by Brianna Martinez


girl in waterI experienced a lot of grief and anger through most of my late teens and early twenties as a result of consecutive losses that I didn’t fully process. To cope with the grief, I convinced myself that I needed to be strong and push my emotions so far down that even I couldn’t see them. I ignored myself to help those around me, constantly soldiering on with a straight face; at the time, I thought strength meant containing emotions for the sake of helping everyone else.

Suppressing the grief for so long led to it forcing its way up into my life; I often pictured it as a raging flood of water bursting through the compartments of a sinking ship. Like the scene in Titanic when the frigid ocean water begins to flood each level, the grief would break through my safeguards and inundate my mind and body. Just as the crewmen frantically tried to slam the heavy iron door shut to seal themselves off from the incoming flood, I tried to forcefully close myself off to avoid feeling the grief that was suddenly rushing in around me.

For years I hid the pain and shouldered the responsibility of tending to people around me, not realizing that stifling the grief was only making it worse because I was not truly working through it. As time passed I grew angrier and more melancholic; I viewed each sad incident I experienced as proof that I was destined to suffer while everyone else was free to be happy.

One day as I was talking to Dr. Marcantel about a personal problem, she sensed that I felt wounded and gently shared with me that she was sensing I was identifying with victimhood. As we talked, she explained to me how the sense of victimhood was ultimately a choice in perspective and that it was a way of giving up my control to others who had hurt me, or to life, which I thought specifically excluded me from happiness.

I realized then she was exactly right; I was choosing to see myself as a victim in life and was angry at life because of it. I realized I had been justifying my victimhood by using my experiences to keep myself oppressed, and that manifested as grief. Dr. Marcantel helped me to see that I was in control of my emotions and the way I saw the world, and that I could give myself permission and space to feel the emotions that needed to be felt. I realized that I needed to keep that hatch door open and let the water flow in despite how scary and uncomfortable that was. I learned this process was necessary and profoundly healing.

That single discussion changed my entire view of the world and myself. I later did a Guided Energy Session with Dr. Marcantel and I began working with various tools such as affirmations, Emotional Freedom Technique, and the simple truth of just acknowledging that the grief was there and that it needed to be heard. I began to give myself time and space to feel the emotions and as I did, I noticed that I no longer felt like I was drowning; I was just sitting with the feelings and allowing them to flow through.

When I encounter grief now, my intention is to honor myself by creating space to recognize, feel, and release it without self-judgment instead of fighting to push everything down; I let go and allow it to arise gently. Doing this has calmed the roaring waters of grief I once sank in—I am no longer using all my energy to keep up a facade of strength by restraining all my emotion because I respect myself enough to spend as much time with my feelings as I need to. I no longer see a dangerous and threatening torrent that I have to protect myself against—what was once a powerful ocean of grief is now a small trickle of water because I opened the door to feeling the emotion.

I wanted to share my story to illustrate the importance of creating the space to feel and how true healing can occur when we do that. Now I know that it is possible to enjoy life, love, health, and true happiness and that I don’t have to drown anymore. What I didn’t see for so long was that by allowing my emotions in I wasn’t opening a floodgate to disaster—I was opening a hatchway to life, and that is a great feeling.


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