Healing Grief: Breathwork Opens the Heart and Mends Relationships

This story was written by one of my clients and posted with permission.

 

My mother died when I was two, and then an abusive stepmother raised me.

I have worked with Benita Esposito for 10 months. I have done both personal counseling as well as incredible couples counseling with my husband. I’m so grateful that I accepted her invitation to attend a Deep Emotional Healing Retreat that included breathwork. I was apprehensive. It seemed a little unnerving to not have control over the outcome, or know what would come up during breathwork, but I enrolled anyway because I trusted Benita.

My background
I’ve had a life-long insecure attachment style that has impacted all my relationships, including my marriage of 17 years. One psychotherapist suggested that I do a year of CBT (cognitive behavioral talk therapy) and start on an anti-depressant. I knew deep in my soul that what I needed was healing on an emotional level.

My birth mother died when I was barely two years old and my father remarried four and a half months later. I had been the third of four in my family, and then overnight I had three older step siblings, so I became number six of seven. My birth mother was very sick during my first two years of life, and she also had another young baby. So you can imagine that getting individual loving attention from her might have been challenging. I was often cared for by aunts and grandparents before my birth mother passed away.

My stepmother was not a nurturing woman. In fact, she was either mildly or extremely abusive during my childhood. The abuse included verbal, emotional and physical aggression. The verbal abuse lasted until I was 40 when I finally began to stand up for myself. Needless to say, I was not “attuned” with my stepmother when I was growing up. I still call her weekly and do my best to care for her. I do this out of love for my deceased father and my commitment to being a Disciple of Christ, not out of a great love for my stepmother. I have grieved for years about not having a deep mother-daughter relationship.

From the beginning of my 17-year marriage, I tried to develop a healthy loving bond with my three stepchildren. They rejected me from the very beginning. Even though we had lots of counseling with other therapists, I continued to feel very vulnerable and emotionally unsafe with my husband and his children. I’m sensitive to criticism and triggered when I feel emotionally abandoned. My husband’s family has told me that I am touchy and defensive. The optimist in me kept thinking, “If I can’t have a loving attachment with my stepmother, maybe I can have one with my stepdaughters.” Fortunately, God does compensate, and I have a daughter-in-law that I’m very close to, as well as other young women that are open to the love I have to share.

During the Breathwork

My overall goals for the retreat were to develop a deeper relationship with all my stepdaughters, to heal my feelings of abandonment, and to finally earn a feeling of secure attachment.

My focus during our first session of breathwork on Saturday was to (1) heal the grief of my mother’s death, (2) heal the hurt of the childhood neglect and abuse, and (3) heal the grief of my father’s sudden passing when I was 35 years old.

I was surprised at how quickly I began to cry, but this was no ordinary cry. The crying turned into vigorous sobbing that was loud at times. I am still amazed at how much grief came out of my body. I cried for almost an hour! At one point, I was grieving the absence of my mother’s loving embrace. I could not remember ever having a loving embrace. Oh how I wanted to feel that! The intensity of the ache was more than I can describe.

Just then, Benita knelt next to me, and reached down and hugged me heart to heart. I sobbed and sobbed in her loving embrace. I think she must have held me for ten minutes. She hugged me until I could finally take a deep breath. Then she released her embrace, as I did.

When we finished our breathwork session, I was filled with extraordinary love and peace. I was overwhelmingly grateful! I felt so known and loved by my Heavenly Father. I felt so known and loved by my Savior. I felt so known and loved by the Holy Spirit that He directed Benita to embrace me exactly when I needed it. This was a life-changing embrace!!! I am forever changed!!!

My heart had been occupied by grief, but now it was open, ready to enjoy deeper loving relationships with those around me.
On Sunday, round two of breathwork started. I quickly found that there was nothing to clear. It was all gone! The image of a fire truck came to my mind. I know that may seem weird, but it was as if it required a huge fire hose (not a small garden hose, or even a pressure washer) to aggressively wash away all the grief on a deep cellular level. I knew that my healing was complete. In fact, the message I got was that I was now “whole and complete”.

After the Retreat
A few days after the retreat, I had a phone call with one of my stepdaughters to clear up some things that had happened months before. I’m so grateful that I could start the conversation by sharing with her that I had completed my grieving, and that I now had a greater capacity to love her. During the conversation, I allowed her to share anything that was upsetting her so I could apologize. The best part was that I did not get emotionally activated at all! I could see her points, and commit to creating a deeper partnership with her. In the past, I could not do that because there was way too much hurt inside of me.

How grateful I am for Benita’s exquisite expertise and her powerful intuition and caring Christian heart that facilitated such profound healing. In addition to Benita, I found the other participants to be loving and wonderful as well. It was a powerful, safe, beautiful environment to have such a healing experience.

Forever Grateful and Forever Healed.
LH, Atlanta, GA

 

CONTACT INFO FOR BENITA A. ESPOSITO

If you would like to schedule a complimentary 10-minute get-acquainted phone call to see if Life Coaching and Spiritual Counseling with Benita A. Esposito are a good fit for you, please complete the Contact Form. You should receive an email within 48 hours, Monday-Thursday.

How I Discovered I Am an Intuitive Empath

This is chapter 5 in my book, The Gifted Highly Sensitive Introvert: Wisdom for Emotional Healing and Expressing Your Radiant Authentic Self.

Search for my ebook and paperback book on Amazon and click the “Look Inside” button to read the first several pages of the book. You can buy it on Amazon.

“The trademark of an empath is feeling and absorbing other people’s emotions and/or physical symptoms because of their high sensitivities. These people filter the world through their intuition. Empaths are big-hearted people and try to relieve the pain of others … suddenly they’re the one feeling drained or upset when they felt fine before.” ~ Dr. Judith Orloff is a New York Times bestselling author and a member of the UCLA psychiatric clinical faculty. Read more

3 Steps to Creating Your Authentic Life

Here’s one of my life stories which illustrates 3 steps you can take to create your Authentic Life and make your dreams come true as a highly sensitive person.

Step #1: Heal Your Emotional Wounds so You Can Excavate Your Authentic Self.

It was the late 1990’s and I had just ended an emotionally abusive relationship. I was exhausted from all the conflicts. My two Siamese cats were dying. That may not sound like a big deal to you, but they were my steadfast cherished friends for 14 and 16 years. They welcomed me home every day and slept with me every night. They were there for me when no one else was. Peri-menopausal mood swings, tears, hot flashes and insomnia were my daily companions.

I didn’t know it at the time, but these crises were just what this highly sensitive person needed to help birth her Authentic Self.

I had already done 20 years of deep personal growth work, but I still had not touched the core of my emotional pain that desperately called for healing.

The Dark Night of the Soul lasted three years. I couldn’t get out of it no matter how hard I tried. The good news was that my spirit was leading, even though my personality didn’t know it.

St. John of the Cross coined the term, “The Dark Night of the Soul,” to describe a time of feeling lost and full of despair. It’s a time when our old coping strategies don’t work any more. It feels like hell because our known identity is disintegrating. It’s scary because we can’t hang onto what we think we need for security.

After much anguish in the Dark Night of the Soul, we’ll connect intimately with our spirit and with the Holy Spirit.

Psychologists call the Dark Night of the Soul depression. But for me, it was an intentional time of deep searching to find my Authentic Self and an intimate relationship with my Sacred Inner Beloved, the romantic name I gave to the Holy Spirit.

I examined my insecurities instead of striving for success or romance.

I took a sabbatical from dating because I realized that romantic relationships were the main way I avoided the deep level of emotional insecurity way down deep inside myself. If I was in a romantic relationship, I could cover up the deep-seated emotional insecurity with hope. Hope that the relationship would fulfill all my dreams.

Hope and romance had become my drugs of choice.

My muscles ached every day and I was exhausted. I awakened many nights with my body stiff from fear. I couldn’t relax even though I meditated two hours a day.  My inner voice told me to walk every morning no matter what, so I’d take myself to Lake Lanier and walk in the park. The connection with Nature soothed me at least for a little while.

My greatest desire was to stay conscious through my pain and to face my emotional insecurity so that I could develop self-love. I needed to feel intimacy with all of myself, especially with the part of me who felt so insecure. I intended to heal the old wounds and coping patterns so my Authentic Self could emerge.

Every couple of weeks, I’d get a massage. Miera created a safe place for me to unwind and process the memories that bubbled to the surface. I remembered how I wanted to be loved by my father as a little girl. I felt that pain and processed it.

I processed the ache of friendships and romantic relationships gone sour. I dealt with my need for perfection that covered up lack of self-love. I felt safe under Miera’s nurturing hands. She held sacred space for me to process the emotional anguish. The pain oozed to the surface as she touched my muscles. Tears soaked the face cradle session after session.

Step 2: “Form a Vision Anchored in Your Heart.”  

As the tears subsided in the massage sessions, the same vision arose in my mind time after time.  I saw a cabin in the woods surrounded by tall trees. It was private. It was safe. I felt at peace.

After the massages would end, I would return to my normal daily activity. I accepted the fact that I lived in the city. But I wanted to live two hours north, tucked in the woods of the North Georgia Mountains overlooking Lake Chatuge. I didn’t see any way I could afford to live there.

For a long time I didn’t choose to act on the vision. I wasn’t willing to give up the financial security I knew. I settled for a good life, but it didn’t fully feed my spirit.

As the weeks passed, the vision of the cabin in the woods appeared again and again. I realized that God was showing me a particular environment that would allow me to heal and thrive. I knew the vision was from God because it always occurred after my mind-chatter had quieted down, and I felt at peace. I am a highly sensitive person, and highly sensitive people thrive in quiet beautiful Nature sanctuaries.

I incubated for three years in the Dark Night of the Soul, accessing all the deep layers of pain built up like sedimentary rock.

Deep emotional intimacy grew between my personality self, my spirit and the Holy Spirit. I call this my relationship with My Sacred Inner Beloved.

I regained my energy, and the emotional and physical pain subsided.

I designed the blue print for my house in the woods overlooking the lake. After working on it daily for over 6 months, a crisis occurred. My father suddenly died. Reeling from the grief, my heart opened in a way it never had. It hit me like a ton of bricks that I wouldn’t live forever either, and I assessed the quality of my life. Everything was great except I didn’t live in the mountains overlooking the lake, surrounded by the tall trees.

Step 3: Take the Risk to Act on Your Vision.

After praying with my friends, I decided to take the risk to build my dream home. I realized that my fears about not having enough money would never go away. I had to proceed in the direction of my dream, taking one step at a time. I asked God to reveal the next step, day after day.

It’s been ten years now, and I am so grateful every time I look out my living room windows at the lake and mountains and the tall trees. No matter what is going on in my life, stressful or blissful, I am happy living in my beautiful Nature sanctuary.

Now It’s Your Turn.

  1. Find someone you trust to help you emotionally heal. Examine your most deeply held values and dreams. Intend to open to your Authentic Self and to God. I’m here to help you heal at the deepest level so you can let go of coping patterns that once helped you survive, but now limit your success. I’ll help you access to the most enduring love of all, the love of God.
  1. Meditate daily, long enough to experience deep inner peace. Invest the time. Don’t skip this step. Listen to the still small voice inside yourself. Join the on-going conversation already in progress, in your innermost being.  I produced the CD, “A Journey into Wholeness” to help you do this.
  1. Find healers who understand the mind-body-spirit connection. Heal your emotions and your body. I highly recommend counseling and life coaching along with bodywork. Tight muscles hold unresolved emotional memories that set up old coping patterns.
  2. Attend weekend retreats so you have plenty of time to dive deep into your emotional pain and develop the strength to be your Authentic Self.

By doing practices such as these, you will be shown the visions anchored in your heart. You, too, will be able to move in the direction of your fondest dreams.

* * * *

If you want help to excavate your Authentic Self and create your fondest dreams, I’m here to help.

CONTACT INFO

  1. Attend a Highly Sensitive Person Retreat. Click here for the schedule.
  2. Contact me for Professional Counseling in Blairsville, GA and Atlanta, GA
  3. If you live outside Georgia, contact me for Life Coaching and Spiritual Counseling via videoconference, anywhere in the world.

Life Coaching and Spiritual Counseling: www.SensitiveIntrovert.com

Psychotherapy: www.Flourishing-Lives.com

Copyright 2017. The Esposito Institute, Inc. All rights reserved.

Turning Fear into a Friend: A Breathwork Story

“How I transformed fear into my friend,
and myself into the Beloved.”

If my story began as a play, the opening scene would be as follows:

[Setting]: Inside of a walk–in closet. The darkness is so dense you can barely see your hand. Read more

An Unexpected Love Affair

Like most highly sensitive people who are introverts, I find peace in the beauty of nature. But for a long time, I was so busy being successful in Atlanta that I didn’t know I loved nature so much. In my late thirties, I met a spiritual teacher who took us out into the woods for weekend retreats. It was there that I began to discover a deep connection with the Earth. This is the story of my awakening. Read more