Writing Down The Dark
Sometimes our pain isn’t about something we’ve lost. It’s about something we never had, or something others can’t see or understand.
- A loss of a feeling of safety, support, belonging – victims of trauma, narcissistic abuse, scapegoating or neglect are often told ‘that was a long time ago, let it go’.
- A loss of a relationship that is not acknowledged – the loss of a same sex partner, an ex spouse, a married lover, a distant or estranged relative, even the impact of a celebrity death.
- A loss that is not recognised as a bereavement – miscarriage, stillbirth, the loss of a pet, loss of mobility, loss of financial security and status.
- A loss that is stigmatised – suicide, abortion, adoption, death as a result of AIDS or overdose.
- The way we grieve our loss – different cultures have different ideas about acceptable ways to grieve and the length of time it should take.
- past tense: disenfranchised
- to deprive (someone) of their rights or privilege.
- keen mental suffering or distress over affliction or loss; sharp sorrow; painful regret.
Feelings become disenfranchised when society says we shouldn’t feel them. So we feel like we can’t talk about what happened to us. We can’t find support. We feel alone. We believe our feelings are wrong. We start to wonder if there’s something wrong with us.
Many of us have experienced well-meaning platitudes that end up further dismissing our feelings. You might have heard:
- There’s no use dwelling on the past.
- Well no-one’s perfect, I’m sure they didn’t mean it.
- What good does it do to keep thinking about it?
- You’re being negative, stop focusing on it
- It’s for the best
- This will make you stronger
- At least you….
- Don’t worry, you’ll meet someone else / have another baby / find a new career
- I know exactly how you feel
- You’re overreacting / too sensitive / making too much of it.
Pain and loss need to be expressed in order to be complete. This is especially effective when accompanied by what Alice Miller called ‘an enlightened witness‘, somebody who can witness your pain without judging it or trying to diminish your experience.
Whatever your loss, there is wisdom giving it a voice. There is relief in speaking about our pain in the company of those who can make space for it.
Writing Down The Dark is a 30 day process of gently releasing what has been pushed down and gone unacknowledged. Our feelings will find their way out eventually, no matter how hard we try to stuff them down, often through illness or relationships breakdown. Rather than having them emerge indirectly in ways that harm us, this process allows you to find acceptance, healing, validation and release in a safe and gentle way.
When I became an art therapist, I learned about trauma – how it lives in the body rather than the event – and I realised that grief does this as well. In fact my instructor once told me that in order to process trauma, we need to grieve first.
We are only traumatised by an event if we are unable to complete our response to the trauma at the time it occurs. If we are blocked in some way from fighting back, defending ourselves, or getting away, all the adrenalin stays inside us, frozen, looking for an outlet.
Wild animals are almost never traumatised, because they let themselves complete this process naturally. They don’t have a society around them that disapproves of their natural responses and tries to distract them.
Grief works the same way. If we were unable to fully express our feelings about what we have lost – because we were too busy looking after others, because others were upset by our grief and urging us to move on, because our loss was not recognised as legitimate – then it stays within us.
And as Alice Miller once said, the body will eventually present its bill.
Writing and art are gentle ways to allow the natural grieving process to occur. They are particularly effective when accompanied by others who can witness your feelings and support you in them.
We often fear that acknowledging the pain will prolong our suffering but usually the opposite happens. As we listen to what we need and make space for it, we are released.
So I wanted to create a space for your unacknowledged feelings, feelings that have gone underground because the world said no you can’t have that here, pain that is looking for an outlet so it can let go of its grip on your soul.
” I came to Writing Down the Dark to clear the log jam that seemed to be impacting my ability to finish the writing projects I started. The universe was sending me plenty of “let go of things that are holding you back” signs, which I artfully ignored. I had a vision late last week of the potential for newness. That, when the time was right, all those details I worried about would work themselves out or be non-issues. I have to think that the work I’ve been doing here had something to do with that unloosening. So thank you for allowing me a place to put down the words. This has been a very informative and formative process.”
– Amy K.
30 days of support and connection
30 days of gentle self-expression
30 days of healing your heart
You’ll receive a prompt to explore every second day. Most will be journalling prompts but some days there will be art activities (no experience required). You’ll also receive live Q & A support and videos each week along with a private FB page to share inspiration and support. Join us:
- to heal denied feelings and unrecognised loss
- to embody new ways of living your story
- to open doors to new meanings
- to find your true north.