The remnants of my trauma (most of which used to be hidden so deep I couldn’t even feel it beneath the heavy ocean of numb that rested on top of it) has been actively bubbling under my skin for a few weeks now. It has intensified recently to the point of me experiencing heat fluctuations, twitching and convulsions during my sessions as the energy is surfacing and discharging. It’s unlike anything I’ve ever experienced and I’ve been unable to put these experiences into words. As Mark said the other day, ‘appreciate the wordless space, we could load a lot of words onto it which can be helpful but words are not experience. It’s not the story about what happened it is how the story touches us.’
I found this video tonight and my mind is blown. Thank you Gabor Mate… once again you are teaching me… broadening my mind and deepening my understanding. I mean this makes so much sense and I guess I knew it, but also I didn’t. GRIEF is the antidote to trauma! The video is only a few minutes long but the first 50 seconds blew my fucking mind… just watch the first 50 seconds if nothing else…
I have recently found myself contemplating the impact of Anna leaving. (She says as if this hasn’t been something she’s been contemplating for most of the year). It’s been nearly 10 months since I sat in a room with Anna and 7 months since she phoned me to let me know she was closing her practice and I would never be able to speak with her again. I don’t need to write here how much Anna leaving me ripped me apart. I wrote about my experience extensively through that whole period. The grief broke my heart wide open and I thought I wouldn’t survive the intensity of it all. I drove to her office more times than I care to admit and sat sobbing my heart out in the car, often feeling unable to leave the last place that connected us. And even in those moments of pure torturous grief where I felt like my body was being turned inside out, if I had to put a name to it, I would called it love. Grief is love turned inside out… it really is. In those early days when I would walk into the forest so I could cry in peace (as the lockdown rendered me permanently accompanied by my 3 housemates)… I cried outloud… to the point where people would hear me… and I would place my hand on my chest and feel that my crying was a way to love her. It was my only way to love her. It’s because of who she was to me that her absence was so devastating. Me grieving her fully, has been about me honoring all of the great work we did together and all of the work she and I wanted to do with each other. Grief is not only about what you have lost in the present moment, it’s about having to rewrite all that you hoped for. Your whole life changes in an instant.
Recently I’ve been talking to those close to me about how I’m sensing in to this new sense of gratitude and a slight shift in perspective of the whole thing. It’s not that it doesn’t hurt like hell, the waves still drown me from time to time (though less frequently than a few months ago)… they still blindside me and render me unable to function while their swelling tides. But what I am also aware of is that the road that this tidal wave has carried me onto is a road that will lead to deeper healing. This direction that I would never have taken, had she not left, has led me towards something I couldn’t have experienced without losing her. I would not wish the pain I felt on anyone, not even myself (and I have a pretty good track record of causing myself pain!)… but as the well worn saying goes, ‘what stands in the way becomes the way’… this grief became my work. And something miraculous happened… it opened up a portal to all the grief… the stuff I could never feel. The stuff I was numb to. I have access to it now and my god am I feeling it. Not just emotionally but somatically, viscerally, literally physically feeling the grief surge through me. It’s not sadness. It’s not depression. It’s grief. And the grief that I now have access to is slowly breaking away the calcified trauma. Like the ocean wears away at the cliff edge… I can feel it happening!
It’s all making so much sense now that I’ve watched that video. OF COURSE grief is the antidote to trauma. Linda was wrong! Joy may ease the impacts of trauma but it is not the antidote… grief is. As Gabor describes it. And yes you have to actively grieve. It’s a process that you have to live through, let it destroy parts of you… it knows what it’s doing and it is truly miraculous when left to do it’s thing. I’ve watched my own kids grieve their mini losses (and some pretty big losses as they’ve lost great grandparents and great aunts and uncles)… they grieve, therefore they don’t carry the trauma. And all of their little injustices, their playground upsets, their disappointments and their missattunements are all grieved in relationship and released – not stored as trauma in the body. And in therapy… it’s what we do to heal. We access the pain from childhood and we grieve. I mean, it’s way more complex than that but that’s the nuts and bolts of it all… grief. NO fucking wonder this enormous loss has felt in some ways like the most empowering thing that’s ever happened to me… like a catalyst for healing. It literally has been! In all of it’s agony, it has also been rejuvenating. Within the grief I have found myself.