Picture taken at the garden of Musee Rodin, Paris, France. August 2013
Once the big shocks of trauma and many of the symptoms of post traumatic stress resolved, a new layer emerged. It was there all along, but hidden under nightmares, hyper vigilance, outbursts of rage, and short term memory problems. That layer was a strong feeling and thoughts of wanting to kill myself. I understood the process of healing and realized I needed to go deeper to resolve it. Relying on the courage and skill of my therapist and the help of a group I call the MFR Tribe, I was able to get to the bottom of very serious feelings and thoughts of suicide. The lasting effects of resolution are still evident 6 years later.
Building on my increasing skill at healing – it takes practice and I was two years into treatment – I had gained enough trust in the process and my therapist to reach out, deliberately decide not to kill myself and instead go into the feeling of dying. My therapist was able to steer my persistent thoughts back to feeling my body – which is where the resolution ultimately happened.
It is entirely possible to be free from thoughts of suicide, but to do so requires a highly centered therapist, skilled in this specific area. It cannot be done alone or with someone who cannot remain centered until resolution happens. It also must be initiated by the suicidal person and not the therapist. The healing process cannot be forced and the suicidal person has to take the lead. The power has to be firmly in their hands.
Here is a look inside the process . . .
I began to feel suicidal after a treatment and the next day, sent this email to my therapist.
February 28, 2007
I was glad to see your email on MFR Talk. It snapped me back from wherever I was after my last treatment – which was not particularly present. Thank you.
I find myself saying/feeling the words “this work has changed my life” to more and more people. Everything else I read and learn pales in comparison. It does not get at the heart of the matter.
Having said that, I have found the heart of the matter of what continually leads me in a downward spiral. It is a feeling of profound isolation. Of total disconnection with everyone and everything. I have never come back to my body – only visited like one visits a grave site. I am continually asking myself what I’m still doing alive, because I’m supposed to be dead. I’m a walking dead person! I know that until I relive (or undie?), you and I are merely treating a body with no soul and that is not fair to you or me. I also know that transcending this will be a big step forward.
So the question is, how do I get to this place or what is the question I should be asking myself or . . . yep, totally stuck here. I know that this work has changed my life and so I have faith that it is the way through. Any advice you can give will be gladly received.
March 1, 2007
Just time for a short answer now, things did not feel complete last appointment, you may have noticed me hovering around as you left.
Just to be safe do we need to include another health care provider? or counselor?
Assuming not, how does it feel to be stuck? What does it look like to be unstuck? You say it is like visiting a grave site, do you need to “be in the grave”?
Do you need a 2 week intensive with John?
May I put out the body of your letter, without name or any form of identification on the chat line?
March 1, 2007
Thank you for your quick reply. I sat with the questions you provided last night. There were two things that came up. The first is that stuck feels hard and dry like a rock in my jaw eating into the center of my head. It also feels like being stuck standing, facing a corner in a room with no way out. I want to feel what unstuck feels like but so far I just wait.
The second thing was visiting myself as if visiting a grave site. I feel like I’m continually trying to feel in my body only to find it feels dead. Very cold in my throat and solar plexus, yet burning in my solar plexus. Then I feel the isolation.
Yes, please post. Anything would be helpful and I’m not in a position to post myself. I’ll be able to read any replies directly.
The other component of this is what I like to call my logical mind clinging to the past. If I feel the feelings of isolation then I can remain in my small cocoon. Then I make it tangible by establishing new relationships with people and then have them “abandon” me. I’ve worked on this with my psychologist in the past, but we’re pretty much at a dead end now. So I’ve just come to accept that I will always feel isolation. Fortunately my body rebels at this so all I can do is just keep searching for a way out. This is where MFR comes in. I feel connections now that I’ve been to Sedona. This has never happened before. I want to go back. When I saw the cancellation in March I felt sad because I want to go back but have various excuses not too (family, money, the usual).
I apologize if this is too much information. I just needed to get it out in black and white and I trust you.
Thank you for caring.
This is what some call the Dark Night of the Soul. It is not a fun place to be. I wanted to just be left alone, but could barely stand the feeling of it. Talk of people’s happiness and how wonderful life was just intensified the feeling of isolation, so it was best to be alone or to be with Dave – a person who had the capacity to just allow me to be. This created an atmosphere of engagement and non-resistance, which interrupted my feelings of isolation and created a safe space where I could feel below death.
Friday, March 2, 2007
Have you seen the wave of support out there for you, even though they don’t know who you are. I hope some of the responses have been helpful.
The other thing to try is to feel it even deeper, when you have an appropriate time, like holding on to an object tighter and tighter. Hold on to it so tight that eventually you just have to let go.
Please let me know how you are doing.
The number of responses that came from Dave’s help request on MFR Chat stunned me. People who didn’t know me but understood what I was feeling because they had been there themselves. Then Sheila posted the question “What if you WERE dead? How would that feel?” This prompted a feeling of falling into a deep, cold, black void. I felt my body and mind resisting the feeling, but I was losing my grip fast.
I called Dave. He guided me down into that void. Into the feeling of death. I felt intense fear and softened and allowed the feeling. I felt under the coldness. Then something shifted. There was light and warmth under the coldness of the void.
This all happened in a short phone conversation. It was all I needed. That final nudge to feel what was under the void. I had never thought there was anything good under it; and I had resisted it all these decades, for fear of dying, yet never knowing I could challenge my fear of death simply by feeling it go through my body – quite safely – without having to kill myself to experience it. Huh.
Feeling beyond the previous “dead end” into something that felt good, my mind no longer needed to search for a reason for the dead feeling and I stopped thinking about killing myself.
March 8, 2007
I started to journal my unwinding adventure and discovered I had no need to because I FEEL it’s affects. Words would dampen the intensity. Needless to say, I now know I can go to the places of my worst nightmares and you will be there cheering me on. That is the most powerful thing one person can do for another human being.
So thank you for being there, in the middle of all that, guiding me with your big heart, comforting arms and compassionate words. Thank you for bringing me back from the abyss – finally, I feel alive!!
Now I can spend my vacation getting used to my new body! It feels strange and new and wonderful!
And I am actually feeling excited about the next time. That’s new too.
And please say a big thank you to the wonderful people who sent their encouragement. I could feel their support and it allowed me to summon my courage to feel into the fear.
Until next time,
Dave’s email to the MFR Chatline:
Subject: “Dave’s Client” clatient?
Details would be inappropriate, but I want to say thank you to all of you for your kind and wise words and your support.
Be easy with your self.
PS We use different terms to refer to the folks that we try to help in a professional way. Both patient and client can be pejorative. One term is associated needing care which may imply a level of dependence and the other is associated with an impersonal exchange for service solely for financial gain. I’d like to suggest the compromise “clatient”.