The Healing Cycle: From Grief to Relief Part 2


Carrying Karma Forward

“Besides,” I continued, “while you might feel out of sorts as you clear the heavy energies of grief from your system, just imagine having to carry that weight forward in your life. When you experienced your grief in its raw and elemental state last week, you felt exactly what you had been carrying around with you for years. It wasn’t hidden anymore or hanging over your life like a cloud of low-level depression and unhappiness, poisoning your existence and sapping your spirit of its vitality. Instead, you felt the entire weight of what had been buried in your heart and you embraced it. In choosing to face and clear  your grief, you chose expansion over confinement, happiness over depression, and a better future for yourself. So don’t worry about what you may feel in today’s session and in the days that follow. Focus instead on where you’re going and hope that even more toxic emotion comes out of you today than it did last week. If that should happen, it will only free you more.”

A Toxic Childhood

That week, more grief did pour out of her, but it was not all related to the death of her husband. Behind the grief of her husband’s passing was the sullen grief of her childhood. She had grown up in a cold house with a critical mother and an emotionally absent father. She had never felt safe in expressing her feelings in her family environment. To say what she felt or to stand up for what she wanted was to invite a withering attack from her mother. Her mother regularly shamed and humiliated her, making her feel small, inadequate, unwanted, and unloved. Given her background, it was not surprising that her whole strategy as a child was simply to survive. Her strategy for survival was anchored in pleasing her mother in order to reduce her exposure to more shame and verbal degradation.

A Self-defeating Strategy

When she became an adult, Barbara’s childhood strategy of pleasing others did not disappear. It had become too ingrained in her behavior. Although she had a new cast of people to relate to as an adult, the childhood pattern of how she related to them endured. It had become her unconscious governing belief. Her experience of being shamed by her mother had led her to conclude that she was unlovable. If I’m not loveable, her subconscious reasoned, then I have to work extra hard to get people to like me. Instead of trying to please her mother, she now tried to please her husband and sons.

As a result of Barbara’s childhood conditioning, she was unable to say how she really felt as a grown woman. She lacked the courage to stand up for herself and express her real needs. Her childhood survival theme of “hide your real feelings and don’t rock the boat under any circumstances” had become a constant form of unconscious oppression dominating her adult life. One of the problems in trying to please her own family was that she wasn’t getting love and respect from her husband and sons in return. All the giving went one way from her to them. There was nothing coming back to her, except more demands for her to do more things for them. She wasn’t being seen or respected for who she was. Underneath it all, she burned with unexpressed resentment, a resentment she could not even admit to herself. She was too focused on being a “lady.” In her case, being a lady was a cover for not facing her hidden rage, as well as a way to avoid facing her real feelings.

Release and Relief

As her second session progressed, Barbara’s tears of grief at her husband’s death turned to screams of rage at her mother for her coldness, her lack of love, and her failure to nurture and approve of her daughter. After a time, her rage turned to sobs, as she felt the grief of her childhood shame and humiliation. With her grief came the searing realization that she felt lost in life and had no idea of who she really was. As that insight hit her, Barbara’s sobs deepened and a plaintive scream arose from that deep, lost place inside her. The scream started out loud and fierce and long, running slowly out of steam until it became a whisper, then a sound no more. She took a moment, gathered the breath back into her body, and resumed her screaming. As her screams dwindled and died, her sobbing resumed. This time the sobs were soft, low, and rapid, one following after the other in a steady, constant rhythm. When her sobs ended, her body became ice cold and began to vibrate.

The session was now nearly concluded. Barbara was absolutely exhausted. However, I became quite excited for her when she told me that her body was vibrating all over and she was feeling ice cold. These symptoms were important markers in her healing just as they had been for Sean. The coldness that she was feeling represented the melting of the shame and loss of identity that had been frozen inside her as a young child and had plagued her ever since. As long as that frozen energy remained in her core she was powerless to move beyond it. The pattern of trying to please others to get their love would remain intact. Now that frozen energy was melting. It was a moment of great significance for Barbara. It meant that she was no longer trapped in the emotional context of her childhood. (To be continued.)

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The New Reality of Being a Single Mother

single mother

The Single Mother Syndrome

More children are born to a single mother than ever before. An article in the New York Times dated February 17, 2012 reported on the development of the single mother household. Here are some key statistics they uncovered.  41% of all children in the United States are born outside of marriage to a single mother. The figure rises to 53% for  women under thirty.

Here is a breakdown of those numbers. 73% of black children are born outside marriage to a single mother, compared with 53 % of Latinos and 29 % of whites.

The Consequences of Being Raised in a Single Parent Household

Regarding the consequences of the single mother  trend, The NY Times article said, “The shift is affecting children’s lives. Researchers have consistently found that children born outside marriage face elevated risks of falling into poverty, failing in school or suffering emotional and behavioral problems.”

Why is this happening? Opinions vary. The article states, “Liberal analysts argue that shrinking paychecks have thinned the ranks of marriageable men, while conservatives often say that the sexual revolution reduced the incentive to wed and that safety net programs discourage marriage.”

In an op-ed piece in the NY Times dated Feb 20, 2012 , David Brooks,  Times columnist, wrote his opinion on the trend to single mother households. “.. today, as Eric Klinenberg reminds us in his book, “Going Solo,” more than 50 percent of adults are single,” wrote Brooks. “Twenty-eight percent of households nationwide consist of just one person. There are more single-person households than there are married-with-children households. In cities like Denver, Washington and Atlanta, more than 40 percent of the households are one-person dwellings. In Manhattan, roughly half the households are solos.”

The Maximization of Talent

Brooks ascribes this demographic shift to the “maximization of talent.” Again, quoting Brooks,”People want more space to develop their own individual talents. They want more flexibility to explore their own interests and develop their own identities, lifestyles and capacities. They are more impatient with situations that they find stifling.”

Interesting. Here’s more from Brooks. “Today, the fast flexible and diverse networks allow the ambitious and the gifted to surf through amazing possibilities. They are able to construct richer, more varied lives. They are able to enjoy interesting information-age workplaces and then go home and find serenity in a one-bedroom apartment.”

What Serenity?

Frankly, I wonder about all that serenity. I consult with people of all ages and income levels. Virtually everyone of the single men and women I speak to aches to be in a healthy long-term relationship. In my experience, people will never stop searching for love and stability in their lives.

One of the problems that prevents healthy relationships from forming is that so many people, both men and women, are emotionally dysfunctional. Women complain about men who are narcissistic and psychopathic, or weak men who want to qualify them by their economic status before they date them, or men who want to sleep with them immediately. If they don’t, the next girl will. Men complain about women who are self-absorbed, not feminine and have nothing to give them. They characterize American women as men without  penises. They are tired of giving and getting little or nothing in return. Many men complain that American women have no clue about how to nurture a man. They have given up on American women and seek women from other cultures who have retained their femininity.

Clearly, we’re in trouble in America. The nuclear family appears to be a dying institution. The statistics about the single mother phenomenon seems to confirm that trend.  Lonely, dysfunctional, confused people are easy to control. One of the main tenets of Communism is to destroy the family and make the individual dependent on the state. The single mother phenomenon certainly points in that direction. Could that be what’s really happening here?