I am beginning to understand that in order to release things we have to feel the real emotions related to them and this runs counter to what we are told by people in so called ‘modern’ culture, that if we feel our feelings we will just get overpowered by them and stuck in them so we should look around out there for a quick fix, a new relationship, a new dress anything to take away the pain. Yet as Rumi says to us in the poem Guest House, every feeling that comes to us and is a visitor or guest and pain also has a meaning for us and not feeling our true feelings just leads to more suffering if we continue to deny them. That said not releasing feelings and letting them move through us also prevents the letting go process.
I was watching an episode of the UK drama Unforgotten on tele last night and in this particular episode a doctor visiting and recently bereaved man is telling him he will share in his tears over the loss of his wife, that it is right to grieve and speak of his loved wife. He explains that everyone grieves differently, and also that if we have had a lot of associated losses they may be triggered with a new one so it may be more complicated grieving process than for others in that situation.
I am also listening to the reading of Joan Dideon’s book The Year of Magical Thinking at the moment which tells of her experience having her daughter undergo a number of brain operations and then the death of her husband from a sudden heart attack. In one portion of the book she says that in modern times with the focus on happiness we are not able to face or move through grief as well as other cultures which offer grief an open place to be endured, recognised or witnessed.
I would say the single most important issue I have struggled with in sobriety has been to do with my own complex, unresolved grief. And its interesting that at the time of year my Dad was diagnosed with cancer I have undergone another loss which woke up all the other ones I have endured over the past 35 years. I was able to cry openly about it in an AA meeting yesterday and also say how when I struggled in the aftermath of my accident and with Judy’s aneurysm I started to secretly drink in order to try and cope each night when Mum and Dad went to the hospital.
When we don’t get help to recognise, manage and deal with our feelings that is when I feel we start to look around from something to ease the pain. I noticed last night that after sharing all those feelings and releasing them in the meeting I didn’t have my usual strong desire for ice cream and chocolate. And I am wondering if there were not elements of relationship addiction involved in what I went through with Scott as since he is gone I don’t crave his texts quite as much as I did even a day ago, that said part of me does miss them and him and the love he offered. But I think now I may be bringing that ability to love back inside myself.
I know fellow recovering addict John Bradshaw always says the grieving is the healing feeling. Grief help us to acknowledge what was taken had value or what we did not get was a source of pain because that much longed for thing had value to us and was a need. We can’t just blow it off as some spiritual practices that involve what John Welwood has named ‘a spiritual bypass’ do.
In the end we have to go into the belly of the whale and spend some time there when we grieve which calls to mind that powerful dream I had years ago of my sister and I walking on the shoreline of the beach of our coastal holiday home and watching a whale beach itself right in front of us and the words she said to me. “The whales are such sad creatures.” I have been walking that shoreline with her for the past years since we lost both Mum and Jude.
Today I am glad I can cry. I am glad I can feel and acknowledge my pain. I have actually been out today and eaten well and I am not half as stuck as I was even a year ago in unresolved grief. So never apologise for crying and when someone needs to vent their tears, do them a favour and give them some space and support to do it. Because feelings that continue to stay trapped inside can only end up hurting us all or turning into toxic second hand emotions and thought forms.