Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Letting Go

The latest thing I'm trying to fix the migraines is EFT tapping. Essentially, you tap on certain acupressure points while talking to yourself. The physical tapping tells your lizard brain to calm the fuck down and the talking helps you focus and bring up feelings and emotions that you may still be holding on to.

On the most basic level, it helps with pain relief because pain = danger, so your lizard brain freaks out, flooding your body with adrenaline which then makes the pain worse. Because brains are hysterical idiots. So at least you stop making the pain worse.

For years, my doctors have been saying that something - they don't know what, but something - must be making my body so susceptible to migraines. EFT would say that my body is carrying around a lot of repressed emotions. Not that I'm self sabotaging or at fault. Subtle, but important difference there.

We're taught to zip it (especially women). Don't feel what you're feeling and certainly don't express it. But feelings don't just evaporate into the air. They hang around and create emotional and physical triggers.

I'll give you a generic, not triggering to anyone example. I was once in a meeting where we were reviewing a document I'd written. So I was running the meeting. As we're about to start, my manager comes in and announces he's sitting in (to judge my performance). He snatches away my copy of the document and won't let me leave to print out another copy for myself.

You're probably confused just reading that. How could he expect me to conduct a document review without referring to the document? Someone else gave me her copy. But my manager kept interrupting me and yelling at me. And all I could do was exchange WTF looks with my colleagues. I couldn't let myself react because he outranked everyone in the room and when your manager is being an asshole to you, you can't call them on it. Not if you want to stay employed. 

So all the shock, anger, confusion and whatnot that I started to feel in that meeting, but shoved aside? It stayed in my body. When I tapped and talked myself through that incident, I physically felt the anger. The stress of it all was still with me, causing the chronic inflammation which seems to be the mysterious thing that makes me so likely to get a migraine. (Maybe. Who knows at this point? It could take a year for this to work for good.)

With tapping, you feel the emotions and let them go as much as you can. The tapping relaxes you enough to really understand that you're not in that experience anymore and you're safe so you can move on now.

Which sounds great. But.

Yeah, yeah, I know that holding on to anger is like holding a hot coal with the intention of throwing it at someone - you get burned way more than they do. But what if your anger is the only thing validating your experience?

In that meeting, my coworkers exchanged looks with me that let me know it wasn't all in my head. Manager was acting cray. But what if he had acted that way with no witnesses? What about all the other experiences that people deny?

"I can't believe it."
"That doesn't sound like him."
"You caused it."

And no, I'm not talking about crazy bosses anymore. My anger was the only thing letting me say that this happened, and it wasn't okay. 

I'm working my way through Tapping for Pain Relief, which I can't recommend enough. In the chapter about anger, he suggests making a list of people you're angry with, then tap while going over everything you'd say to them if you could. (In many cases you could tell the person off, but you're never going to get what you need from them.) So I made a list of everyone I'd love to tell off. It felt like Arya Stark's kill list.

I started with the person I had the most anger with and I did not want to let it go. He's apologized, but it's still not enough. There is nothing he can ever do or say to make up for what he did to me. There is no way to make this all right.


"I can't believe it."
"That doesn't sound like him."
"You caused it."

In this case, letting go of anger feels like agreeing with everyone who's trying to gaslight me about things that have happened to me. It's my anger and you can't have it! My anger is my only testament to the truth. My anger was the only thing not telling me to just get over it and shut up already. Sometimes it felt like my anger was the only thing on my side.

I knew this anger was causing me chronic pain, but I sure as fuck was't going to forgive for touchy feely reasons. You have to be kind to yourself, but you also have to be honest.

I kept tapping on my anger and came up with a solution. I didn't have to forgive. I didn't have to release my anger for my own good. But I could release my anger out into the universe where it could hurt him instead of me, instant karma style. It was still pretty airy fairy, but it got the anger out of my body without taking away my power. I could finally throw the burning coal.

I came up with a new mantra - I don't have to be angry to be right.

I continued tapping and realized that he can't hurt me anymore. He can't say anything to fix it, but he can't say anything to hurt me anymore. He may try to blame me for what happened like he's done before, in between apologies. But it won't matter because I've moved on. I'm safe now because no matter what he does - fuck that guy.

Did my migraines go away after that breakthrough? No. Tapping can cure pain quickly, but it's not working that way for me. My kill list is almost 20 people long, though most of them don't inspire a primal need to hold on to my anger. It took me over 2 weeks to work through the list. And every time, I reminded myself that I don't have to be angry to be right. And it felt true, and honest and healing.

I may work my way through this book and then start over immediately. I may need to keep tapping every day for a year or more until I get better. Which is fine. Tapping is also good for managing anxiety, helping you focus and a bunch of other stuff. Doing it daily is a good idea anyway.

Will this be the cure? I have no idea. But unlike most of the other treatments, it has zero side effects. And my frozen shoulder* spontaneously healed, so that's pretty damn encouraging. I'm trying other things as well while we see how this goes. But even if it doesn't stop my migraines, I feel more at peace because I no longer need my anger to protect me.

*I pulled a shoulder muscle. It hurt when I moved it. So I stopped moving it. Then it stopped letting me move it. I'm not the first idiot to do that, and I won't be the last.

1 comment:

  1. No one can tell you what to feel, least of all me, but I know that holding on to anger is like swallowing poison and hoping the other guy dies. It has the power to hurt you, not him/her. I wish you peace.


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