In the summer of 2000 I received a huge and painful shock. My mother, who had had colon cancer 3-1/2 years earlier, was to have surgery for a suspected tumor in her lung.
I went numb and into denial. I knew this wasn't healthy, and I kept on telling myself I was going to deal with this and allow myself to feel whatever I needed to feel. I kept putting it off, though. It was going to be tonight or tomorrow or as soon as I took care of various pressing tasks (and the list of pressing tasks never seemed to end.)
Meanwhile, I was having unusual headaches, heart aches, bachaches, and a variety of other abnormal pain. I had insomnia, and I was irritable beyond description. By the day of the operation my degree of nervous tension was so great it was a wonder light bulbs weren't exploding in my presence.
Once I learned that my mother had survived the operation and that the tumor had originated from the original colon cancer and grown very slowly, some degree of sensation returned to me. I cried, a little, but it wasn't until after I saw my mother that I experienced the release my spirit had been craving. Miraculously, all my physical symptoms disappeared.
If I were to make a list of the most important elements in good health I would put full emotional expression at the top of it.
As any good psychotherapist can tell you, emotions, no matter how long they are ignored and repressed, don't go away. If someone had a traumatic experience when she was four years ago and never dealt with it, the emotional charge of that trauma is still alive within her. The charge of anger which was never resolved has equal staying power. Unexpressed grief is grief unhealed.
To put it somewhat more strongly: You would probably not knowingly put strychnine, arsenic, or other poisons into your body. Emotions such as guilt, resentment, anger, resignation, grief, and denial are in their own way equally toxic.
The basis of all vibrational healing - crystals, essences, Reiki, etc. - is the belief that all imbalance originates on the mental and emotional planes. If not corrected an imbalance can affect the physical body. When that happens medical, surgical, or pharmaceutical solutions may relieve the physical symptoms, but they or a new set of symptoms will occur if the basic imbalance remains.
I knew all of that, and taught it and wrote about it. On a day-to-day basis, with the help of crystals, essences, essential oils, Reiki, and daily journalling, I am basically in touch with my feelings and emotions, and have cleared up a lot of the debris from the past.
And I knew what I "should" do about the crisis regarding my mother, but other considerations overcame this knowledge.
Wanting to be strong and supportive is a very honorable motive, and when someone we love needs our strength and support it is not, I think, appropriate to unload your emotional burdens to him/her.
However, there is a difference between acting strong and being strong. True strength happens when we can acknowledge to ourselves and, ideally, to trusted friends, that we are worried, sad, fearful, and fully allow ourselves to feel these or any other emotions. By taking care of ourselves in this way we can give the needed support.
Too often, pretending to be strong becomes a way of being in which any emotions which jeopardize the facade are not allowed to surface. Lost your job? Your lover? Have your own life-threatening illness? "I can handle it." You can, but maybe you can handle it more effectively by acknowledging what you feel.
This is where one says, "I'm not afraid of death because it just takes me into another phase of existence, or "I'm just working out my karma," or "I'm looking at this as an opportunity to grow."
Sometimes this is actually true, meaning the person who says it is fully in touch on an ongoing basis with all the emotions which point in the opposite direction AND chooses to understand them and the lessons they teach. Sometimes, though, people are saying what they think they should believe, rather than allowing themselves to experience what they actually feel.
Ultimately, the urge to be strong is often simply the urge to avoid pain. In my case knowing what I "should" do about the feelings I was stamping down was like knowing you have a throbbing tooth and thinking you should go to the dentist and not doing it = because while you can live with the low-key throbbing you want to avoid the sudden onset of excruciating pain.
Many people, however, are more likely to go to the dentist when necessary than to deal with emotional pain. Dental pain, while unwelcome, is to some degree predictable and of limited duration. Emotional pain has the added and very unwelcome element of the unknown.
For example, once I unraveled my emotions I discovered not only fear that my mother would die, that I would die, that I would be unequal to the challenge ahead, but unresolved grief from the past, an assorted batch of angers and grudges - and this is by no means a complete listing.
And it was initially painful to go through all of that. It was somewhat humiliating to allow myself to be so vulnerable that the smallests incident could make me tearful. Soon, though, I noticed how clear and light I felt, how in the midst of an emotional waterfall I could start to laugh.
Most important, I noticed how much easier it became for me to express love, and I realized that whatever happened in the course of my mother's illness I would be able to truly be there for her because I had made a firm commitment to be there for myself.
For some, working with obsidian may be similar to the experience in the dentist's chair, but like feelings themselves, if you can embrace the insights yielded through working with this stone you will find yourself releasing unimaginable amounts of mental and psychic debris.
Green calcite helps to release the mental and emotional rigidities which can prevent adopting a new perspective on life - and feeling. Its color, that of water, also helps to signify release.
Taking care of your own emotional needs can be effectively accomplished with rose quartz. Hold it when you sleep, carry it with you, place it on the heart when you meditate. This stone is wonderful for releasing emotional pain.
Hematite is especially helpful for those who have shut off feeling because they tend to be emotional sponges, picking up the emotions of those around them. This stone helps to set appropriate boundaries.
Moonstone is an emotional balancer. Whether your emotions have you in their grip or whether you've lost them somewhere along the way, this stone can help to restore you to equilibrium.
Opal is somewhat like obsidian in that it is not one of the kinder, gentler crystals. Also, as with obsidian, if you intend to work with it, it is best to let its do its work without resisting it. It will help emotions and feelings to flow.
In terms of Wild Earth Animal Essences, think first of all animals associated with water: Dolphin, Seal, Whale, Otter, and others. Of the water creatures, Frog is probably the most powerful in terms of emotional release. This a nimal reminds us that tears and emotional release are a part of the healing process.
Agrimony (Bach) is especially recommended for those who pretend all is well even while their hearts are breaking. It can be considered the floral counterpart to obsidian.
Star of Bethlehem (Bach) helps to dissolve the emotional (and sometimes physical) paralysis which results from shock and trauma, whether of recent occurrence or of long-standing.
Sometimes we respond to emotionally upsetting circumstances with anger or resentment. Holly (Bach) helps with anger,
while Willow (Bach) helps with resentment.