I met ZM early on in one of my first groups at Columbia River Correctional. A lovely man who had been in and out of prison for the past two plus decades. He couldn’t stay long in our group as he was transferred to another prison and I didn’t see him for some time. He suffered with so much grief you could almost see it weighing him down. His son had passed away 20 years ago under tragic circumstances. Although I never asked exactly him what happened, I knew he felt a tremendous amount of guilt and lived in a palpable sadness.
A couple months ago he came back to CRCI and it was so lovely to see him in the corridors. He told me he signed up for our program again as the few classes he did come to helped him begin to feel a little bit more space inside, which felt like such a relief.
We’re now on week 8 and he’s doing great. He’s been able to recognise more of his in-built resilience and wellbeing underneath all the heavy thoughts and feelings he’s carried around with him. He sees that when he doesn’t judge himself for having a feeling and instead sees it more like a weather pattern moving through, it passes without too much bother all by itself. He sees the illusory nature of thought and is more able to experience life in the moment and spend less time in his head.
This last week he came to class and was telling the group about the program he’s in as part of his sentencing requirements. One of the things they have the men do is write about the trauma of their past and have them re-live it. This for ZM is tantamount to torture. He’s been living in his heartache for so long and wants to actually start to let it go, not drag it back up and re-live it.. a.g.a.i.n…
Having done this regression exercise before, he assumed he’d be miserable the day after and for months to come dredging up the past again. Bu this time he went back to his room, took a breath and didn’t dwell on it. He just let the weather pass through. The following morning he said was the first time in 20 years he’s woken up without a stomach ache. He was more light hearted and had an insight about the waves of griefs he felt. He said it feels like his son coming through him to pay a visit and say hello.
The same feelings about his lost child that had tormented him for so long he now experiences as a gift. With one fresh thought everything looks different.