“Meghan, you had that cervical spinal disc herniation in your neck but now you seem fine, how did you heal it?
Meghan, how did you recover after finding out about infidelity?
Meghan, I just found out my baby has a brain injury and I can’t move, how did you go on with your life?
Meghan, you seem so happy. I, too, am going through a divorce and I’m so angry!”
Trauma affects all of us at some point in time but for others, it all seems to bear down at once.
I have learned to cope with what I call “Emotional Releases.”
Let me tell you something, some days I’m barely hanging on by a thread. Some moments I can’t breathe. Sometimes I get in bed and the bed is vibrating, but it’s not: I’m just shaking.
I don’t like having moments of loss, panic, and utter despair, so I’ve tried not to feel them at all.
All intense feelings are time-consuming: we relish in the good ones, like falling in love or earning a promotion, but we hide from the ones that hurt. And I don’t mean “hurt” like the anger you feel when you get a parking ticket or the sadness you feel from your favorite dress being too tight.
I mean mind-numbing despair.
Fight or flight stuff…
FLEE FLEE FLEE.
Flee until your neck hurts so bad you need two epidural steroid injections and daily muscle relaxers and nerve-blockers just to be able to function before your scheduled surgery. Flee until your wrist swells up so big that you can’t carry your kids. Flee until you get a terrible cold (but you NEVER get sick!), flee until you start to develop new food allergies. Flee until your gut health is so off track you become scared to eat anything that’s not completely bland.
And then stop.
It’s time to stop doing the fleeing you don’t even know you’re doing.
Your brain has emotional pain, yet you are allowing it sit there and fester in the hidden caverns of your mind. It has nowhere to go despite its need to be released: your pain releases in physical ways so we learn to PAY ATTENTION. Yep, that was me with that neck pain. It was a real problem: an MRI showed my disc was so severely herniated it was impinging almost half of my spinal cord (see pic). THAT IS CLINICALLY REAL. All of this is. I am not denying that.
I took the drugs and I scheduled surgery.
Two weeks later I went off all of my prescriptions cold turkey (not even an ibuprofen!) and cancelled surgery.
I paid attention to my brain because it’s smarter than me. I let it guide me.
Let’s back up: At this point my marriage was rocky, I had three very small children, I just stopped breastfeeding, I knew in my gut that one of my children had a disability but the doctors couldn’t figure it out and they looked at me like I was crazy (but I knew something was wrong, but I felt crazy… but I still knew. This was a back and forth mental see-saw nightmare.)
What did I do?
I’m not particularly fond of self-help books and as the daughter of a lawyer and a nurse I have been raised in the street-schools of logic and western medicine so woo-woo stuff doesn’t vibe with me. But this book was written by an MD – a neurologist – so I gave it a go. I forced myself to reach one chapter a day (there’s 9 chapters). I finished it in two days. By the fourth day I was off all meds.
I have never felt more in control of my health EVER. Mark my words: I will live to be at least 100 years old and will be a healthy, vibrant old woman until the day I die.
As long as I always do my Emotional Releases.
How to do this:
At first I started with writing. I’d recklessly list everything I was pissed off about… even dumb stuff. I’d become my “inner child.”
“I’m pissed off they can’t figure out what’s going on with my son! I’m pissed off I quit breastfeeding after only 5 months! I’m pissed off my stomach looks like I had twins! I’m pissed off that I have to clean my house! I’m pissed off that I stubbed my toe!”
Everything. Let it go. That’s it, that’s ALL I’d do in the beginning. I did it multiple times a day for weeks until my neck felt almost normal.
Fast forward to today. 11 months and MANY more traumatic events have occurred in these months, but I was equipped to deal with them.
I know of the power of my mind.
My Emotional Releases have evolved from just being my “inner child” to following it with a long, long, prayer of gratitude.
GRATITUDE. Then more gratitude.
Gratitude for the trauma I’ve experienced because it helps me grow, learn, and empathize to help others. Gratitude for the wrongs that have been done against me because they’ve allowed me to grow in my faith to become a more centered individual. Gratitude for the complete shit-show of my life because I now understand how to thrive under pressure. And, of course, gratitude for all the little things (that aren’t little): my kids, Hart’s incredible progress, my health, and the best friends and family in the entire world.
Finally, I finish my Emotional Release with affirmations of what I want in my life. <I am keeping my affirmations to myself for now.> Please, please, PLEASE know this: the sky is your limit! DO NOT limit yourself in what you deserve! And recite your affirmations all the time. Write them on your mirror: “I love my body because it is perfect.” Or “I will not talk badly about my body today.” I write them in my planner sometimes when I’m feeling low and I VERY OFTEN say them out loud in my car (so if you see me talking to myself now you know what I’m doing!).
Big Emotional Releases are very taxing for me and I rarely look forward to doing them. To be honest, I am at a point in my relationship with myself where I only do releases if my body is forcing me to do so (I’ve done 3 in the last week once because I woke up with TMJ, once I felt like I was getting sick, and once because my disc herniation flared up. Each time each ailment entirely disappeared. Full disclosure: I should’ve done 4 releases because I got terrible abdominal cramps one day but I very consciously skipped it and took Ibuprofen instead. Even after 11 months I’m a work in progress.)
With my big Releases I always go outside… I love to feel the elements – no matter the weather or temperature. (Even writing about this brings me a sense of quiet peace.) I always look at the sky, I always speak out loud, and I always hold out my hands and open my palms (as you see in the photos). More than anything else I love doing my Releases at night:
There’s something about talking to your God – or the Universe – that becomes so beautiful when you lean into the night sky.
Other than everything I’ve written thus far, one of my biggest lessons – and best coping mechanisms (other than the book The Game of Life And How To Play It) – is giving it up to God. Literally.
You guys, many, many days I cannot possibly bear the thought of knowing I will have to be separated from my children due to divorce; I visualize this burden and then – as silly as this sounds – I visualize handing it to God (or hand it over to the Universe, but just give it away to something bigger than you). I say, “I can’t handle it anymore because I can’t go on with my life with this burden.” So I give it to God. (Promptly followed by asking the angels to carry me because I cannot move, I am paralyzed with pain. But I must. And I will.) This has been IMMENSELY powerful.
I made up my mind that I refuse to carry anger. Therefore I am not angry (although I do have many moments of anger). And I refuse to allow my ego to make decisions. (But I still have an ego, I am human afterall.)
GIVE YOURSELF GRACE and celebrate your human moments.
Try an Emotional Release. Why not? It’s gotten me through the depths of hell. And who knows, the next time we talk I might’ve shaved my head and become a reclusive monk… oh wait, that means no more designer bags, let’s not get carried away here…
Love and Light to everyone reading this with tears of solidarity, empathy, or pain. I have your back. You got this.