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Mourning for Healing

mary-mackenzie-150I’m sitting here staring at my computer wondering what to write.  The thing that is most alive in me right now is too embarrassing to write about, I say to myself.  “Pick something less revealing.”  Unfortunately, nothing has come to mind after staring at the computer for 10 minutes so here goes, warts and all.

I met with a dear group of friends for our monthly book club meeting this Saturday.  I got VERY triggered, my jackals were howling in my brain and finally I left rather abruptly.   During the 2 hour gathering I had tried self-empathy and I made a few requests that weren’t well connected to needs and one could even argue about whether they were clear, doable requests, but the point is I made an attempt at shifting the situation and my experience of it.  To no avail, though.  I left shut down and in tears.

I stayed home most of Sunday and cried and empathized with myself, napped, and watched touching movies.  I was mostly hold-up in my bedroom.  At one point, when I thought I was level-headed, I sent an email to the group members.  I think I used the NVC process well, but behind my words was blame, blame, blame.  One time I even said I wasn’t blaming, but the truth is I was.

During this time I considered leaving the group, ending the friendships, and even moving out of state.  I could not access my deep love for every single person in the group, or even my own love of self and my life.

My blame lead to fear and my fear disconnected me from my needs and once that happened I was lost in a pit of hopeless despair.

Underneath it all I had a sense of okayness that everything would be alright…eventually.  I also knew intellectually that I was disconnected from myself and that that was coloring everything.  I couldn’t feel this, but I knew it.  In this one beautiful way, I trusted myself and my process.  This is my one little celebration in this story!

After several hours of crying, self empathy, and resting I went to bed last night in peace.  I didn’t have any new information but I was at peace.

I woke up this morning elated, downright joyful.  I got up, sat in meditation for a while and then proceeded to look at the situation again.  Every single thing that I was upset about was a non-issue.  I’m not kidding – every single thing.  In fact, I realized that every single thing I was upset about was a story in my head and not fact at all.  I’m not kidding about this either.

My suffering (purposely chosen) was about a story that I made up in my head about my walking into a hornet’s nest that day, and then it grew to me believing that they all knew it but chose not to tell me, and then I started to judge them for not handling the situation differently, and then I started to believe that I couldn’t trust them, and so then I started to get scared.

Can you relate to this?  Please tell me you can!

Deep breath.  And, the story started because I was feeling really, really sad about another situation in my life that was completely unrelated to the book club.  Boom.  Had my emotional tank been full, I believe my story would not have taken hold at all.  I might have the initial thought, but I wouldn’t have let it take over.  I certainly wouldn’t have believed it.

This is to me about presence and mourning.  I had already mourned the other situation for a couple of days and didn’t want to take the time to complete the process.  I figured I would pick it up again … some day.

Can you relate to this?  Please tell me you can!

The problem is that by denying my feelings and needs, I automatically have to start shutting down and going to sleep in my life.  There’s really no other choice.  I start to become a “nice dead person” as Marshall Rosenberg (founder of Nonviolent Communication) says.  And, nice dead people get frustrated and start to believe the jackal stories that run through their minds because they are disconnected from their needs which are crying out for something precious, which in my case was nurturing and tenderness.

And when I believe the jackal story, I create suffering.  Sometimes a little suffering, like when I’m in the grocery store line and someone cuts in front of me and so I think, “What a selfish jerk.”  That creates a little suffering each time.  But sometimes it’s big suffering like the incident this weekend, where for 24 hours it colored my relationships with several people who I hold dear.

I believe we cannot fully heal without first passing through mourning, and I don’t mean mourning like window shopping either.  I mean passing THROUGH, trying on everything in the store maybe even more than once, and possibly getting someone else’s opinion, and often going to a different store to go over it again.  I mean mourning until there’s no more mourning left about the situation.

And if we try to skip mourning, we only create more suffering for ourselves and the people with whom we share our lives.  We can’t always attend to mourning in one sitting, often we can’t actually.  But there’s a difference between denying it and acknowledging that something else is taking our priority and so we’ll come back to our mourning later.  I believe I was trying to deny that I hadn’t completed my mourning process.

I can’t say that I’m thrilled with this experience but I am very grateful for it because it is one more reminder to me of the importance of giving myself the space and time to mourn.  And through my mourning I gift my relationships with a purer, more loving me.  And, it’s a perfect, painful example of what happens when I don’t attend to my mourning.

Here’s the other thing.  Just having this realization doesn’t end it for me because my actions stimulated pain in other people, so today I started the process of healing our relationships and that means, in part, witnessing and being present to any mourning each person needs to express.  For if I don’t, it will leave space for more stories that any of us may generate, and will not fully be an expression of my love for them and my passion for living peacefully.

And, did I mention self-empathy for being a less than skillful certified CNVC trainer?  Yep, there’s plenty of self-empathy to be had about that as well.

So, the dance continues.

Tags: NVC Consciousness

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Comments (5)

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    Lee Dagger

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    Hi Mary: I loved this! I definitely relate to it. I love the vulnerability of it and it helps me understand myself a little better. I have had the exact situation where I was enraged about something, worked it through and it completely passed! I can’t wait to tell my husband because he thinks I’m the only one who goes through this! It is a good reminder for me, too, that sometimes I just need tenderness, and perhaps to mourn. And I find it helpful to learn that mourning needs to be done completely. Thank you!

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    Erik Sinding-Larsen

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    Thank you Mary, for your honesty, and valuable insights.
    Erik Sinding-Larsen, Oslo, Norway.

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    Kendra Mon

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    Your story helps me to look more clearly at a group situation I mourned about. I received a lot of empathy from people who shared my same jackal judgments of the others in the situation but now realize I need to go deeper into looking at those judgments and into mourning. Thank you.

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    beth

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    Hi Mary. I really find what you write inspiring. I like your way of analysing the needs of human being.I’d like to say that when sadness colours everything we think about escaping and changing our residence and work, forgetting that the problem could be in the way of our thinking. I know some people did that but did they really find relief ??? Patience and giving yourself time to mourn and listen to the tiny voice in yourself that tells everything will be fine and there’s hope will be helpful as this sound will be stronger with time.

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    billy

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    i appreciate your concern

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