It was a Halloween event for charity. The idea was that everyone dressed up as zombies and walked (dragging and shuffling our feet under our undead bodies) along the sidewalk in an upscale shopping area on a Saturday afternoon.
I loved transforming myself into this bloody scary creature and then seeing the expressions of shock as we passed the windows of restaurants where well-dressed people were having their nice quiet brunch.
As my then-boyfriend and I shuffled and jerked down the sidewalk we would groan and moan and say things like “braaiiiiins”. We entertained and freaked-out shoppers passing us by.
At one point I raised my arms ready to look menacing for the next group of people walking by us. Unfortunately, I did not see him until it was too late. A little boy (maybe around 6 years old). He was in front of this group of people with his parents right behind him.
The look of raw terror on his face as he stared up at my bloody scabbed-up face. His little body momentarily frozen and locked.
My heart dropped and I felt instant regret. He was traumatized by it.
His parents didn’t seem to notice what happened to him and they laughed with amusement as they urged him forward to continue walking.
As I continued with the group my enthusiasm dampened as the image of the boy's terrified face stayed with me.
When the event was over we went to a nearby coffee shop to clean up and sit down. It was crowded so we were glad to find seats. As we sat down I looked to my left and seated right there next to us was that same little boy and his parents.
I had removed most of my make-up by then and so thankfully lost my frightfulness. I introduced myself to the little boy and explained what we were doing that day. I apologized for scaring him earlier. Hearing my apology, he suddenly sat up tall in his chair and puffed out his chest and insisted that no, he had not been afraid. My boyfriend then chimed in, thinking he was helping, commended the boy on his “bravery”.
I had to accept that there was nothing I could do to fix what happened. Especially since the boy was ashamed of the fear he experienced.
This was probably the first moment that led to many others that resulted in my now lack of interest in Halloween.
But I used to look forward to Halloween. It was my favorite holiday by far. The scary, the magical, the weird. I loved it all. I could be whatever I wanted to be. I loved hosting or going to parties and seeing all the other costumes. It was a chance to act out things that I normally wouldn’t allow myself to express. A way to let go of my inhibitions and have fun.
But that changed, not solely because of that little boy, but as an outcome of healing (and also due to my creativity being focused on other things).
I stopped getting joy out of shocking and scaring people. I realized I was feeding off the power in getting a reaction out of people. My psyche craved that power to balance out the helplessness that was my usual experience.
After realizing these things I spent a lot of time acting out my darkness but doing it consciously and privately. Not depending on a special occasion for permission to do it.
I started to take notice of and face the inner energies and emotions as they came up in my daily life.
Aggression. Violence. Hate. Jealousy. Hurt. Resentment. Blame. Guilt. Shame. Helplessness.
All the gritty dark or painful things you can imagine. I held nothing back and explored them all in myself.
This was new for me because I was so used to controlling myself. There were times I was afraid of my destructiveness and thought “What if I open this darkness up and it takes over and I hurt somebody with it?”
But on the contrary, by letting go of control and working with these energies intentionally, the hostility inside me dissolved.
I had been, for a long time, trying to fit myself into a place in society and I worried a lot about what people thought of me.
In facing what I used to judge inside me, my racing mind started to slow down and the inner critic that used to torment me quieted down too.
I was healing the zombie.
I became freer in being myself from a place of inner empowerment in my everyday life.
I don’t have anything against adults enjoying Halloween, especially for letting the inner child come out and play. It can also be a way to explore what we might be repressing.
Besides CATHARTIC PLAY-ACTING, below are other tools I’ve used for myself and I facilitate for clients in private sessions and workshops:
- DYNAMIC ACTIVE MEDITATION by Osho
- PROCESS PAINTING by Michelle Cassou & Stewart Cubley (What I call Meditative Painting)
- NO-YES ACTIVE MEDITATION by Mada Dalian
- The DALIAN METHOD by Mada Dalian
The Dalian Method was the most important tool for me - because it goes deeper than catharsis by transforming the originating cause of the repressed emotions (emotional and energetic catharsis is liberating, but without an internal shift in awareness, the wound that created the need for catharsis may remain unhealed)
Leela Haris - Expanding Consciousness