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Grieving - examples of how the process works

"Life events such as the September 11th terrorist attack on New York City and Washington D. C. are very traumatic.  It is important to own our feelings about life events, rather it is a horrific event such as the terrorist attack or if it is some other kind of traumatic loss - such as a relationship break up, or loss of a job, or whatever.

What makes owning our feelings about traumatic events in the present so difficult is that we have unresolved grief from the past."

"The reality of the dynamics of emotional energy is that the more we try to control and deny it based upon an intellectual paradigm that is reversed to Love, the more likely it is to manifest at the worst times and in the most destructive manner.

Emotions are a vital part of our being.  To suppress emotions is dysfunctional - it does not work.  Any time we are trying to maintain emotional control out of our damaged ego programming - that is based upon separation, shame about being human, and fear - we are doing damage to our being.  With any closed system, rather it be the engine of your car or your own being, neglecting and denying the importance of one aspect of the internal dynamic will cause damage - kind like what will happen when you run your car without oil.  The system will break down."

"Depression and anxiety disorders, environmental illness and post traumatic stress disorder, self mutilation and obesity, cancer and Alzheimer's Disease, are some of the effects of our dysfunctional attempts to control emotions.

It is possible to have some control over our emotions that is functional - that does work in terms of the health of our being.  That control does not entail suppressing and denying the emotions - damming the energy.  It involves honoring and respecting the emotional component of our being.

By changing our relationship with our own emotions through changing the attitudes, definitions, and beliefs - the intellectual paradigm that we are allowing to define our life experience - to one that is aligned with Love and ONENESS rather than separation and fear, we can start to achieve some emotional honesty and balance."

An article about the importance of grieving by codependence therapist/Spiritual teacher.
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This page includes quotes from Codependence: The Dance of Wounded Souls and quotes from other articles, columns, or web pages (indented) written by Robert Burney.  The internal links within this article open in a separate browser window.
 

Grieving - examples of how the process works

by Robert Burney
This grieving is not an intellectual process.  Changing our false and dysfunctional attitudes is vital to the process; enlarging our intellectual perspective is absolutely necessary to the process, but doing these things does not release the energy - it does not heal the wounds.

Learning what healthy behavior is will allow us to be healthier in the relationships that do not mean much to us; intellectually knowing Spiritual Truth will allow us to be more Loving some of the time; but in the relationships that mean the most to us, with the people we care the most about, when our "buttons are pushed" we will watch ourselves saying things we don't want to say and reacting in ways that we don't want to react - because we are powerless to change the behavior patterns without dealing with the emotional wounds. 

We cannot integrate Spiritual Truth or intellectual knowledge of healthy behavior into our experience of life in a substantial way without honoring and respecting the emotions.  We cannot consistently incorporate healthy behavior into day to day life without being emotionally honest with ourselves.  We cannot get rid of our shame and overcome our fear of emotional intimacy without going through the feelings.

(All quotes in this color are from Codependence: The Dance of Wounded Souls)

Grieving is a natural part of the human healing process.  In Chapter 1 of the online book which I am publishing, Attack on America: A Spiritual Healing Perspective (link at bottom of page), I urged people to wail and scream and sob, to release the energy that was being generated by this traumatic event.  Trauma is a shock to the system.  Any type of trauma suffered by a human being - trauma to our physical bodies, witnessing a traumatic event, experiencing a loss (death of a loved one, house burning down, end of a relationship, etc.), etc. - causes emotional energy to be generated in reaction to that trauma.  Denying and suppressing that energy does not make it go away.

"Feel your feelings and release them.  Give yourself permission to let it all out.   Wail and scream and sob.  Try not to let the messages of an emotionally dysfunctional society, or the discomfort of emotionally repressed people around you, keep you from owning the grief to the fullest.  They want you to pull it together and get yourself under control so they will be comfortable.  Let it out!  Release it!  Do not shame yourself for it, or apologize - it is marvelously healing to grieve.  Owning our grief is part of being True to self.  In an emotionally honest society Dan Rather would have been crying and sobbing on his own program - serving as a role model for others - instead of keeping up appearances and stuffing his grief until some of it leaked out on the David Letterman Show." - Attack on America: A Spiritual Healing Perspective Chapter 1
In that article I also did a little yelling about the importance of owing our grief.
"If I see one more person on television starting to get emotional and then choke it down and apologize,  I AM GOING TO SCREAM!

Please feel your feelings.  Let those sobs out.   We are supposed to feel.  It is healthy to grieve.  Breathe right into those feelings.  Sobs are little balls of emotional energy being released.  If you breath into the feelings it breaks up the grief and the little energy balls of emotions can rise up and be released from your being.  That is good.   Keep taking deep breaths.  Get into a rhythm.  Inhale, sob sob sob cry cry cry as you exhale, inhale, sob sob sob cry cry cry - that is good. That is healthy.  Do not shame yourself for feeling.  Do not apologize for your feelings.  It means your human.  It means you care.  Sobs, tears, snot from the nose are all ways of releasing energy and cleansing chemicals out of our body.  Grief is not a pretty sight - but it is a beautifully healing and a Loving thing to do for yourself.  That emotional energy does not go away just because we stop breathing and choke it back down.  It does not disappear.  The more you can release, the faster you can move through it.  Watch the History Channel some time when they interview vets from World War II or something like that.  People who have never really grieved will get emotional and choke it back down 40 - 50 years later, because they never released it.  It didn't go away, they have been repressing it and denying it all those years.  Release it now.  It is healthy.  It is the Loving thing to do for yourself.  Amen." - Attack on America: A Spiritual Healing Perspective Chapter 1

In this quote, I refer to the breath techniques for releasing grief that I talk about on the web page Grief Process Techniques - path to love & forgiveness and in the online column Emotional Release Techniques - Deep Grieving.  I will provide links to both of those articles at the bottom of this page.  In this web article, I am going to share some example of how the grief process works.

Life events such as the September 11th terrorist attack on New York City and Washington D. C. are very traumatic.  It is important to own our feelings about life events, rather it is a horrific event such as the terrorist attack or if it is some other kind of traumatic loss - such as a relationship break up, or loss of a job, or whatever. 

What makes owning our feelings about traumatic events in the present so difficult is that we have unresolved grief from the past.  Because society is emotionally dishonest and we were trained to be emotionally dishonest, we are all carrying grief from our past.  That grief energy is trapped within us in a pressurized explosive state that causes us to feel terrified of tapping into it. 

The way to stop reacting out of our inner children is to release the stored emotional energy from our childhoods by doing the grief work that will heal our wounds. The only effective, long term way to clear our emotional process - to clear the inner channel to Truth which exists in all of us - is to grieve the wounds which we suffered as children. The most important single tool, the tool which is vital to changing behavior patterns and attitudes in this healing transformation, is the grief process. The process of grieving.

We are all carrying around repressed pain, terror, shame, and rage energy from our childhoods, whether it was twenty years ago or fifty years ago. We have this grief energy within us even if we came from a relatively healthy family, because this society is emotionally dishonest and dysfunctional.

When an event in the now triggers our old grief issues it makes it very difficult to understand our own emotions unless we are relating to ourselves from a healing framework.  If we are in recovery from childhood wounds, then we can sort out our internal turmoil - then we can have discernment about which part of what we are feeling is about what is happening now, and which part of it is grief from the past that has been triggered.

It is important to understand our emotional process - and what grief entails - to see ourselves more clearly so that we can choose to respond in a healthy way instead of letting our emotional wounds be in control of our life by just reacting.  Then we do not have to stuff our feelings or apologize for them because we are able to see ourselves more clearly and respond in healthier, more appropriate ways. 

Grieving is a great relief

Grieving is a great relief.  Releasing repressed, pressurized emotional energy that we have been denying and avoiding for years is the path to freedom from the past so that we can see the present with more clarity.  Getting emotionally honest with ourselves is the key to clearing our inner channel to Truth.  It is necessary for us to be willing to heal our emotional wounds in order open up to Love - to tune into the higher vibrational energy of Love and Joy.

As with everything else in life, there are different levels of grieving - and different stages of grief.

The deep grieving of sobbing and crying and snot clogging up our nose, is an incredibly powerful part of the healing process - that can bring wondrous relief, and physical exhaustion in it's aftermath.  Normally after a session of deep grieving a person will feel lighter - sometimes immediately, sometimes the next day - because some energy they have been carrying has been released.

The explosive release of this deep grief when done in a healing framework - that is when we accept and own it as opposed to shaming ourselves and apologizing for it - is a very powerful part of the healing process.  It is terrifying to our ego because it feels like a complete loss of control.  Our ego programming is to stop it, to stuff it.

When our deep grief issues are triggered and we are at the point where our voice starts breaking, we automatically shut down - we close our throat and stop breathing, or go to very shallow breathing.  This is the point where it is so important to learn to breathe directly into the energy so that we can start releasing it.  When we take deep breaths into the grief energy, it starts breaking up and little balls of energy are released.  That is what sobs are - little balls of energy.

The more we have integrated a Loving Spiritual belief system into our relationship with life and with our own emotions, the easier it becomes to align with healing through grieving instead of aligning with the false beliefs that it is weak to cry, that it is shameful to lose control.

Illusion of Control

The original wound, which I will discuss a little later, had the effect of creating a Spiritually hostile condition on this planet.  That Spiritually hostile condition then became a cause with many consequences.

One of the most devastating of these consequences, or effects, was that human beings began to express emotions in destructive ways.  Because the channel between Spiritual Self and human self was disrupted by planetary condition, the human ego began to develop the belief that it was separate from other humans and from the Source.  This belief in separation made violence possible.

The violence, caused by the false belief, meant that humans could no longer enjoy a free-flowing emotional process.  As a consequence, emotionally-repressive environments evolved in the social systems on this planet.  Human beings were forced to adopt defense systems that included the belief that emotions were negative and had to be suppressed and controlled.  This was necessary in order for human beings to live together in communities that would insure the survival of the human race.

It is not necessary any longer!  And it is dysfunctional.

The act of suppressing emotions was always dysfunctional in its effect on the emotional, mental, and Spiritual health of the individual being.  It was only functional in terms of physical survival of the species.

We now have clearer access to Spiritual healing energy and guidance which allows us to become aligned with Truth so that emotions will not be expressed in destructive ways.  We have the tools, knowledge, and guidance to allow emotional healing to take place, to allow the individual to enjoy the flow of healthy emotional process.

The reality of the dynamics of emotional energy is that the more we try to control and deny it based upon an intellectual paradigm that is reversed to Love, the more likely it is to manifest at the worst times and in the most destructive manner.

Emotions are a vital part of our being.  To suppress emotions is dysfunctional - it does not work.  Any time we are trying to maintain emotional control out of our damaged ego programming - that is based upon separation, shame about being human, and fear - we are doing damage to our being.  With any closed system, rather it be the engine of your car or your own being, neglecting and denying the importance of one aspect of the internal dynamic will cause damage - kind like what will happen when you run your car without oil.  The system will break down.

Emotional honesty is absolutely vital to the health of the being.  Denying, distorting, and blocking our emotions in reaction to false beliefs and dishonest attitudes causes emotional and mental disease.  This emotional and mental disease causes physical, biological imbalance which produces physical disease.

Emotional energy cannot just disappear, it can transform but it can't disappear.  One of the causes of violence in the human experience is the human survival mechanism that allows human beings to transform the energy of fear or pain into anger.

"One of the basic survival mechanism of human beings in the hostile environment that was manifested on this planet . . . . . . . was the ability to turn the lower vibrational emotional energies of fear, sadness, hurt, shame, etc., into anger. . . . . . . . anger is a higher vibrational emotional energy and therefore carries more energy mass.  In other words, anger feels strong and powerful, while sadness, fear, etc., do not.  In order to survive, human beings had the capacity to turn fear into anger to fight off threats to safety.

[This ability is functional in terms of survival but dysfunctional in terms of emotional balance and human interaction.  It is one of the residues of survival programming - an important tool when reacting to the sudden presence of a saber-toothed tiger - that causes males (and some females) who are emotionally crippled because of societal dysfunction and emotional dishonesty, to act out violently.)" - Attack on America: A Spiritual Healing Perspective Chapter 4

This transformation of the excruciating pain of our broken hearts and wounded souls - and the fear of more wounding - into anger is more prevalent with men because men have traditionally been taught that anger is the only acceptable emotion for a real man.  So, it is more often men who "go postal" and act out in anger in a variety of manifestations from road rage to domestic violence.

Repressed emotions explode outward in violence and war, in carnage and rape.  We are raping the planet we live on, we are raping ourselves.  Any emotional explosion outward in an act of violence is an act of violence against Self.

Women, who have traditionally been taught that anger is not acceptable, tend to turn anger back in on themselves.  This is of course a generalization - and one that is changing as the societal role models for masculine and feminine change.

In this society, in a general sense, the men have been traditionally taught to be primarily aggressive, the "John Wayne" syndrome, while women have been taught to be self-sacrificing and passive.  But that is a generalization; it is entirely possible that you came from a home where your mother was John Wayne and your father was the self-sacrificing martyr.

Codependency is an emotional defense system which was adapted by our damaged egos to try to maintain emotional control.  The ego fights ferociously to maintain control because it got the message that our survival depended upon that illusion of control.  It is an illusion because in the long term that defense system is self destructive - and actually is the greater threat to our survival.  Our codependent defense system will kill us eventually unless we start changing that ego programming and learn how to release the emotional energy in a healthy way.

Though a certain percentage of the population does at some point reach a point of critical mass and manifest that repressed emotional energy in an external explosion - most of us turn it back on ourselves.

Repressed emotions implode, explode inward to cause the system to become dysfunctional.  In the individual being this manifests as disease - emotional, mental, and physical disease.  In larger systems, in families, in societies, that dysfunction manifests as child abuse and incest, as crime and poverty, homelessness and pollution.

Depression and anxiety disorders, environmental illness and post traumatic stress disorder, self mutilation and obesity, cancer and Alzheimer's Disease, are some of the effects of our dysfunctional attempts to control emotions.

It is possible to have some control over our emotions that is functional - that does work in terms of the health of our being.  That control does not entail suppressing and denying the emotions - damming the energy.  It involves honoring and respecting the emotional component of our being.

By changing our relationship with our own emotions through changing the attitudes, definitions, and beliefs - the intellectual paradigm that we are allowing to define our life experience - to one that is aligned with Love and ONENESS rather than separation and fear, we can start to achieve some emotional honesty and balance.

The first step in changing our relationship with our emotions, is to recognize and admit that we are not in control of this life business.  We are powerless to control life out of our ego - because it is not possible for us to control life period.  We can have some control over some aspects of our life by owning our power as the co-creator of our human experience, but we are not in control of life - we are not writing the script here.

We need to let go of the illusion that it is possible to control life and open up to - remember - that there is a Higher Power, a Universal Source Energy, that is in control.  Recognizing our powerlessness and surrendering the illusion of control allows us to align with the Higher Power so that we an start to learn to have some Loving control over our emotions.  That Loving control over our emotions will allow us to release the energy in a healing growth framework that will take the power away from the repressed emotional energy from our past in a gradual, healthy grieving process.

The more we align ourselves attitudinally with Spiritual Self instead of ego self, the more we can open up to releasing this energy as a good thing, as a healing, Loving thing to do for ourselves.  The more willing we become to surrender to allowing the emotional energy to flow, the easier it becomes to own this grief that is ours, to own our self and our emotional wounds.  We are not in control - there is a Loving Higher Power who is in control.

The feeling of being out of control is terrifying to our egos.  It is our ego programming and it's efforts to control that are killing us - spiritually, emotionally, mentally and physically.  By learning to let go of our illusion of control we can start to open up to Love - and start having faith that the Force is with us and will not give us more than we can handle.

We also have a built in safety valve.  Our nose gets plugged up and we have to stop to blow our nose.  We can cry and sob until a certain point and then we have to blow our noses.  We can then cry and sob some more - but it is never going to get too out of control just because of our physical reality.

The effect is that this deep grieving comes out in short bursts.  Each time we do some deep grieving about a specific issue, we are releasing some of the pent up energy.  The next time we touch on that issue, it will have less power than the time before.  Eventually, we will heal that specific wound enough so that there is not enough repressed energy left to produce sobs.

A Parents Nightmare

As an example of how this process works, I had the opportunity some years ago to work with a woman in her seventies who was living her life in a very controlled and isolated manner.  She had a whole lifetime of grief issues she was suppressing, but there was one issue - as it often the case - that was the key to unlocking the rest of the issues.

This woman, some twenty years earlier, had experienced an incredibly traumatic life event.  Her daughter had been murdered by a serial killer.  She had been awakened at 3 or 4 in the morning with the worst kind of phone call a parent can imagine.

When I began working with her, she could not - and would not - even talk about this issue because it was too painful for her.  As we worked through other grief issues from her childhood and early life, we gradually moved closer to focusing on this specific issue.

Once we did start to open up this wound, she experienced wrenching grief in reliving that event.  But in any one session of that grief group she was in, the actual deep grieving part of the process - the sobbing and crying and snot running out of the nose portion - only lasted a short time.  Typically, the deepest sobbing and crying may last 5 to 10 minutes - to be followed by a series of aftershocks like an earthquake, gradually getting less intense as we process through the feelings.

We are never given more than we can handle - though it can certainly feel like it.  Opening up to those wounds does not cause us - as I felt would happen to me - to be locked in a rubber room the rest of our life crying.

Of course, in an emotionally dishonest society, it can cause people who have not done their grief work to want desperately to get you under control - with drugs usually, and possibly with institutionalization.  That is one of the reasons it is so helpful to have a counselor / therapist / healer to facilitate the work that has worked through their own issues so that the explosive release of the deep grief does not terrify them into shaming you, or giving the message that you are doing something wrong.

Someone who has not done her/his own emotionally healing grief work cannot guide you through yours.  Or as John Bradshaw put it in his excellent PBS series on reclaiming the inner child, "No one can lead you somewhere that they haven't been."

The deep grieving can sometimes be almost like an exorcism in the release of the pent up energy, and can lead into areas such as past lives - so it is important to have someone who is open minded and not afraid of the grief to help you through your process.  It is very scary stuff - but the process is unfolding perfectly and your Higher Power will provide the help you need at the time you need it.  (This does not necessarily mean at the time you think you need it - part of the process is trusting our Higher Selves, our intuition to guide us - and being willing to do our part in the process, which includes taking action to align with recovery and being willing to plunge into the unknown.)

This woman went through perhaps half a dozen sessions of the really deep intense grieving, each time taking a little more power away from the issue - releasing a little more of the pent up energy.

The grieving included owning her anger at her daughter for abandoning her.  (As I said in Chapter 1 of my online book, grief is about us, about our loss - it is not really about the other person, or how the other person died.)  And owning her anger at God for allowing such things to happen.  It also included letting go of the guilt that she was carrying because her of codependence.  With any issue we blame ourselves because of our childhood wounding, because of the toxic shame from childhood that programmed us to feel like "bad" things happen us because something is wrong with us.  It was because she had done some healing of that toxic shame that she was able to start dealing with this issue.  She had started to change the subconscious programming from childhood that had given her the message that if her life was anything other than "happily ever after" it was somehow her fault. That in turn, allowed her to let go of the false beliefs and unhealthy guilt that told her she should have, or could have, done something to prevent her daughters death.

What eventually started happening was that the woman could remember good things about her daughter.  Because she was no longer denying and avoiding the grief, she was able to start owning how much she loved her daughter in a healthy way with clearer vision.  She started to allow herself to own the good memories that were the gift of having shared a relationship with the Soul that had inhabited her daughters body vehicle.

The memory was still painful, and will probably bring tears to her eyes and a catch in her throat almost every time thoughts of her daughter rise in her consciousness.  Our wounds don't go away.  We don't heal an issue and never feel pain around it again.  What we do is release the grief so that we are not avoiding and denying part of our reality because of our terror of the pent up energy.  By being willing to do the grief work we get to reclaim our life experiences in a more Loving, healing, and forgiving framework - change our relationship with life events because we are not allowing the grief to dictate and define our lives any more.

When I said at the beginning of my online book that Dan Rather could have been a role model for others by allowing himself to own his grief - actually sobbing and crying - I was talking about a few moments of emotional honesty, not hours of it.  Allowing ourselves to own the grief does not cause us to lose control - it causes us to feel like we are losing control for a few moments.

By learning to allow ourselves to release that pent up pressurized energy in a healing context, we can be empowered to stop letting the past dictate our lives today.

Subconscious Programming

The next time something does not go the way you wanted it to, or just when you are feeling low, ask yourself how old you are feeling.   What you might find is that you are feeling like a bad little girl, a bad little boy, and that you must have done something wrong because it feels like you are being punished.

Just because it feels like you are being punished does not mean that is the Truth.  Feelings are real - they are emotional energy that is manifested in our body - but they are not necessarily fact.

What we feel is our "emotional truth" and it does not necessarily have anything to do with either facts or the emotional energy that is Truth with a capital "T" - especially when we our reacting out of an age of our inner child.

If we are reacting out of what our emotional truth was when we were five or nine or fourteen, then we are not capable of responding appropriately to what is happening in the moment; we are not being in the now.

When we are reacting out of old tapes based on attitudes and beliefs that are false or distorted, then our feelings cannot be trusted.

Another benefit of releasing the suppressed energy, of doing the deep grieving, is that often it is only in during the grieving that we get in touch with subconscious programming that is dictating some aspect of our relationship with life.  Attitudes we adapted in childhood - sometimes promises we made to ourselves - are included in that subconscious programming, and can have great power which we cannot overcome until we get in touch with them.

In the first long term relationship (long term for me being 2 years) I got into in recovery, I realized that setting a boundary in an intimate relationship felt to me like I was being a perpetrator.  My role models in childhood presented me with two options for behavior in a romantic relationship - a self sacrificing martyr with no boundaries, and a raging verbally abusive perpetrator.  I hated the pain caused by the perpetrator, so I became a martyr who did not know how to set boundaries.  Setting boundaries for me, with my significant other, felt like I was being abusive.

It was only when I got aware of this programming that I could start changing it.  A great example of how this works is the brief case study that I shared in my series on the True Nature of Love.

"We cannot get clearly in touch with the subconscious programming without doing the grief work.  The subconscious intellectual programming is tied to the emotional wounds we suffered and many years of suppressing those feelings has also buried the attitudes, definitions, and beliefs that are connected to those emotional wounds.  It is possible to get intellectually aware of some of them through such tools as hypnosis, or having a therapist or psychic or energy healer tell us they are there - but we cannot really understand how much power they carry without feeling the emotional context - and cannot change them without reducing the emotional charge / releasing the emotional energy tied to them.  Knowing they are there will not make them go away.

A good example of how this works is a man that I worked with some years ago.  He came to me in emotional agony because his wife was leaving him.  He was adamant that he did not want a divorce and kept saying how much he loved his wife and how he could not stand to lose his family (he had a daughter about 4.)  I told him the first day he came in that the pain he was suffering did not really have that much to do with his wife and present situation - but was rooted in some attitude from his childhood.  But that did not mean anything to him on a practical level, on a level of being able to let go of the attitude that was causing him so much pain.  It was only while doing his childhood grief work that he got in touch with the pain of his parents divorce when he was 10 years old.  In the midst of doing that grief work the memory of promising himself that he would never get a divorce, and cause his child the kind of pain he was experiencing, surfaced.  Once he had gotten in touch with, and released, the emotional charge connected to the idea of divorce, he was able to look at his present situation more clearly.  Then he could see that the marriage had never been a good one - that he had sacrificed himself and his own needs from the beginning to comply with his dream / concept of what a marriage should be.  He could then see that staying in the marriage was not serving him or his daughter.  Once he got past the promise he made to himself in childhood, he was able to let go of his wife and start building a solid relationship with his daughter based on the reality of today instead of the grief of the past.

It was the idea / concept of his wife, of marriage, that he had been unable to let go of - not the actual person.  By changing his intellectual concept / belief, he was able to get clear on what the reality of the situation was and sever the emotional energy chains / cords that bound him to the situation and to his wife.  He was then able to let go of giving away power over his self-esteem (part of his self-esteem was based on keeping his promise to himself) to a situation / person that he could not control.  He gained the wisdom / clarity to discern the difference between what he had some power to change and what he needed to accept.  He could not change his wife's determination to get a divorce but he could change his attitude toward that divorce - once he changed the subconscious emotional programming connected to the concept.

It is letting go of the dream, the idea / concept, of the relationship that causes the most grief in every relationship break up that I have ever worked with." - The True Nature of Love - part 4, Energetic Clarity

Feeling Sad

There is also a shallower level of grieving, that is just about owning our sadness.
"It was on Christmas Day in 1987 that I got clear on something that I hadn't really realized before in relationship to my emotional process.

I was consciously grieving by that time - by which I mean that I was owning my sadness.  One of the ways that I had controlled and contained my emotions was to analyze them.  It had not been ok for me to feel feelings until I understood where they were coming from, what they were attached to - so I kept the feelings at bay by intellectualizing about them.  I would analyze and rationalize, and then when I had figured out that I indeed had a good enough reason to feel something, I would allow myself a few moments of feeling - maybe do some writing about it - and then think I was done with it.  My issues were like boxes of old news that I looked through briefly and then put on the shelf thinking I had dealt with them sufficiently.  The later part of 1987 was when the boxes started falling off the shelf and smacking me upside the head.

By Christmas of 87 I had gotten far enough along in my process to just allow myself to feel sad.  I no longer bought into the fallacy that I had to know specifically what I was sad about.  I would say to myself;  "I feel sad.  I have plenty of reason to feel sad.  It is OK to feel sad."

I was doing what I had never known how to do before - just being with the feelings.  I had always done something to try to escape the feelings, it was a very important step for me to just allow myself to feel them - to own them and know that they were mine and I had, not only a right, but an obligation to just feel them.

I was doing the shallower level of grieving at that point.  It wasn't the deep grieving with crying and sobbing - it was just about feeling sad and allowing myself to feel that sadness.

On Christmas Day that year, I went to various AA meetings and to some open houses - both at people's homes and AA club houses.  What I realized as I went through the day was that I was feeling more than one feeling at the same time.  The feeling of sadness was there throughout the day, kind of an emotional blanket over the day.  But when I saw people I cared about I was happy.  I had many moments that day when I felt gratitude.

I really got clear on the reality that I could feel more than one feeling at once - a startling revelation at that point.  It had been a long hard struggle just to get in touch with feelings as energy in my body, now I realized that I could feel several different types of these emotional energies at once.  I could feel sad and grateful and happy all at the same time.

I had for some time been working on changing my perspective on my feelings.  Telling myself that feeling the feelings was the goal and that I was grateful that I was capable of feeling miserable.  By working on changing my attitudes towards my feelings I had started changing my relationship with them.  I had begun to embrace my feelings instead of resisting and repressing them.

It was of course, easier to embrace the shallower level of grief than it was the deeply buried pain and rage that was soon to start surfacing - but it was definite progress.  When I had first gotten sober, I had noticed a saying on some bumper stickers or wall hanging or someplace.  That saying was "The pain is mandatory, the suffering is optional."  What I was really beginning to realize at this point in my process was that the suffering came about because of resistance to feeling the pain - and anger and fear.  By changing my attitudes, I was changing my perspective and giving myself permission to feel the feelings.  I was starting to allow them to flow instead of putting all my energy into damming them, suppressing them.  That is where the suffering really comes from - denying my own emotional reality.

So, I was feeling the grief and doing some of what I thought of then as crying.  At that time, crying to me meant tearing up.  When I teared up and my voice cracked with emotion I considered that crying.  Although I had done some deep grieving earlier in my recovery (the article on Grief, Love, and Fear of Intimacy, and the instance with the song from childhood) I wasn't at that time thinking of doing that kind of CRYING as a goal of the process.  I was still trying to avoid going into the depths of my feelings.

I think the main issue that I was grieving about as 87 ended and 88 began was being alone.  I had felt so alone as a child - and because of my wounds, I had spent most of my adult life alone. - Joy2MeU Journal - My Spiritual Path: 30 Days in the Desert - Falling Apart and Breaking Through II

Many people when they first start to feel the grief, will say they are feeling depressed.  What we call things has power - and it is important to start owning that we are involved in a healthy grieving process instead of the victim of depression.

Depression and grieving are two very different dynamics.  Depression is an emotional state caused by anger that has been turned in on ourselves because of mental attitudes empowering the false belief that it is shameful to be an imperfect human.  Owning our feelings by doing the grief work - especially the anger and rage portion of the grieving - is the way out of depression.  Changing our relationship with life into one which defines life as a growth process with a Spiritual purpose rather than a test we can fail because we are flawed and imperfect, is a very large step towards starting to emerge from depression.

Just being able to say to ourselves (not necessarily to other people unless they are safe people to share with) "I am sad.  I have good reasons to be sad.  It is not only okay to be sad, it is healthy and part of owning my self to grieve for how painful my life experience has been."

Owning our feelings is the only way to own our self.  Owning and healing our self is the gateway to reconnecting with our Spiritual Self so that we can starting owning the Unconditional Love that is available to us.  So that we can change our relationship with self into one that is based upon Love instead of shame about being human.

It is necessary to own and honor the child who we were in order to Love the person we are. And the only way to do that is to own that child's experiences, honor that child's feelings, and release the emotional grief energy that we are still carrying around.

Sacred Spiral with tail pointing to right signifying 'going toward.'
The Recovery Process for inner child healing series: Part 1 - Sharing experience, strength, and hope, taking action


Abundant Spirituality + codependence recovery + inner child healing + Love = Joy2MeULogo of Joy to You & Me Enterprises, publisher of Codependence: The Dance of Wounded Souls Joy2MeU Home Page

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This was written as part of Chapter 8 of Attack on America: A Spiritual Healing Perspective Chapter 1

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Codependence: The Dance of Wounded Souls by Robert Burney is copyright 1995.  Material on Joy2MeU web site (except where otherwise noted) is copyright 1996 thru 2015 by Robert Burney  PO Box 98 Fallbrook CA 92088.

Grateful acknowledgment is made for permission to quote in my book from: Bradshaw On Homecoming "Reclaiming and Championing you Inner Child", a PBS series by John Bradshaw.  Reprinted in Codependence: The Dance of Wounded Souls by permission of John Bradshaw 2412 South Boulevard, Houston Tx 77098.