Grief; Healing my heart one piece at a time

Written by Amie on October 5, 2013 – 2:09 am -

my heart is on the outside of my body

My sweet doggy died unexpectedly a few days ago. My heart feels like it is broken into a million pieces. There was no warning, no time to plan a good bye. He was too young to go. But yet he did. One day he was a healthy, high energy, happy guy, the next he was gravely ill. How could this be? The grief is deep and it is raw. I grieve for him, and yet I feel I am grieving for all of the sad experiences I’ve ever been through. I feel I am grieving my brother’s death 6 1/2 years ago. I screamed when I found out my dog died, and that scream was so deep and so raw, I know I was grieving for more than my sweet dog. It feels as though my heart is on the outside of my body, as vulnerable as it can be. It doesn’t take much to send me into a heavy bout of crying. He should still be here, yet he isn’t. Wishing for something other than what is makes me suffer. But I continue to wish for things to be different. Accepting what is makes it feel too final. I’m not ready for it to feel so final. (and I ask myself, am I also still wishing for my brother to be here? I know the answer to that)

“what do I really know for certain?”

As each hour passes, I ponder the question, “what do I really know for certain?” And I keep coming back to, “not much, maybe nothing at all.” I do know love, I know it is the one constant. It is always there, even if hidden at times. I know I am breathing in this moment right now. But, in the big picture, what do I really know? Not much, maybe nothing at all. And so I keep pondering. Right when I think I know something for sure, it changes. So maybe I know nothing stays the same, everything changes. I know it is difficult to let go of those I love. It is difficult to let go of someone I thought would be around for as long as I needed. I know I relied on my dog a lot more than I realized. He brought a certain safety to my life. And he brought unconditional love. He loved me no matter how grumpy I was, he loved me even if I didn’t take him for a walk every time he wanted to go, he loved me no matter what I did. He was pure love. He showed me complete presence, he saw me for me. He felt my heart, he knew I loved him even when he stole my shoe or my peanut butter sandwich! He showed me truth. He felt my emotions and didn’t even complain when they were pretty heavy.

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Grief reminds me that I am alive and I am human

It feels as though each time I allow myself to really be with my grief, to really embody it, to really feel the pain, a piece of my heart comes back together. Each painful piece, one by one comes back to begin the process of repairing the whole. And I know from experience, once those pieces come back together, my heart will be stronger and more willing to be loving and vulnerable than it was before this sad experience. Grief is such a unique emotion. It encompasses so much. So many other emotions wrapped up in a deep energetic feeling in the body. It really opens me up to so many questions. At first it makes me question everything. Did I love my dog enough, did he know how much I loved him, why didn’t I do more, why didn’t I know something was wrong before he showed any symptoms, did I take him to the wrong place, was there something more I could have done….I went on and on. Until I realized that by focusing on this, I was distracting myself from the grief. I was distracting myself from the pain. Grief reminds me that I am alive and that I am human. There is so much emotion coursing through me, there is no question whether or not I am alive. Grief makes love feel bigger than ever, yet scarier than ever at the same time.

We just keep storing away experiences that hurt us

When I went to a grief ritual retreat a few months back, it opened my eyes to see how much we, as humans, have to grieve. We barely allow ourselves the time and space to grieve. There can be layers upon layers of unexpressed grief within one person. Generations of unexpressed grief is passed on to the next generation again and again, until people finally start allowing themselves to feel it and then begin to heal. There are times during this grief process when I feel deep grief, and I am not even sure what it is. It is a feeling deep inside my body I can’t explain, but I know for sure it is grief coming to the surface to be released. So much sadness covered by layers of protective reactions. We just keep storing away experiences that hurt us, too afraid to feel the pain. These experiences continue to store themselves in our bodies, our cells. Until we allow ourselves the time and space to really deeply feel the pain. Then the energy can be released, and our bodies begin to heal. We feel lighter each time we allow ourselves to heal.

I feel loved, nurtured and supported by those in my “tribe”

Losing my dog has been so difficult. But the one blessing shining through is that I have incredible people in my life who love me. People who are there for me and who allow me to grieve exactly as I need to. This makes this painful experience more bearable. The supportive loving people in my life have allowed me to have the process I need to have, they accept me and my feelings. Having loving people reminds me of the wonderful feeling I had at the grief retreat. I feel loved, nurtured and supported by those in my “tribe”.

in our own processes, yet still sharing the experience

In the Dagara tribe in Africa, grief is shared by all. When someone is suffering, the tribe supports them and nurtures them while they grieve. They stop what they are doing and they are present with the grieving person. This is what I loved. We didn’t tell each other, “it will be okay, it will get better, etc”. Instead, I processed my grief while there was always someone right there with me, not saying anything, just being there for me. There was not one doubt that someone was always standing behind me and had my back. We all were grieving together, in our own processes, yet still sharing the experience. There was beautiful singing the entire time, drumming, candles, and just a complete feeling of safety. I truly wish everyone could experience this, and that this would become the norm for all cultures. Grief is a very essential part of our existence.  Being a part of this ritual was one of the most powerful experiences of my life.

 

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Posted in Connection, Grief and dying, Healing & personal growth, Nurture yourself, Self-love | 3 Comments »

the need to feel connected; learning self love and self compassion

Written by Amie on April 19, 2013 – 1:05 am -

feeling safe to express who you really are

Underneath the feelings of depression, sadness,guilt,shame,grief, (and I believe most emotions), is the need to feel connected to ourselves and to others. When I was depressed, I was completely shut off from myself and from others. When I was depressed, I would isolate myself. What I really needed was someone to be there with me, holding me and reassuring me. Sadly, I felt I didn’t deserve to have this, and I also felt that nobody would want to be there for me anyway. So I was not able to ask for what I needed. I believe most people (people who are not in touch with their true feelings) feel too ashamed that they have the need to be connected to others. It makes them feel weak to need other people. When I say “connected”, I mean in an authentic way. I mean being able to feel and to express your deepest, most sacred feelings. I mean feeling safe to express who you really are.  What I was truly craving when I was feeling the most hopeless, was to have  someone there with me to witness the emotions I was having, and to be present with me, without trying to “fix it”. Instead, I felt guilt, shame, and self-hatred because I couldn’t “feel better” on my own. I felt as if something was wrong with me. Why couldn’t I just “snap out of it”, or “find something positive to focus on”. Well, now I know why.

our  emotions trigger a reaction inside them

Most of us were conditioned to shut off our emotions and to believe that we “shouldn’t” need anybody when we are having “strong” emotions. People may tell us to reach out, but many people are not capable of handling us if we actually do reach out. Many people try to “say the right thing” by offering to be there for us, but when it comes down to it, we learn that it isn’t safe to express our true selves. We learn that when we  reach out we hear the message, “you will be OK”, “tomorrow is another day to start over”, “can you exercise, will that help?”, “maybe you should do…xyz”. Don’t get me wrong, most people are well intentioned.  The problem is that our  emotions trigger a reaction inside them, so they want that feeling to go away quickly, as it feels very uncomfortable. They want you to be “all better” so that things can feel “normal”, and so that they can go back to feeling comfortable. What we really need is just to be heard, validated, accepted, and loved. These feelings make us feel connected to each other.  Deep inside each of us is the need to feel connected and accepted, especially when we are feeling horrible about ourselves. When we share our sacred feelings with someone and the reaction we get back is one of dismissal, or of them trying to “fix” us, this reinforces our feelings of self-hatred. Even though they are attempting to make us feel better, we feel worse because we are not being heard and our feelings are not being validated. By trying to fix us, we get the message that something really is wrong with us. So, we decide that isolating ourselves is the answer. Who would want to be around someone who is depressed and can’t “get over it”? The self-hate messages convince us that we don’t deserve to be listened to and loved. (please keep reading, as there are most definitely ways to get your needs met in this situation).

even when we feel dead inside

Many of us were conditioned to hide our feelings, to hide until we “feel better”. We have been conditioned to put on a smile even when we feel dead inside. I remember  “acting as though everything is fine”. That is, until I couldn’t do that for one more second! I thought I would go completely insane if something didn’t change. I knew I needed people in my life who could love me and support me for being exactly as I am. I didn’t “mentally” think this, if that makes sense, but I *knew* in my body that I needed to be connected to others in a healthy way. I was craving like-minded, accepting people. In general, if a person could stop and really get in touch with their true feelings, they might notice how they are craving authentic connection with others. Imagine if it became “normal”, healthy behavior to answer the question, “how are you today?” with a REAL answer instead of, “fine, thanks, how are you?”! You might say, “well, actually I am feeling sad today because my cat is sick. I am afraid she might die, and I’m really scared.” Imagine if the person responded to you with authentic heartfelt words that really connected you to them. Imagine if that person looked you in the eyes and really “saw” your pain and your fear, without trying to make you “all better”. Imagine if they just simply connected with you in a way that you truly felt heard and validated?  Your truth is being shared with another being, and you feel connected and you feel safe. Imagine what this world would feel like!! Imagine how each of us would feel if we felt connected to all of the people in our lives in an authentic way. Imagine if we didn’t feel the need to hide or pretend how we are feeling in order to protect ourselves emotionally.

Depression is your soul’s way of saying, “enough beating”

Connection is at the heart of being human. Humans need authentic connection in order to be healthy. We can only pretend for so long. Sadly though, there are some people who go through their whole lives without having real connection. We are all craving authentic connection. I believe this 100%. But we have been shamed and guilted into believing we shouldn’t show our true selves. The way our world is set up right now, it is difficult to feel connected in an authentic way with others because most people are in “pretend you are happy” mode. This does a disservice to everyone for so many reasons. It is very difficult to be vulnerable with someone who appears to “have it all together”, or with someone who appears to have  no worries.  Remember, most people may be pretending, so try not to compare yourself with others. Healthy people do exist though, lol, I promise you that!  Some people who appear to be happy, are in fact, happy and healthy! As you become more and more aware of your own emotions and truths, you will begin to have a feeling about others who might be a safe choice for you to express your true self. The path to connection begins with self-love and self-compassion, two things most of us were not taught. We must begin the practice of being easy on ourselves. We have been shut down emotionally and beat down mentally, for possibly our whole lives. Depression marks the turning point. Depression is your soul’s way of saying, “enough beating”. “Enough self-hatred”. It is time to begin the journey to loving yourself enough to fill the need for connection. You deserve connection and love.

The Good News! Your Way to feeling and being connected

Now for the good news! When we don’t feel safe enough to express our true selves, we are not connected to anyone, let alone to life itself. Cutting ourselves off from our true selves and from others, we also cut ourselves off from our life force. I don’t believe it is possible to feel connected to anyone or anything in an authentic way unless you love yourself. You can only feel love and connection to the degree in which you feel it towards yourself. (two exceptions in my opinion, are children and animals) Life doesn’t want us to feel disconnected. It is there just waiting for us to reconnect. Learning self love and self compassion is key. I went from completely hating myself to being completely in love with myself. (it has taken several years, and I continue to grow stronger and stronger in this, as the journey goes on forever) I tell you this because I want you to know that this is possible for you too to love yourself no matter how hopeless you are feeling in this moment! It is a process of unlearning the self hate messages and beliefs that have been on “automatic” in your mind for probably most of your life. So, for me, I began with nurturing myself whenever I possibly could. I picked nurturing music, I read healing books, I found a loving therapist (who focuses on self-love and body/mind/spirit), and I became part of a healing, women’s growth group, I danced more, I got healing massages and learned all kinds of body healing techniques, and very importantly, I started working with a homeopath. I bought myself small gifts when I could; pens and pads of paper being my favorites. I asked the universe to bring healthy people into my life, and then I paid attention. I began meeting people who I feel safe being vulnerable with. I also stopped opening myself to people who weren’t yet capable of receiving me and my truth. It is a process to learn to take good care of ourselves. Becoming aware of your thoughts is imperative. When you hear self-hate in your thoughts, choose self-compassion instead. Have compassion for yourself as you would have for a small child or a loving pet. Talk to yourself as you would talk to them. Listen to the pain going through your head. It is painful to tell yourself hurtful thoughts. Give yourself compassion around this. Fill your thoughts with self-loving words, even if they don’t feel true. Someday they will, and you won’t need to say them anymore, your body will *know* them to be true, your body will *feel* them.

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Posted in Awareness, Connection, Depression, healing from depression, Help with depression, Self hate, Self-love | No Comments »
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