Sunday, March 28, 2010

I DON'T Want to Talk About It: Going Through to Get Out of. Honoring the Pain of the Past


For the longest time I held onto resentments. I mean - really - how could I forgive those who had affected my life and changed me forever?

My life had been a nightmare. Trauma does that to a person.

Yet - it didn't have to stay that way.

But I didn't understand that by holding on to the quite justifiable anger that I was drawing out the pain, I was actually causing some of my own misery. I had slipped into the conundrum of post trauma stress as over time I struggled to avoid triggers and control my environment and those in it in an impotent effort to continue to avoid the emotional pain and feelings of helplessness that had become my "norm".

What changed that? What helped me to let go of the resentments that my life could have been different, that I could have been different had I not had the life experiences that I did?

First - it was learning to do the "hard work" of emotional healing - learning to recognize, and connect my emotions and start talking about how I felt about what happened to me instead of my past focus on what the perpetrators had done that had left me feeling helpless, hopeless.

To trust the process - the emotional healing process.

To stop focussing and thinking about what "they", "he", "she", "it" had done to me or on what had otherwise happened to me that I had no control over.

Doing this "instant replay" really served only one purpose and that was to support that "perpetual victimhood" I was experiencing by reliving the nightmare over and over; not just in my head, but in my conversations and relationships. In the beginning it was noticable that this was what I was doing but in time it unconsciouly permeated my life and who I had become.

This focus on external events perpetuated that feeling of helplessness that often comes with a trauma experience and circumvented the natural emotional process of healing.

Then to start talking about how I felt about what happened to me.

That I felt shamed, lost, lonely, confused. That I thought, as I had been told, that "it" was my fault, that I was bad, that I had feared for my life and well being.

But I didn't share this part of my journey with just anyone. Only a select few whom I knew would be able to sit with my pain and not try to "fix" it by offering suggestions that would serve only to once again place the focus on external "fixes" rather than the internal insight and awareness that brings change.

This part of the journey is not one to be openly shared with all the world but to be honored and respected amongst close and compassionate relationships. A trusted friend who is not doing their own trauma work, a qualified therapist that knows how to validate instead of dismiss this part of the healing process.

This is where the knowledge of the emotional healing process came into play. As I gradually moved from talking "story" and on to "processing" emotion - the darkness began to lift. The pain began to subside inside me.

Things that had been horrible triggersItalic for me began to be things I could experience with intention. I began to see how events and situations that in the past would send me off the deep end were identifying opportunities for healing, grieving - that here I could go through to get out of the connected avoidance and pain.

I no longer had to hide from the world because I could now become a part of the world.

I began to use my words as an indicator, a marker of sorts, that there was more grief to be had. That there was more to be let go of in order to set myself free. When I found myself again focussing on, talking about, complaining or feeling angry at something that had been done "to" me...this resentment was telling me there was more work to be done - and that I was ready to go through this healing process in order to get out of the pain of the past that had stolen my life from me.

And as I noted in my poem of recent "A Walk in Compassion" - letting go of my anger, resentments and deep inner wounds does not give those who harmed me a free pass in life for what they did that harmed me - but finding this place brings me closer to peace.


You Don't Have to be an Einstien: Knowledge is Empowerment (there is no "worse" than or comparing of trauma experiences...)


Kyla said...

This is a great post- as I was reading this I was thinking, that recently I have been, talking about certain memories, thing's that had bothered me and, was a fear of mine, or at least use to be. I guess in a way it is kind of, still but I'm getting better, at realizing what has happend and expressing how I feel about that certain situation or person. It's great to realize, how I am slowly but surely healing myself. I am also glad I have a great man, a best friend to me who takes the time to listin - it's important to have someone who is supportive, especailly when trying to work on your path to healing. Great post

Unknown said...

So true Kyla! having support we can trust can make a world of difference! I'm so glad to hear you have that in your life and journey and that you are feeling confident about the work that you are doing!

I'm glad you stopped by Kyla!



Ellen said...

Great post Susan. I like the part about owning your own experience and in this way becoming master of it (mistress of it?). Also not sharing this deep stuff with just anyone is important - it takes someone special to be able to listen and not just fix and advise.

Unknown said...

Ellen! So great to see you! I agree - it took some time for me to understand that my focus on issues and things outside of myself was hampering the natural healing process that happens once I got to that place of focussing on what I was trying so hard to avoid - the emotion connected to the past. I like the way you put it - "owning" it :) and sharing with the trusted few...

Sure hope you are well and enjoying some sunshine by now perhaps?!

AmyK said...

I really enjoyed this post. It reminds me of how far I've come and also how far I still can go on my own healing journey.

Thank you so much for sharing your experience and process.

Unknown said...

It's nice to see you Amy and thanks for your is a process isn't it? It would be great if we could wake up one morning and say "I'm done"...but like everything takes time to learn how to do things differently. :)

Michelle said...

Great post of insight that helps me with where I,m at...I know that I need to stop talking the talk that has saturated me for so long!!!The next step for me is the realization that I need to walk with the talk that will allow the chains of this saturation to be unlocked. As I walk with this talk, I know that what I learn from my own healing journey and what you share Susan will be tools that I will have a full understanding of and carry with me as I move forward on the journey that lies ahead of me.... as I discover me!!!

Unknown said...
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Unknown said...

Michelle - great to see you today! And yes - for me it began with being aware of both the words I was speaking about myself out loud as well as the subtitles that ran constantly in the back of my mind.

It is so good to hear you sounding so positive! And great to "see" you!