In my work as a creative arts therapist, I implement mindfulness-based practices that emphasize the importance of the inward journey; connecting with the mysterious and esoteric parts of the self. This involves meditation and art making, as a way of getting in touch with my “inner knowing.” I also happen to be finishing up a collaborative book about grief and attachment, at this time. And the closer I come to the end of it, the more those initial, raw feelings come up.
Today, I had a strong resistance to working on both my meditative practice, and the last chapter. Every time I would try to sit down to do either, I would just collapse in a puddle of tears. So, I figured I should probably face it head on, and create a “crappy” picture to depict how I felt. And, not-so surprisingly, I hate it; all the more reason to share it here.
Of course, there is no such thing as a “crappy drawing.” The idea is to embrace “what is” without judgement, allowing it to flow through you. Try to take from it what message it has to give. Because often the crappiest feeling has the most wisdom to share.
Paying reverence to the power of our feeling states and allowing them to flow along their natural course, is absolute torture for many of us. It makes our egos feel wildly out of control and that is downright terrifying. Particularly when we are in a state of deep emotional pain, and grief. Dr. John Gray, author of Mars and Venus Starting Over, discusses the importance of four specific feeling states, each of which are essential to completing the grieving process. Gray also claims, “It is not enough simply to experience whatever we feel. In most cases, we have to search our souls to find the missing levels of emotion” (1998, p. 56). The fours necessary feeling states for healthy grieving include anger, sadness, fear and sorrow. These feeling states may be expressed in any order at any time, but they all must be experienced and let go.
A victimized stance can prevent the movement of emotions and their related energy. Blame is useful in so far as it may assist a griever in taking on too much responsibility, and can help us set the boundaries of what we like and what we don’t like. It could also help us get in touch with our anger, and leap over the hurdle of believing hurt or angry feelings are not “loving” feelings, and so we won’t allow ourselves to feel them, in our grief. But once blame has lost its utility, it must be released. Because to hold onto blame is to hold onto painful feelings. To insist your happiness is contingent only upon the thoughts, actions, perceptions, and/or presence of someone else in your life, is to become powerless to affect the quality of your life.
It is easy to confuse feeling statements with blaming statements, however. A feeling statement might be, “I feel angry that you don’t treat me in a respectful way.” While a blaming statement would sound like, “I feel angry that you make me so unhappy.” Another feeling statement might be, “I am afraid that you will judge me.” While a blaming statement would be, “I am afraid that you will make me feel bad” (Gray, 1998, p. 75).
It is okay to acknowledge how we feel in response to what someone else says and does, and then we need to let go of it. The point is not to avoid the negative feelings, but to embrace them as road signs to parts of ourselves that need healing, and allow that energy to move.
- We may need to feel the anger that so much time was wasted, or that we have been betrayed, or that we have a been abandoned and deprived of the love and support we deserved.
- We may need to feel the sadness that the relationship is over, that we don’t have someone to love, and that it did not work out.
- We may need to feel the fear that we are fools or that we will be fooled again, that we don’t know how to make a relationship work.
- And we may need to feel the sorrow that we cannot go back and make it work, that we cannot make up for lost time and that we cannot change our partner’s feelings (Gray, 1998).
It is not uncommon to gripped by resentment, blame, indifference, guilt, insecurity, hopelessness or maybe even jealousy or envy. And these are very painful and unpleasant feelings to experience. But do not immediately suppress them when they poke their heads out of the sand, because these feelings are like quicksand—the more we resist, the more they pull us down. Each of these negative states conveys a particular message, and it’s a message that will help you find your way back to love—to a state of energetic attunement with your soul, in tandem with the quantum field of the universe. If we hear the message, the messenger goes away, if not, the messenger knocks harder.
When I reflected on my “crappy” drawing, I didn’t see myself in it at all. I thought of myself as far away, unable to cross the moat protecting the light that calls to me. But after I put the image in my body and meditated on it, its nature changed. I saw the light like an angel’s sword, cutting through the black cavern, coming to get me. It was like a loving parent saying, “Oh, no you don’t. No running away from this. Turn around and come back. You have to face it.”
So, I cried some more. And then I made a new drawing. One that reflected what it might feel like to stand in the light, and face it with confidence. And, perhaps not-so surprisingly, I liked this drawing much better.
Was there ever a moment when you felt crappy and decided to face it head on? What happened? I would love to hear from you in the comments below.