Andrew’s busy and strict parents did not tolerate the normal outbursts of a small child who has multiple tumbles and tantrums a day while discovering the world. At an early age he learnt to suppress his feelings.
“Be a man” became his mantra in times of pain or difficulty. He switched off his feelings.
At the first opportunity he joined the military where he had to push himself physically and mentally. He carried out his duties and followed orders with precision. His active service was carried out with a mixture of discipline, bravado and rote. Feelings did not get in his way. Even after being involved in action and seeing some shocking sights he carried on as normal.
After leaving the military, he started to have trouble sleeping. He had nightmares, would explode in anger at the slightest thing and he began to feel depressed. He thought that his lack of success at finding a job was the cause of these problems.
As Andrew learnt to handle present day stress and developed a routine to improve his sleep, he also began to take steps to find a job. He was disappointed to find that his nightmares and episodes of rage continued as before.
To shift these problems, Andrew had to break through the shell of protective numbness that he had created as a small child to “be a man”. He had to get in touch with his feelings and release the traumatic memories, held in his brain and at a cellular level, from his time on active service.
While he was denying his feelings of pain, he was also denying feelings of joy. At last, he was able to feel and he created a new mantra “it’s safe to feel”.