Sometimes there are no words to describe the beauty and tenderness we bump against as we walk through our lives. The only thing that can convey such things that I know of are art, photography, poetry & music.
Yesterday I worked with one of my brothers on something that was weighing heavy for him and that had haunted him for some time. This emotional wound had left him unable to listen to music or access his creativity. Having recently been certified as a Co-Active life coach, I know better than to work with close friends or family. There are a few people whomever, for which I make an exception, mostly because our relationships have already been designed in that way over the years.
When my brother and I seek each other out to talk, like- "hey, I really need to talk" we don't skim the surface. We usually dive deeply into what's happening in our lives. We are familiar with therapy, capable of vulnerability with each other and know what "doing the work" is all about. I am blessed to have family members that can hang with me in places where the emotional abyss might normally send someone running. My brother and I have learned that running never works, even though we still try it from time to time.
The thing is, all of us have moments when we hit the wall. When our hurts rise up from our past to lay us out. Sometimes we need someone to help us out of the abyss, or in this case, walk beside us when it's time to go in. He knew I had been certified to do this and so we set to work.
I've learned that If you can feel it, you can heal it. Just because you've felt your pain, or grieved however, it doesn't mean it's healed and over. Usually a mortal emotional wound will heal in layers and stages can take a long-ass -time. Many people will say "Seriously! This again! How many times must I revisit this place. I must be getting nowhere!" Not true. It's not true that you are revisiting the same exact place, you are actually healing another necessary piece.
Healing from emotional pain is not a linear experience. We are remarkable beings though and heal on multiple levels at different times- spiritually, physically & mentally. Even our dreams are working to help us heal or to deepen our understanding of something that occurred in our waking life. Bad dreams are good news as well, because we are processing something deep, or something that has disturbed us at an unconscious level.
Pain will not leave the body until it's fully processed. Did you know that? Emotion is energy in motion and if we stop it from moving through us, by shoving it down or disassociating from it, it gets stuck. The further and longer we shove it down, the more unnecessary time we will suffer. I shouldn't say unnecessary, let me instead say that it's true that sometimes it's not safe or the right time to process. For many of us, we don't know how to begin to do the work of healing a past wound. The body holds the wisdom though and will always give us many avenues to process the emotion, sometimes even becoming physically sick to force us into rest, recovery or attention.
The first thing my brother and I had to do was to slow down his mind from escaping the emotional pain. We are wired for escape. I guided him into his body to feel the emotions that he'd been running from. Each time he tried to intellectualize his pain, I took him back into his body- back to the scene of the crime where he could feel his pain, his anguish, his anger, his loss.
As he visited each new layer of emotion, I asked him to describe what was there in each of those places inside himself. Down we went deep into the well of grief where everything feels dark and black. I kept reminding him that I was there with him and just held space as he processed through it. I feel like holding space can sound kind of dopey, but I'm not sure how else to describe it, but here's what it's not: It's not fixing it for him, or making him forget, or telling him to snap out of it, or giving advice. It's about witnessing his pain and just being there, quietly & reverently for as long as that person needs. Is there more to it? Yes, but also no. Most people have such a hard time being with each others pain without trying to fix it or make it go away. If you really want to help someone you love, just shut your mouth and open your ears and be there.
There is this expression I've always loved. "No Mud, No Lotus", meaning that you can not have the beauty of life without the messiness or the "dirt". The genius of this deep place inside ourselves where we tend to bury our pain is that it's fertile ground. As we dig into them and shed light on them, we bloom beautiful things there. We fertilize the soil of our lived experience and our pain is transformed into something else and usually what comes back to the surface is our true appreciation and wonder. When we have buried pain, we've usually buried other things with the pain like our access to our vitality or enthusiasm, creativity or inspiration. When we process our pain in this way, it's as though we have popped the cork out of the bottle-neck and the frothy bubbly comes streaming up and out teeming us back to life and connecting us back to our essential selves.
I call this the vortex- where we know that all of life is connected and that somehow we are part of this beautiful existence and intertwined at a cosmic level with the paradox of life, in all of it's complexities.
Usually when we have processed at this deep level, an exhaustion will follow and the most compassionate thing you can do for yourself at this moment is to sleep, which is yet another, deeply healing event.
After we were finished, I told him to wrap himself in a blanket and take himself to bed.
Later in the evening he sent me this beautiful music.
And I knew we had done the work.
Good work my Brother. You are so Brave. I love you so much.
Do you have unprocessed pain or trauma that haunts you? Do you wish you could begin to heal it? You can. I'd be honored to walk with you to the places that are causing you pain and show you the way out. It may sound scary- but I promise it's not nearly as scary as you think. Feel free to contact me to set up a time to learn more about Co-Active coaching. If you've never heard of it, I'm happy to tell you more and how it can benefit you at any stage of your life. XO Monica
I'd like to shout out a special Thank You to an incredibly talented therapist by the name of Courtnay Maletta who helped me to process an incredibly deep wound through her own practice using techniques that helped me when all else had failed. I learned so much from this experience and it gave me the courage to continue on my coaching journey. I'll always be deeply grateful.