- Cynthia Coupe
Updated: May 5, 2022
Oh. What. The. Fuck. Do. Whatever. It. Takes.
This mantra came from a personal growth and empowerment training program Frank and I were involved in a few years back. It became something we said during challenges, and something I’ve returned to in recent months.
I said this to myself as I entered into my first grief counseling session.
Brainspotting. Have you heard of it?
It’s in the same field of work as EMDR, both employing the use of eye movements to gain insight into emotional triggers or upsets. With Brainspotting, you practice looking in a direction you are naturally drawn to which may bring up a memory or emotion you then talk about, or sit with, and process. Apparently it can take years off from traditional talk therapy because you’re getting at thoughts and feelings that don’t require words to access.
I’ve been using it for grief processing.
So there I was, on Zoom and sitting in the only private space I had available to me…my car…and having the cry of my life.
I thought to myself “I have got to get through this grief. I have got to let it move through me and process it out.”
I can tell you this…yesterday, as I was in my Brainspotting session, I processed some emotions following Frank’s death: about going through his things, my anger for his not being here, anger for my sadness, frustration at the amount of work I have to do. Between organizing the office and my home to the things he’s had stored for 10+ years, I shut down. I had feelings, I knew that, but I didn’t know what they were. I felt hot and flustered on the inside…filled with broken glass or barbed wire. I had 4 days of not being able to figure out what I was feeling or why, and it was driving me nuts.
But, come my therapy appointment on Tuesday, I finally understood what had been bothering me.
What came up was that I’ve been going through all the places that Frank was in my life, while also going through the places that I wasn’t in his life. I’m removing things…things from where he was with me, things from where I never was with him. And somehow this thought brings me to a new set of tears…because I was so special to him...and now he’s gone and maybe that means I’m not special anymore.
Brainspotting has me look to the left and I’m flooded with this overwhelming sadness. Then I look to the right and the feeling comes that this is my opportunity to soften instead of harden.
It is so easy to harden…I have spent a lifetime hiding my vulnerability, but I don’t want to do that anymore. Frank was my doorway into understanding and accepting my vulnerability. He was so safe.
But to soften…that means I have to relax into acceptance. Acceptance of the vulnerability. Acceptance of me, without his validation...accepting the truth of my own light.
The temptation is to believe that I am no longer special…to harden into believing that what was is all in the past. He shone a light on me and his light is gone. I am no longer illuminated.
Ah, but is this true?
What if I am the illumination?
The light that was shining was mine, and he saw it.
So I practice softening now into this light, into this knowing, this acceptance.
If I harden, I dim.
So the growth edge is to develop into this, to expand into this new way of being, into a person that loves more in the wake of tragedy instead of loving less, and that includes love for myself.
How about you? What's in your OWTFDWIT wheelhouse? Where can you soften instead of harden, release instead of hold on?
My work is not done, but my way is becoming clearer.
I am grateful for Frank, and I am grateful for me.
And I will…
Even if it requires staring off into space
While looking to the right.