But I wasn't fine...I was grieving and I didn't know it.
Grief is unique, it is as unique as you and I. We all experience grief 100%. Even if you and I went through the exact same loss our grief would be unique to our own experience.
Some terms used in The Grief Recovery Method (GRM) for grief are:
“Grief is the normal and natural response to significant emotional loss or change of any kind. Grief is the conflicting feelings caused by the end of, or change in, in a familiar pattern of behavior. Grief is also the result of unmet hopes, dreams and expectations and the loss of intangible concepts such as safety, trust, security, faith and hope. Grief is universal. Grief is individual and unique. There are no stages and grief cannot be neatly categorized.”
So, there you have a definition…now here’s a bit of my journey through grief to recovery.
For most of life I was called emotional, and I am. I didn’t know how to feel my feelings or name them. I had shut my feelings down to a point where most of my feelings were made up or suppressed. I mimicked what good feelings looked like. What do I mean by that? Fake it till you make it. (sound familiar) Feeling happy wasn’t something I really felt and I definitely didn’t know how to feel sad. I had been taught to ‘not feel bad” And let’s face it, no one feels comfortable with someone else pain…heck we don’t feel comfortable in our pain because we are taught that feeling sad is not appropriate.
Long story short I ate my feelings. “Here, have a cookie, you’ll feel better.” ...but I didn't. “Here, have a drink, you’ll feel better” or “Go for a run, keep busy, have a nap…” (What I heard was “please stop feeling so we can get on with our day. Sad feelings cannot be felt, you are making everyone uncomfortable” or “You are being silly, get over it, it’s not the end of the world”” Get ahold of yourself you can’t fall apart”) Any of those sound familiar? Honestly it didn’t matter what the substitute was or how I substituted my feelings they worked temporarily. I was taught by loving parents to “feel better” through food and learned more substitutions as I grew older to keep those feelings hidden. All those substitutes did was change my focus, numb the pain but didn’t make me feel better long term so as I said I had to use more and more often. I lived my life numb.
I learned to suppress my feelings about everything. I learned not to trust myself or how I felt about most things. I learned to take my direction from someone other than myself. I learned that my feelings were not valid and were best kept hidden. I learned there was something wrong with me. By the way not one of those statements is true!!!! I learned to be a very good actor, to pretend to be FINE.
In 2020, but long before that I hit a wall. Not an actual wall, an emotional wall. Holding my feelings in check was getting harder and harder. I do believe the isolation and not being able to be so busy helped in my unraveling. I had an emotional breakdown from numbing my feelings and not dealing with any of them. As I write this, my heart breaks again for the little girl and the woman who walked through life numb for fear of making others uncomfortable and not fitting in. Leaving her to not feel life fully.
You see when you numb the feelings of pain eventually you learn to numb all feelings even happy, joyful feelings. You can’t feel completely. You pretend a lot and mimic other people’s emotional responses. I would take on others offense and feel (or mimic their feelings). Hurting people have always been drawn to me and I was a fixer. I was good at it; I had a solution for almost anything. I look back and think …dear Lord, I should have just shut up and listened more. My heart was in the right place by my words and actions were wrong. But as it is said “when you know better, you can do better” I pray to do better.
I accidentally ended up in taking the Grief Recovery Method and I am so grateful I did. It has literally changed my life. Before learning the positive action steps this program offers, I was numb, restless and not sleeping which made my threshold for hard things even less. Covid was a hard thing. I started to withdraw from my marriage…in the same household. I kept busy doing whatever I could do, to not feel and it wasn’t working.
Once I started the program, I learned that I wasn’t alone and that I was grieving a lot of different things. That grief wasn’t just the death of a loved one, it encompasses so much more. There are over 40 different losses. There is divorce, separation, moving, loss of pet, retirement, loss of faith, loss of fertility, loss of trust, end of a long-term friendship, change in health, and so many others. I learned I couldn’t cry; I would tear up but I could not let go. I learned that I couldn’t name a feeling associated with a loss. I didn’t have the vocabulary. But through it all I was listened to and heard. I was given words to help me describe my feelings of pain and loss. I was actually given a list that I could use to help describe my feelings because I had no reference point. It was a very helpful tool.
The GRM has helped me become me, feelings and all. Do I make people uncomfortable? Yes, I do. I even make myself uncomfortable because it’s still so new. But I feel alive. I feel joy and sadness. I can acknowledge my feelings and am learning to work with them to work through them to healing. Not substitute feeling with something else. It’s not perfect, never will be, it’s a work in progress. Everyday I’m learning more about myself and I’m learning to listen to myself and others without forming a response or a fix it statement. It’s so important to acknowledge the feeling, listen and be present with no judgement, analysis or criticism of yourself or anyone else for that matter.
In December 2020 I took the training to become a Grief Recovery Method Specialist because I wanted to share something I know is evidenced based and has helped me. My heart has always been to help lead others into becoming who they are meant to be and this program is an amazing tool to help people get their lives back and start to really live again. In early January 2021 took the Advanced training to become an Advanced GRM specialist so I can work with individuals online due to the current world situation. Once restrictions are lifted, I will be offering in person one on ones and group sessions. I am also adding in Helping Children with Loss – for adults (parents and family, teachers, coaches, counselors, youth pastors, juvenile social workers, daycare providers and others who have, love or work with children/youth).
This program is a step-by-step action program for identifying and respecting the emotional experience of one’s grief. Grief that is happening now or grief that has been holding you captive for years. If you find you are having trouble concentrating, are feeling numb, uncomfortable talking about the loss you maybe grieving. Unresolved grief snowballs and can become increasingly damaging. Time does not heal, action within time does. I waited over 50 years to feel better. My goal is help you wherever you are on this journey no matter how long you have been traveling down this road there is recovery.
If you have any questions or would like to more about the GRM program please email me firstname.lastname@example.org This is not therapy it is an action-based program giving you tools to walk through grief to recovery and recovery means feeling better. You will find new meaning for living without fear and be able to enjoy fond memories without having them turn painful.
Recovery isn’t about forgetting anyone or thing, it’s about letting go of the painful memories associated with that relationship. Recovery is knowing that is all right to feel sad from time to time and talk about those feelings no matter how those around you react.