Sunday, July 11, 2010

Paying Homage To The Past

This is a "Note" from my Facebook account that I'm posting this today as a follow up to yesterdays post on "Accepting Peace"....

In the past....the "past" was my nemesis. It often became so torturous that every thought, every sense was on high alert as I consciously and unconsciously avoided the triggers that were guaranteed to send me into a tailspin….yet another “meltdown”.

For a long time I engaged in a variety of coping skills that either put myself in danger or had me lashing out at and hating everyone and everything around me. I was “acting out” and “acting in”. Eventually I just shut down when I could no longer live in that pain and those behaviors no longer brought relief; I lived in a chronic state of dissociation and isolation for many years thereafter.

Then one day I had a very clear realization. I had a moment of insight – one of those “aha” moments where I suddenly became aware that by "avoiding" the past this way - either that of my recent past or that of the far gone past - that I was slowly losing my now AND my future because I was so obsessed with avoiding the pain of facing that which I felt so helpless to affect or change.

Part of that realization was understanding that the rumination of the life I’d had, the resentments, the anger at what I had survived and what I had lost in my lifetime because of other peoples actions or lack of action was holding me in this state of chronic pain.

Another part of this moment of enlightenment was that in order to get beyond this pain, to reclaim my life and begin to create the future I so wanted for myself that it was time to let go and begin to feel the pain instead of avoiding it.

It was time to begin to “go through” the anger not by attacking or lashing out at those around me or those who had hurt me – but by allowing myself to own that I first had the right to feel this rage that consumed me…as well as the responsibility to learn to express it safely and respectfully.

And this act led me to the grief that would wash me free of the pain of the past and free me from the prison I had lived in for so many years.

I was finally able to integrate the pain of surviving what I call “childhood horrors” and embrace who I am today.

And thus my journey to wellness shifted from being “mad at the world” to creating my best life where I became a part of the world around me, learning to live my life to it’s fullest instead of living in the isolation and shame that had held me prisoner for so long.

If you’ve found this note helpful – I’d like to suggest that you take a look at a couple of other notes in my archives…Fighting Forgiveness 
and Onions Make Me Cry.

“I see the light in you”



Thanks for reading today...

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Kristin said...

It is very frightening to step into the pain. That first step is the most rootless experience anyone can have. Holding onto the pain can be habitual, almost comforting in its familiarity.
I see your strength in this step, Susan. The moment that you decided to change and DID.
You describe very well how you moved from a mindset that had been prescribed for you to this one, so free from rules and margins.
xx kris

Unknown said...

Kris - this is what I thought I would receive when I entered the MH system once I finally saw that it would be possible to change who I was and thus learn to change my life.

Yet not once in my 15 years in the system was this issue of learning to grieve my pain to be set free of it ever brought up. This idea of experiencing my emotions instead of dulling them with medications was completely dismissed and the focus was of course on "behaviors".

What I have learned - is that the destructive patterns of behaviors and impulses toward self harm etc...were no longer an an issue once I discovered how to experience my emotions instead of avoiding them.

Good to see you Kristin!

Anonymous said...

Once i realised i had to face my past, deal with it, then move on from it, i was able to start my recovery. Once i allowed myself to be affected by my past, and stopped beating myself up for being affected by it, i became empowered. Once empowered, i began to recover. It was a journey, but can now say i am very well. And if i get ill again, well i will just deal with it and not allow it to consume my life and nearly destroy it. Your blog puts into words, my thoughts, very well. Thank you. X.

Unknown said...

Anonymous - thank you for your comment...

"Once i allowed myself to be affected by my past, and stopped beating myself up for being affected by it, i became empowered."

And this is the sum of it all. :)

I appreciate your support and encouragement!


carol said...

what you said makes so much sense to me, as i have been trying to get out from under my past for ovr 20yrs now. i used to chase the memories, n then like u i had this thought if it hurt to hold it in then it couldnt hurt that much more to face it. it been slow going but once i get my head around an idea the behaviour follows eventually.
well done to you for speaking out n letting others know it can be overcome

Unknown said...

Thank you Carol for sharing your thoughts on this post...this learning to first accept and own my anger was a hard thing in the beginning. I'd spent a lifetime being "punished" in one way or another for expressing any emotion outside of that range of "flat" that is socially acceptable.

But - once I connected that this was part of what "normal" was and I was able to not share my emotions with those who wouldn't be able to respect them - it was all downhill for me from there.

I'm glad you came by - and thank you for your encouragement!

Darlene Ouimet said...

Yes Yes I love this Susan!! Great discription of the journey. I especially loved the insight where you realized that you were losing your present and future! OH YES, it is exaclty like that ist't it!

So glad that I saw this post on FB and came on over!
Hugs, Darlene

Unknown said...

Hi Darlene! Thanks for letting me know you found this via FB!

And YES! This is what set me free from the torment of living in the past...that stole my "todays"!

I thought there was some magical formula I was looking for to find my was in reading Eckart Tolles book "A new Earth" that this realization hit me - this moment WAS the life I had been searching for....and in my quest and struggle of living in the past I had literally "lost my life" many times over.

Today though - is so way different and I am so busy living every moment that truly is the life that was there all along-I just had to wake up and grab on:)

IAmEchad said...

It was as if you were a fly on the wall during my session yesterday. My therapist was saying not only is it ok, but it's necessary to allow anger to be felt & I kept adamately saying no. I said anger was scary and it frightened me. But here you said it so well:

It was time to begin to “go through” the anger not by attacking or lashing out at those around me or those who had hurt me – but by allowing myself to own that I first had the right to feel this rage that consumed me…as well as the responsibility to learn to express it safely and respectfully

IAmEchad said...

how are you notified of comments posted after you?

Unknown said...

Echad...Good to see you here! In my own journey I was always surprised at the syncronicity of my life lessons along this healing journey:) I'm really glad to hear that this post was there when you were ready for it!

It took some practice to learn to be self aware and stay present when I began to acknowledge the steps I guess. I liken it to letting the steam out of a teapot that is boiling...the angry boiling water was my rage. Lifting the lid a little bit at a time made it possible to learn to use my anger to guide my healing. By learning honor my anger I discovered a whole range of emotion that had been buried beneath it.

Thank you for your comment; I am so grateful to know that this was helpful to you!

Unknown said... be notified of comments....when you leave your comment there is an option - an box to check that says

Email follow-up comments to (your email address should be there)

Check that box and you should get follow up comments on each post.


Unknown said...

I enjoyed your post but had no luck in finding the archived articles you mention. Could you provide a link to them?

Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Unknown said...

YCSWID ~ I appreciate that you stopped by to read and thank you for bringing that to my attention...the links should be working now; please let me know if they don't!


Unknown said...

The links do work but appear to go to a note on a Facebook page and are unviewable. Are they notes on your page? Do you have permissions set to only friends?

Unknown said...

YCSWID - thanks again for letting me know you had trouble accessing these posts on FB. I went ahead an re-published them here on A Journey...links for you;

Onions Make Me Cry

Fighting Forgiveness

You should be able to copy and paste in your browser or you can just go to the home page here and these are the 2 most recent posts.

I appreciate that you took the time to let me know you had trouble accessing these posts...:)