I got to dip my toe into some dark feelings at Marion’s mentorship group meeting yesterday. I didn’t go willingly into the shadows of my psyche, but well, I’ve signed up to this year-long process so reckoned I had better roll up my sleeves and get on with it.
Earlier in the week, Marion had sent me an article she’d written about making friends with feelings. Why would I want to do that? Some are just not welcome.
Apparently, this is not good for my mind, body or soul.
Every time I run away from feeling a bit shit by binge-watching a true crime series on Netflix, stuffing my face with mini Creme Eggs or diverting myself with a bit of drama, such as a row with my husband, I create a blockage.
It takes energy to ignore feelings, the hidden ones then get mixed up with others and before you know it, you’ve blown your top over the smallest thing.
This happened to me the other night. I went bat shit crazy at my 12-year-old daughter. I had been asked to sew ribbons in her ballet shoes for a forthcoming exam and every time I asked for said shoes, she couldn’t find them or came up with an excuse.
Things reached a head. She screamed at me and rather than act like a cool-headed adult, I tried to outshout her. I looked so demented my 16-year-old daughter filmed me and threatened to put the footage on Instagram. I shudder at the thought of me being the worst kind of mother going viral.
I completely over-reacted. I do that a lot because something inside me is triggered. An emotional monster is awoken and runs amok.
Yesterday, Marion asked me to write a list of all the people, things and situations I resented. My first response was to chime ‘But I don’t resent anyone or anything!’ 15 minutes later, I’d filled four pages of A4 with petty resentments. Even my legs took a hammering for being covered in cellulite.
Then, she made me close my eyes and really experience the emotion of resentment. It was big, heavy and sat on my shoulders like a growling Tom cat.
I wanted to stop there, but she urged me to go deeper. What was beneath that resentment? Anger. And beneath that? Fear. And again, what lurked under that? Despair.
I was surprised by the intensity of these emotions. I don’t acknowledge them, yet they fuel my reactions in day-to-day life.
Finally, Marion asked me to forgive anyone or anything I resented with the Ho’oponopono prayer. The name is a bit of a mouthful, but the words are easy enough.
There’s a story about a Hawaiian therapist who cured a load of criminally insane patients by accepting that he was responsible for their wrongdoings – the idea is that everything that comes to your attention is your responsibility. This may well be an urban myth, but I like the sentiment.
Let’s use Hitler as an example. I think we can all agree that he was an evil monster, but given the right ingredients, everyone has the potential to be a Hitler. And he didn’t act alone. He was voted in remember.
It feels a bit mental to be accepting responsibility for things you didn’t do. Are the New Zealand mosque killings really my fault? Apparently, we have all played our part. I am not absolved of responsibility because it happened on the other side of the world. It is a lot to get your head around, so the advice is to start with things you know for sure that you caused yourself before moving onto national or global issues.
You say ‘I’m sorry, please forgive me, thank-you and I love you.’
I’ll admit, I felt like a bit of a chump sat there with my eyes closed on a Saturday morning saying those words and for some strange reason, I really struggled to say ‘I love you’ out loud. My voice turned into a whisper, which for me, is unheard of!
The Ho’oponopono prayer seems a bit bonkers, but I do like the idea of being able to empathise with everyone, no matter how ghastly their crime, of thinking ‘There but for the grace of God, go I’ because although I am not about to do anything heinous, if I was in enough pain, I might.
The work we did yesterday was intense. Fear gave me palpitations and at other times, I couldn’t speak for sobbing. I ran through the gamut of my emotions and it was exhausting.
Today, I’ve got that slightly woozy feeling you get when you haven’t slept properly for a couple of nights. I also feel vulnerable. Exposed. I put this down to the fact that I’ve broken down the walls I build every time I shut down emotionally.
Have I made friends with my feelings? Not really, but I took a long hard look at them and decided it’s high time time we got to know each other better.