Wednesday, March 26, 2008

The Grieving Process 4: Moving On

Now that we have gotten ourselves back to feeling an emotion that we can understand, deal with and handle; we can begin our journey into the rest of our lives. This isn’t an easy part of the process; as anger can eat away at us a little at a time until we are only a shell of a person.

We must proceed in dealing with that anger very carefully, and whatever we do, we can not ignore it is there. It will not go away on its own. At this point you should consider trying various relaxation techniques if you aren’t already employing them, along with seeking to learn forgiveness. Forgiveness is good for many things but is a great way to combat anger within our self and others.

Certain negative thoughts will continue to pop up throughout all of this. These thoughts are the product of our beliefs, which have been programmed into our conscious and subconscious mind. As long as we hold onto these beliefs or thought forms we can not release the emotions that are caused by them. Everyone has a different set of thoughts based on the abuse they suffered and their own personality. However, some possible thought forms are:

I can’t survive without that relationship
I can’t be secure on my own
My life has no meaning now
I can never find another relationship/No one else will want me

When in fact everyone around you thinks you should be happy and in possession of positive thought forms. Others think, and may even tell you, that you should be relieved and happy that it is over and on some level you probably are, we just have to get to that vel and let it shine! Some positive thoughts that you could have are:

I survived the abuse, I can survive anything
My security is within me and I will be fine
My life can now have meaning
I am a good person and will find a good relationship

Now that we know there are both negative and positive thoughts that could come out of this situation, what do we do with that knowledge? We can use it to our benefit by seeking to transform our negative thoughts into positive thoughts. A few ways we could do this are:

Openly express feelings to someone you can trust (a preacher, teacher, psychologist, therapist, spiritual healer, or even a good friend)
Free yourself of concentration on the abuser, the abuse, and the past in general
Concentrate on those that are around you now and are not abusing you
Concentrate on yourself and what is best for you
Could regain a relationship with your God/Supreme Being/Creator
Find a group of people that are interested in cultivating a safer world for us all and share with them in Awareness, Prevention, or Advocacy Programs

The Grieving Process 3: Responding to loss

Right after the denial comes the "I'm going crazy". Up until this point you have only been coping; because, in the back of your mind, you still thought it was all just going to go away. You still have not really responded to the emotions that were created when the abuse finally ended. This is usually several months and maybe even years after the abuse ended, and you can't seem to understand that while your life is seemingly (to you anyway) crashing down around your ears still, no one else seems to notice.

Most of the symptoms associated with mental illness are displayed during this time in the process. You may actually think you are going crazy. It is at this point that you will realize you were only coping and the depression is getting worse. This is when you need basic human interaction, on the simplest of levels....someone to talk to.

That person can be anyone and may not even know the entire story. They really need not even be active in answering, just be an active listener. Talking is the best way to get that energy I talked about earlier out of our systems.

With the talking comes to the tears (yeah, I am finally getting to my point), there is some evidence that suggests that the tears that are cried from sorrow and grief are more toxic than any other types of our tears. These toxins are the bad hormones that have built up in our bodies during our grieving process.....weird huh? Ever wonder way those tears burn and sting your face and none of the others do???? Just a thought to ponder! And, now we are back to the final release of energy...the anger....see how that all works in a cycle??

The Grieving Process 2: Realizing the loss

Right after the fog, comes the process of denial, this is often the most painful for loved ones to watch us go through. We know in our minds that it is over but on some level in our subconscious we still think it isn't or what if this or what if that....we are trying to rationalize it out, and can't do this on our own. This is the point where some will seek counseling if they haven’t already. Or they will at least start to reach out to others for help.

We have to realize that first the abuse is over and we are safe, then we must realize that the relationship that we had is over. Some anger will usually show up at this point; anger that it happened or anger that we let it happen. Just remember that you aren’t out of your fog completely and still are not thinking objectively about the situation.

This is different for each person leaving an abusive relationship. Some realize before they get away that the loving relationship they thought they had is over, and actually it ended the day the abuse started. Others continue to believe their abuser loved them through the abuse and are just as angry as anyone else who lost a loved one (to any means) would be.

It is very normal to still have feelings of love for your abuser. You were programmed to feel this way and this feeling is also part of what makes it so hard to leave and once you’ve left so hard to stay gone. This is exactly the way your abuser wants you to feel, like you have lost something. The more you feel you lost something of value to you the greater the chance of you returning to the abuser.

So it is very important that in this stage of the grieving cycle that you not only realize that the loss of love and secure relationship happened when the abuse started but also to realize that you do not need that type of relationship in your life. Some people will get caught in a vicious cycle at this stage; of denial then realization, then anger which fuels more denial.

The Grieving Process 1

Coping skills are what get us to the point of starting to grieve but up until then we just put "band-aid" fixes on our emotions and "cope" with whatever comes up. But coping is NOT healing. The cycle for this is usually: we have a loss; we realize the loss, respond, cope then grieve. Once the grieving is over we begin to heal, and thus the anger arises. We have to look at grief for what it energy that must be dealt with and the grief will be present for as long as the energy it creates is still in our minds and bodies. When we go through a loss great enough to create this type of energy we generally go through a stage where we feel as if our world is turned upside down, as if something unnatural has taken place. This shakes our sense of security on the big overall picture of the world as we have known it up until this moment. We are forced to re-organize our thoughts, our feelings, to re-assess our self views, our relationships with others, and our deep down true belief system.

Usually when dealing with such a large amount of grief, the very act that has caused that grief has usually caused the fact that there is no one there for you when you most need them. It is like a double whammy. Your abuse has put you where you are and now even your friends and family are scared to be there for you or they just don't know what to say and therefore they stay away "to give you space". So now what do you are all your pieces of your life laying scattered around you and you must alone deal with them and heal yourself, you must pick them up and make your life fit back into the comfy mold that it used to be in. Wrong!!! You weren't in a comfy life, you must now, pick up these pieces and begin to HEAL!

Counselors will usually give you small exercises to do each time you meet with them, which will force you into taking back over your life. If you ever have someone tell you that you should just get over it and move on they are need that time to come to terms with what happened and to heal, that "fog" you are in for so long is your body’s natural way of shutting out everything that is too much for the time being, so that you can focus on one thing at a time.

The things we do to get through life while living in this fog are only coping mechanisms. Some are healthy and some are unhealthy, but never the less are necessary. If you can see through the fog enough to figure out healthy ways to cope until you can begin healing it will be much easier for you to put your life into order.

Those of us who never learn to grieve, actually get stuck in that fog and end up taking the joy out of living. This effect on the body can usually leave us in a state of depression and causes us to not let others get close enough to help if we continue to be stuck at this point. That is why counseling is very important to insure that a grieving person goes through all the steps and completes the cycle. Remember this is a natural healing process and it must not stall out half way through.