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#8238 - 06/23/05 11:03 PM Don't forget to grieve
dwf Offline
Moderator/BoD Emeritus

Registered: 05/24/03
Posts: 1223
Loc: Austin, Texas USA
I've started a new type of therapy to help me with a severe phobia of flying that seems to be a remnant of post traumatic stress.

Called EMDR, it is a technique that has been expecially useful for trauma victims and also good for phobias.

I was hoping (again) that EMDR would be that elusive magic wand or silver bullet--you know, just wave it around a bit and poof! all the troubles melt away.

Well, it's not. It requires a lot of work on my part! Darn it!

With the therapist, a really good guy, I've gone back and revisited some of the most painful episodes of my life; especially around the themes of safety, trust, betrayal and danger.

The EMDR seems to be working, though I have a tendency to disassociate when the hurt gets too bad. That's not a bad thing really, sort of a defense mechanism. But for the EMDR to work, I need to be present in my body, there in the room.

So now, he's going to try another modality of the EMDR, which is focused more on 'installing' (their term) more positive coping skills in the face of danger, unsafe and painful memories, rather than focussing on the trauma itself.

Of course, I felt like a failure because I wasn't able to 'tough it out' and stay with the pain and instead started to disaassociate. (My eyes got very heavy and began to close, making it hard for me to focus on his hand, and my hands felt like they were beginning to float up off the chair and above my head; it was like I was slipping out of my skin.)

Seeking to assure me, that I had not failed, but had instead succeeded in surviving a great deal of trauma, we began to discuss many of the episodes that were the most triggering.

There were a lot. Being a witness to 9/11 in NYC, the sexual abuse as a teenager, being raped as an adult, my precarious family life growing up neglected, often without food, electricity and running water, the traumatic burns to my hands the scars of which I still carry on my palms, the tragic death of my mother, killed by a drunk driver after which I began my living more than 20 years as an active alcoholic-----

and more and more and more........

And then A., my therapist, reminded me of what I really needed, when he said, "That is a tremendous amount of loss for you to grieve. It makes sense that you should feel sad, heartbroken and distraught when you look back over these things."

Of course! grieving is natures way of allowing me to overcome the tremendous feelings of loss I have inside of me. Yet, to be in a state of grief means to become more vulnerable.

In order for me to grieve, my eyes must be ready to be clouded with tears. How would I see any approaching danger with my eyes closed and tearful?

When feeling these intense overwhelming sensations, it's like I become almost paralyzed by them. How would I be able to defend myself against more harm, if I allow myself to become paralyzed by my sorrow?

And so, I see that I must become willing to find a safe place and then to allow myself to grieve, or else these intense feelings of loss remain inside, like painful shards of metal from injuries inflicted long ago--digging deeper into my soul, painful and distracting, interfering with my life and my health.

Since last week I have slowly began to give myself the gift of grieving. Very slowly finding my safe place--usually in my garden or in my bedroom--and have cried and wept a little bit.

I am allowing myself to be sad for a while, instead of fighting off the feeling so that I can 'be happy' as everyone always wants me to be.

I have been spending more time here at MaleSurvivor with the people I know who care and respect me.

I have also been doing my 2004 taxes, which is depressing the hell out of me since it reflects 'losses' figured in a different way.

Slowly I can see how over time, I had begun to put on that armor of insensibility that says to the world, "Nah, it's no big deal, I'm tough enough to handle this stuff. It's all in the past anyway."

Meanwhile the messages from my heart grew more urgent--telling me that I was experiencing a tremendous sense of loss.

So much of the effect of sexual abuse on me has been about what I have lost--my innocence, my chance to be a normal teenager, to fall in love, to discover my sexuality without it being used by an older man--the years I lost to alcoholism trying to escape the pain.....

I can't change all of that. So what is the answer?

Don't forget to grieve, Danny.

Grief and the process of grieving is a natural way of allowing my feelings to become a part of me, to reinforce me, to allow me to grow stronger and to begin to dissipate the fog of sadness and sorrow that veils me from the beauty of the world.

There are stages, they say to grieving. Sometime it will be helpful for me to go back and look at some of them.

I know that I have been in the anger stage recently, witness some outbursts directed at others who represent to me what I have lost and who I feel are the cause.

So this can be a big part of my solution today.

Give myself the gift of grieving.

My AA sponsor likes to remind me that when my tears flow there is a simultaneous release of natural anti-depressants into my bloodstream and brain.

I need to avail myself of this way of processing the losses. I have grieved before and I am sure I will grieve again.

Now, I know is the time when I can let go a little bit more; say goodbye to people and things that I have loved who are no more; and pay my proper respects to the dead dreams of my youth so that I can remain in the present and look forward to my future with hope.

If you'e been abused, chances are that like me, you could benefit from some natural release of emotions that grieving offers.

I'm setting aside some time everyday to allow myself to be relaxed and safe enough that these scary, vulnerable feelings can come out and do their chore of helping me move forward.

Anger, defiance, irritability, churlishness, hostility, defensiveness, perfectionism--these are feelings and attitudes that scare off others and create a false sense of security. I am all these things at times. But their temporary feeling of safety comes at a big price of isolation and guilt.

Whereas grief is soothing and cleansing and spiritual in nature.

I'm glad that I came here to write about this today.

Grieve your losses, Danny. Allow others to know that you are grieving. They will respect you and they will know how to care for you and your grieving in sensitive, loving ways.

Thanks for reading this.

I hope it might help someone else who feels lost or is feeling loss.


"Poke salad Annie, 'gators got you granny
Everybody said it was a shame
'Cause her mama was aworkin' on the chain-gang"

-Tony Joe White

#8239 - 06/23/05 11:38 PM Re: Don't forget to grieve
sabooka Offline

Registered: 05/19/05
Posts: 209
Loc: I would like to know also
As I was reading your post I kept hearing the words of my T, "grieving is the process that helps us to heal."

That's great and all, but there is one problem for me. I am someone who has never been able to get intouch with thier emotions, and I understand grieving as letting go of emotions. To me both are unattenable because I will not let myself feel.

When feeling these intense overwhelming sensations, it's like I become almost paralyzed by them. How would I be able to defend myself against more harm, if I allow myself to become paralyzed by my sorrow?
I could not have put it better my self. I always have to be strong and ready for anything. The idea of letting go and feeling things is too much for me.

That said, I too have been doing EMDR with my T and in one session he helped me to let me feel something. We later put names to the emotions but the names were not important. That was one of the most difficult things I have done in my therapy. The paradox is that after it I felt better but I am too scared to do it again. It is like the Pink Floyd song US and Them "can you tell the difference between cold comfort and change".

Danny I am really happy for you that you can grieve. I think it is excellent that you are able to structure yourself enough to find time everyday to do it. Reading this post has given me courage and I too will try to grieve.

Thanks for shareing this really important message.


My happiness is not dependant on other people's misery.

#8240 - 06/24/05 12:07 AM Re: Don't forget to grieve
sophiesdad Offline

Registered: 04/30/05
Posts: 462
Loc: Florida

I did EMDR back in 1993 after Hurricane Andrew. It was the therapy that opened the floodgates of my memories of abuse. It was really scary for the first month or so. But, I think you'll find that as you go thru subsequent sessions, the things that you remember that were so frightening or hurtful will gradually start to take an appropriate spot in your memory and not be so traumatic to remember.
Just remember to take it slowly.


There are no unresolved issues - they just didn't resolve themselves the way we would have liked. "Grinder and Bandler - Neuro-Linguistic Programming"

#8241 - 06/24/05 02:19 AM Re: Don't forget to grieve
reality2k4 Offline

Registered: 07/06/04
Posts: 6845
Loc: Stuck between water, air, and ...
I cannot grieve for my inner child, sometimes he makes me cry, and he takes me to places to do it, but his grief is a pretty huge burden.

It is so much a burden that he should never have carried through his years of innocence but he did, and it is so hard to face.

He should never have had to face so much isolation through his years of silence and hurt in his childhood, it should never have been his burden to carry alone as a kid, but he did.

His mind is tormented by fears, but he survived it this far, so he is not going to give up, not now.


Whoever stole the Sun, put it back and we'll drop all the charges!

#8242 - 06/24/05 04:15 AM Re: Don't forget to grieve
Maynard Offline

Registered: 06/11/05
Posts: 49
I have come to the conclusion that I must grieve if I am ever going to get better, and there is simply no way around it. I know that if I continue to hide from my pain it will only compound it and make it worse. When I was a child I never had a chance to grieve for the things that happened to me, so as an adult how can I allow this child to still carry this burden alone. I can not do that to him anymore, he has hurt enough. I am finally willing to take some of it for him, as I must, because I love him.

"Men often become what they believe themselves to be. If I believe I cannot do something, it makes me incapable of doing it. But when I believe I can, then I acquire the ability to do it even if I didn't have it in the beginning." Mahatma Gandhi


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