The Monster In The Closet

Monster Closet Door“Secrecy involves a tension which at the moment of revelation, finds its release.”

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.

Click here to view article on Exposure Therapy

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!

Blessings, Gabrielle

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 gabrielle@survivorhealing.com

A Mindfulness Moment means: BE HERE!

 

Mary Fontes Gemma Day 2 285            “Forever is

composed of nows.”

—Emily Dickinson

There is a type of meditation called Mindfulness, where you are being very present in what you are thinking and feeling, using absolutely no energy whatsoever toward judgment.  Mindfulness should not entertain any thoughts surrounding what has taken place in the past or what might happen in the future.  In this state, we do not worry about how we will feel in 30 minutes, or what we felt emotionally ten days ago.  Mindfulness is one great meditational way to be in the Now Moment. During this experience, we recognize the  feelings and sensations we are having, and we are looking at them as they are occurring in our life, but we accept their existence without reacting.  Most importantly, the Now Moment is not judged as being good or bad, right or wrong, acceptable or unacceptable.  It just is.  I am sure you have heard the term, “Being“; well, that is what you are doing when in the Now Moment.

I found a wonderful article by Erin Lanahan, about being fully present in the moment, entitled “Freedom is Where my Feet Are”.  Click here for article.

The enduring message she describes is that if we feel chaotic or overwhelmed, we can simply focus on our feet.  By doing this simple task, we can start again to be in the present.  I love this!  As my mind churns away with what I have done or left undone, or what I have waiting for me and is looming on the horizon; by seeing my feet, I can return to home base.  My feet are on the grass, they are in my favorite shoes, they are touching warm sand, my toenails are painted bright happy red, my feet are tanned from the sun.  You get it – I am right here, right now and paying attention to my feet.  It stops me from awful-izing, it keeps me on solid ground and rests my crazy chaotic thoughts; it allows me to breathe properly simply from awareness.  It is very, very alive!

We need mindfulness to slow us down from worry, anger, fear, frustration and stress. If you are not into your feet, simply find a nice place to sit and experience what is around you, indoors or out.  Perhaps a blue bird is singing in the tree near you, the sun is setting in front of you and filling the horizon with oranges and hues of red and yellow, your hands or fingers may be touching a stone wall, wooden bench or overstuffed chair and you can feel the roughness, softness and temperature of each surface.  Perhaps there is a book on your lap and you can determine its weight and edges as it rests on your legs without looking at it.  You can’t think back or forward if you are here.

Practice: Feel the Stone, Click the Shutter

Here are some opportunities for being in the Now Moment that you can try as practice.  Don’t be deceived at how simple they may seem.  Only “seeing” what is immediately in front and around you does require some behavior changes, nothing more.

  1. Doing your exercise routine: change to walking outside and do not wear an i-pod or ear buds or cell phone. As you walk, experience what the surface of the path or road feels like and describe it in your mind. Deep Breathe in some air through your nose. What does it smell like? Is someone burning wood or can you pick up on floral, moss or other greenery? Feel the movement of your hips and breath, and get a sense of the rhythm that is created. Look to the left and right of you, what colors are most prominent as you move forward? Look ahead of you and decide if what you see is worthy of a photo; if you see something that you like, click the shutter in your head and put it in your memory. Pick up a chestnut or stone and hold it in your hand. Where are the ridges on it, the smooth sides, what size is it, what hand does it fit best in?
  2. Go to the beach and remove your shoes. Push your feet deep into the sand and feel it squish up between your toes. Is it wet? Is it cool or very warm? Where is the sun in relation to where you are sitting or standing and how is it making contact with your skin? What about the sound of the waves, big, small, loud, quiet? Walk on the part of sand that almost touches the water. Feel the step-push, step-push as you make your way along. Count how many steps it takes to get from one stone marker to the next? Pick up a stone.  See something memorable? Click the shutter.
  3. If you are riding on a train or bus or other transportation, look at people around you. Take this time to put down your phone or tablet and simply be in the same space as those you see. What do you notice? Are they all swaying in the same direction as the car moves? How many are smiling? Describe to yourself the people waiting on the platforms of the stops along the way.  What are the colors they are wearing as you pass by?  Is that last train stop a perfect image of ones that you have often seen in a magazine? Click the shutter.
  4. Start or enter a conversation with someone. Notice their eyes; what color and shape are they? How expressive is this person when they talk to you? Are you close together or far apart? Where are you most relaxed when standing in their presence? What is the topic you are discussing; is it something you know about or are you learning new information? Perhaps you would like to think about it more later; click the shutter. How are you listening, are you listening? Are they listening to you? Where is your focus? Does this interaction feel comfortable like a stone in your palm? Where are the smooth or rough surfaces?

Being mindful is relatively easy, but it does require your full attention.  Once you commit to giving it a try, you pretty much can do it anywhere if you are willing to set the time aside for 10 – 15 minutes.  The hard part is leaving the soothing and stress-less mindfulness time, and returning to the busy-ness that takes up the majority of our lives.

Blessings, Gabrielle

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 gabrielle@survivorhealing.com

 

What Is It You Really Need?

July31-07 017When you wake up and begin your day, do you ever just lay there quietly and think to yourself, “What do I need today? ” or “Am I getting what I need?”.  Perhaps this is one of those tough days during a loss or any type of recovery that you don’t feel is going well or your coping skills have taken a flush.  Who is in charge of getting what you need?  Of course you know the answer to that – You Are!

First step is always the same – ask the question of yourself.  WHAT DO I NEED RIGHT NOW?  AND WHO CAN HELP ME TO GET WHAT I NEED, (IF IT IS GOING TO TAKE MORE THAN JUST ME?)  One of the hardest coping skills toward Letting Go is learning to identify your resources and then use them; not easy for the self-reliant, and I-can-do-it-all-myself people.  Trust me when I tell you, not admitting when you can’t do it alone and trying it anyway, is a crash and burn set-up waiting to happen.  Part of the best recoveries involve using trusted “others” who are waiting to support us, just as we are able, at times, to support them.  There will surely come the day(s) when it is time to cash in and lean on someone else for a little while.  It involves trust and honesty – with them and with ourselves.  Here are some steps to doing it:

1. Recognize when you are getting into water over your head for even the most simple of tasks.  Please don’t say to yourself, “it is too small to burden someone else with”, or “I can just do it faster alone”.  Give it over for just a few minutes or a few hours – everyone benefits, especially you.  And if you require some peaceful time on your own, ask another to hold the fort while you breathe somewhere else for a little reprieve.  The benefits of returning to life with a clearer more balanced outlook is immeasurable.

2. Ask someone to not make your decisions for you.  In the course of healing, many good-minded friends and family sort of take over in some situations.  If it doesn’t matter at the time, fine.  But if you feel like you are loosing your grip on the daily process, request kindly that they stand back and give you head room.  This can be done gently, but firmly.

3. Confusing day or tough plan?  Ask someone you trust to come sit and have some tea with you.  Run your thoughts and worries by them and ask for their opinion.  Notice, I didn’t say provide your solution.  What might they do in your situation that would help you make a better choice?  The quiet session, the tea and the trusted conversation will always help.

4. If a conflict is looming, bring it to the table with the individual(s) involved, with kindness and love.  You needn’t ever bury your right to a free voice just because it’s easier to avoid it.  On any given day it might be necessary for you to clear the air in order to maintain your independence and healing, but remember to maintain the bridge if it is an important one.  Buried anger is harmful to our body and spirit, not to mention our emotional well-being.

5. When you find what it is you are needing at any point, when you act on that need by supplying yourself with the resources to accomplish it, when you see how successful you are at keeping your balance and spirit in the situation you would like to resolve…..congratulate yourself for putting yourself first and staying healthy.  One success leads to many more on our journey and they are worth celebrating.

So, when you wake up in the morning, plan your day around what you need, then set about getting there.

Happiness.  Gabrielle

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 gabrielle@survivorhealing.com

Embracing Silence

SilenceFor some, silence is more of a curse than a gift. Many of us have to have some form of stimulation, auditory or otherwise, bombarding us all of the time – we simply cannot exist in a silent world. We jog with ear-buds, walk with cell phones (sometimes with a child in the stroller), communicate incessantly without taking a breath and run the flat screens without interruption. Where is the break? Where are the intercessions?

Most recently I had a gentleman stop at my curbside and decide to pick up a lawn sweeper that I was setting out free to anyone who wanted it – I wasn’t using it anymore. Since I was standing in my driveway managing another task, I observed him pulling up next to the item, so I introduced myself. He said to me that he knew who I was from others who have seen the gardens on my property and since he took my street frequently, he had always wanted to see them. Being in the now moment, I offered to take him in the back to look around. He asked me what it meant to have “peaceful gardens”, and I told him that I designed spaces for people to meditate and quiet their minds. Now I wish to say that this man, at first glance did not appear to be a meditator straight off, but to my surprise he said that in his line of work he often had to deal with individuals that could be very difficult to get along with. He went on to say, that to put his mind in a position of calm, he had established an empty room in his house that only had a chair in it. He would go and sit in that chair with the door closed and bring healthy, peaceful and positive thoughts to his mind for 15 – 20 minutes each day. Wow, who knew? Is that using silence?….absolutely.

I love the synonyms of silence: quietness, quiet, quietude, stillness, hush, tranquility, noiselessness, soundlessness, peace, peacefulness……. Honestly, when and where do we use these anymore? What are we teaching ourselves, our children, when it comes to silence?

During the post-suicide grieving period, our mind often struggles with the non-stop bombardment of Things and Thoughts. Things that we are doing, have done, must do; an endless list perpetuated out of daily necessity. At times it involves Things that others are doing and how it affects us from the standpoint of good and not-so-good. And then the Thoughts of how to accomplish it all, moves in and takes over the prioritizing, categorizing and organization. Just like beautifully thin tracing paper, we overlay this Doing-ness over the ever-present emotional connection to loss. Recovery and survivorship is often and easily pushed down and buried under tons of Things and Thoughts’ To-Do Lists. And being honest, it’s sometimes just easier than coping with grief.  Let’s consider interrupting the Doing-ness and embrace the Being-ness that comes with silence.

Most of us do not put silence anywhere in our daily routine.  We will declare that we don’t really know how to quiet our minds and environment, it’s complicated, and frankly, we don’t have the time.  But, let’s be honest – we are not shooting for Nirvana here.  What we really want to do is give our minds and bodies a chance to have a voice – from the inside out.  Most of the voices we receive are bombarding us from the outside in.  Let’s change that and start listening to ourselves and our inner guidance, instead of simply reacting to all the noise from everywhere else.

For those of you who work in stressful situations, ones that can be a trigger for your anxiety, PTSB, sadness or other symptoms – Stop, shut your door (any door), and get silent.  Everyone gets a break somewhere in their working hours, and you can find a spot that allows you to exercise your right to be still.  Lean back, close your eyes, deep breathe and welcome the stillness.  If your thoughts intrude, gently put them aside for consultation later.  Take a walk without any electronics of any kind, not even a music playlist. Give your brain 20 minutes off.

Just choose silence as one of your treatments to health and you will always find the WHEN and the WHERE.

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 gabrielle@survivorhealing.com

 

How Deep Breathing Can Help The Healing Process After Loss

BreatheThere is little good that comes from holding our breath or breathing in a shallow way during a frightful or stressful experience, and yet, that’s what 90 percent of us do. I offer the following deep breathing tips to suicide survivors and anyone else suffering from chronic and crippling stress:

  • Learn the simple basic steps of deep breathing and practice them multiple times each day. By having practiced deep breathing well in advance of any stressful interaction, you will be adequately prepared to keep the body in balance and healthy no matter what confronts you. Here are some good instructions to get you started if you are a newcomer to breathing techniques put out by Harvard Medical School, click here to read the article.
  • If or when someone poses a question to you regarding your current situation, always take a deep breath before answering. Pause, whoever is present can wait. It helps to calm and clear your mind before you give your response, especially if the inquiry could send you into panic mode. The brain will get the oxygen it requires and will perform the job it needs to do – responding without becoming stressed.
  • Perform deep breathing before you take on any task that is likely to upset you or put you in a circumstance that you cannot avoid. Examples of this might be looking at photographs of your loved one, visiting an old location that resurrects memories, or being in a crowd of friends and relatives you haven’t seen in a while. This is a good technique for putting off Fight or Flight.
  • Include deep breathing techniques into your relaxation or meditation routine. If meditation is not part of your daily routine, then call it relaxation and breathe your way to health several times a day. Set the time aside purposefully or when you come upon some unexpected time. Early morning before or just after arising and then later in the evening before you retire is a good plan. Put your faith in the breath.
  • Put yourself in nature without earbuds, iPod or cell phone. This is a perfect time to take stock of how you are feeling internally, as well as check the gauges on your emotions. Spend the activity registering your deep breathing and how it is working for you. Listen to the air going through you during inspiration and expiration. Then call it “meditation”…..
  • Use deep breath to avoid aligning yourself with guilt. Since one of the most difficult confrontations we have as survivors is with ourselves, when unwanted thoughts make their way into your heart and mind, stop wherever you are and deep breathe. For superb effect, say the mantra, “I am Guilt Free” while performing the breathing technique.
  • For an effective exercise, set a breath-training reminder. For instance, deep breathe whenever you:
    1. see something green
    2. enter a building
    3. get into your car
    4. finish brushing your teeth
    5. complete a phone call
  • Compliment yourself for deep breathing during the day. Congratulate yourself for improving your health, releasing your stress and bringing yourself forward in the path of survivorship.

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 gabrielle@survivorhealing.com