Sometimes there are no words to describe the beauty and wretchedness we bump against as we walk through our lives.
The only thing that can convey such things that I know of are art, photography, poetry & music.
When we’ve lost our access to creativity or enthusiasm, we usually can’t be moved much by any of the above. Usually this is an indicator that we have unprocessed pain or emotion.
Recently, my brother called with something that was weighing heavy on him and that had been haunting him for years. He shared that he had been unable to listen to music or access his creativity for many months. He described feeling numb, a feeling we’ve known over the years. Numbing helped us survive when we were growing up. As adults however, numbing has stopped serving us and we’ve had to revisit and reveal the pain of our childhood in order to heal and release it.
When my brother and I seek each other out to talk, like- "hey, I really need to talk" we don't skim the surface. We usually dive deeply into what's happening in our lives. We are both familiar with deep emotional work including therapy, but sometimes it takes time to get to all the layers. It’s amazing to think of how many times we’ve had to revisit a past trauma once again in order to heal another piece.
I feel blessed to have a couple of family members that can hang with me in places where the emotional abyss might normally send others running. My brother and I have learned that running never works, even though we still try from time to time ;)
The thing is, all of us have moments when we hit the wall. When our hurts rise up from our past to lay us out. Sometimes we need someone to help us out of the dark, or in this case, walk beside us when it's time to go in to take a good long look at what we are running from.
Healing emotional pain is not a linear experience. We heal on multiple levels at different times- spiritually, physically & mentally. Even our dreams are working to help us heal or to deepen our understanding of something that occurs in our waking life. Emotion is energetic, so If we stop it from moving through, and don’t feel our feelings, the trapped emotion can create dis-ease.
The first thing my brother had to do was feel his own feelings. Each time he tried to intellectualize his pain, I reminded him to go back into his body- to describe the sensations, the memories, describe what was surfacing. As he visited each new layer of emotion, I simply held vigil. We went together, deep into the well of grief where everything feels black and hopeless. I knew that all I needed to do was listen and remind him that he wasn’t alone.
To allow someone to process their pain without fixing it, we commit the greatest act of love for another human. By mirroring his words back to him and witnessing his journey through the labyrinth he eventually found his way back out again. It was a profound gift for both of us.
The expression I've always loved; "No Mud, No Lotus", makes so much sense.
I don’t think we can have access to the true depth and profound gift of life without knowing the mess of it (the dirt).
The genius of this deep place inside ourselves, the place we bury our pain, is that it's fertile ground for greater possibilities if we dare reveal it. As we dig into the inner wound and shed light there, we transform our lived experience into something far more rewarding. When we’ve buried pain, we've usually also buried our vitality and creativity so when we get the opportunity to process it, it's like popping the cork out of the bottle-neck. The frothy bubbly essence of our true selves comes teeming back to life and we are reconnected to our source.
Usually after processing emotion at a deep level, an exhaustion follows. The most compassionate thing we can do for
ourselves is to rest and sleep (another deeply healing practice).
After we finished, I told him to wrap himself in a blanket and take himself to bed.
Later in the evening after he woke, he sent me the piece of music I posted at the top of this page
It knew then that he was no longer needing to numb.
Good work my Brother. You are so Brave. I love you.
Do you have unprocessed pain or trauma that haunts you? I'd be honored to walk with you to the places that are causing you pain. It may sound scary- but I promise it's not nearly as scary as you think. Feel free to contact me to set up a time to learn more about Co-Active coaching. If you've never heard of it, I'm happy to tell you more and how it can benefit you at any stage of your precious life.
I'd like to dedicate this post to an incredibly talented coach & therapist Courtnay Meletta who helped me to process a deep childhood wound through her own practice using techniques that helped me to heal when all else had failed. I learned so much from this experience and it gave me the courage to continue on my coaching journey so that I can help others do the same. I am forever grateful.