Posts Tagged ‘unending sadness’

On my blog entry entitled Connecting the Emotion Back to the Source, a reader posted the following comment:

…could I ask you to elaborate more, though? When you say you worked really hard for that one tear–what did that mean for you to work at it? What did you do in follow-up that allowed you to connect more sadness to the memory?

One of my great frustrations is how often I experience exactly what you said, “a deep heaviness on my heart, but being unable to cry.” When you are feeling things like that and suspect they are connected to a memory, what do you do to identify what memory it is coming from? ~ blueorchid8

The first step is to recognize the disconnection. In my example, I would cry easily at commercials, but I shed no tears at all when recovering the memory of my dog being slaughtered. I knew that having no feelings about the dog’s loss was not normal. Instead of tears, I felt a cold “heaviness” inside of myself. I was afraid to open up that part of myself because I knew it would be extremely painful.

Because I refused to deal with the pain, the memory continued to haunt me. Different things would trigger it, and I knew I had to face it, but I kept refusing. In time, I decided that I wanted to heal this memory and move on. It was at this point that I recognized my inability to cry.

I decided that tears were appropriate, so I tried to cry, but I could not do it. Considering I can cry by hearing the music to a movie trailer, that was really strange for me. I tried to think about how painful it must have been. Eventually, I felt a tiny shift in the block of ice inside. I put all of my energy into making myself cry. I only succeeded in bringing out one tear, but I felt an enormous amount of relief at this.

Many months later, I was again triggered by the memory of the dog. I knew that I had to face it once and for all. I decided to go to that painful place inside of myself, feel like h#$% for a little while, and be done. I played Leona Lewis’ song, Better in Time, and I forced myself to remember that terrible night. Then, the tears came down in buckets as I applied the lyrics and haunting melody to my situation:

Thought I couldn’t live without you
It’s gonna hurt when it heals too
It’ll all get better in time
Even though I really love you
I’m gonna smile cause I deserve to
It’ll all get better in time ~ Leona Lewis from “Better in Time”

To this day, I cry when I hear that song.

Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt

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On my blog entry entitled Words of Wisdom from “The Shack”: The Beauty and Pain of Emotions, a reader posted the following comment:

My therapist and I were just talking about this today. She says that the emotion has to be linked to the memory before healing can happen. It helps me to try to remember that… because it really sucks!! ~ Else

This has been a challenging part of healing for me, but it is so true. Not only did I split into alter parts in the reaction to the abuse, I also split apart the memories. A particularly traumatizing memory might be stored in numerous parts – the sights, the sounds, the smells, the anger, the pain – all encapsulated apart from one another. In order to heal fully from one particularly traumatizing experience, I had to connect all of the pieces back to the source.

Considering the vast quantity of trauma that I endured as a child, this can be a daunting task. I have found that I do not have to piece together every single individual memory, but I do have to piece it all together enough that I can heal.

For example, I have dealt with seemingly endless sadness in my life. A little thing like a TV commercial can trigger the sadness, and I cannot hold back the tears. And yet, I can recover an extremely traumatizing memory and be unable to cry. That is my red flag that I have not yet integrated the emotions back into that memory. So, instead of crying when I think about my slaughtered dog, I cry when I see a story on TV about a dog dying. My overreaction to the dog on TV is the missing part of my under-reaction to the trauma that caused the tears.

Now that I have wept the tears for my slaughtered dog, I do not struggle as much with uncontrollable tears for dogs on TV. Because I integrated the emotions back with the memory, I was finally able to heal that part of myself. Yes, I will always be susceptible to triggers that remind me of that trauma, but the pain is now all in one place. I can experience that memory in a different way now that I have put the puzzle pieces back together again.

Related Topic:

Associating Emotions with Traumatic Memories

Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt

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