Ruins, Emotion & Change – Learning How To Feel

Had my first session at A.’s new place yesterday. Owing to my negative sense of direction I gave myself a ridiculous amount of time to find the place. As it turns out it was both needed and not needed. Went down the wrong road twice (not great when you’ve got a knee injury which is making every step agony) – but I still found the road well in time for session, meaning I ended up loitering on a side street for some thirty minutes. Luckily someone in the area had an open internet connection so I filled the time randomly browsing the interweb. Also it gave me the time to read another chapter of Dr Maroda’s book. (See previous post).

As I’ve mentioned in earlier blog offerings anxiety levels have been on a steady upward curve for the last couple of weeks, since I found out about A.’s move. Things, big things, are stirring inside of me. I do realise this is not all to do with A.’s move; the effect is far in excess of the cause. Admittedly, there are a number of things happening in my life, all of which have an effect – but this still feels different, disconnected somehow, to present events. It feels like a change on a much, much deeper level – outside of specific causes; on a basic human level.

Last Thursday I suddenly felt absolutely overwhelmed by emotions. I happened to be on the phone with my sisters at the time, but even that didn’t help. It was a tsunami-like wave of feelings that completely swept me off my feet, made me loose my grip. So I hung up on my sisters to try to deal with this. My initial feeling – or actually it was more of a self-protective instinct – was to try to shut down. Only I couldn’t. Next this very intense urge to cut hit me, wanting desperately to reach for those scalpels. But even at the height of intensity, in the middle of the urge, I knew that I wasn’t going to resort to that. Instead I tried to just stay in the moment – allow those feelings to be. To not fight them, even though every cell in my body was preparing for flight mode. I ended up curled up in bed, foetal position, unable to do anything but just breathe. In and out, through the experience. Just breathing. That was all I could cope with.

Getting a scalpel out would have been the easy option, but I knew that something big was happening, and that I had to find a way to let it. I had one single thought in my head that I can consciously remember: I need to find a way to bring this experience to session on Tuesday.

So this session, the first one at The New Place, was, at least for me, very different to other sessions. I’m not sure if it was noticeable to A., but I was very consciously allowing myself to just go quiet every time a feeling came over me. I didn’t really try to verbalise it much, because for me, even just allowing the feelings to exist (as opposed to immediately, and by any means necessary, control them) is pretty big. I don’t know if it showed on my face or not; it’s possible that to the outside world it would not have been possible to discern this difference in me. But, to me, this was a huge step. To allow myself to fully feel. And in the presence of another person.

At one stage in the session, having tried to explain what happened on Thursday (and has been happening – albeit in smaller doses – since then) to A. I asked if maybe this is me regressing. I posed it as a question, but, really I suppose what I was doing was trying to tell A. that this is what I believe is happening.

Later A. asked what I was regressing to, and also commented that I seem unsure as to whether I’m going backwards or forwards. I explained that I don’t really think of it as regressing backwards in a real sense, but more about somehow allowing myself to feel the things I should have felt a long time ago. Acknowledging these feelings.

As I said that a song popped into my head, so I quoted part of it to A.:

“..I will crawl through my past
over stones blood and glass
in the ruins

Reaching under the fence
as I try to make sense
in the ruins..

But if I am to heal
I must first learn to feel
in the ruins..”

Now, I’m not convinced about the need to be crawling over stones, blood or glass, nor am I sure that it is possible to make sense of the ruins or the damage done – some things are simply senseless – but I do think that there is a need to explore the past. Not necessarily through recounting and re-visiting every single memory in graphically verbalised detail – but rather through a true acceptance of the feelings attached to those memories.

“..if I am to heal, I must first learn to feel..”

So, frightening and painful as this experience is, I am absolutely sure that without allowing these emotions to play out you can’t bring about real change. Yes, you can change things on the surface. Of course you can. But not on a real lasting and deep level. For that you need to accept yourself as a vulnerable, feeling human being.

xx

PS. I was going to post a link to a YouTube clip of Melissa Etheridge performing Ruins – but I couldn’t find one that matched in emotion what the lyrics are saying. They all seemed too “showy”. Instead I recommend you listen to the studio version, which can be found on ME’s 1993 Yes, I Am-album.

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