TRIGGER WARNING: skip to tips if sensitive to eating disorders.
After years of driving the same old roads of my hometown, I accidentally took the wrong exit. I shrugged to myself nonchalantly. I knew all the backroads too. Winding my way along a dark street in Northern California, I suddenly found myself dumbfounded. Where am I?
The bay glistened with the lights of the homes around the water and the moonlight above. Am I...? I thought, suddenly nervously. No, I couldn't be. I decided, convincingly.
Lost, confused, and feeling a small pit in my stomach, the wheels of my car glided along a familiar curve. I pulled up my map to reveal that in fact, I was.
It had been eleven years since I had been here. Here, being the house we rented for a few months when I was fifteen. This was the first road I ever drove by myself (without a license, if I may confess). My heart was pounding with exhilaration and freedom. An unremembered song I thought I'd never forget was playing in the background. It's one of my only real memories of joy from that time period.
This was one of the loneliest times of my life.
After a falling out with one friend, I decided all I needed was my boyfriend, deeming to the lyrics of one of our songs, "all I need in this life of sin is me and my boyfriend." It wasn't true. I was aching.
I dug my own hole of sadness and perpetuated my own isolation even deeper by choosing to live in the pool house and be independent. Just me. No friends. Not even my family. On my best days, my hairless cat would spend the night in there with me.
It was all a choice, but I felt stuck. I was in my own dark quicksand of self-isolation.
I could still smell the cloyingly sweet, musty smell of the pool house. I could still see my young self pushing my headboard-less bed frame around the room for the fourth time, naively believing that maybe the Feng Shui could help change my state of loneliness. I could still taste the bitter vomit coming up from my throat as I heaved my nightly dinner into the toilet. I could still feel that relentless sinking hollowness in my chest.
How could something so empty feel so heavy?
Eleven years later, as I drove by, I could still feel that pain in my heart. When I wanted to gun the gas, blast the music and drown out what hurt, I did the opposite. I turned the music down and felt this sadness courageously. I shook my shoulders and wrung my wrists. I swirled my spine around in my seat and opened my jaw wide. Deep, guttural groans came from deep inside of my lungs. I let them. I let it through and out until I was lighter and lighter and light again.
Here are the 3 steps I used to move tough feelings through:
1. Feel the feeling.
What does it feel like to feel the way you feel right now? Where do you feel it? What happens when you feel it? Can you just feel it without attaching thoughts or stories?Just feel and breathe. We are made to feel because feeling heals.
2. Shake it out.
Ask your body and this feeling what they need. Literally, “what do you need?” Let yourself be guided somatically (by your body) to move, twitch, flail, shake, stomp, jump, writhe - whatever comes through. All primal beings shake off trauma and tension. Let yourself let this move through you. Your body knows what you need to release and heal. It was made for this.
3. Sound from it.
Sound may seem weird and edgy for you, but this is a piece of the process that is too often forgotten or suppressed. “Sounding” is another primal response to the challenges of life and allows for deep release, relief and expression. It also has the ability to stimulate the vagus nerve, which helps calm the nervous system. Guttural moans and groans, vibrato song, or blood-curdling screams are all welcome. Whatever comes up, let it out.
Do this all until you feel a shift. Trust yourself. Get out of your head and go.
I know this can sound intimidating, so please let me know if you need a guide. Deep, heavy emotion can be resolved through this three conscious steps. Let me show you how.