Thursday, December 20, 2012

IN GRIEVING OVER CONNECTICUT: HOW TO FEEL

Approximate reading time 5.5-6.5 minutes plus the video if you watch it.
Please note: this is one woman's view and observations on life and by no means the only way to view life.  If anything stirs in you, please see my list of resources at the bottom of this post.  My first reaction to this news can be read here for reference.

As I went to go pick up my kids last Friday,  the thing that struck me is how quickly people jump over their feelings.   Brene Brown wrote a fabulous article naming much of what I would name - so why recreate the wheel when you can read it here? Instead, I will focus on why I believe we jump over our feelings by looking at how we are trained to:

Invalidate our feelings. As both women and men, we are constantly invalidating the feelings of those around us, in our children and even in ourselves.  Any time someone says, "You have no reason to fear cause Jesus defeated death," or "You are over reacting" or "Stop being such a girl" or "That's silly/stupid" or...you get the picture...whenever any of these things are said when someone expresses their feelings...the person expressing their feelings is invalidated.  Their feelings are not seen as worth any value in the other person's eyes.  This makes the sharer question their own reality, their own perspective, their own "personness" - for lack of a better term.

Whether this has been done just once in a person's life - or more likely - this happens a multitude of times during a lifetime, the person begins to shut down their heart - which is the wellspring of our emotional life.  When they shut down the heart, they shut down the feminine source of life in them, the place where creativity and nourishment originate.

When they shut down the heart, they separate their bodies from their minds and a dualism begins to form.  Everything about the body becomes bad, only the mind is of value.  The rational mind that is.  A disconnect happens within the soul...and before long you have a person who cannot accept him/herself.  A person that cannot accept him/herself is unable to accept another's world as valid or real, and so that person must invalidate the other's feelings...and the cycle continues. This happens in both women and men alike.

HOW TO FEEL YOUR PAIN
When feelings are invalidated, grief is not possible.  When the process of grief is not possible, the body stores this pain as energy in different ways: physical diseases such as cancer; mental disease such as depression; any of your "aholics" - work, alcohol, shopping, etc.; , anger that can turn into rage; rage that can turn into violence.  You get the picture.

Our feelings are meant to be felt...not ignored, stuffed, medicated, or jumped over.

I do not pretend to be any expert on this field...I am simply a woman who has been through the ringer a couple of times, a woman who has made her mission to study life and learn from it....and it is with that I share my experiences with hopes you can glean a lesson or two of your own.  With that being said, here was the beginning of my process of feeling the pain from a tragedy my mind still - almost a week later - is trying to grapple with.


But before I move on, I want to take a look at anger for there is so much misunderstanding about this extremely powerful emotion that can quickly turn into something dangerous.  

Anger, in and of itself is not bad...it just is.  It can be an extremely useful emotion if used appropriately, in a constructive manner.  It can help you burn off the negative energy that accumulates in your body when bad news is heard.  It can indicate to you that a boundary of yours has been crossed and draw your attention to the deeper issue behind why that boundary crossing made you angry.  Anger, when used healthily, can help you refocus your life in order to figure out what is really important and what needs to be let go of.  Anger, as I learned in my recover class called Life Skills, is ALWAYS a secondary emotion flashing its warning signals that a deeper emotion is trying to surface.  


My first reaction on Friday was one of anger.  I used that anger to write from a heart that was overwhelmed to the point of bursting with pain, with fear for my world and the world my children are growing up in.  I used that anger to reach out to others, to connect, to call for a different way for us to relate to each other so that these tragedies do not continue to plague us.  Was it the right thing to do at the right time?  I do not know how to be the judge of that...it was simply MY way of entering the process of grief.

As the weekend progressed, I found my mind not drifting to the tragedy but drifting to other issues.  I found that these other issues were both a defense mechanism for my mind - for I did not yet
have the space physically or mentally to process the pain - and a way to re-prioritize my life yet again.  I used that energy to draw me inward and focusing on what I deemed really important in my life...while finding ways to let go, say good-bye to other parts of my life that were no longer serving me on my journey.

Then, as I sat on my yoga mat on Monday morning after yet another restless night of sleep and as I started to think about my intention for my practice that day...then the tears immediately began their bubbling.  They quickly turned into sobs, deep gut wrenching sobs I did my best to still keep at a minimum as to not wake my kids.  They would come and go, those sobs...for the rest of that day.  It was a rainy day - and one with another painful event already on the bill...it will be a day I will not likely forget for a long time.

Even now as I write, I know the grieving over this event is by no means over.  I know more tears are waiting to be unleashed from my soul.  I know more anger is waiting to be fired up and used to continue to clarify my own personal mission to be a catalyst in people's lives to move them towards Practicing Joy - and to change the negative energy towards the positive, Loving energy Christ and all those who truly Love have exemplified for us over the centuries.

THE PROCESS OF GRIEF
In all of this, I want to leave you with this thought: grief is NOT A LINEAR process...but it IS A PROCESS that needs to be embarked on.  It might not happen at the moment of the tragedy...it might not happen this month at all...or it might happen at the most inconvenient time.  It might look like my process...or it might look completely different.  It might come all at one time, it might come over the course of days, months and years.  It might start with anger and move into fear, it might start with depression and move into anger.  Who knows!

But IT - the grief- NEEDS TO HAPPEN for the health or our own minds and bodies, for the health of our families and communities...for the health of this nation.  If we do not allow it to happen - the collective energy of everyone's unresolved grief will continue to destroy everything that we hold dear.

So go ahead...I am giving you permission to get it out...

         ~ Get angry and use that energy in a constructive way: get your body moving - perhaps use that energy to get yourself in shape; express it by writing in a journal or talking to safe people who can hold space for you; dance to the beating of angry drums; scream into a pillow; go to a kickboxing class; stomp around; write an angry poem or blog showing the raw anger that fills your soul; sing an angry song....do whatever you know will help move the energy through your body while avoiding directing that energy to another living person or animal
        ~ Get sad....and not to just the surfacey sad but the deep, soul wrenching depression that rip through our bodies when we allow pain in.  Take a play card from the Jewish culture of the 1st century (more on that tomorrow) and learn how to weep and mourn with your whole body...allowing the sobs to shake your body as they bubble to the surface.  Moan and scream through the tears...go ahead - let it out.
        ~ Allow fear in...if you are in a safe place where you know how to face your emotions, I highly encourage sitting in fear and allowing it to have room enough to be felt...to be heard.  Only then can you address that fear with the Truth and start to counter it for the positive.  If you want to get to this point of being able to sit in your emotions, please see the resources below.

...get it out....those negative, sad emotions that are physical energy in your body.  If you have no one else to hold the space and witness your grieving, please consider this post as my way of reaching through the mystical web that connects all of us and holding a space for you to do this process.  Trust that I can handle seeing you this way, witnessing you in your pain and however it wants to manifest...no judgement, no condemnation, no words will I utter.  I will simply witness your process for you, looking deep into your eyes and seeing you for you.  If you need a dare, then I dare you to bring it on. For it is not until you learn to allow those energies out of your body that you will be able to cross over onto the path of Practicing Joy.  

~ Practice Joy Coach

*   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *
If you took my dare, thank you for sharing your pain with me...I witness your pain and honor you on your journey...and am giving you a deep bow for honoring yourself.


RESOURCES
As many people in my circle are sending out resources in order to help kids through this, I think us adults need assistance as well - for how many of us were actually taught to deal with our emotions in an adult-like way?

Besides learning to quiet yourself enough long enough to let feelings surface and move through your body, I wholeheartedly believe we need community to know we are loved and supported.  Here's a short list:

* MFTs/counselors/therapists - find a good one who has tools to help you learn how to process your feelings in a way that feels authentic for you
* Life Coaches: while they are not trained in therapy techniques and will not do work on your childhood issues, a life coach can be a person to help you work through how to handle your present day feelings. Contact me if you want a couple of referrals.
* CBT - Cognitive Behavioral Therapy...google it or David Burns and his book The Feeling Good Handbook
* Hiding from Love by John Townsend - Christian using the life and example of Jesus as a fully mature adult.
* Life Skills & their 2 Phased program "Learning to Live, Learning to Love".  If you live in the bay area you can contact South Hills Community Church.
* Tear Soup a great book I got for my kids but at this point ended up getting more out of.
* Join or form a circle of like minded friends who can hear each other's stories in a space of openness and love...sometimes doing nothing more than speaking your story of pain is all you need.
   - If you live in the SF Bay Area and are a woman - check out a group I help facilitate.  We are hosting monthly full moon gatherings which we post on Facebook and an annual event called the Women's Healing Conference.
   - Also in the SF Bay Area coming soon - my Practice Joy Dance Therapy Classes will be safe circles of women sharing their voices and which I hope will spawn off more circles.
* The Joy Depot: Mingling - the head Joy Coach over at the Depot - wrote a piece that touched me deeply: Let their be peace, let their be love, let their be joy







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