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Time to Release the Pressure Valve

Posted Oct 27 2011 7:00am

This post is a guest post by Healthy Life Endorsed Coach Diane Hunter. She can be reached for coaching and consults at diane@afterautism.com .

I just finished a good, long cry.  Why?  Because my body asked for it and I listened.   Rather than resist it or try to bury the emotion, as I will often do because of one excuse or another, I allowed myself the space to feel the sadness, frustration and confusion that came up.

For the past two nights my son, Ian (who is non-verbal and has autism) has had seizures in the middle of the night.  I’ve slept next to his bed in the spare twin mattress that I bring into his room.  I would hear the familiar, rhythmic sounds of his body shaking and quickly moved to his side, held his hand and whispered in his ear, “Mommy is here.”  In that moment I felt intense love and compassion for his beautiful being.

His fingers grasped mine as his body moved through the process.  Each time they ended he would make a gesture or sound to say thank you then lean his head on my shoulder and fall back to sleep.  I would return to my temporary bed for some rest and this would go on throughout the night.

After two nights in a row of this pattern of waking and sleeping my body let me know it wanted and needed more sleep.  I was exhausted.

Tonight, frustration and sadness washed over me.  Rather than do something to distract myself or do anything at all, I started to cry.  Sounds came out of me that expressed the emotions.  I just let it go without any judgment.  This lasted about five minutes then I felt done.  My body relaxed, I took a deep breath and my entire body relaxed.  It felt as though the pressure value had been released and equilibrium returned.

Now that I’ve cried, I no longer feel that tense physical sensation that my body gets when trying to resist feeling an emotion.  And the most interesting part is how Ian now sits calmly in the living room, when for the past two hours he has been pacing the house with a furrowed brow almost in a panic.

My hunch is he felt the emotion I was trying my best to suppress and that did NOT feel good to him.  Once I allowed myself to feel whatever wanted to come up, it’s as if he felt the pressure release too and he was able to breathe with ease.  He actually looked like he was laboring to take deep breaths about an hour earlier, lifting his shoulders as if to try to breathe more deeply.

I find this fascinating.  What do I make it mean?  It’s simple.  The lesson for me is to honor the emotions when they want to come out.  Find a space where I feel safe to express myself in whatever way feels good.

I trust that the best way to help my son is to take care of my emotional health and notice when the pressure builds up because he feels every emotion I radiate.  When I release the stress and tension to return to a state of rest, that provides the safe space for him to breathe with ease.  As his mother, I believe this is the very best thing I can do to support him in his healing process because his body knows exactly what it needs.

I just went in to let him know it’s time for rest and I found him asleep.  He’s now sleeping peacefully in his bed.  Whatever the night brings, I will be there in a more peaceful state, breathing deeply with ease.  And next time my body expresses the need to feel an emotion, I intend to honor the request.   That’s all I need to do.

 

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