For so many of us, fear is a driving force, and it often gets covered over with anger and sadness. For some of us (like me), when I get afraid, my default is to take control, be in charge and lead with my anger. For others, it leads to confusion, inability to make decisions and compliance. For still others, their response is to dissociate and disconnect. In all of these cases, they’re just coping mechanisms that help us get through the day. But there is a solution.
My teacher, Susan Aaron, creator of Psychodramatic Bodywork®, talks about how little our culture allows fear. Two of the “acceptable” places to express it are at amusement parks and at scary movies, and people pay good money to scream – that high-pitched, coming down a roller coaster kind of scream. But we all walk around with it on a daily basis, often with nowhere to put it. In Chinese Medicine, fear is connected to the bladder and the kidneys, and so it manifests as low back pain, bladder and kidney issues (infections, having to pee a lot, etc), sleep issues (difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep, nightmares, etc), and a whole host of other things.
As I’ve been facilitating a retreat over the last few days, with an incredibly willing group of men and women, I’ve been frustrated by the limitations of the space we’re in. If these group members were to really go deep into their fear and scream to release it (which is what the body naturally wants to do), people around us would get frightened and historically, I’ve even had them call the cops, thinking that some horrible kind of violence or abuse is happening. So my dream is to find a retreat space where I can allow group members to go as deep into their trauma recovery as they need to go, and I’m not going to give up until it such a place reveals itself – even if I have to create it myself.
There’s a reason why people use coping mechanisms such as alcohol and drugs, bingeing on food, overspending, working too much, etc…it’s to distract them and contain all those feelings that are just too much to bear sometimes. But if we’reforced to do that day after day after day, it takes it’s toll.
So what can we do about it? We can find safe places to release the feelings – the fear, sadness and anger (and I don’t mean raging – more on that in another post). We can allow the body to release what has been pent up, in some cases, for decades. We can find places to scream, cry, kick, shake and release. I’d love to hear your ideas about where those places are, and in the coming days, I’ll share mine.