TW: This is the most authentic and intimate series I have ever shared – there will be discussion of abuse, suicidal ideations, narcotic medication & familial trauma.
Start at the beginning
Bursitis Diaries: Part 1 the Gift of Pain
I have spent a fair amount of time these past two months pondering the difference between relief and release. I yearned for release, for the locked up part of my body to let go of the contraction and just fucking relax.
I settled for relief in any way I could find it – heat, cold, meds, salves – anything to make the present moment a little more bearable. While many of these approaches encourage the underlying processes of healing, none were enough to provide me with the release I desired.
How could they be? This injury required more aggressive treatment than my homeopathic approach could provide on its own. I wasn’t going to find release in these approaches because they weren’t the necessary treatment for the illness.
As I’ve spent more time thinking about these two words Release/Relief, I began to see a huge parallel between my experience with this injury and the typical experience of long term patients of the mental health establishment.
As someone who has been both a clinician and a consumer of service, I can say with a fair amount of certainty that release is at the root of every patient’s desires. At the onset of treatment, they may not yet have the awareness to state it that clearly. And symptoms can manifest in a variety of ways. What it boils down to though, is most people seek mental health services because they desire to break free from something seemingly inescapable.
They may desire release from a
or personal demon.
Always release though.
What the establishment currently has to offer is minuscule bites of relief. You know the old carrot on a stick routine. If you work hard enough to incorporate these techniques, take this medicine diligently, attend therapy every week (and group pscyhoeducation as well), you to can reduce the amount of suffering in your life.
The techniques are valid, and they can be pretty good at providing relief in the short term. But they tend to lack depth, and thus they are not enough to truly address the source of the pain. If the institution of psychotherapy as it stood was capable of healing the ailments of the human psyche, there would not be hundreds of thousands of decade plus consumers (myself included).
We will never be able to fully heal mental suffering through a Westernized medical model. Psychological and interpersonal skills deficits can be addressed with structured approaches like DBT & CBT. However, the necessary missing treatment component is spiritual in nature.
Emotional, psychological release is found through surrender. Surrender is a spiritual practice not performed in a sterile clinical environment. (And to be clear my personal opinion is that spiritual practices do not belong within the unique power structure that is the therapeutic relationship.)
It’s one way we have failed in current society. We don’t nurture and develop healers – we don’t even really have a current space for them in society. Instead we educate clinicians. There are “technically excellent” therapists who have never done an iota of shadow work.
Surrender is not the dialect of the clinician. Surrender is a word for clerics and wise women. Surrender is the work of Healers. Those who have journeyed deep into their own salvation, have swam to the depths of the dark waters and returned to speak of its glory. Those who have done the work.
The role of the Healer is to sit in the seeker’s presence and create space for them to find their own intersection of this physical world and that of the Great Conscious / Divine. This is not the work of the clinician.
So where do we turn in a modern world? When the institutions of religion who have failed us grandly are being systematically dismantled. Where do we turn? When faith has been perverted and used as a mechanism of oppression and patriarchy and genocide. Who do we look to for spiritual guidance?
Release is not often found surrounded by cinderblock and florescent lighting. Yet we have no temple to pilgrimage to. No sacred place to lay our burdens down. Where do we find our elders? Who can be trusted to guide our spirits in such deceptive times?
Until our society addresses these questions, I fear we will continue along our epidemic of suffering and distress. For release cannot be found where it does not reside.
I want to close by honoring all those who are actively engaged in their journey and working to find surrender along their own path. The light in me sees & honors the light within you. Namaste.