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 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.
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 💛
We learned by many different methods and one of these is called influence learning. But I’d like to also call it generational learning because our parents tend to fall back on what they were taught and their parents and the parents before. And I can attest to that as well as I am a parent of three kids. And before grief recovery and before actually diving into my own grief, I did a lot of these things and said a lot of these things that I’m going to share with you today. And so when as you’re listening, there might be a knee-jerk reaction to feel bad to feel like you’ve been failing as a parent. I know when I was learning this myself and was going through certification and had to kind of dig into the error of my ways, I guess. I felt a lot of guilt, actually. And I will talk about the guilt word. But that’s for another conversation. But I did feel really bad about having the awareness as to how I was responding to my children’s emotional needs. I had never really dug into my own and had not addressed my own. Although I had tried for many years, even seeking therapy. At one point, I just had not really dealt with head-on what was emotionally and complete. And so when it came to my children’s needs emotional needs, that is. I responded much like I was taught and much as I will dive into today. So let’s get started.
Myth 1 | Don’t Feel Bad
The first myth of grief is don’t feel bad. Often this message is shared by Don’t cry because we are born into a family. And we are born into having the ability to learn by sight, hearing, and all of these things, the senses. And so we watch and we learn from watching and emulating what our parents do by 18 to 24 months when we start to gain verbal skills. And from that point forward. We also learn by what is said. Hearing the message don’t cry is basically meaning don’t feel bad. As a young child, I often was told if you wanna cry, go to your room. And I did I would go under my bed to cry. I often would hide in the linen closet to cry. At one time even a search party was sent out there was I mean like a search party but you know family had to go look for me because they couldn’t find me. And I do believe that time I was in the kitchen cupboard. And so I would hide to go cry because I didn’t feel safe obviously, sharing my emotion. And because I am who I am I you know about Pisces I’m An INFP on Myers Briggs. I’m also a highly sensitive person, I tend to wear my emotions on my sleeve. So you really do not usually have to guess how I’m feeling. I was really taught though early on to hide how I was feeling. Because expressing my sadness, or anger or anything like that was, was kind of unacceptable or it really wasn’t embraced. I do feel like because my mom had not addressed a lot of her own grief in her life and didn’t know how to respond to mine and often would respond in anger. And so when my children were young, I often did the same, I would respond and had a hair-trigger for anger. Grief recovery has caused a lot of reflection in my life, if I would have had this information that I have today, back then. I do feel like I would have been a very different parent. And that’s why I’m also very passionate about this work.
Myth 2 | Replace the Loss
But coming back to the myth of don’t feel bad, we then morph into another myth of replacing the loss. Because if we expand on that, let’s say, as a child when my father passed away, he was 44 and I was eight, I was the youngest. And my next sibling is he was 14 at the time. And so my mom really rather quickly replaced the loss of my father. And that message, obviously really has stuck with me because that’s what I was seeing. That’s what I was learning. And growing up, we lose someone, replace them, right? replace the loss. And a simple message like this is passed on, even just by a child losing a pet, don’t feel bad Victoria, we can get another dog tomorrow, right? Or friend moves away? Well, don’t be sad there’s plenty of other friends you can make and you can try to find other friends. It’s these, they’re unintentionally hurtful. But they are damaging, these messages are damaging. And this is what influence learning is, it’s this generational learning that is passed down to us. And so if we expand this on into teenagers fall in love for the first time, and end up breaking up or let’s say my son had a girlfriend, and he got ditched. And I would say, don’t feel bad, there is plenty of fish in the sea. How often do we say things like that, right? So we have one math Don’t feel bad, then we add on to it with replacing the loss. And, if you’re going to cry, go to your room. That’s okay. There’s plenty of fish in the sea.
Myth 3 | Grieve Alone
This expands to the next math, laugh and the whole world laughs with you. And I bet you can finish that sentence, right? Cry and you cry alone. And it’s heartbreaking to realize that when you’re sad and might really benefit from some emotional understanding that you were taught to be by yourself. And so this leads into the next myth of grief. And that is to grieve alone. We can remember all of these instances in our childhood. And I’m sure as you’re listening, you’re thinking of some things yourself, it would be sad enough if it ended with feeling dismissed and misunderstood as a child as I did. Unfortunately, though this kind of misinformation becomes the foundation of lifelong habits. Many of which directly interfere with our ability to be happy. It’s tragic, right? It is absolutely tragic. If I need to grieve alone, then you do too. We grow up feeling like these are the correct ways to respond, to grieve, to isolate, to grieve alone, to not feel bad. And if I’m growing up believing that this is how you deal with grief, right? then you should too. This is how you do it too. And so we pass this on and this is how we respond to society as well.
The day my dad died, I was in school, and my sister is the one that came to get me. And I just remember it was like this out, it’s like an out-of-body experience. I can see myself holding your hand and we’re walking down the hall. It’s like, a kid you not. It’s like this out-of-body experience, I can see it today. And I’m looking at the back of us. And she says to me, “Dad died.” And at that moment, I don’t know what I was thinking at that time. But the impact of that statement changed my entire life. I was not given the opportunity to share what I was feeling, to share what I was experiencing. I saw my father lying in his casket and there was no discussion, no conversation with me about what this meant. There was no support for me. The teachers didn’t even know how to respond, the school didn’t know how to respond. Obviously, my friends, my peers, my classmates, the same age as me, didn’t know how to respond. I just remember that being like a very lonely time for me. That I do remember, the one statement that sticks out in my brain is that at my dad’s funeral. I remember someone saying and talking about me, she doesn’t know what’s going on. Anyway, I looked at my children at the age of eight. And I thought about that scenario of where I was growing up, when I was eight, in that what was going on in my life at that time. And there is no doubt in my mind that if my children’s father had passed away when they were eight, that they would not have understood or known what was happening or going on, children understand far more than we give them credit for. I mean, if you can take a three-year-old and give them an iPad that they have never seen or touched, and they can figure it out, you can bet your bottom dollar that they understand the emotional connection. And when that’s lost.
Myth 4 | It Just Takes Time
So up to this point, we’ve talked about not feeling bad, replacing the loss, and grieving alone. And next, we’re going to talk about the next myth is just give it time. Because why? Time heals all wounds. Or does it? I’m here to tell you, it absolutely does nothing that passes the two messages that replacing a loss and just give it time do not go together. Because if replacing the loss would have fixed my mother, she wouldn’t have to wait for time to heal her. And on the other hand, if time were to heal her, then maybe she wouldn’t have been in such a hurry to replace the loss. The concept that time heals is probably responsible for more heartache than any other single wrong idea our society has about dealing with grief. Because the terrible part is that it isn’t true. It’s one of those falsehoods that’s been passed down from generation to generation. And the mistaken idea that after enough time passes, something will magically change to make us whole again, is really preposterous. If we were dealing with any other human pain, no one would say just give it time. If you came across a person with a broken arm, you wouldn’t say just give it time. Just as broken bones should be properly set to heal and ultimately function again, so must the emotional heart. And I can tell you after 30 plus years of grieving the loss of my father, the time has done nothing for me but it is the action I’ve taken within that time that has mattered. So time heals is absolutely false. And we need to quit buying into it as a society. If you discovered that your car had a flat tire, would you pull up a chair next to the car and sit and wait for the air to somehow get back into the tire? No, it’s silly. Why would you do that? So time itself does not heal. It is what you do within time that will help you complete the pain caused by loss and I’m a testament to this. So far, we’ve covered four of the six myths. Don’t feel bad, replace the loss, grieve alone, and just give it time.
Myth 5 | Be Strong (For Yourself & Others)
Next, we’ll talk about being strong for others. There are no specific instructions on how to do that. It’s one of those expressions that sounds good but has no real value. And it has to be one of the most confusing ideas relating to the loss. And it’s confusing because it is undoable. Truly, if you think about it, be strong for others. What does that even look like? You can be strong or you can be human. And you know what, we’re all human. So I’m not even sure what being strong means. And when I think about being strong for others, or for yourself. It’s like a passage that we put on the show of I got this, this is gonna get me down. When really inside, we’re probably crumbling a little. We don’t have that support. And we know we don’t have that support we need because of these myths I’m talking about that society has taught us that our parents and their parents have taught. We apply these myths that don’t feel bad, replace the loss, grieve alone, just give it time, because of how society responds to us. And because of what we’ve learned, we attempt to be strong, we attempt to have broad shoulders and a strong back, because we don’t have the support to do anything but that right?
Myth 6 | Keep Busy
Another myth that is common that most people believe to be true and helpful yet it is neither is to keep busy, that you must stay active or keep busy are two clichés that we all have heard following any kind of significant loss. And here’s one important question, Does keeping busy discover and complete the pain caused by loss? The obvious answer is no. Well, then what does keeping busy accomplish if anything, it distracts you. And it makes one more day go by keeping busy buries the pain of the loss under an avalanche of activity. Every griever can attest to doing something to distract themselves from what they are feeling. And this is absolutely exhausting. And there are other dangers to and keeping busy. I have defined grief as the conflicting feelings caused by the end of or a change in a familiar pattern of behavior. So a death, a divorce, or any other major loss produces massive changes in all things that are familiar. And it is very difficult to adapt to life after loss. If you were never a busy person before a loss, keeping busy would add yet another major change to what was familiar. The most dangerous flaw of keeping busy is the idea that it will make you feel better. Busyness is just a distraction. It does not alter the fact that you have to take direct actions to complete the pain caused by the loss. So we have discussed six pieces of information, miss information about dealing with loss. Don’t feel bad, replace the loss, grieve alone, just give it time, be strong for others, and keeping busy.
None of these ideas lead us to the actions of discovering and completing the unfinished emotions that accrue in all relationships. And I can tell you, I identify with every single one. And I would bet if you’re listening to this, and you’re thinking about your losses, you resonate with this too. Earlier I talked about you know the grave and alone myth and how it teaches us to isolate ourselves. Since isolation is one of the problems confronting grievers in our society then participation is clearly part of the solution. So I encourage you to participate in your own recovery and suggest that you start right now. Using the list of the six incorrect ideas as a guide. See if you can think of any other ideas that you were taught or that influenced your beliefs about dealing with sad, painful, or negative feelings. All of these myths I’ve shared with you today cause us to have an indifference about our own losses. And lead to us pretending to put on an Academy Award recovery front to pretend that we’re happier than we are, to put on a brave smile, to really almost avoid even talking about our loss. Because other people have been taught these very same things and reflect on us based on their perspective and their lens of their loss. How we should be responding. Either we’re grieving too long, or not long enough, or talking about it too much or not enough. Right?
We can never satisfy society and how we express our grief. But when it comes down to it, we are all a little uncomfortable around other people’s losses, because we are incredibly uncomfortable facing our own. From my heart to yours, thank you for listening. If you liked this episode, please share it because sharing is caring. And until next time, give and share compassion by being hurt with yours. And if you’re hurting know that what you’re feeling is normal and natural.
P.S. Catch all episodes of Grieving Voices HERE or on your preferred platform HERE. Did you find this episode helpful? Rate, Review, or Share it with a griever you know and love! 💛
Just today, I listened to this thought-provoking, self-reflective podcast episode with Krista Tippett of On Being. So much of what her guest, Resmaa Menakem, shared about trauma, energy, the energy of trauma in our bodies, healing and, the responsibility we have to ourselves, and society to do the inner-work spoke to me. Also, his words had me reflecting on what I believe to be true about myself. Like it or not, I’m a white woman living in rural America. I didn’t ask for my “whiteness,” or the generational trauma white people have inflicted on others and, too, experienced in the dark ages as Resmaa shares. Just like I didn’t ask for the personal trauma I’ve experienced. You didn’t ask for your generational and personal trauma either.
I’m including the episode here because I feel it’s important to give it a permanent space here on my website. I’m wanting to learn and, I feel it’s so important to always, always consider the perspective of others. There is a lot of learning lost when we get so wrapped around one point of view and don’t open ourselves up to hearing the stories of others. I LOVE hearing other human’s stories; it’s what I love most about podcasting. And, I would love to include the voices of others whose life experiences have been starkly different from mine. It’s in contrast where we have the opportunity to find the golden nuggets of sameness of what it means to be human.
Our humanness doesn’t request adversity. Our humanness is born into it, as much as it is a byproduct of the environment in which the human body and human spirit will either struggle or thrive. – Victoria Volk
What do we do with the trauma and the grief that’s left? Listen to Resmaa’s interview for some science behind the body’s response to trauma, suggestions for addressing it, and how he beautifully articulates what is plaguing our society today.
I share my perspective below, in the context of interpersonal relationships, which echoes some of what Resmaa speaks to in terms of the energy of trauma.
Traumatic events such as military deployment in a war zone, being victim to any type of assault, childhood trauma, and depression, can affect our relationships in various ways, even many years after the event. When our mind is under attack, many are left with scars that they carry on their psyche for years.
Some questions I’ve asked myself have been:
How does trauma affect our minds?
How does trauma affect our relationships?
Why is dealing with trauma alone the worst thing for our mental health?
The Energy of Trauma
I think to understand trauma, we must understand the energy of it. Pay attention to what happens within your body in response to a personally experienced traumatic event. Pay attention to the response signals your body puts out in response to reliving an experienced (or generational trauma) felt within the body.
The book, The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma, is not an easy read if you have unaddressed trauma. Personally, I have yet to get through it; it’s a heavy read but informative all the same. If you wish to understand the trauma of someone close to you or wonder if it is trauma that is stuck within your body, this book will shed light. However, if you have experienced trauma, I need to share the disclaimer that it is a high likelihood that it will bring up buried grief within you.
For many years, I put my trauma in a little box and tucked it down deep. As much as I tried to avoid it, it showed up in my early 20s in a big way. I still did not connect what was happening to the grief that was residual to the childhood trauma. So, as grief does, it created this divide within me. I would have experiences in my life that did not deem the reaction and meaning I would assign to those experiences. I was out of touch with reality in a lot of ways. In a way, I walled myself off from my heart and was intellectualizing everything I experienced. In essence, I was disassociating myself from my physical body and outward reality. When something happens that isn’t normal, we think to ourselves, “this shouldn’t be happening.” Logically, we know it isn’t normal. However, when a sense of safety and security is stripped away, what is left but to go somewhere else in your mind? This is how I would describe my experience. Seeing your life as if it were a movie. Memories become scant or vague. But the feeling, the feeling is there. It’s buried so deep. Until one day, like a volcano, you erupt and everything seems to go to hell in a handbasket.
So, how does trauma play out in relationships?
Dissociation is a natural response to trauma. Any person facing an experience that involves too much pain and terror, and whose mental mechanisms are incapable of dealing with it, will develop a dissociation. Shock is a response to something that erupts at us sharply, and thus the disconnect allows the mind to adapt immediately and cut out the pain, horror, and belief in the impending physical or mental death. This saves the brain access to a dangerous state of mind that contains feelings, memories, and thoughts that are unprocessable. When you think about this in a relationship, it can make you feel afraid that the other person will leave, that you’re not capable, or that things are destined to go wrong. Sometimes it can send you the opposite; overly obsessed and perhaps have a love addiction.
The Rise of Obsession & Fear
Because this process involves many mental conflicts, pain, grief, and touching the heart of the mental trauma, it can feel unbearable. Disconnection allows us to erase, anesthetize or cut out of ourselves the same aspects of ourselves associated with trauma so that we can live without worry again. Typically, people suffering from a severe dissociative disorder in adulthood experienced severe childhood trauma. In these difficult cases, a person can develop disorders. In a lot of cases, the person will simply isolate and distance themselves from those close to them, lower themselves in different ways, be detached from their emotions, and have difficulty developing true intimacy that is the result of attention, presence, and sharing in pain. Anyone who feels that this is affecting their life should seek therapy in some way; because there is no need to feel this burden and let it affect your life for years on end. The solution starts with firstly being able to admit that there is an issue.
And my goodness did this play out in my relationships. Add resentment and betrayal to past trauma, and that’s a recipe for troubled relationships ahead. My solution? Don’t let people get too close. I became obsessed with working out at the gym, usually two hours at a time. I became obsessed with having a good time and abused alcohol. I lived in fear of being betrayed and would make mountains out of molehills. I often created issues where there were none.
Fortunately, my husband came along and was my first safe harbor, who I attempted to push away at first, mind you. His persistence of care is what I needed in my life. He provided the affirmation that I was worth the effort when I didn’t feel like it myself.
Truly feeling cared for was only the start of healing for me. My husband wasn’t going to walk through the hard stuff for me. I needed to do that. And, as more and more stuff would rise to the surface over the years, he’s been there, every step of the way. Every moment I felt I was going crazy. Every moment where I felt like I was unworthy of his love, he persisted.
Seeking Emotional Security
My husband provided emotional security, something I had never experienced. And, this is something so many people don’t believe they have access to. That being said, it’s also important that the person you believe is that for you, is capable of being that person for you, too. Fortunately for me, I have someone in my life who did not bring the baggage of trauma into my environment. That would have been too much for me; I can’t even imagine. Bring two people who all they’ve known is grief and wowzas…is it any wonder the divorce rate, although has come down, is still 40-50% in the U.S.?
People who have experienced a lot of trauma and grief throughout their lives likely cannot, and probably should not, be helping others when that energy would be best put forth to themselves first. It’s that whole analogy of putting your oxygen mask on first. This is why I believe before people get married, it’s beneficial to go through The Grief Recovery Method. Do yourselves both the favor of dumping your past luggage or risk bringing it into your marriage. I have not stopped doing my personal work. I continue to utilize the tools and practices of grief recovery and reiki in my life.
I believe, as healers, we can only be of service to others to the depths we’ve gone ourselves.
Essentially, it’s unwavering love and support we all desire. However, with unaddressed trauma, one can give off the double message: “get closer but keep your distance”. Therefore, in a relationship with another who asks them for a deeper encounter, they will find, to their surprise, that their way of preserving themselves brings them the exact opposite. A partner may argue towards them that they are not present enough, burying their heads in the sand, being passive and imperceptible. This is why you must communicate and be open and honest. My husband could have rightfully felt I was being cold and distant more times than I can count in the nearly twenty years we’ve been together. In fact, I have been accused of such. But, what has been important for him to know is that I process my emotions privately first.
What has been the most beneficial to my marriage is me working through my shit. As a society, I believe that’s the responsibility we all have to ourselves and society – focus on healing ourselves. Healing is found within; you have to dig through the shit to get there, though. I don’t care what anyone tells you; no amount of wishing or surface-leveling talking is going to erase the past. Action is your friend. Add healthy support to that, and you will be well on your way to reinventing yourself – beyond the grief and trauma.
No matter what you’ve experienced, don’t lose hope. Hold onto the possibility that life will get better. One day at a time. One moment at a time. Surround yourself with people who have done their own work. Follow the nudges that are guiding you; keep moving your feet.
From My Heart To Yours
The worst has already happened. No matter if it happened two hours ago or two years ago, it’s already happened. What matters most is what you do next. It is possible to sit with the feelings as you work through the feelings. It feels a lot more empowering to be feeling the feelings and knowing you’re taking action than sitting with the feelings and not feeling even an ounce of relief or hope for tomorrow. It’s never too soon and, it’s never too late.
Be your own biggest fan.💛
P.S. I’ve launched the YouMap® page. When combined with Grief Recovery, it’s seeing your pain and your potential in one program; offered and available only by me in this way in the entire world!
In the twenty podcast guest interviews I’ve done thus far, the common thread between all conversations is how healing of trauma and grief has been an evolutionary experience. I can say the same as I reflect on my own.
The person we are/were at the time of loss or trauma isn’t the same person that walks away from that experience. Trauma and grief change a person.
Trauma is what happens; grief is what’s left.
There is no hierarchy of experience, either. And this is where, in the land of grievers, isolation is common. Let’s say you were molested as a child. As an adult, you share that with someone for the first time. How would you feel if the other person then started to share how they were sexually assaulted as an adult by multiple people? In a sense, raising the anty of the experience. Then, if there’s another person who is let in on the conversation, comes in and shares how their mother was sexually assaulted and that assault resulted in a pregnancy. Again, raising the anty of traumatic experience. Suddenly, something you felt safe sharing becomes a conversation about other people. This is invalidating, and subconsciously you feel, “Well, I guess what happened to me wasn’t so bad. I need to suck it up; it could’ve been worse.” You likely also didn’t feel heard either.
The above is just an example of how an innocent conversation that, although well-intentioned in hopes of being relatable, may instead leave a griever feeling like there’s no one safe to share with and that their experience isn’t “bad enough.”
Do you see why grievers, possibly like you, resort to isolation? Society does this because, as I mentioned, we don’t know what to do with information that makes us uncomfortable, so we reach for the first thing that feels relatable. We also resort to information that we know. And, often, what we’re told about grief since childhood is incorrect. Not only is it incorrect, but it’s also likely hurtful and harmful. Like many of us growing up, the messages we receive about grief fall into one, many, or all of the six myths of grief.
The Six Myths of Grief
I’ve spoken about these myths many times throughout blog posts and in podcast episodes. You can learn about them on the podcast here:
Or, if you’d rather read a run-down list, they are:
Don’t Feel Bad
Replace the Loss
Time Heals All Wounds
Because of the generational learning that falls into these myths, it can take a griever many months, years, or decades to understand what is happening in conversations like these. This is a perfect example of why The Grief Recovery Method is so much more than a method for processing emotions that are incomplete within the context of relationships with anyone living or deceased. It is an educational, evidence-proven method for moving beyond grief and loss.
Are You an Outward or Inward Emotional Processor?
It took me decades to dump the duffle bag of information I accumulated over the years about how to be with my grief. In other words, how to sit with and process my grief. The messages I received were all of the myths – every last one of them. It’s what I saw the people around me doing. So, even if certain words or phrases weren’t spoken, the adults’ actions around me spoke volumes. Think about the people you surround yourself with and how they cope with their grief. Are they quick to replace their losses with people, food, sex, gambling, alcohol, etc.? Do they isolate themselves and have gone from being outgoing and charismatic to quiet with an ever-present level of low-grade anger? Do grievers around you never stop, constantly going from one thing to the next, never pausing to reflect on the day, their thoughts, feelings, or pouring themselves into a cause or mission that has taken an unhealthy turn where they’re not sleeping or taking care of themselves? Have you been told not to feel bad that there is plenty of other fish in the sea or the words “At least…” followed by a well-meaning but hurtful statement? I could go on and on and on…this is the stuff we’re all taught because the generations before us were taught the very same thing and so on.
Over the past three decades of being with my grief and through the work that I’ve done, walking with others through theirs, I have come to the belief that there are two types of people: outward and inward emotional processors. Outward processing, people need to talk about what they’re thinking and feeling – it’s how they process emotion and gain insight. They’re the person who will get you on the phone for hours at a time – to talk about their problems. They are often the ones coming to you (if you’re an inward processor, particularly) for insight rather than being the listening partner. Not saying outward processing types can’t be good listeners. I feel (in my experience) that if I’m sharing with an outward processor, they’re likely more apt to share their thoughts and feelings rather than being able only to listen. In this instance, boundaries will come in handy. Inward processors (like myself) need time alone to be with their thoughts and feelings and tend to seek creative outlets to process emotions such as writing, painting, photography, music, etc.. I’ve resorted to all of those for my inward processing. I started to journal when I was around age eleven, I believe, and continue to do so. Music also helps me process as I tend to be drawn to music that reflects my emotions. I believe the ability to listen is one of my gifts. Ironically, I did get “N’s” for “needs improvement” under the category “Listen’s to and Follows Directions” on my elementary report cards. But, what do you expect from a child who lost a parent and who had been sexually abused, right? My mind was one of my greatest escapes as a kid.
Age brings the benefit of experience and wisdom. We all know this. Gosh, if only I knew at 21 what I know now! My life wouldn’t have been a trainwreck! But, as my podcast guest, Victoria Shaw, pointed out to me in her Dec. 22nd, 2020 episode – no part of the human experience is ever wasted. And that’s true when it comes to grief experiences. There will be lessons you receive – like it or not. People will fall away and come into your life – like it or not. And, the only guarantee when it comes to grief is that it will change over time. You will never be without the sadness of losing someone close to you because love doesn’t go away for someone. However, it is possible to feel complete with whatever was left undone or unsaid within the relationship through grief recovery. It is possible to think of the person and not become a ball of mess. It is possible to hear the person’s name and feel a sense of peace rather than be taken back to the circumstances of the loss and how it occurred. All of these and more are possible through grief recovery.
Common Phrases I Hear from Grievers
I have heard many grievers say, “What works for you may not work for me.” And, if that’s where you’re at as you read this, to that, I say this: it won’t work for you if you’re not ready to face all the feelings. And, if you’ve never experienced it, how would you know? It comes back to the old saying, “don’t knock it ’til you tried it!”
Another thing grievers will say is, “I don’t need to dig up the past to heal.” To that, I beg to differ. The past follows us like our shadow. And, it shows up as our shadow selves; how we respond to others, what we do with our lives, the fulfillment and contentment we feel, and how we feel about and treat ourselves.
Some Final Thoughts
Grief steals more than you probably realize from your present day. If you don’t feel like you’re living life to your fullest potential, reflect on the losses and grief you’ve experienced in your life.
Regardless of how you find your way to healing, understand it will change over time. The healing of trauma and grief is an evolutionary process. And I want to encourage you to be open to possibilities and a variety of healing modalities (like Grief Recovery and Reiki). Being open to possibility is also having hope that life can be different, better or more. We can feel grief, which is defined as anything we wish would be different, better, or more. But, we can also experience joy the same way – a feeling that is different, better, and more than we ever imagined.
P.S. Thank you for reading. If this resonates with you and you think of someone who may also enjoy this, please follow through on that nudge and share it with them. You were nudged for a reason! 😉🥰
Have you seen the Netflix Series, Cobra Kai? It’s a follow-up comedy-drama to the characters of The Karate Kid, the coming of age movies from the 1980s.
My husband had started watching it, and not intending to, I actually got into it myself. It’s actually pretty funny at parts, but too, is relatable as many of us grow up not being the popular kid in school. Many kids also have parents who shoot down their dreams; even parents that take it further and put them down.
Watching the show inspired this blog post, along with many of the conversations I’ve been having lately with grievers for my podcast, Grieving Voices.
Grief is the loss of hopes, dreams, and expectations.
Over the past couple of months, I’ve heard stories of all kinds of loss. The one common thread through many losses is the loss of hopes, dreams, and expectations.
Whether it’s been a career you didn’t chase, a degree you put on the back-burner, a child born with special needs, or chronic illness that has taken over every aspect of your life – there is a loss of hopes, dreams, and expectations.
Which is…what again?
The Cobra Kai series takes the viewer back to the character’s “glory days,” past and present decisions made, and experiences in the present that cause “flashbacks” if you will. We all experience these moments as adults. As kids, many of us have felt, at one time or another, that our lives were meant to go a certain way based on our current reality, or we had some sort of expectation (or hope) of how life would turn out.
As a kid, I wasn’t coordinated. I did not have athletic ability. As I’ve watched this series, I related to the kids who had been picked on and had my own flashback moment. Even watching the latest season of Bachelorette, where Clare shared how she was teased as a kid, is something that has stuck with her and, I resonated with her story. There are a lot of hurting people out in the world hurting people by being bullies. And, bullies aren’t just on the playground. They’re by the water cooler, in the public restroom, at the checkout line, sitting in the cubical next to you, or maybe even in your own home.
I am not making this blog post out to be a pity-party. I’ve learned to flip that script. I feel strong in body but more importantly, far stronger in mind – mentally and emotionally. But, what if you don’t?
Were you an insecure kid? Or, did you start out with confidence but then life-experiences later in life change all that?
How do you repair the feelings associated with a loss of hopes, dreams, and expectations (i.e, grief)?
Don’t let grief that originated from the past dictate your future. Do you want to put 2020 in the rearview and begin 2021 with an emotional clean slate? Email me about how I can help you go into 2021 by shedding the layers keeping the authentic you hidden behind the loss of hopes, dreams, and expectations.
Do you believe that you are forever going to feel sad, isolated, or in your current circumstances?
Do you believe that others have their lives figured out and don’t understand how you feel?
Does it feel true that who you thought you were has been upheaved and that you’ve been shaken at your foundation?
Six years ago, I embarked on a path of some deep excavation. It’s often been painful, but I have found that the excavating hasn’t been nearly as painful as the emotional dis-ease I had been feeling. With each passing year, I’ve learned how to be more conscious of my thought process, actions, and it’s gotten a lot easier to recognize when I start down an emotional tailspin. It’s gotten so much easier to snap out of it, too. Whereas, years ago, circumstances and my internal emotional climate would have derailed me for weeks. When you’ve had your entire life to form your beliefs and behaviors through experience and circumstances, it becomes a project of rewiring your brain and creating new connections.
I held those beliefs I shared previously. I felt I was destined to feel crazy for the rest of my life. Back then, it was a program that helped me snap out of it. In 2014, I discovered Tony Robbins. Through his work and the inner-work, I started to get sick of my own self. I started to learn new ways of BE-ING. I started to ask myself deeper (and better) questions.
Finding our way to our best selves, the heart of who we’ve always been isn’t a complicated process. But, it does take time, and it does take commitment to yourself. When I say it takes time, you don’t have to spend hours a day every day of the week. Starting small is still a start. Whether you incorporate one thing into your daily life, such as journaling, meditation, yoga, a daily walk (to think and let your mind go or listen to insightful/inspiring podcasts), or a simple breathing practice (which is actually more challenging than meditation for me), another option is to add in a regular Reiki Guided Healing Meditation session (followed by receiving reiki). This is a powerful session (60 or 90 minutes) that takes you to a depth of self that you have likely never experienced. And, after next weekend, I’ll be able to offer an even more elevated Reiki session after I complete my Usui Karuna Holy Fire Certification.
If you’d like to dig into the depths of heart even more deeply (and with an end date of the work you’ll do that is proven to provide results), we can work together online. You may feel that grief recovery isn’t for you. However, ask yourself how many losses you’ve had.
Do you want to discover losses that may be holding you back in your life? Below, I have a questionnaire that will help you discover what may be keeping you tied to the past. I provided this document at speaking events, and it helps understand how grief isn’t just about death. You’ll receive the download immediately!
Grief isn't just about death. This questionnaire helps you discover the losses you may have long buried or have attempted to forget.
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I want you to feel hope, more than anything. For years, I had lost it, and I know the impact that had on my spirit. There is help, and there are resources out there. Know that you are worth the investment in yourself.
What is emotional freedom, feeling aligned inside, and having a deeper understanding of your past, so the same beliefs and behavior patterns don’t repeat themselves – worth to you?
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