anger · body · disappointment · family · grief · healing · therapy

Rage against the dying of your light.




So, I’ve seen this somatic therapist (Rosen Method) now about 4 times, and
each time I plan to go, I wonder if we’re “doing” anything, if anything is
“happening,” especially if anything is “changing.” I want results to
long-harbored ills, and I want them now. Or at least evidence that we’re
heading in that direction.
Damn this woo-woo laying on of hands, heal thyself bullshit
– gimme the Rx, gimme the fix, and let’s get on with this “life” business. Or
more accurately, let’s get on with the happy life business. Enough processing. More doing, more getting, more
fulfillment, more joy, more security, more ….
She told me that if I keep on trying to skip over my
emotions, they’ll still just be there. Waiting, licking at the back of my
throat, causing the tension in my shoulders I’ve carried for decades. If I put a
lid on them, feel them well up, and force them back down, … well, I could
finish that sentence with, “Then you might get cancer.”
But I’m so good at
emoting. I’m an emotional wreck! No, I kid, but I
am an emotional person, I feel
things, deeply, often, sometimes. So, where am I not feeling what needs to come
up and out?
“Anger wasn’t an allowable emotion,” I told her. I know I’m
not unique in that. But anger was modeled as a way to impose, control,
terrorize. Anger, I interpreted, is bad. It causes people to behave badly,
meanly, poisoned.
Anger, I also surmised, is consuming. When you are angry,
you are nothing else but a hot, raging ball of ferocity. No humanity, no
compassion, no faults.
I’ve worked on anger before; I’ve read Julia Cameron saying,
Anger is a call to action. It shows us where our boundaries are being crossed,
and calls us to take action in their assertion. (to paraphrase.)
Anger is healthy. Anger is right.
Anger is totally not allowed.
This isn’t to say I don’t get angry, anyway. Ask my
coworkers! But I feel it as a place where my veil of self-control has slipped,
instead of as an integrated part of my expression. I feel my anger as a
failure. Something to be overcome, overruled, rooted out.
But, that’s simply not the case, and the more I keep it separate
from myself and an integrated whole, the more compartmentalized and dissociated
I will be.
It’s not like I want to be the Hulk, or a crank, or someone
who’s angry all the time. I just want to allow it to be a part of my emotional
range, just like compassion or amusement, and like boredom or fear or apathy. I
don’t quash with visceral force even these less “comfortable” emotions; I don’t
feel shame over feeling them. Positive or negative ones.
But Anger. And grief. Get the cold shoulder. The taut
one. The tense, clamped down, forcible shoulder.
Being a somatic therapist in this way of working, it’s sort
of like reiki, only she’s not “sending me good vibes;” she’s observing how my body tenses or releases,
acknowledges “true” things, or asks me to rephrase, since that didn’t “feel
true.” I don’t know precisely what polygraph she’s plugged into in my body, but
when I do rephrase to something less “proper,” I do feel the difference.
She can feel very acutely when, this week, I began to
talk about my disappointment around work. And I began to say that it feels like
I’m just giving my dad more evidence that I’m the fuck-up daughter. He’s the
Dudley Do-Right (his words), beyond reproach and reproaching everyone else – can
you feel my anger, too? – and that I don’t have a firm career track, a
“successful” life, feels like more evidence for him that I’m the fuck-up. She
asked if I felt that way about the career stuff. And I said, no, I simply feel
like a failure. Which I interpret through all the lovely filters of his I’ve
internalized as a fuck-up. Which I suppose is the same thing, come to think of it.
You’ve heard this before from me. The antipathy toward getting
better, or simply seeing myself as
better because it would change the entire nature of my relationship with him.
There wouldn’t
be a relationship
– certainly not the one we’ve had, at least. And so for now, in fact since
cancer, there
is no relationship.
Yell at your sick daughter while she’s getting chemo, and you stop getting the
right to shame me. Sorry, Pops. I’m sitting on the bench right now.
But I haven’t walked out of the park, have I? I still want
revenge. I still want to pain him. I still want him to see the error of his
ways then and now, and be the father I
want that I’ve never had. I still have that hope. And so my anger kicks in when
I recall him to others. My frustration. My deep deep disappointment.
But only for a flash. As soon as I let myself have a moment
of anger, even now, I have this impulse to say, Well, focus on yourself, Molly, and
what you can change, and your expectations; you’re living your life
away from him, and yadda yadda bullshit.
I need to feel angry!
I need to feel betrayed. I need to rail against the fate and circumstance of
it, and I need to let it pass.
I never let it pass. Pass through me. Through my red, pumping
oxygenated blood.
She asked me as I lay (clothed!) on the massage table, Can
you feel that? Can you feel when you got angry how much energy there was? Your
voice got loud, your body got hot.
And then it was gone. And then my shoulders tense, my gut
constricts. I’m not allowed to be angry. I’m not supposed to be.
I don’t want to let it flow through me. I’m terrified of
being consumed by it like they were.
But, I have had the experience a few years ago around grief.
I was terrified that if I began to let it out, it would drown me. If I started
to cry, to feel it, it would overwhelm me, and I would be lost in it. In the
psych ward in it. So, I held it back. (I do still.) But during that time, maybe
5 or so years ago, in the presence and care of another therapist, I let myself
feel some of what I needed to. I let it pass through me, out of me, I let it
disorient me.
But it didn’t dismantle me. I wasn’t wrecked by it. I felt it. It
was hard and sad and wracking, but it wasn’t annihilating.
I will try to remember that as I go forward here, because it
feels really old and really sad to hold my body in fight/flight/freeze all the
time, and to interpret my life and myself as anything other than brilliant. 

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