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From Grief to Gratitude



We live in a world so averse to suffering that avoiding feeling is practically a vocation. But when I avoided the darkness, I realized I had to seek out ways to experience it that I could control. Emotion phobia is a thing. But the need to feel is real.

The brilliant Miriam Greenspan comments:

"We fear our emotions and devalue them. This fear has its roots in the ancient duality of reason versus emotion. Reason and the mind are associated with masculinity and are considered trustworthy, whereas emotion and the body are associated with the feminine and are seen as untrustworthy, dangerous, and destructive...But despite our fear, there is something in us that wants to feel all these emotional energies, because they are the juice of life. When we suppress and diminish our emotions, we feel deprived. So we watch horror movies or so-called reality shows like Fear Factor. We seek out emotional intensity vicariously, because when we are emotionally numb, we need a great deal of stimulation to feel something, anything. So pornography (of various types) provides the stimulation, but it’s only ersatz emotion—it doesn’t teach us anything about ourselves or the world."

I spent multiple years in a somatic therapy that taught me to listen to what my body was telling me and lean into it, not panic or back away or avoid it, and eventually not to drown in it. It has led me faithfully to this place and it is the grounding of my intuition and clarity, my awareness of what is and is not true, what needs to occur, and what my next step is.

Greenspan again: "Emotions live in the body. It is not enough simply to talk about them, to be a talking head. We need to focus our attention on emotions where they live. This willingness to be present allows the emotion to begin to shift of its own accord. An alchemy starts to happen—a process of transmutation from something hard and leaden to something precious and powerful, like gold. This is a chaotic, nonlinear process, but I think it requires three basic skills: attending to, befriending, and surrendering to emotions in the body. Paying attention to or attending to our emotions is not the same as endless navel gazing and second-guessing ourselves. It is mindfulness of the body, an ability to listen to the body’s emotional language without judgment or suppression."

She recalls the process of birth, when you feel a contraction coming that you have to lean toward it, not back away. It is an apt analogy. Change and transition are not comfortable, but they are surely necessary. This process has given me an ability to trust that the answers are all within me. I learned to lean in when I want to lean out. And it led me safely out of the bottom of the midlife U and allowed me to jump off a cliff into the abyss and find my wings on the way down.

The grief of that place was real, and I came through it and I am deeply grateful now.

Things I am grateful for today:

Being a Person of Plenty, and a Woman of Valor.

Living in a city where I see cranes in the sky and I know the building they're doing was not preceded by bombs.

Children who are healthy and whole.

For skill and experience that guide me in my work.

For the ability to love and risk and feel. Even when it causes pain.

You can read the whole article here.

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