Grief is the Antidote to Trauma

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.

24 thoughts on “Grief is the Antidote to Trauma

  1. Thank you for sharing all of this Lucy. I cried through reading all of this and the video. At first not really knowing why. I had such a tightness in my body and tears just falling. My therapist asked me yesterday if I am afraid she is not going to meet my needs. I was honest with her about all that I have been feeling, but I feel complicated and scared I will hurt her and she will leave me. I left her office and when I got to the parking lot my husband held me and I just started crying. It has been just coming up in waves and I am hurting myself physically trying to push it all back inside. I think I need to grieve and I need to feel safe. This was all very helpful. I could feel everything you were saying. I feel so much for your suffering. It is just so hard to not be afraid of the pain we carry and know that it will not destroy us or our therapist. Again, thank you! It is like you are showing the way!💕

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    1. Aw, Blue. I’m so sorry you’re in so much pain at the moment. I understand how you feel and what you’ve written makes so much sense to me. I’m really glad you have your husband for support and that you’ve been able to explore this in therapy. I have been in the thick of it the past few days and I now have a nasty viral infection which I feel is linked to the intense work I’m doing in therapy. I am so so exhausted! Big hugs to you B! Lxx

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thank you for this! I’ve seen that before. A lot of it resonates deeply, though my parents didn’t show interest in me like that, they didn’t encourage me to succeed at all 😂

        Liked by 1 person

      2. My story is not the same either. What resonates is being very sensitive to those around me, more aware… and losing myself for the connection and attachments I needed to survive. I watched another Gabor Mate’ video that helped me see how this happened:

        Authenticity vs. Attachment that is only 4 minutes long.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. LovingSummer

    It’s like that Gabor Mater video has allowed you to go against Linda’s ideas of denying the grief. The first time I saw a link was in uni when I was training to be a nurse and i was in my first marriage, which was failing, and I realised it was okay for me to grief the loss of the relationship I wanted and deserved. But I hadn’t linked it to actual trauma, as such, and how powerful that correlation could be. Quite a lot of food for thought!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, that’s spot on LS. I am just realising that on some levels Linda actually hurt me quite a bit. She was helpful in some areas and I will be forever grateful that she was there in the immediate aftermath of losing Anna… but the misalignment hurt and caused my inner critic to grow in strength which has been a lot of the work with Mark.

      It really is such a powerful realisation… that we can and must grieve for the things we missed out on… the things that caused the trauma.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. LovingSummer

        I totally get how being in the wrong hands therapeutically could result in the inner critic growing stronger, most definitely.

        Grief is such a complex topic. I know I need to grieve but I actually don’t really know how. I think T and I will probably get to it one day but it’s taken a back seat for now, though it’s on my radar even if it’s on the back burner .

        Liked by 1 person

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