I had an opportunity to followup with Susan a month later, and we talked about the impact of her session. Here are some gems she shared with me. (No audio.)
The New Experience of Being Hugged
Susan: So in the moments right as I saw my new drawing, and as I experienced my feeling state shift, there was a very palpable, distinct opening in my heart. I could really feel that steel plate moving, and I could feel an openness that I would really… It’s like that barrier that I had always been aware of inside of me, that really was gone. It was just gone.
That in itself, of course, was a lovely thing. But the thing I really want to emphasize is I began to experiment. Like, “Oh, what does it really feel like?” So one thing I have done very differently — I don’t always remember to do it, but I mostly do — is when I am hugging people, I deliberately relax my body even more. I really think, “OK, open and receive.” And while I’m hugging the other person, and they’re hugging me, I really think, consciously, “Receive this hug. Receive this love.”
And I didn’t realize until we had this session how, when I was hugging people and they were hugging me back, of course I was aware I was being hugged back; I couldn’t miss that. But the distinction, the contrast that I saw was how I never really let the hug in. You know? I was so focused on hugging the person and sending love to them, and accepting them, and all that, that I just was oblivious, is the truth, to “Oh, my goodness; I’m also being hugged here. I could receive this.”
So it’s been really interesting, and I would say the result of me doing that is I notice I have experienced a very consistent feeling of being loved, in a way that I hadn’t in the past.
A World Full of Love
Susan: It was also that recognition – and this came like a couple of days later, and it was in the context of a circle, but I know that our work together opened the space for me to have that – is how much love there is in the world. And that really, I mean like my head of course has known forever that the world is full of love, but the contrast was a visceral experience of, “Wow, there is lots of love everywhere all the time if I open myself to it.” I mean, there is always the love of the divine. And again, my head of course has known that my entire life. But it feels like I have more of an awareness of it, rather than just, “Oh, of course God loves me, of course he does.” It’s like, “Oh! God loves me!” I feel it. I can tune into that. It’s like, without that steel plate, and with that radiance, that opening, it’s like, “Oh. I can feel this any time. I can tune into this any time.”
I Create My Circle
Susan: In circling, my experience has been that I am now aware that I create my circle. In the past, my idea – which is one of those 20:20 hindsight in retrospect how could I have been thinking that – up until we had our session, I had put the feeling of the circle kind of outside on the circle. Like this is something outside of me that’s happening. And now when I go in a circle, it’s like, it’s here. The circle is here. The love is here. It looks however it looks. It may, depending on where people are in the circle, there may be somebody there who’s upset, (not with me), but just who comes in with a fit, or who comes in kind of guarded, or with some protection or holding back, it’s like, “OK. I know you are love. Whatever is happening on the surface right now is happening, but you, yourself, are love. And I can open and receive that.
Susan: And so another part of it is, I see, it’s like love is. Contrasted to doing-ness. It’s just, “Oh! It’s always here. It’s always available.” It’s a matter of tuning into it, not creating it, not doing something, not making it happen. It just is. And knowing me, you can know how significant that feels for me.
Joe: A lot of what you’re describing, it sounds like a big part of your experience is the state you called Infinite Love.
Susan: Yes. Yes.
J: And that it’s always available, always present.
S: And kind of like breathing, it’s not something I have to have conscious thought about. We’re not saying, “In…[breath] out…[breath]” You know? We just breathe.
S: And I don’t say, “OK heart, beat… beat…. It just does.” So it’s in that category.
J: Yeah, yeah.
S: Which, as you can imagine, is a significant upgrade in my life experience.
J: That’s exciting.
S: Yes. I agree! [chuckle]
Joe: Has anyone spoken of noticing anything different in you?
Susan: So pretty much everybody that’s seen me has said, “Wow, you’re really different.” And nobody said, “Wow, you’re really different; you’re so much more loving.” I mean, nobody has said what’s really different, but pretty much to a person, it’s been like, “There’s… you’re… clearly something’s happening with you.” [chuckles]
And it’s not surprising because I think people experience me as loving, so I wouldn’t think people would say, “Oh, and you’re so loving.” I mean, that’s what they think I am anyway. That’s their experience anyhow. So I think what they’re feeling is how I feel different inside. Like it’s so different for me inside that my energetic outside, it’s like, “Something’s different,” without there being a precise thing.
J: And I imagine, my sense is, that there’s… when I feel that my love is being received, that feels different.
S: Yes. And again, no one has said, “Oh, you’re really receiving me now, aren’t you, and you never did before.” Or, “You’re receiving me much more than you did before.” I think it would take a finely tuned perception for somebody to get that, or to notice that. Because I am quite tuned in about my hugging, I can feel when people are letting me in or not. But I don’t think most people have an attentiveness to that or a discernment, a distinction about that.
And actually, the comments come before they’re hugging me. It’s like they walk in the room and say, “Wow. You’re different.” [laughing] “You’re different.”
S: And I mean, I have been in many ways on a very accelerated path of transformation. So I don’t think people need to think they can tell exactly what it is about me. You know? It’s just like, “Oh, more!” [chuckle] “More of that.”
Original Fear to Love
Joe: I’m curious, it sounded like there was a specific memory you had about what happened that made the Fear show up. It was like, this was appropriate to show up, but then it stayed around for too long.
J: It should have been something that I let go of, but I hung on to it, and the Shame was about having hung on to it.
S: Yeah, it was like, why did I think that was a good idea. Give me a minute and it will come…
I’m pretty sure that this would have been put in place when my mother died, with that decision, which I clearly remember making. I didn’t make the steel plate thing, that wasn’t conscious. That was more like a consequence or result, because when my mother died, and I have a vivid memory of this, I consciously said — I was 13, sudden, completely unexpected death — I said to myself, in my intense grief, “I am never going to love anybody that much again, because it is just too devastating to lose them.” And I can remember consciously deciding that.
So that was when I was 13. When I was in my mid-30s, I was vividly reminded of that decision when I met an older gentleman at church who was grandfather age that I just happened to sit by in church one Sunday and we really clicked. When the service was over he said, “Well, you probably need to eat. Would you like to come to lunch with me?” And I said, “OK.”
During that lunch, he shared with me that he had a diagnosis of prostate cancer, and back then the very best prognosis you could have was to live about eight years after your diagnosis, even if you did all the treatments you could do and they worked as good as they could work, eight years. He was about at year four. So of course, as evidenced by my mother, anybody could die at any time, but this was a person who was absolutely going to die, and sooner than later. I remember thinking that decision I had made, and I thought, “Susan, you can do this however you want to, but there’s such a loving, precious connection that’s available to you here. Your own grandparents died when you were eight, so here’s a lovely opportunity to have grandparent love and attention, and you can have this, and you can totally open your heart, and you can love this person with all your heart, or you can stick with your decision. And it’s up to you.” And I thought, “You know what? That was not the best decision I ever made. Let me unmake that one.”
Original Fear of Being Loved
Susan: What I didn’t realize until around the time we were having this session… Oh, it was right before this session because that’s how it impacted me so much. In a circle, I saw that was a corollary decision I had made at the same time, that I didn’t realize I made, that I wasn’t conscious of, which was, “And I am never allowing anybody to love me that much either, because it is too devastating to lose being loved.” When I saw that, it was like, “Wow. OK, didn’t know that. Now that I do, let me be aware and rethink that one.” And that’s the thing that, when we did our session, like I had always, any time I would feel it, I would feel that steel plate. You know? I could feel that it was there. I just hadn’t paid much attention to it. It was just part of who I was. And I certainly hadn’t examined the origins of it. But when I saw that, and then we did the feeling state work, and I felt the steel plate, it’s like, that’s what that is. That is the thing, that I, without any consciousness at age 13, 52 years ago, put into place to protect myself from the pain of losing.
And so when all that kind of came together, it was like, “Oh, and you know what? I don’t have to do that any more.” You know, I can receive. I choose to receive. Even though, yes, when that person or that relationship ends, am I going to notice it? Will I feel grief? Will I feel the loss? Of course I will. And why not have all the love in the world I can have, I can experience, why not receive all of that every minute I do, and when it’s not there, it’s not there.
And there’s also that Infinite Love that’s always there. So while I might lose a specific relationship, and would certainly have the natural, normal grief about it, it wouldn’t be the devastation that I had erected that to protect myself from, because now I know there’s an infinite supply. Whereas when I put that up, it was like, that specifically came from my mother, and now I don’t have my mother, and so, you know, 13-year-old mind, grief, shock, whatever that had me decide that, now I’m many, many years older, and I can make a different decision.
Origin of Shame
Joe: What’s your sense of how the Shame found its way in there?
Susan: So the Shame is that I know how I feel it when I love someone and they don’t accept it. And so the Shame is, “Oh my goodness, completely obliviously, unintentionally, but nonetheless truly, have I been not receiving people’s love.” And not trusting it. Like there was the whole mistrust thing. And the impact I had been having all these years, these 50-plus years, on all the people who loved me. You know? And feeling the embarrassment, and the Shame, that I had pushed them away.
J: So it seems like the Shame, what you’re describing is, that is pretty recent, it really showed up as you became aware that you had been doing that?
Shame + Marriage
Joe: Seems like the Fearful Fear would leave if it knew how, but it doesn’t know how.
J: So it’s not a shame that Fearful Fear appeared, but that it was meant to be temporary and somehow it got trapped. That it never meant to stay.
S: Yeah. It’s that, yeah, that’s the Shame. That I didn’t know, and the impact that has had. And it was like, I would like to think that I’m loving and that I allow myself to be loved. And I can look back, like for example in my marriage, where in the beginning at least, (and there’s a story around that), where I was loved as much as my husband was capable of loving me. And I can remember pushing it away. Part of the pushing it away was, I had a sense which turned out to be correct, that he was loving an idealized version of me, contrasted to me. So I wasn’t off on that one. But still, I was pushing it away.
Something that was true in my marriage was, both my husband and I were pretty exquisitely attuned to the energetics in our relationship, whether we were consciously aware of them or not, or whether we spoke of them or not, we were both really tuned in to that. And so I’m sure he felt my guardedness. And that cannot have felt good. It just cannot have felt good.
I’m not going to say that ruined our marriage, there’s a million factors about what worked and didn’t work in that. But my shame is that he loved me and I didn’t let it in. And the impact that had on a tender heart that was very open and giving.
J: Do you think that shame was present then?
S: No, I don’t think I knew it at all. I mean, the Shame came up out of the realization. I mean, was it present somewhere at some deep, completely unknown level? I think yeah, it would have had to have been. But there wasn’t the consciousness of it.
That’s why when we were doing it, and it showed up, it was almost kind of a surprise to me. That’s my recollection, in the session it was like, “Oh! And then there’s this, this unexpected thing, and what is it when I feel into it? It’s Shame. And it’s Shame that I would have been doing that, that I would have been pushing, or keeping, making a barrier to receiving love.
And until I processed and forgave myself for that, nothing could move.
Opening to Something New (Another Month Later)
A month after our followup call, (two months after the session), Susan and I were talking, and she shared the following story about the further unfolding of the work we did.
Susan: My ex-husband called after a mutual friend died. While we were talking about her I said, “You know, I really miss talking to you.” Because it’s been his choice for us essentially not to communicate.
A little later he shared that a book he’s always wanted to write about his family’s history is finally about to be published. I was saying what great news that was, and really celebrating with him that this is coming to pass. And I said again, “I just want to be sure that you heard me. I really miss us being in communication like this. I really treasure us just being able to be friends and talk.” And he said, “I know. And I acknowledge it was my anger and my hurt and the way I was being that stopped this, but I think I’ve moved past that now, and I miss you too. And I’m willing to be in communication with you.”
As far as I’m concerned, that’s just a miracle. I have so longed for that, but it’s not anything I could make happen. You know? It had to be his choosing to do that. And so he has sent me the final draft of the book for me to read over. A year or more ago I had said I’d be happy to read over a draft of the book, and it was like, “Nope.” So he’s now sent it to me to read, and he said, “You always have great comments. Here are the things I want you to look for and comment on.”
So it just, it feels wonderful, to have that. It does really feel like a shift, and for me, what I’ve noticed is that, (and this sounds paradoxical), what it feels like is that I now feel like I’m free to pursue another relationship. It seems funny. I don’t want to be anything except friends with my ex-husband. The marriage part of our relationship is done, and I’m not looking to rekindle that. But what I’ve noticed is that for me, the not-friendship was like an incompletion, and I was holding out for that. It’s kind of like all the relationship space in my head was taken up with, can I just get him to be friends with me please. And now that I have that, it’s like “OK, cool. That’s complete. Now I can move on to the next thing.”
I feel so satisfied when I have the opportunity to participate in someone’s growth like this. Now to be sure, Susan is a vibrant woman who is cultivating her ongoing growth in many ways. This single Feelingwork session is not solely responsible for the changes she is experiencing. But she would agree that the session has been a catalyst for her journey moving forward more easily and gracefully than it might have.
These kinds of results are common. The underlying feelings shift, and the accompanying beliefs, perceptions, habits and behaviors shift almost spontaneously, with very little effort.