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How I Discharged “Unbearable” Distress

After about five years in RC, I decided that I wanted all of myself back. Little did I know what that would look like. And I sometimes joke, If I had known, would I have made that choice? But I believe it is what we all want. I joined RC because of its perspective on who we naturally are—the theory seemed so right.

I had severely hurtful experiences that continued for the first four years of my life. It may be different for others, but for me, and for those I have counseled on early occluded hurts, very early distresses become the “air we breathe”—they are always present. My challenge was noticing there was another reality.

In opening myself to the “unbearable” feelings, I dove into water far deeper than I felt I could successfully swim in. My way of accessing the feelings was to jump into something I wanted to do—it was like running as fast as I could without noticing I had a hurt muscle. Doing this is not all bad; it does keep one going fast. It could be called being “scared active.” (Some people are “scared passive.” They tend to be still and cautious.)

I always believed that discharge works. I’m not sure why, because it was not allowed in my family. I come from a “tight” alcoholic Protestant background. “Mental health” oppression was intense. My family distrusted most of what I did, such as letting my babies cry and picking them up a lot. No one showed their feelings; showing them was seen as disgraceful.

Katie mentioned having the right conditions [see previous article]. For me that was having a regular Co-Counselor. I also taught an RC class and was in an RC teachers’ class. Family work had started, and being in a monthly infants’ class helped me to notice odd things in my mind. Additionally, I was going to a yearly early sexual memories workshop.

Balance of attention was essential. I noticed my surroundings—a blooming flower, a smile. During the hardest time, I did not read anything or watch any television that had violence in it. In sessions I focused on noticing my counselor.

There were three years of terrible misery. Every day I did not want to be here. After sending my two young children to school, I would play PAC-MAN [a popular arcade video game] at the local diner to notice that I was alive. I Co-Counseled as much as time would allow and went to many workshops. Understatements such as “It sometimes happens that a person survives” were useful. Mostly just accepting that the person next to me could be with me was enough. I did always know that there was light at the end of the dark tunnel I felt I was crawling through.

During this time I kept doing my life—teaching RC, leading an organization for women artists. I found the work I would be doing for many years, and am still doing. How I felt was definitely not a reflection of what I could do, however much my brain struggled to notice that I was okay.

Now the stuff is discharged enough that it’s in perspective: it was long ago and cannot define who I am now. I love my life. A relaxed joy that I never could feel is here, and more and more available.

We have this process. It works so well.

Betsy Damon

Brooklyn, New York, USA

Reprinted from the e-mail discussion list for RC teachers

(Present Time 191, April 2018)


Last modified: 2020-07-02 14:27:35+00