by Cailin O'Hara, MAcOM, LAc, Dipl OM
Maybe you need to hear this in just this way right now. Some things that happen feel impossible to accept and find peace in. But that doesn’t mean you have to harbor it forever, stuck in the misery of it.
How can you find some relief?
How can you take the edge off of the searing pain so that you can breathe, sleep, eat, function?
Sometimes the emotional pain is so intense, you feel like you can’t go anywhere near it... it seems like if you do, it will swallow you whole.
It’s a pain that keeps on giving.
There is the initial event that caused it and then the countless ways it unfolds into new levels of pain afterward.
How can you get through this? What does it even mean to get through it?
First of all, you can trust in the process of avoidance initially because it does serve you. It's ok to check out. You can’t expect yourself to accept what feels unacceptable, unimaginable, incomprehensible.
One way to work with avoidance is to embrace it.
This actually helps you become just a bit more present, a bit more HERE, a bit less likely to check out indefinitely. Give yourself space.
The issue is when we check out so hard, dissociate, detach and aren’t engaging with our life at all. It's when we can’t find our way out of avoidance, when we're controlled by it, driven to drink, eat, overwork... anything to avoid how we feel.
You don’t have to force yourself to accept what happened when you aren’t ready for that.
One way I’ve found helpful is to instead accept how it makes you feel.
An easier way in to the pain of it, to facing it, is to be with how you feel right here, right now.
“I feel weak, despondent, disconnected, isolated, heavy, enraged, dead inside…”
Whatever it is, just identify what it is that you feel.
And then let yourself feel it. Let it be OK to have your feelings.
You may then notice a separation- there is the you that is grieving, in pain, and there is the you that is observing that part of you.
This can be a very comforting experience. You see that you are not your pain. You never will be. It is part of you, but not all of you.
It’s like calling a petal a rose. It’s never rose, but it’s part of it.
Your pain is one aspect, and when you can observe it as a part of you, give space for it, sit with it, stop running from it… it softens, it thanks you for being with it, it turns out to be like a crying child that all along really just needed to be held.
You don't need to make sense of the pain, the trauma, the loss right now. Your feelings just need you to witness them, to hold compassionate space for them. So offer this to yourself.
Accept yourself in your pain.
You need it.
Dr. Cailin O'Hara, DACM, LAc, Dipl OM, is a nationally board certified Doctor of Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture, herbalist and coach. She is based in Phoenix, AZ.