Day 27: Primal Scream


I admit it. For most of my life, I have not expressed what I consider to be negative emotion. I have not easily cried.  I have not wailed or screamed. I have no problem expressing positive emotions such as joy or laughter. I feel great in those higher energies. I struggle when assailed by grief or anger or fear. I grow silent. And those lower, but just as powerful, energies get stuck in the region of my heart. That accumulated energy, gathered over the years, has created a mighty wall behind which, my heart feels safe.

When the activity I had planned on didn’t work into my schedule today, I felt a nudge toward another first written on my list: primal scream. Just thinking about letting a scream loose made me feel nervous. My mind raced down the list of possibilities, seeking something else. I teetered at the edge of my comfort zone. Move past this, I whispered to myself. Move beyond.

I googled primal scream therapy. Just reading about it was enough to raise my discomfort level even higher. Dr. Arthur Janov discovered, in the mid 1960’s, that repressed emotions could be released by allowing the pain buried inside to find a voice and be expressed, loudly. I had choked back that voice for so long, I didn’t know if it could escape my throat. The last time I tried to allow a cry of deep agony to come forth, I ended up sitting alone in an enclosed stairwell, gasping for air.

It sounds ridiculous, even to me. And yet pacing through my house, determined not to back down from this challenge, the “what ifs” began. “What if the neighbors hear me and think something is wrong? What if my cats freak out? What if I freak out? What if the mailman steps onto my front porch just as I shriek, and calls 9-1-1?”

I put the cats on the porch for a few minutes. And grabbing a pillow to scream into, I took several long, slow deep breaths, allowing my heart to open. Before I could resist, I screamed, for what seemed like a very long time. My body shook with the force of it, my neck throbbed, my arms ached. When the sound died away, though, I noticed a lightness in my chest that I’ve not felt before. A lightness of being. The cats calmly came back inside. No one sent help, thinking I was in distress.  I didn’t freak out. I surprised myself. I did it.

I laughed, amazed, and discovered that my throat was raw and sore. Ah, well. That was a very small price to pay for such a huge leap beyond the boundary that contained me for so long.