I think it is critical for everyone to release toxic emotions, from our past and present, for the sake of our health and wellness. Emotional distress, in my experience, not only can take over our minds but also can contaminate our bodies, hearts, and souls.
I grew up in a home full of chaos, brokenness, and varying levels/shades of violence. From a very young age as a child, I spoke up and spoke out about what was going on. At age 16, I got myself and my parents into family therapy and continued it over the course of five years. In one case, that had a limited effectiveness. In another case, it proved more or less useless.
By age 22, I had left home, stopped speaking to my parents — for the sake of my own sanity and spiritual survival – and thrown myself 100% into my emotional and spiritual healing. I was radcially committed to it.
“There is no limit” was one of my self-made slogans. We live in a “free” country, I thought. Why don’t we take advantage of it. Why not yell from our guts, sing from our hearts, do it all out loud and unabashedly, do it together, do it outdoors — releasing it to the winds and the Universe.
And so I did. I pushed myself to overcome any and all self- or socially-imposed limits to my healing. I did not want to scream into a pillow in some corner of my apartment. I wanted to scream outside. Out loud. On the streets. Where I was free and unashamed.
The chaos was not mine. The violence was not mine. The freedom was mine. And I grabbed it.
“The body is the physical manifestation of the soul,” I thought. How extraordinary that I have this vehicle for manifesting my Spirit. I will not waste this opportunity.
I yelled out loud. Smashed bottles outdoors. Danced and sang full-volume, out in the streets.
I studied full-contact self-defense, where I was able to re-enact scenes from my past and rewrite their endings. I journaled. I went to therapy. I attended support groups. I painted. I became a hard-core yoga head. I wrote songs. I attended workshops and retreats on healing.
I became a singer in a punk rock band. I learned to shoot guns. I voraciously read books on personal and social liberation. I learned to play electric bass. I started my own punk rock band. I kicked all toxic people out of my life.
As I wrote in my first book, Consequence: Beyond Resisting Rape:
“When I was 21, I knew that I did not want to continue living my life the way I had been living it. I knew the only options were to continue my life ‘as is’ or to jump into an abyss, a complete unknown, where I would risk absolutely everything to follow my soul. I literally thought I would die if I jumped into this abyss, but I did it anyway.
“My decision came down to one stark moment, when I had the epiphany that there could be no reconcilliaion between the system in which I was living and a healthy life, in which my soul would flourish. The foundations of that system, I realized, stood in direct contradiction to my empowerment. As such, I could not simultaneously hold onto the life I was living and move into a healthy reality. So I left almost everyone and everything I knew.
“I then lived through months of excruciating loneliness, deep depression, rage, self-doubt, and fear. I literally could not get out of bed most of the time.
“During that period, I met people who helped me on my healing path. Within one and a half years, I emerged on the other side of being a basket case. I became vibrant, healthy, happy, and strong, in ways I never ‘got’ to be before. I became Me. I found myself, my path, my voice, the manifestation of the soul that was inside me at birth but squashed out in so many ways.
“By letting go of the old life and old people, I made room for a new life and new people, ones who nourished my soul. I had no way of knowing things would get better, and none of us ever have any guarantees we will make it.
“But one thing is certain: Everythin will remain exactly the same or get worse, unless we take risks and make changes. And if we embrace ourselves more fiercely with each new challenge, a flower of glorious, vibrant LIFE just might shoot up from the rubble where our old, compromised life dies.
“And the trouble is, if you don’t risk anything, you risk even more. — Erica Jong“