Emotional detox involves letting go of the past and releasing the emotions, beliefs, and experiences that no longer serve us. This is my story about how I finally let go of my past in order to fully embrace a healthy and happy future.
Physical healing and detox and emotional healing and detox are deeply connected–it’s the whole mind-body thing, ya know?
While physical detox is all about releasing toxins (like chemicals and heavy metals), emotional detox involves letting go of the past and releasing toxic emotions, beliefs, and experiences.
Both are important aspects of holistic healing.
Whenever I undertake deep healing or intensive detox work, an “emotional detox” ensures. And usually in that order.
Following My Intuition
Last fall, after almost a year of slow-n-steady chelation (heavy metal detoxification), I found myself feeling depleted on all levels. My intuition told me it was time to simplify my schedule and prioritize high quality rest.
So I signed off from my online activities and spent a month focused on meditative rest (in bed, covered with fur-babies) and cultivating peace and joy in order to replenish my whole-self.
Mmmmm, so good!
Then, around the time I had planned to return to work, I suddenly stared doing some unexpected things. Like spontaneously sobbing.
I’d also starting having more anxiety—the kind I used to have constantly, but now is rare—and sleep issues, which were compiled by the stressy dreams I’d started having on the reg.
Now, I’ve done enough emotional work over the years to spot the signs: something big was coming up for processing. It was then that it hit me: by taking a break, I’d created the perfect opportunity to process stuff that otherwise might continue to stink up my sub-consciousness on the DL.
It was time to let some deeper emotional healing unfold…
Time for Emotional Detox
“Okay,” I thought, “bring it.”
Clued into what was going on, I upped the self-love to ensure I felt nice and safe for whatever was coming up (that’s alway important for emotional work). Then without even thinking about it, I found myself drawn to take on a project I’d been putting off all year: going through the hallway closet.
The one that contained all the jumbled up, disorganized stuff from when we first moved a year ago. The one that held all the boxes filled with my old journals, drawings, photo albums, and medical paperwork.
Yeaaaaah, that one.
Yeah, the symbolism was pretty flippin’ clear: it was time to dig through the mess of my past that I had stored away and strategically avoided dealing with further. And how well was that working for me? Hmmmm, let’s see…
Well, I’d just taken a month off because my healing protocols were wiping me out, and I was also possibly considering quitting what I was doing (again) because my chelation-fatigue had triggering an avalanche of self-doubt.
However, I had this nagging suspicion that it was actually my deep seated self-doubt, which I’d wrestled with since childhood, that was being voiced via my fatigue, instead of vice versa.
After all, if I was too tired to work, then the problem of poor self-confidence pretty much solved itself! No work, no worries!
The Past affects the Present
If that was the case, the past that I thought I’d packed well away was clearly still affecting my present. And if I wanted to Level Up my healing, I was going to have to deal with it, and everything in that closet.
Of course, I knew I’d have to go through this stuff at some point. In fact, I’d meant to go through it all Marie Kondo style (if it doesn’t “spark joy” get rid of it!) before we moved….but couldn’t.
The Big Purge
But now, well, intuitively I knew it was time. Over the course of a week, I was repeatedly compelled to head to the hallway and take on the arduous task of going through the chaos of that closet.
First I pulled out the boxes of my old journals, journals filled with manic rambling, heartbreaking despair and suicidality, endless lists of calories consumed, and a fair amount of drunken poetry.
Next, I went through the binders of old paperwork I’d cataloged from psych ward intakes, court rulings from when I was removed from the home by CPS, letters I received while in hospitals and group homes, and stacks of diagnostic reports from medical authorities—all of them bleak.
Yeah, heavy stuff.
Lastly, I started the difficult work of going through my old photos albums. Mixed in with happier memories were ones that captured for all posterity just how unhappy and unhealthy I’d once been. They included photos of:
- My parents AKA the folks who gifted me Complex PTSD (bless them).
- Me as a toddler looking unmistakably nonplussed at the family situation I found myself in.
- Me as a tween, underweight, and wearing long sleeves to cover my self-cutting.
- Me as a teen, with smeared Courtney Love make-up and profane gestures.
- Me in college looking…wow, what a mess.
NONE of this stuff was “sparking joy.”
I put my hands on all the items, thanked them for holding these memories for me until I was ready to truly let them go, and then filled up multiple bags with the remnants of my less-than-positive past.
*Note: it was only after I decided to toss most of my old photos that it occurred to me that some of them would have worked wonderfully for “before and afters” for Instagram. Alas, they are gone. So you’ll just have to believe when I confer that I was a complete train wreck back in the day.
Once I’d gone through most of my melancholy memorabilia, I had to figure out how to dispose of it. Should I just toss it all? Just then I remembered a woman who self healed her Stage 4 cancer and then ritually burnt all of her old sick stuff. Yeaaaaah, that resonated; I decided to do likewise.
And ultimately, I could think of no other way to deal with The SCARY JAR.
Letting Go of Past Traumas
The SCARY JAR was made for me by a truly wonderful therapist as a way to contain all the GAWD AWFUL stuff that flooded my mind when my trauma memories first broke at age 24. All the abuse I experienced or saw as a child—all the stuff that was so horrible that my smart brain had me dissociate and forget it—came pouring back into my consciousness when my shield of denial finally crumbled.
(BTW, that experienced was traumatic in and of itself, which is why I was working closely with a therapist.)
At that point, I was feeling incredibly overwhelmed by my recovered memories, which had the nasty habit of surfacing at any ‘ol time, and not just during my therapy sessions, as would have been convenient.
A Safe Container
So I was given an old pickle jar Mod Podged with images of deities and other protective badasses (like Ripley from Alien), into which I’d put scraps of paper written with the memories. The powerful-protector images transformed the jar into a literal “safe container” for my traumatic memories, which was beyond helpful!
Fast forward 12 years. I still had that collection of traumatic memories, carefully sealed away in what I’d dubbed “The SCARY JAR”. A couple of times I’d even read a few of the pieces of paper in it. And then prompted wished I hadn’t. What that jar contained has NEVER sparked anything in the same universe as joy.
That’s the question I kept asking myself. And the only conclusion I came to was that I’d kept it because I wasn’t ready to let go of my traumatic past. I still, deep down, identified with it and felt it was an important part of who I was. Yet, that identification was costing me.
It was time to let it go.
That’s the End of Part One. This story continues in Part Two so stay tuned!
Hot tea and hugs,
P.S. Do you have a bunch of stuff from your past? Have you ever gone through it? Though about getting rid of it?
“The truth is, unless you let go, unless you forgive yourself, unless you forgive the situation, unless you realize that the situation is over, you cannot move forward.”
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Want more posts about emotional healing? Then give these a read:
- Moving Forward After a Flare Up
- How To Forgive Yourself For Getting Sick (& Why You Need To)
- How Lyme Disease Taught Me to Let Go & Let Love In: an Interview with MoreThanLyme.org
- The Power of Admitting What You Don’t Know
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