On my blog entry entitled Inspirational Song: Kutless’ “That’s What Faith Can Do”, a reader posted the following comment:
You mentioned that you allowed yourself to feel the depths of your pain. I am just wondering, how did you let yourself do it? ~ Lanna
This took a lot of courage, and it did not happen overnight. For me, it was always okay to feel sadness and cry in private, so I started with what was comfortable. Because I allowed myself this outlet, I would often express other emotions, such as rage, through tears, which did not fully process those emotions.
I used the Survivor to Thriver Manual to guide me through the healing process, and that manual did a great job in walking me through how to process my emotions. I highly recommend this resource to all child abuse survivors regardless of the type of abuse you suffered. The manual is written in a way that encompasses all forms of child abuse, including emotional abuse, and it is written in a way that is not triggering.
A big part of my struggles was dissociating whenever I experienced a strong emotion. I had to accept each emotion as “mine” rather than “hers” (as in my inner child’s or alter part’s emotion). Until I embraced the emotion as “mine,” it was very hard to process the emotion.
I also needed to connect the emotion back to the source. I used to cry at commercials but had the inability to feel anything (couldn’t even cry) when I thought about some of the more traumatic abuses that I had suffered. Sometimes I would watch a movie to access the sadness, and then I would direct the sadness to the source (the abuse). Once I connected the emotion to the trauma and expressed it, I felt an amazing amount of relief.
Another tip is opening up your mind to the possibility of feeling certain emotions. For example, I truly believed that I held no anger toward my abusers. I was wrong. My therapist assured me that nobody could endure what I had without feeling any anger. I chose to invite the anger out. I punched a pillow and felt like an idiot with the first three punches. The anger exploded out with the 4th punch, and I throttled that pillow while screaming obscenities for about 20 minutes. I was physically and emotionally exhausted afterward, but I also felt really good.
There was another time where I became so triggered that I found the courage to access the most deep and raw places inside. I felt emotional pain so deep and raw that I questioned whether it was survivable. I released wails and sobs that ran so deep that words like “wail” or “sob” do not begin to describe it. Again, this was excruciatingly painful, but the relief I felt on the other side was amazing.
Going to that deep and raw place inside is a choice, and it takes a lot of courage. The Survivor to Thriver Manual assured me that accessing my deepest wounds would bring me the greatest healing, so I took a chance and dove in. I am glad I did.
Photo credit: Hekatekris