Underneath the surface
Sometimes we are under the impression that we have healed or overcome a traumatic event in our lives just because we are able to function on a daily basis. Just because we laugh at a joke or because we don’t cry. Just because we can have moments of happiness does not mean we are happy. Sorrow is not tears and tears do not always represent sorrow. They can represent other feelings as well such as, frustration. By neglecting our true feelings or by avoiding to feel them, we just put a bandage over the wound that, every now and then resurfaces like an infection that never truly healed. Then it becomes that permanent scar that could have been avoided if the wound had been tended to properly.
Despite what many people think, the scars don’t have to last forever. You can forgive and you can forget…if you choose to. Forgetting does not mean that you will not recall the lesson learned. If you allow things to happen again, it is not because you trusted, it is because you lost focus, did not recognize the same lesson reappearing in your life, and made the same mistake. Fool me once, shame on you; but fool me twice, shame on me. I can name this many things, responsibility, consciousness, self awareness.
This reflection occurred to me while having a conversation with a dear friend, as a result of the things she was saying to me about herself. I thought, “this is how we think we have healed sometimes, but really have not”. She was relating feelings she had been unaware of for many years and were now coming to the surface. This was causing her sorrow, and she felt sad often. Finally she learned these feelings had their roots within the relationship she had as a child with her mother. Then I thought about a more personal experience. Years ago, this same friend I speak of, found me crying over some guy who had dumped me. I felt so deeply hurt because after weeks of dating, despite always having a great time, he just disappeared. There had been no argument, nothing. I was puzzled, and didn’t understand my feelings. I liked him, but I was not in love, so why was I feeling so devastated and heart broken? Granted, while his behavior would’ve left anyone puzzled, I knew I was not so emotionally invested in him. Yet there I was, crying waterfalls. It was the more awkward to me, finding myself cry during the day, when in years I had not shed a tear over things more important.
This same friend I speak of was present at the time and offered her own reflection to me. She thought I was perhaps reliving the feelings of abandonment caused by the sudden loss of my parents when I was younger. To me, this was wild! My parents never abandoned me! Unfortunately they passed away suddenly one after the other, in a very traumatic event when I was only 18. Despite the fact that my childhood with them had been nothing short of loving; despite the fact my relationship with them was healthy and satisfactory, I did not allow myself to grief them. I completely shut down and focused my attention on being strong. Doing what I was supposed to; get a job, go to school, get it together. For years I did not shed a tear for the two people I loved the most in this world. For years, I did not dedicate a moment, not even in therapy, to allow myself to feel the sadness, the abandonment…the loss. I never allowed myself to be angry at them for leaving me behind. I never allowed myself the questions we all ask, why me? Instead I tried to explain to myself that, unfortunate things happen and we must move forward. And forward we shall go, but not like that. Not at the expense of our own hearts and well being.
My parents passed away in 2003. My friend offered her views on the matter in 2014. It wasn’t until then that I really gave myself the opportunity to cry. Isn’t that crazy? Then finally, I was not only crying my parents’ death and healing the feelings of abandonment; I was also learning to forgive myself for all the pain I was causing me. In a matter of a couple of months I had forgotten all about that guy because it never had anything to do with him to begin with. Once I allowed for my true feelings to resurface, and I allowed myself to fully feel them…everything else just flowed. I forgave my parents, myself, the guy… you name it! I had been poisoning myself with all the resentment inside and I wasn’t even aware of it because it was relating a trauma of many years ago and I thought I was over it because I led a functional life. I have come along way, but still working on the minor details (wink).
This is why at times you may hear people speak of “healing the wounded child”. The relationship with our parents is the first one we encounter, this is the same way we will relate to other people in the courses of our lives as a result of learned behavior. As children we are vulnerable and at the mercy of the behavior of adults around us. Children may carry with them the traumas of a father they never knew, or a mother that wasn’t t loving. As adults we may have the ability to reflect and see this, but as children we would not know any different. However, it does not only occur to children. Also as adults, we choose to put aside those moments that caused us pain whether they are very significant or not so much. It is those un-processed feelings that leave a void inside for unhappiness to nest within.
As my spiritual mentor said to me, “in order to heal, you must feel”.
I promise you it feels good in the end…it is liberating. It is learning to accept that we all bleed the same. It is imperative to realize when we are being hard on ourselves; this is NOT good. We have to realize when we judge ourselves for being vulnerable. It is perfectly ok to be so, men too; don't let anyone tell you, you can't cry. In fact, I received more help from the people around me when I showed vulnerability than when I pretended to be ok. If we are ok, why call rescue?
Another friend said once to me, “Vulnerability is attractive”. It is true; vulnerable people are gentle, loving and cause no harm. They are not weak, they are confident…and I want that confidence!