The Distress Cry or Primal Scream

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The third response that we need to be able to re-engage with as we heal our past trauma and age regression is the ability to cry in sadness or scream in pain.  I don’t know what your particular conditioning was from childhood but I know a lot of mine centred around being able to repress feelings of pain and anger and lock them deep inside.

In my astrology I have strong aspect of Saturn planet of restriction and repression which sits on  my Moon (emotional nature) and Mars (desire/impulse to action responses).   The sense I have been able to make of this over the years of my recovery is that it is an imprint I have carried from my mother (Moon signifies mother).

Growing up my mother was frustrated a lot.  She would get into a storm in the face of any mess and throw a tantrum, (there was no screaming though) it was as though she was caught up in a powerful inner whirlwind of blind anger, frustration and panic.  Now that I know  a lot more about her childhood I know where this distress came from.  She was left alone a lot and forced to clean in an abusive way by her mother and the Nuns at her school.  Her mother left her alone and hit her sometimes, she forced her into domestic service at the age of 13 to get her out of the way so she could marry a new partner.  My mother was strong enough to rebel so that took guts, but a deeper level she was raised with the belief that it was uncivilised to express anger or sadness.   I believe she had a difficult time being able to cry alone and was most definitely not allowed to  get angry.  She also had a deeply repressed longing for companionship, being an only child.

Mum repeated a lot of her patterns with me and with my siblings.  There was a strong emphasis on looking good and doing the right thing.  Chores at home were always to be completed before we had any fun (which was in short supply and often for my older family revolved around food and drink).   I can see the abandonment theme has repeated across at least 5 generations and many of my nephews have partners whose mothers were emotionally absent or neglectful in some way, their attention drawn to larger concerns that child rearing alone.

When my older sister was eventually abandoned by her husband after her stroke and illness, one of the things she did was go out into the yard and scream.  She later told me she had to go outside as it was not allowed to express this kind of primal anguish around  Mum and Dad.  Mum was shocked, embarrassed and outraged that my sister was outside screaming where the neighbours could hear.  My sister then tried to take her life, that is how deep her pain and anguish was.

Quiet a few years ago, when I was in early sobriety, Mum told me this about her childhood.  She said that she was so lonely when her mother went out to work leaving her alone in the mornings and at night that all she felt like doing was crying.  Then she said “but there was no point in that, after all there was no-one there to hear or comfort me”.  Suddenly how she had treated my sister made sense to me.

I know there have been critical times in my recovery where crying out or screaming has been essential.  If we are in pain a cry will often help us to release the stress of that pain on some level.  There are times we may need to breathe into the pain, and times when screaming or crying out can be counter-productive.  But there are also times when it is essential to engage our vocal self expression and release hurt that should not stay locked up or trapped inside our bodies making us ill.    A necessary scream or tear may also get someone or something off or backs that needs to be kicked to the curb!

I have personally been shamed for crying and screaming many times in my life.  The looks I have been given at such times have implied that my emotional display was disgusting to people.  It hurt at the time but I now understand it was other people’s issue.

My sister who died was a big screamer too.  I  would often observe that her scream was the legitimate protest of someone locked up in pharmaceutical abuse.  She would often scream if others tried to respond to her distress with a lack of empathy and deeper connection.  Thinking about it now there was a large degree of age regression in this for my sister too.  A feisty young girl raised during the 50s she was often given the message to shut up or repress herself.  I think had she been born 40 years later my sister would have had more success and most certainly would not have had a cerebral bleed from the toxic build up inside of her of all her emotional energy and desires she had to repress.

Adults need to cry and scream occasionally out of frustration, anger, confusion, stress or tension.  Not only is crying not a sissy act, but when a man weeps, his testosterone level actually increases – a far cry from what we were taught as boys.

John Lee

Freeing ourselves from the entrapment of past pain requires us to feel our feelings and express in such a way that we can make sense of past hurts and what they meant, so we can ensure deep pain does not forever remain trapped or locked inside.  We need the capacity to express and reclaim our vital energy which can course through our systems re-engaging us in life when anger and sadness is acknowledged and expressed, rather than keeping us trapped in the death lock of a life killing depression or suicidal ideation when our true life energy is repressed, ignored, or diverted deep inside.

Post script.  Reading this back later I think I should make something clearer.  At times my screaming was an acting out of old pain on present relationships that wasn’t appropriate to dump there.  It was a first step in a longer journey of realisation.  There are times when raging is actually a sign we have age regressed back to earlier injuries.  To recover we have work to do to sort out what it was that originally made us angry and what steps we need to take care of ourself and address our wounds now.

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