Journal Entry: October 26, 2014
At the end of the day, this is my truth. I am strong, I am joyful, and I do deserve happiness.
The last day of the workshop was incredibly taxing. If I thought I was tired and drained when I arrived, I had no idea what those words meant. I left the workshop and headed to the airport running purely on adrenaline. I shed a lot of tears, and when asked what was the most valuable aspect of the workshop, I did not hesitate when I said the most valuable and rewarding part was sitting in a room with 24 other beautiful women and feeling like everyone understands me and understands my pain and they do not judge, they do not think I am to blame for my husband’s behavior, because they know we are all victims of an unfathomable crime. It was the companionship and camaraderie of the other women that helped me to realize how strong I am and that helping myself, actually helps others.
As promised in my last post, there was one exercise over the weekend at which I completely failed. As we entered the workshop meeting space early this morning, we were asked not to speak, or laugh, or make any noise. We were asked to be quiet and focused and serious. Well, I get enough of that in my real life and I don’t like it. I wanted the last day to be filled with happiness, joy, and laughter. We had left the night before with smiles across our faces feeling strong, and loved. I started immediately feeling uncomfortable and I knew, since I tend to be on the talkative, joy-spreading end of the spectrum, that I was not going to like this exercise. And I was correct.
Again, for the sake of keeping most aspects of the workshop proprietary to Beyond Affairs, I will give a somewhat broad strokes version of the morning’s exercise.
The room was dark, barely light enough to get into our small groups and find a chair. Then the lights were turned completely down. Anne walked us through a meditation, which focused on releasing burdens from our childhood. As she got near the end of the recitation, the Rihanna and Eminem duet “Love the way you lie” starting playing in the background, softly at first, then louder. Anne started talking to us, guiding us to release the anger in ourselves that is holding back the healing, as her talking got louder, so did the music, the music was pounding and as Eminem yelled out his truth, Anne yelled louder. My chest began constricting. I was curling in upon myself. I felt that incredibly uncomfortable feeling that I was not safe. We were asked to stand up, in the dark, in front of our chairs and yell at the people who have wronged us in our lives, yell out the anger we have been harboring. Scream if we had to to release the pain that is holding us back. Think back to when we were little and think about all the things that hurt our feelings, or made us feel bad. Then yell out how unfair it all is. There was wailing, screaming even, and the emotions were palpable around the room.
I could not do it. My mentor spoke softly in my ear, “Kat, you need to stand up, you need to yell at those angry memories. You need to release the burden you are carrying. Scream at the people who have wronged you.” I sat there and I tried. I tried really hard to think about moments in my childhood that made me angry. I tried to garner the emotions they asked for, but I do not harbor anger. I am not an angry person. I understand it is good to let your feelings be known, to let out negative emotions. I do not think I am better than others because I do not hold anger in my heart. This is just who I am. I do not feel stronger because I do not go around being resentful. Do I have angry and resentful moments? Of course, some of those moments have been shared, on this blog. But I have learned since I was a child that I feel better if I do not hold on to these emotions. I was not judging the other women around the room doing what they were asked, yelling, screaming, crying. All I could muster was crying, crying for the pain being shared.
I thought about my childhood, and my parents splitting. I remember being relieved that the bullying and arguing could now stop. I am not mad at either of my birth parents. They did the best they could at 18 & 19 years old. I thought about my sister and her illness. How could I be mad at her? An innocent little girl dealing with trauma and abandonment issues, living with a mental illness growing inside her. She is a victim. I thought about my husband, again, a victim. A victim of his childhood and most likely his genetics. Did he hurt me, wrong me, lie and betray me? Yes. But the emotions that linger all these months post dday, are sadness and despair, not anger and resentment. I have looked into his beautiful blue eyes and pictured him as a young boy and thought how could anyone mistreat such a precious, vulnerable little being. Have I voiced anger towards the other woman? Yes, but mainly because, again, I am scared. She is stalking me and I don’t always feel like I have all the information I need to know how vulnerable I am, because I still feel pretty damn vulnerable.
The only people I could gather up enough bitterness towards, were my in-laws. My husband’s family has treated me very badly. I did not stand up, but I did shout, not too loudly, that it wasn’t fair that they had treated me so poorly when I had done nothing but nurture their son. I am a faithful, loving companion to their child and they have spent the better part of 30 years treating me like dirt on their shoe. I did yell at them, a little. But again, it is pain I feel from their abuse. Pain that they somehow learned to be horrible people, and then they passed it along to their son.
In the end, I realized it is okay for me to not have a lot of anger to release in this dark room with these lovely women. It is okay that I am not overwhelmed with bitterness and resentment. Clearly the emotions that paralyze me are grief, pain, despair, and fear. These are real and destructive emotions as well, and I need to conquer them in order to heal.