Thursday, March 25, 2010

Once the Tears Have Dried

I have debated about publishing this post...but have chosen to do so because part of healing from the pain of the past can often include grieving how our own issues of "mental illness" or PTSd has affected others. Our friends, families and of course - the children.

Whatever label that we attach to our issues/symptoms in this journey the outcome is quite often similar for many of us. We have been changed from who we might have been had our life experiences been different.

The adult survivor of child hood issues struggles to develop and maintain the social connections that enhance our lives. A pervasive sense of powerlessness perpetuates a state of dependence and there is no hope that life will ever be more than surviving one day to the next.

The father who played with his daughter before he left for war becomes irritable, sullen, explosive. The mother who nursed her infant who is raped and is no longer kind and gentle but is lost in her own world where alcohol, drugs or cutting is the only relief from the torment of the noise in her head.

Today's post takes us to that place where we can talk about how our issues in those darkest places of our journey become manageable as we learn to embrace the pain of the past and live in today, creating the life we choose each day.

Trauma makes us different.

And that realization sucked when I woke up out of the fog and realized just how different.

Control issues. Irritability. Blowing up for no visible reason. Depressed to the point of wishing to be anywhere but here; I did not want to die, only to know how to live. Wild spending sprees that served to help me avoid my emotional pain but served no other purpose. A mind that seemed to race of it's own accord, distorted thoughts that left me feeling paranoid, delusional. Isolation became my refuge.

So guarded and cautious of the future, so stifled by stuffing the past - that I missed so many "now" moments with my children and not realizing that I was missing "life" as I fought to forget the past. Insomnia, sleep deprivation, flashbacks, nightmares and fighting demons that were no longer there. I had become a different person than the mother who cradled and rocked her infants to sleep.

I was hurting the ones I loved in order to protect myself from the pain that would have brought healing.

And this is part of the "hard work" of finding freedom from the past, of healing.

Being able to see the past for what it was. Being able to own how my "crazy" affected and injured my children. Innocents.

They are now grown. But the pain sometimes creeps in when I am reminded of the years lost to the demons of the darkness of a past forgotten but not gone, emotional pain avoided rather than embraced and experienced.

The price paid to live in denial and avoidance.

I didn't know that I could learn to be free of the pain that I fought so hard to control and avoid. I knew that I didn't like the person I was when I was lost in the fog of PTSd aka mental illness. I didn't see that I had any power to control or change my reactive state of being. And while I knew that something was not "right", I didn't know how to "fix" it.

But today I can feel the sadness, the loss of those years, the moments I missed.

Today instead of hiding in shame I can own how my past affected their future. I can grieve. I can cry. I can embrace the emotional pain of my own I can do this and stay present.

Grieving what was, what was lost and what will never be since I can't go back and have a "do over" and raise my children without the crazy's of PTSd aka "mental illness".

And once the tears have dried again, remembering what I do have today. The new relationship that we have created based on trust, respect and love. The hopes, the dreams, sharing the success' and challenges of life.

This is the reward for doing that "hard work" of taking back my life from the darkness that haunted - and hunted me - for so many years.

This is the payoff.

Finally being able to create and live the life of my choice today and every day... of the demons of the past.

See my related post...Today I cried


Thank you for stopping by today. Here is where I share my journey through the maze of "mental illness" by sharing parts of my story and some of the steps I have taken to be able to create and live best life each day.

It is possible to be free of the demons of the past. If you are looking for resources I've posted some links here. Not an exhaustive collection by any means but a good place to start :)

If you have any comments, feedback or questions I would like to invite you to leave them in the comments section...

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Ray said...

Yes, yes, yes. Thank you for posting this Susan. I've seen & felt this in my own family system and have come to understand that not feeling able to speak of the grief and sadness is a major contributing factor towards spilling the trauma over into the next generation.

There's a quote by Chogyam Trungpa that touches on this area for me. Maybe you know it...

"Hold the sadness and pain of samsara in your heart and at the same time the power and vision of the Great Eastern Sun. Then the warrior can make a proper cup of tea."

Unknown said...

Ray - I am always amazed at how when we need one another the most, there we are:) Thank you for dropping by today - your comments are wonderfully validating and supporting of my own journey today:)

And yes. We can find all the tricks, take all the pills, read all the books - but when it comes down to it - this is the hard work that sets us free; the grieving of the wish for things past to have been different and coming to acceptance of what truly IS.

Failing to do this kind of work is exactly what you described - it will spill to those who follow us if we are not able to learn - and model - a healthier way of coping with our emotional pain. The good news - we now have the opportunity to model being a warrior in our own right and passing THAT on...

I am not familiar with this exact quote, although there is an American Indian poem of learning to sit with my own or another's pain. I would like to share this with others if you don't mind...

I love what you had to say today, Ray. Thank you for coming by!