Georg Simmel (German sociologist, philosopher and critic, 1858 – 1918)
Just recently I finished reading a very good novel: The Language of Hoofbeats by Catherine Ryan Hyde. One of the angles in the story line deals with a cranky woman (Clem) who has lost her daughter to suicide. Among all of the many issues Clem must deal with in her own personality, one of the paralyzing conditions surrounds the inability for her to enter the space where her daughter died. The description the author uses to help you understand what this poor woman faces daily on her own property is so accurate, it brought me to tears. The paragraphs in this section of Ms. Hyde’s book touched me deeply and profoundly. Clem had a monster in her closet, as many of us do. I know what this feels like firsthand – I am a survivor of suicide loss.
Perhaps you are wondering about the quote at the beginning of this blog. Secrecy – really? The facts are that the things and memories that reside in our subconscious mind are quite secret. We don’t bring them out easily and generally can’t get them to stir without some kind of help to do so, especially if they are painful. These secrets just sort of sit there, often for a very long time, years even. At the time they occur, we attach an emotion to them, usually intense in nature, and we seldom predict when the effects of their existence deep within will make themselves known again. If the secret is not one that we would consider desirable or acceptable, we probably chose to leave it alone at all costs, and want to forget it even has residence in there. It often becomes the monster in the closet.
Hidden issues that are associated with intense emotion want to be healed. Meditation is one method that allows for you to re-experience, observe and let go of what you no longer need. If we don’t make time and opportunity to release what is not healthy, it will discover another way to annoy you, or worse, hurt you. Generally, that manifests as something physical or mental. This old emotional junk isn’t doing you and your body any good anyway, so there is virtually no reason to hold on to it. In order to move more smoothly through the process of Release, my good advice is, to let it come before you let it go.
Practicing meditation calms the mind, body and spirit, this is true, but it also does a little stirring and fermenting of the hidden emotional secrets we have suppressed. Often we need a certain amount of guidance to comprehend why emotional reactions are surfacing, and what we should do to make our way through it effectively. This shouldn’t be a shock to anyone, but it often feels that way when your meditation suddenly makes you feel angry, restless or unhappy. Your inner being knows these feelings need to surface, but your outer being can be quite surprised and confused by it. This is Release just waiting to happen. It’s a good thing actually, a Very good thing.
As survivors, Release is frequently a prescription for deep healing and success. Generally, Release is letting go of that which does not produce positive energy for you any longer. Releasing can be spontaneous or consciously done. When it is spontaneous, your inner emotional state of mind just does it for you. It knows that you need to release and you can feel it happen in your body or heart. In the instance of spontaneous, it is almost shocking since you really didn’t know it was coming. Sometimes you actually don’t realize it has come and gone – you simply feel better or even great. Some people will state that it feels like a huge weight has just been lifted off of their shoulders and mind. Other folks may feel purged and feather-light. You have experienced that, we all have. It’s generally un-named, but appreciated. When you release consciously, you have identified an emotional turmoil, bad feeling or event that is blocking you, and you simply work at some level to LET IT GO.
Examples of this might be a long-associated painful relationship that has plagued you, parental blame, personal blame, things you have done that you regret, hate issues, food issues, money worries and others. One method is to state it out loud to yourself – “I release this (thing), including all of the energies and feelings that are associated with it!” At the end of your meditation, before you say thank you, “see” this block as being no longer in your secret hoard of buried stuff. Set an Intention that you will no longer require the need to hold onto whatever it is. Visualize your body free of the negative energy. It is not hard to release, but you have to want to and then believe it gone. Don’t fret if it takes a couple of times to get it all. Sometimes the monster in the closet becomes nothing more than a vapor when confronted. The fear you had of it was greater than the actual course of events that set it into secrecy in the first place.
My Confrontation and Release taught me that my monster was really bad and really big, but it lost its power when I took my power back. It was a place, a piece of real estate, not a cause. It is nowhere I wish to visit in the future, but I am not afraid of it anymore. There are many wonderful organizations and groups that are established to assist us with our monsters, as we all know. One special program that I found as I researched my book, utilized an intense and unique process called Exposure Therapy. According to the American Psychological Association, Society of Clinical Psychology, Exposure Therapy can be an effective treatment to help people confront their worst fears. Individuals experiencing long-term grief have a tendency to avoid activities, situations, objects and places associated with the grief itself.
As survivors of suicide loss, we either are aware of or can imagine much of what would be our greatest fear. With Exposure Therapy a psychologist will create a safe environment where they can gradually expose the client to the things or situations that traumatized them in the first place. The therapy is complex and tailored to the client’s current mental status and the extension of the fear they have been facing. There are many pathways to choose in conducting the therapy appropriately.
Important to note: To avoid unwanted outcomes, this therapy should always be conducted with a therapist who is trained and experienced in all areas of the treatment and the exercises, to prevent the client from being re-traumatized. This is simply good medicine.
Having a monster in the closet does not indicate imperfection or weakness. However, keeping a monster buried deep within is unnecessary and unhealthy, especially when we can take positive steps to let them go. Find your personal way of opening up the doors to hidden secrets and getting them out into the light. Oh, what a relief it is!
Excerpt from Let GO and Let LOVE: Survivors of Suicide Loss Healing Handbook, published by CreateSpace, $12.87, paperback and e-book available 09/2015.
CONTACT: Gabrielle Doucet firstname.lastname@example.org