When I was going through my “tsunami of loss,” during which time I lost my mother, stepfather, uncle, three dogs, two cats, cockatiel, 15-year marriage, etc. over a pretty short period of time, I experienced some of what the woman, Pam, in the story that follows, went through (from HappyClaws.com by Steve B. Reed). In particular, I related to the author’s story of the monkeys and the jars.

I used my own metaphor for our tendency to cling to fear when I said it was like we (i.e. people facing awesome life change and being terrified to move as a result) were hanging from the precipice of a cliff by our fingertips. We rant and rave and scream that we’re going to fall and be destroyed if we let go. But in reality, if we simply trusted and released our stronghold on our negative emotions, we’d likely find we were dangling just inches above a very sturdy ledge that was ready to catch and hold us. For some, that means trusting in their religious beliefs or a power beyond themselves to be there for them. For others, it’s simply acknowledging that our fears are often magnified out of all proportion by us, and letting go and facing the reality of the situation can release a lot of the torment we put ourselves through.

The author of this article presents an unusual method for treating grief/fear—the REMAP process. It may warrant looking into further if you’re feeling you’re clinging to your own precipice and are open to alternative healing methods. (I have not personally experienced and therefore am not endorsing the efficacy of this treatment. I am simply presenting it as an option for people to investigate for themselves.) I’d be interested to hear from anyone out there who has undergone REMAP therapy though.

—Sid

THE NORMAL PATH OF GRIEF

Grief is the natural emotional response to a significant loss. The loss of a loved one, an important relationship, a pet, a career, a belief, some aspect of one’s health, an opportunity, or even a prized possession can trigger a normal grief response. When we go through grief, we can experience a range of related emotions. People may feel shock, regret, anger, sadness, and eventually acceptance in route to resolving grief. We usually work our way through these stages in a period that is proportionate to the loss suffered. In most cases, we eventually move through the process to arrive at a place of acceptance and a readiness to look forward in life.

STUCK IN PAINFUL EMOTIONS

For Pam, this healing pattern was not happening. Instead, she found herself stuck, unable to let go, always looking back at what was lost. She had a history of being stuck in grief. After her divorce, she grieved for 6 years. This time she was stuck grieving the loss of her 2-year relationship with a boyfriend. It had been going on for a year and a half with no end in sight. She felt hopelessness, depression and fear.

CAUGHT IN A TRAP

Pam’s plight reminds me of a story about catching monkeys. In some parts of the world, people employ an ingenious method to catch monkeys. They use a large heavy jar, with an opening just big enough for the monkey to squeeze a hand through. In the bottom of the jar, they place a banana as bait. The monkey slips its hand into the bottle and grabs the banana. Then, holding tightly to the banana, it is unable to remove its hand from the jar. It never occurs to the monkey to let go of the banana, so it remains in the trap. Pam was clinging tightly to the memory of a lost love. Unable to let go, trapped.

WANTING OUT

Pam did not want to suffer the way she was. She had been in therapy for years. By now, she was nearly an expert at behavioral therapy, cognitive therapy and the analysis of her problems. She understood her dilemma intellectually, but was helpless to feel better. She was on antidepressant medication, talked to her friends and spent time attending a grief support group. Still her pain persisted. She had come to me with the hope that one of the new forms of treatment that I work with might help light her way out of the darkness of her grief.

TRYING SOMETHING NEW

The first time I saw Pam, she was in the wake of a painful rejection. She would frequently call her old boyfriend, try to get him back but he would coldly reject her effort. She sat in my office emotionally bleeding as though the scab had been freshly knocked off her wound. The only thing I could offer to help ease her suffering was an experimental new treatment. Pam was in such pain she was open to any option. Therefore, I briefly told her about a new type of treatment that is more similar to Chinese Acupuncture than to Freud. It is the REMAP process and it involved her gently tapping a series of acupuncture meridians while she thought about the problem that bothered her. It’s a simple yet profound process designed to adjust the body’s natural energy system and to produce blood flow changes in the deep regions of the brain as a way of effecting thoughts and emotions. This alternative approach uses an entirely different pathway to heal emotional pain than talk therapy alone. Since Pam had tried all other treatment paths, she was open to the experiment. She began working with the protocol and to her great surprise her level of disturbance dropped 60% in 30 minutes. She left smiling and saying that she could cope with that level of pain.

BEYOND GRIEF

Next week, she reported another call to her ex-boyfriend and another cruel rejection. However, she also reported something new, a decision never to call him again. She also reported no further obsessive thoughts about him and a dramatic improvement in how she felt, virtually no grief.

Such changes are more common than not. By using leading-edge therapies, people are able to free themselves from painful emotions even when they are stuck. The best part is that the changes last. Three months after Pam’s treatment, she still reports feeling good.

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