by Stephanie McCrackenApril 13, 2015 counseling, mindfulness, personal growth, psychology, psychotherapy, wisdom0 comments
With the passing of the seasons, the moist dew draping the landscape, like just maybe the earth herself is crying for one of the many seasons departures. Typically the subjects I explore are things that I find intellectually interesting, topics which may be trending on the web. Today something different, in a recent reading about tapping into universal consciousness as a reader I was urged to follow synchronicity. Where are we noticing patterns? Those uncannily shared and observed sets of circumstances which arch across history and humanity? None may be more universal that the experience of grief and loss, a topic which has touched me personally during the last couple of months. The death of someone close or even far is extremely difficult, perhaps even harder than anyone could know lest they have experienced deaths dismal grips. The proverbial lights go out, we stand in darkness, we may tell ourselves, “hey lighten up, you are lucky enough to have made it through another bombastic winter and onward to the next season’s days, you’re still here you know.” In the being here, there are so many things to do, tasks of the living, so we may push away our feelings to move on with our busy tasks.
As therapists, counselors and mental health professionals alike we have our charts which makes explicitly tangible the grieving cycle, from immobilized shock and dismay, a dose of anger and denial, depression, and acceptance. The motions are not static, they are an influx of transitions greatly affected by personality, biochemical, and social variables. Coping skills can be assessed at each interval of the process. As counselors we are trained to understand what is within the normal range for the process of grieving, whether that loss is divorce, death, loss of unrealized potentials, among the myriad of other losses. Saying goodbye, the gravity of letting go can be paralyzing, yet as every great philosopher knows life is indeed about loss, we build up, we hold on, we let go, this is the grand procession of all things. In death of loved ones and even in divorce or a break up, we struggle with the paramount life questions. Concern over the deceased and what our spiritual views dictate. We may become vividly aware of a sense of aloneness, who has a touch or a word that sincerely offers comfort to internal anguish, we too may find comfort in spirituality and or those who grieve with us, comrades in grief, unity within our suffering. We at times may feel alone and not know where to unravel the depth of our sorrow as well intended acquaintances may or may not really want to know what we are thinking when they ask how we are feeling. Other bleak nuances and limitations sharpen focus in grieving, we know that we too will one day depart from our human form, a veiled and stupefying terror of our own death may emerge. It may at times seem herculean to continue delegating time and attention to the tasks which sustain our basic lives. The cycle of grief.
We sometimes may notice shortened attention spans, greater irritation at small things which normally wouldn’t bother us, we may begin to doubt ourselves. When reiterating this stringent knowledge I am reminded of a modern adage wherein a waiter is holding a bludgeoning tray of goods for his next table, his arm stands poised and for the first minute, succeeding erect posture, his elevated arm is steady. When asked “how heavy is the tray?” He replies haughtily “It is nothing!” Ten minutes later, when the examiner checks back to ask again, “how does it feel now?” Sweat beads a look of distress have contorted his face, his muscles twitch, “I can’t hold on any longer!” The burden of the weight changes equivalent to the length of time one holds on. The point is that even the most well equipped muscles buckle under the strain of holding a heavy load for too long. During times of loss and grief it becomes important to lighten our load in anticipation of exhaustion and irritation, to relay on others who will help us to get our orders to the table.
Within the span of an hour or day, a month or two life’s circumstances can change radically, few things offer such stark rotation to direction as saying goodbye. We struggle to understand these mournful changes, staring bleakly at our permanently gnarled family or friend tree, a hallowed and unrecognizable tone offers a faint “goodbye.” Letting go of the old and embracing the new are not often as easy for our human minds as the turning of a calendar page, despite the melting frosts and welcoming warm winds. Yes, the cycle of the grief but let’s too have compassion for our own suffering, let’s not expect too much from ourselves. It’s ok to look out the window and notice that the spring time has a dismal tinge this year. It is only by allowing the April showers to soak into the earth that our spring flowers burst most aptly, so yes let us not refrain from experiencing the depth of our sadness and anguish for fear of falling into a pit of grief, let the sadness soak into our heart, allow it to be felt deeply penetrating the core of the self. Yes, April showers, they do bring many things, a memory of tear drops, the promise of May flowers, replenishing the earth, and they will prepare for another seasons growth ahead.
In care and compassion,
Stephanie McCracken MSPC
Nicole Monteleone LPC, NCC, NBCC
Reviving Minds Therapy
1010 Western Avenue Pittsburgh Pa 15233
*This is not a substitute for medical or professional advice, this article is for your mild consideration and intended to be an literary artistic musing, if you feel that you may be suffering from depression or sadness due to a loss of some other then please set up an appointment to meet with one of our or another mental health professional.Learn More
by Stephanie McCrackenJanuary 27, 2014 counseling, couples counseling, personal growth, psychotherapy0 comments
The termination phase of love is a magnificent hurtle or sticking point for many of the lovers out there. Even if all seems hopeless right now, I want anyone wounded in love to recognize that there is abundant likelihood that your heart, mind, and spirit will make a full recovery. This does however require one to make use of some specific skill sets, your coping mechanisms. It is in fact coping skills coupled with awareness and integration of new learning which make that full recovery more expedient and probable.
We know some of the story, loss of the hopes, dreams, and connection that was once shared are indeed hard let go, fearing or believing that one will never love again. False thoughts and stumbling points can turn our mind against itself for a short period of time. Breakups, for the mutually agreed upon, or even for both the initiator and receiver of the news that the relationship has become terminal, all should know that there will be challenges in these changes. Chin up wounded warrior- adversity is the starting point for opportunity!
As a Psychotherapist and Marriage Counselor I have helped clients with accepting, managing, and resolving the grief of lost love. It is important to note there are two phases to the loss, Termination and Resolution. Termination is when there has been a verbal agreement to call it quits, the cognizant thought that “it’s over” and the sting after pulling off the band aid! Responses vary from emotional outpourings, edginess, anxiety, fear. Long nights vegetating with ice cream and sad movies become the cliché. Moving beyond this juncture requires acceptance of the loss and consolidation of the feelings associated with it. Resolution implies successful termination and the process of grieving reaching its timely closure. Sounds easy but why is this process the focus of so many movies and songs? Ummm…because broken hearts hurt! Breaking up brings up many reactions and is often hardest when they touch upon some of the unresolved emotional issues such as abandonment and fear of being alone, and or self-esteem in need of some strengthening.
Here are some of the typical stumbling blocks during the early phases of a breakup;
Obsessing- The stern face of determination and a destiny manifesto mapping the route back to the lost lover! Convinced to find a way of bringing Timmy or Tara back into your longing arms and with enough self-work, stalking, and or compromising you will again reach land of happy, happy, the end! NOT! This shows little regard or respect for yourself or your departed lover, if the relationship is over you must embrace some dignity for yourself and walk away with head held high. Repeated phone calls, Cyber stalking, or showing up at places where you know they will be is going to diminish your image in their eyes and most importantly in your own! What is it that you are seeking to avoid by continually calling, is it loneliness or fear that is beckoning you to desperate measures to seek reunion?
A Few Tears for a farewell- Many people become confused by feelings. False thoughts leading the presumption that if you miss someone or feel sad about a breakup that you should call him or her and make a teary eyed plea for the love. This is not true, if there were solid reasons and feelings on one or both ends to terminate then give it up already. Feeling sad and or slightly displaced by the big change of not spending time with your former mate is sure to create some inner angst. Recognize it and know that this is because you are a fabulous person capable of great love but do not make it a reason to pick up the phone. It is a good time to expand your social horizon and reach out to your friends, family, and social supports. Rely upon them while strengthening your inner resources during your grieving process.
Drinking- So you are feeling pretty awful or even maybe excited to expand your horizons and you find that you are spending more time with a cocktail glass in your hand. Drinking to excess, too much and too often is a sure way to zap energy and decrease positive emotions. This is a cautionary tale and I assure you that during a break up it is a crucial time to embrace structure and healthy coping mechanisms to deal with your grief.
Insert BABE here- The lonely feelings are pulling you down? House is eerily quiet, weekends unfilled with company? Quick solution, fill that void with something or no– fill it with someone, fill it with anyone so you don’t need to feel alone!!!!! Hold that thought—STOP! Relationship junkies take a breather and consider just what you are avoiding by wanting to attach to anyone who passes your gaze. Relationships and even flings that are borne from fear of loneliness or the want to make another jealous are ultimately dehumanizing for both parties and do more to erode the self than promote happiness. Hold out for true healing before putting any of your energy back into a love mate, remember two broken wings don’t fly but two strong and pluming wings shall soar! Instead enjoy the opportunity to come into your self and rediscover who you are as one no longer a part of a marriage or relationship.
Hear no evil speak no evil-Speaking poorly about your ex-lover is going to make you look like the monster not the ex. No matter what the conditions of the divorce or breakup one must practice respect for the memory of the relationship and dignity of the self. If there is something that you must vent about do so with a close friend or family member or therapist. If you tell everyone you meet about what a jerk and loser Sammy or Sally is, those around you are sure to wonder why you would waste your time and love on someone whom you regard so negatively. It is always best to simply say that you are both moving on respectfully to those who may inquire.
Look forward to next week—Beyond grief into bloom.
If you have any of other thoughts, questions, or words of wisdom please be welcome to share!
In abundant love, warmth, and wisdom,
Stephanie McCracken MSPC
Reviving Minds Therapy
Offering Psychotherapy and Marriage Counseling
1010 Western Ave Pittsburgh Pa 15233Learn More
by Stephanie McCrackenJanuary 16, 2014 counseling, couples counseling, couples therapy, marriage counseling, psychotherapy0 comments
The abundant contentment which our long term relationships provide is for many the ultimate hallmark of a life well-lived. Our human bonds sustain our happiness filling our celebrations with glee and making life burdens a bit easier to manage. Romantic relationships exert tremendous effects upon our long term happiness and even health. According to The National Institute of Mental Health, those in what is considered a supportive and positive long-term relationship or marriage enjoyed the benefits of better health and even longer life, compared to singles and especially those in relationships marked by high levels of stress.
Relationships are vulnerable, like our bodies they require regular care and nourishment to maintain vitality. There are indeed factors which make loving bonds more susceptible to “disease.” Consuming “toxins” such as deception is known to cause the life sustaining organ of trust to fail. Trauma such as physical abuse may erode at the relationships heart. Even joyous occasions such as the birth of a child, job changes or moving may exert subtle variations to the internal balance of loves inner mechanisms. The mortality rates are high, hope of returning to loves assumed previous vigor being dependent upon the quality of care that both parts of the couple are willing and able to usher towards its recovery. Relationships become sick just like any other organ, infected with disease which erodes at the common threads sustaining health. Have you ever been a part of one which is marked, “do not resuscitate?”
- Mutually supportive
- Trusting Space for individual time and voices
- A source of contentment for all parties most of the time
- Direct communication of both person’s thoughts, wants, needs
- Non-supportive, controlled, devalued
- Caustic, callous,
- Indifferent or Obsessive
- Doubting, jealous, insecure
- Separate time is viewed as threatening
- Passive aggressive/ aggressive/ or non- communication
Individuals yearn for relief from their ailing relationship and they typically want to explore every option to bring the vitality back to the bond. At this point a therapist or coach is a fantastic help towards examining and restoring the essence of a love hanging to life. For anyone looking for a prescription or a bandage to heal the wounds here is the “medicine” for some common relationship ailments.
- This medicine must be consumed daily in an atmosphere of humble respect for yourself and your partner.
- To be swallowed on an empty stomach which has been rinsed of pride, ego, and defensiveness.
- Take some time to listen to the sound of the beating heart, is the thumping sound weak or hastened? Be prepared to understand and accept your loves physical state without distortion.
- May be contraindicated if one or both partners are suffering from their own underlying “diseases” which prevent authentic, warm, respectful, interaction.
- Time is an important salve and must be lavishly applied to all expected recovery plans.
- If disease has been present for a long time then expect there to be permanent changes to the loving bond.
- Patience goes a long way towards renewing hope.
The truth readers is that not all of the patients make it, sometimes the damage is too pervasive and the blunt force too shocking to the system, there are times when we must best serve our holistic form by pulling the plug on love. Yet for those who do regain health and create a warm love anew, the reward is in the joy and comfort that a long time love is able to provide! For those of you who may be in the termination or resolution phase of a marriage or relationship, please stay tuned for next week’s edition “Wounded Warriors, How to Survive a Loss of Love!” As always no matter which stage of your relationship, from looking to leaving Reviving Minds is here for you with relationship coaching and psychotherapeutic services!
In love and warmth!
Stephanie McCracken MSPC
Reviving Minds Therapy
Offering Psychotherapy and Marriage Counseling
1010 Western Ave
Pittsburgh Pa 15233