausting. The encounter with the group had nothing on the level of energy it took to fight my ever loving instinct to heal.
When the group ended for the day I walked to my car with my emotional build-up edging behind my whole body. Sitting in the driver seat I consciously wanted to experience one last time the skill of keeping my composure so I can remember what this battle feels like. I leaned over to the glove box to grab the stash of fast food napkins and not one second later I opened up like Niagara Falls.
I never appreciated the security of my car more than I did that day. I didn't want to tell anyone what had happened just yet out of shame, shame of not being "strong" enough. It made me realize the difficulty we all experience opening up to our support. It's vulnerable it's exposing it's raw.
I called my husband, and then the cry got uglier. The build-up of energy form the day was finally unleashed. I shook, my breath shallowed, I could barely get out a word without having to take a breath. But the fight was finally over. It was safe, I had support, and I could let my body heal the way it wanted.
It is scary to heal as it requires us to face the pain. We often place the responsibility of healing on apology and being understood but this is just another way to battle ourselves. This event was a wonderful reminder to me the pain that others experience and the difficult battle we have with ourselves to allow the healing process.
This was just a crappy day but sometimes you got to face difficulty to really hear what the universe is wanting you to learn. I'm understanding this event as my awakening to the healing process, to ending the fight with myself my suffering.
So here are my 4 steps.
Establish Safety- While there is no place like home safety is just a heal click away. A simple placing of your hand on your heart, a glance into a support persons eye, the feeling of your feet on the ground are all simple moments of safety. Yes they may be fleeting but there are real. Be conscious, deliberate and intentional take back your safety one moment at a time.
Call Upon Your Support- Absolutely, the fear is real but don't let it stop you from using the support. Close friends, family, mentors, teachers, are really there for you. Think about how good it feels to be there for someone else. Our support wants the opportunity to be that for us. Don't rob them of this gift out of fear.
Own Your Pain- Yep that shit stings. Our brain is designed to avoid it like the plague and when we do we suffer. Have you ever thought though that pain is just a warning system, a signal to PAY ATTENTION. If you are reading this we are all 100% survivors of our pain. I'm talking all kinds of pain too, physical and emotional. Pain is a gift to expand our way of understanding. If you are encountering pain there is a good chance you are ready to acknowledge and accept it just as it is.
Stop the Battle with Yourself- Surrender, I'm not talking about giving up, I'm talking about softening. Soften the resistance of old patterns of response. You know all the subtle and not so subtle ways we learned to deal with pain. When your mom use to say walk it off, rub some dirt on it, only babies cry. Well my mom also said if your friend jumps off a bridge are you going to jump off the bridge too? There is opportunity to respond to pain the way your body wants not the way everyone else is doing it.
We all deserve apologies and to be understood but don't sit around waiting for the handout. You don't need it, remember the amazing power you, YES you hold to heal. Your body knows. Are you in battle with it? Are you listening to the subtle tightness in your chest, shoulders, hips the racing thoughts, the pressure behind your eyes? You are STRONG, you are CAPABLE, you are RESPONSIBLE to end your suffering. You can heal.