Academy Award Recovery

Our society implies that we should be better, we should be feeling better, and that we need to act recovered. Academy Award Recovery is its name, but it also could be called, “I’m fine, put on your happy face.” And it can also show up as this desire and need of wanting to help others. And I can attest to this because when I really started to dig into my personal development, I started to feel a little farther along in my healing and felt this desire to help others. And it really helped me to push my book out and to dig further into my growth. It wasn’t until I had another loss of my life where I realized that I wasn’t okay. And even still, when I registered to become a certified grief recovery specialist. It was with this thought in the back of my mind that I want to help others. But what I really realized as well is that I wasn’t okay with that next loss. I just had not moved beyond the grief that I had endured much of my life. One of the reasons why as grievers we feel the need to pretend is that the comments that we hear during a loss at the time of loss, appeal to the intellect and do not encourage the expression of feelings. And such intellectualizing increases a griever’s sense of isolation and creates a feeling of being judged, evaluated, and criticized. Because of this, a griever quickly discovers that he or she must indeed act recovered in order to be treated in an acceptable manner. In an attempt to be accepted and to look recovered, then grievers then try to focus on only the fond memories and where there’s incomplete grief.

What are Enshrinement and Bedevilment?

We also see often enshrinement and enshrinement in its most damaging form can include obsessively building these memorials to the person who died. An example would be if a mother lost a child and did not change a single item in their child’s room. Let’s say even five years that the child has been deceased. Often with enshrinement, we can also hear comments like you must not speak ill of the dead. And people tend to have a difficult time looking accurately at all aspects of the relationship. Now we don’t suggest that you run around bad-mouthing anybody living or dead but the suggestion is that it’s impossible to complete the pain caused by death, divorce, or any other significant emotional loss without looking at everything about the relationship, not just the positive. The opposite of enshrinement is bedevilment. The griever has a litany of complaints derailing, a lifetime of mistreatment. They’re unwilling to let go of disappointments and anger with the devilment, the griever clings to the negatives just as the in Shriner clings to the positives, but neither views the entire relationship. The thing to keep in mind is that all relationships include both positive and negative interactions. We know that you can complete grief only by being totally honest with yourself and others.

Academy Award Recovery | Seeking Approval of Others

Academy Award Recovery behavior also keeps us seeking the approval of others. We all like praise and compliments. We all like approval, and we all want to be seen as smart, strong, and mature. We all want to feel as if we are a part of a group. This need is learned during early childhood and often reinforced to the point of obsession. Earlier it was mentioned, the large percentage of comments made to grieving people following a loss is not helpful. Grievers are advised to take actions that merely distract or convert feelings into intellectual ideas. Since approval is such a powerful aspect of our social skills, we try to conform to the ideas suggested to us following a loss. If we use the example of a miscarriage or the loss of a young child, people might say, well, you should be grateful that you can have other children or it was just not meant to be. Or how about this one, you’re strong enough to handle it? Well, intellectually all these statements might be true, they still don’t help deal with feelings. This becomes a double-edged sword because although we want the approval of those around us, we may still not feel supported by our family or friends. In an attempt to feel better, we opt for Academy Award Recovery. After pretending for so long that we’re fine, we start to believe in ourselves. If I asked you, if you like to be lied to, the answer would likely be “no”. However, if I asked you if you’ve lied about your feelings following a loss, the answer would probably be “yes”. It is very sad to realize that we have been taught to lie about our feelings for fear of being judged or criticized. The danger of I’m fine is that it does not help the broken heart. Saying I’m fine just distracts us and others, while the pain and loneliness persist on the inside. The net effect is to create a scab over an infection, leaving a mess underneath. Is it any surprise then that all of this pretending and I’m finding to everyone else around that it’s just exhausting to the point where you have no energy left? Sometimes all a griever can do is get out of bed and go through the motions of a day, a week, a month, and eventually was my case 30 years of living life on autopilot.

Unresolved Grief

Unresolved grief consumes tremendous amounts of energy. Most commonly the grief stays buried under the surface and only the symptoms are treated. Many people including mental health professionals misunderstand the fact that unresolved loss is cumulative and it’s cumulatively negative. Human energy is used most efficiently when our minds and our bodies are in harmony. Unresolved grief tends to separate us from ourselves. As an example, how many times have you been driving down the road and suddenly realize that for the last three blocks, you were anywhere but driving the car, perhaps you were in your head having a conversation with someone who was not in the car? And quite often those Phantom conversations are with someone who has died. More likely than not these conversations represent an aspect of unfinished emotional business between you and someone else living or dead. Holding on to incomplete emotions consumes enormous amounts of energy. All of this pretending also leads to a loss of liveliness and spontaneity that is almost impossible to overcome. Many people fall into a trap of quiet desperation sometimes feeling good, sometimes feeling bad, but never being able to return to a state of full happiness and joy. We pay a high price for the incorrect information we have about dealing with loss. Each time a loss is not properly concluded, there is a cumulative restriction on our likeness. Life becomes something to endure. The world seems like a hostile place in which to live.

Because of Misinformation

Because of misinformation, we never had a fair chance to deal effectively with the loss events in our lives. Maybe like me, you’ve tried many things to improve your sense of happiness and well-being. And yet maybe despite all of those attempts, you still feel this emotional dis-ease within you like I had felt for so long. What do you think happens after all of this time of pretending and saying I’m fine and denying how we truly feel feeling unsafe to share how we really feel? Since we have been socialized from early on to deal with sad, painful, and negative emotions incorrectly, we end up storing that energy inside ourselves. A little story to illustrate this is let’s say a child comes home from preschool with her feelings hurt from another child on the playground. The caretaker says what happened? and the child responds tearfully that one of the kids was mean to her. And the caretaker says, Don’t cry here have a cookie you’ll feel better. Thus, setting the child up with a lifetime belief from an important authority source that feelings can be fixed with food. Upon eating the cookie, the child feels different, not better, for the moment is distracted and forgets about the incident on the playground. However, there has been no completion of the emotional pain caused by the event. The emotional pain and the feelings attached to it are now buried under the cookie, the sugar, and the distraction. If the child were to bring it up sometime later, she would probably be told, we don’t cry over spilled milk. As if to say that it is not okay to continue having feelings about the incident, so it must stay buried. Early on, we learn to cover up hide, or bury our feelings under food. It is not surprising that sometime later, we adapt that same behavior and cover-up our feelings under alcohol or other drugs. We may have learned to do so by observing family members at funerals or wakes, consuming large amounts of food and alcohol. Consuming food or alcohol in response to the emotional energy created by death or divorce does not help us discover the source of the energy or complete the relationship affected by our loss. Therefore, we are participating in an illusion that the short-term relief offered by food or alcohol gives us long-term relief from the pain caused by the loss. Food and alcohol are obvious and typical short-term energy-relieving behaviors.

There are many other short-term behaviors that have the same life-limiting and damaging consequences. In grief recovery, we call these stir herbs. And I’ll be talking more about these in the next episode. I hope with the education in this episode about Academy Award Recovery, you can now see that saying I’m a fine which really means feelings inside not expressed is not only damaging to yourself but also sends a message if you’re a parent to your children that pretending and not being honest and truthful about how you feel is acceptable and expected. I hope from now on in your relationships with your children with others that you feel you can share the emotional truth and be an example of doing so in your relationships.

much love, victoria

P.S. Catch all episodes of Grieving Voices HERE or on your preferred platform HERE.  For this Episode 5, you can listen HERE. Did you find this episode helpful and informative? Rate, Review, or Share it with a griever you know and love because sharing is caring 💛

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