On my blog entry entitled How Do You Let Yourself Feel the Depths of Your Pain?, a reader posted the following comment:
I do understand WHAT you saying, I’m just not sure how you actually GET to the point of ‘wanting’ to feel the pain that devastated me and my childhood, in the first place. I have always told my therapist that I have never felt angry at them–only at myself! I am the only person that I have ever taken my anger out on! My therapist told me that it isn’t necessary to SAY everything that happened, in order to heal–but, for me, it feels like it is, because otherwise it will always be my dirty little secret! The problem is that I can’t seem to go there!!! I can’t bring it up–no matter what I do, it just doesn’t come out of my mouth! Even if I make a list with things that I need/want to talk about, I somehow manage to find other things to fill the time. How do you go from fighting with everything that you have to keep it all locked away–which is necessary as a kid–to now, convincing yourself that it is no longer helping you?!? It still feels like I have to keep it hidden in order to survive! ~Theresa
Before reading my response, be sure to read my blog entry from Wednesday. I will build upon what I said in that blog entry today.
The first step was believing that I needed to feel the pain in order to heal. I spent most of my life feeling numb, which basic means that I did not feel anything. Unfortunately, you cannot simply turn off the switch to the bad feelings. When you numb yourself, you numb the good stuff, too. It is like you spend your life watching it through the wrong side of binoculars. You feel no passion, no joy … no anything. You are simply existing until you die.
The Survivor to Thriver manual gave me the hope that my life could be different. The manual walked me through how to heal, and there were steps along the way that I did not want to do, such as Step 3, which is making a commitment to recovery from the child abuse. That step talks about finding a therapist, which I did not want to do. I found that I needed a therapist, and that relationship being such a positive influence helped me believe in the importance of the next step and the next.
Step 3 of the Survivor to Thriver manual includes the following advice:
Disclosing your abuse to someone else can be extremely powerful because it shatters the silence and secrecy of the past, and may well shatter your expectation of a negative response. ~ Survivor to Thriver manual
If I was going to commit to healing, then I was going to have to move out of my comfort zone. I was going to have to risk talking about what happened and trust that I was going to be okay after I did it. It wasn’t easy – it was actually one of the most difficult things that I have ever done in my life. Being brave doesn’t mean that you are not scared – it means that you are scared to death but do it, anyhow. I was brave to take the risk of talking about what happened, and it helped me to have the Survivor to Thriver manual holding my hand through the process.
For me, talking about what happened is what got the ball rolling. Like you, I never felt any anger toward any of my abusers – only toward myself. However, when I told other people about what happened, they would get angry at my abusers and be compassionate toward me (two things that I did not know how to do myself). Just like a child learns how to react in different situations by watching the behavior modeled by his parents, I learned how to be angry toward my abusers and compassionate toward myself by watching the reactions of the people in my life as they learned about my abuse.
To heal, you have to find the courage to ignore that inner voice trying to silence you. For me, this meant talking about what happened. For another survivor, it might mean painting, drawing, or sculpting your truths. I had to give my inner child a voice to heal. Once I found the courage to do this, the rest fell into place.
Photo credit: Hekatekris