Lately, I have found that I really dislike going to therapy. My therapist is really pissing me off! She is telling me things like, “You need to sit with this…” or when I say, “What should I do?”, she responds with some bullshit like, “I don’t think there is anything for you to do other than to just BE with yourself…” While I love her, and I really do, sometimes, I want to just punch her square in the face! Do you ever feel like that?
I don’t know if it is because I was burned in a fire and spent 7 weeks recovering, changed my name, or my old “tricks” to avoid feeling my feelings just don’t work anymore, but I can’t seem to escape my feelings. Did I mention, I am really hating this right now??? Each week I walk into her office, grab the entire box of Kleenex, and sob away… I don’t even feel bad when my snotty rags land on the floor!
There comes a point in our life, when we can no longer out run, deny, avoid, pretend, or ignore our feelings and what we have to face. My moment came when I returned from the hospital and spent the next 7 weeks healing from the second and third degree burns on my body. Surviving the fire was like a Baptism of sorts. Feelings I had buried so deeply, feelings I didn’t even know existed, and feelings I worked hard at talking myself out of, were now front and center. These feelings were commanding my attention and begging to be healed. I was different in every way and I knew it was time to do the work….
What we resist, persists…. CG Jung
When I was giving birth to my oldest daughter, I had to be induced because I developed preeclampsia (very high blood pressure). The morning of the induction, I really had no idea what to expect, since this was my first child. When the contractions started, the pain was so brutal, that I gripped the bars of the bed, held my breath, and fought through each contraction. After several hours of white knuckling labor, I was only dilated to 2 cm… I still had 8 to go before my little girl could make her grand entrance. As the hours went by, the contractions kicked into high gear, and my fight became even stronger!
At one point, my doctor came in the room to see how I was doing. I begged him for pain meds. He replied, in a Zen like way, “This is a Spiritual experience. You need to work with the contractions. Visualize a beautiful flower opening up and soften into the contractions like you are allowing the waves to carry you.” I looked at him, and because I had such enormous respect and gratitude for him, I smiled and said I would try. Inside, I was thinking FU!!! But at this point, I was desperate. I was in pain, and my husband, mom, doula and a couple of nurses were in the room encouraging me to try it. When the next series of contractions started coming, I did just what Dr. Trinkus told me to do, visualizing a flower opening and relaxing with each painful wave. About 20 minutes later, a nurse came to check and see how I was progressing. I was at 10 cm and ready to start pushing the baby out! It worked! When I softened and stopped resisting the process, it was like my body did exactly what it needed to do in order to bring my baby safely into the world.
Lately, I have been noticing that many of my clients have been doing the same things I have done with my feelings, i.e. doing anything they can to avoid feeling them. They will analyze them, talk about them intellectually, ponder their origin, etc. It’s all a way to avoid feeling the strong emotions. So here I sit, and I am now saying to them, what my therapist says to me… “You need to feel them… sit with it… explore these feelings…”. I am pretty sure they get as angry with me as I do at Holly – but don’t worry, I tell them how much it pisses me off too. We have a good laugh and then I keep pushing for them to feel all their emotions.
I used to think that life was a series of problems to be fixed. I would ask Holly, “What do you think I should do with this?” She would look at me lovingly, with so much compassion, and say, “I don’t think there is anything TO DO.” I cannot tell you how frustrating it is to be a fixer and realize that there are situations that I cannot fix, change, or make better. I am learning to live in the mystery of some of this, trusting that it all works out. What I am really starting to see is that life is not a problem to be solved, but rather, an experience to be lived. Some of the seasons of our lives are amazing, filled with more joy and excitement than one can imagine! Other times of our lives are more painful than anything we could have ever thought was possible. For the first time in my life, I am learning to let myself feel my feelings, without creating drama in my life, finding ways to avoid my feelings, and learning to be patient while I am going through this part of the journey – knowing this too shall pass. In essence, I am leaning in and feeling all of it without any resistance. I know that the only way out is through.
So for those of you out there, in the trenches and doing your “work” – I send you BIG LOVE. I know it is hard, overwhelming and frightening at times. But I also know this, like everything else in life, it won’t last forever. As I heard once, first comes the Pain, then the Lesson, and later the Wisdom.
To all you Warriors of Love and Light – know that you are not alone. I am in the muck too, doing my work, and will emerge on the other side, and so will you. We will have new stories, insights, wisdom, compassion and many things to be grateful for. We cannot heal what we can’t feel. So I guess it really is true, we need to sit with the feelings, breathing through them, knowing they will pass, and we will be wiser and stronger because we didn’t resist. I think this is the journey of our lives – to come and to learn, as much as we can. Sometimes there are growing pains, but they always pass. The sun shines and the clouds part, making way for greater things to grow.