Healing Grief: Breathwork Opens the Heart and Mends Relationships
My mother died when I was two, and then an abusive stepmother raised me.
I have worked with Benita Esposito for ten 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, a spiritual healing method. I’m a highly sensitive person and I was apprehensive. It seemed a little unnerving to not know what would come up during breathwork, but I enrolled anyway because I trusted Benita.
I’ve had a life-long insecure attachment style that was impacting all my relationships, including my marriage of seventeen 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 4.5 months later. My birth mother was very sick during my young two years, 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. I had been the third of four in my family, and when my father remarried I had three older stepsiblings, so I became number six of seven.
My stepmother is 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 forty when I finally began to stand up for myself. Needless to say, I wasn’t close to my stepmother. While I still call her weekly and do my best to care for her, it is out of love for my deceased father and my commitment to being a Disciple of Christ, not out of a loving attachment.
I have grieved for years about not having a deep mother-daughter relationship.
All during my 17-year marriage, I’ve tried to develop a healthy loving bond with my three stepchildren. They rejected me from the very beginning. Even though we’ve had lots of counseling with other therapists, I continued to feel very vulnerable and emotionally unsafe with my husband and his children. I’ve been sensitive to criticism like most highly sensitive people, and I’ve felt emotionally abandoned. My husband’s family 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 one daughter-in-law that I’m very close to, as well as other young women who are open to the love that I have to share.
During the Breathwork Session
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 mothers 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 not an 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 that I could not remember ever having a loving embrace from my mother. Oh how I wanted to feel that! Just then, Benita knelt beside to me, and reached down and hugged me, heart to heart while I sobbed in her loving embrace. I think she must have hugged me for ten minutes … until I could finally take a deep breath. Then she released, 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!!!
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 strange, 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. My healing was complete. The message I heard from the Holy Spirit was, “You are whole and complete.”
After the Retreat
A few days after the retreat, I was talking 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 for loving 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 reactivated at all! I could see her point and commit to creating a deeper partnership with her. In the past, I did not have capacity to do that because there was way too much hurt inside of me.
I am so grateful for Benita’s exquisite expertise, her powerful intuition, and her 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