After publishing my last post I felt a giant weight release itself from somewhere behind my sternum like a great knot loosening.
In truth, I actually felt the weight release twice with respect to that particular issue; the first time was when I wrote the article, the second, more significant time, was when it was published.
From way back as far as I can remember I’ve been keeping a diary. Sometimes it would be locked, sometimes stowed away, sometimes I would pour my heart into it, writing what words could not express, saying the unsayable, thinking the unthinkable and knowing it was mine to write in; I could say and think as I chose. I tried censoring myself for awhile and other times I tried divulging my heart to friends or partners. However, nothing was quite like the uncensored outpourings of my soul, entering a tangible place in the real world, where there was proof that they existed, and whereby the act of writing those feelings down made them seem more real.
Although some people choose to pour their souls into their internet blogs, using them as a personal diary, I can’t help but equate the act to using a friend in place of a psychiatrist. Some things just aren’t meant for cyberspace and, although self-expression is important, I couldn’t help but feel that documenting the interpersonal struggles of my life would be harmful and hurtful to those involved. However, the posts I have written that have been most healing to my soul have been the following:
These posts mark some of my best writing, which isn’t surprising as they all expressed exactly what I was experiencing emotionally in the moment I wrote them. Typing out the words and articulating my feelings provided relief, but the act of sending them off into cyberspace where friends, family and colleagues would have access to them provided an emotional unloading unlike anything I’d felt before. It was the online equivalent to “a good cry.” It felt amazing.
Ayurvedic medicine tells us that strong Udana vayu, one of the five vital energies of the body, is essential for self-expression and for the necessary flow of energy in the body. Traditional Chinese Medicine stresses the importance of fostering the release of pent-up emotions, often using acupuncture to elicit strong emotional responses in order to prevent stagnation and potential damage to the vital TCM organs, namely, the Liver. According to naturopathic medicine, self-expression and the ability to articulate emotions, express them and know that they are heard is essential for the healing process.
However, not all healing circles seem to feel the same way. One thing that has bothered me while attending Al-anon meetings is the line from the poem Just For Today or, in Italian, Solo Per Oggi (also read at most 12-Step meetings, including AA), “Just for today… I will not show anyone that my feelings are hurt; they may be hurt, but today I will not show it.”
When hearing this poem read at the beginning of virtually every meeting, I feel something inside of me silently protest. If I’m hurt, shouldn’t I share it with others? What’s the good of hiding it? What does it achieve? I feel that there is little worth in holding up a facade of strength when deep down we’re really feeling angry and hurt at another’s behaviour. Nothing can come from burying our emotions except the frustrated resentment of emotional stagnation.
In a book I picked up for $1 from the Toronto Reference Library’s used book store, by psychologist Anne Wilson Schaef, I was introduced to and captivated by the descriptions of Deep Process Work, a therapeutic technique that Wilson Schaef developed, which essentially involves providing space for the patient to finally release and work through pent up emotions.
Could it be that repressed emotions are at the root of all mental, emotional and even physical disease? Anne Wilson Schaef certainly thinks so and from a mind-body standpoint it seems plausible. However, holding back from expressing ourselves to others for fear of causing a scene, creating conflict or becoming too vulnerable is a constant societal problem that we all face and one that I myself continue to struggle with.
That being said, I choose to rewrite the rest of that confounded poem Just For Today:
Just for today I will show people if my feelings are hurt, if I’m pissed off, angry, sad, depressed or even deliriously happy.
Oh, and I won’t put energy into being agreeable or looking as well as I can, or dressing “becomingly” if I don’t feel like it. If I feel like looking like shit, then Just For Today I’ll look like complete shit.
I’ll also not bother to keep my voice low if I feel like being loud or bother being courteous if it means hiding how I truly feel. I also might just have to criticize and find fault in something if there’s fault in it. Just For Today, there’ll be no holding back.
Maybe tomorrow will be different.