It’s difficult to know sometimes where we are on our healing journeys. I can only assume that it is still fairly early in mine. (“We’re just getting started” were the words my counselor recently used.) These are random musings and journal entries, so this may or may not be interesting. I don’t know how easy to relate to it is.
The details of abuse and misfortunes from my earliest years are (fortunately) not the content of this post. Therapy has been the first real experience that I have known of feeling on the receiving end of validation. I have no way to know what the future holds with my current partner, but he is definitely one of the blessings to count in this life. Feeling validated has allowed a softening of the edges around the isolation from misfortune. It’s becoming easier to see struggles, injustices, and plights as human universals.
There is a fine line between wanting to leave the past behind (make some kind of peace) in a healthy way and the alternatives to this. One alternative is to be cruel to ourselves when we “fail” to “just let it go”. Another way is the wounded mentality that we can use (consciously or unconsciously) as a means to control others . Using our wounds in this way is what Carolyn Myss calls “social currency”. Yet another alternative is complete resistance and thus complete denial. The healing process seems like a delicate art and a science. How do we move on in the healthiest way possible? I still don’t have this answer.
Sometimes I wonder if other survivors of hideous things are unfairly perceived as “negative”. The truth is that many survivors must have an unbelievable, unique optimism that hides behind the traumas. One aspires towards positive thinking. Some of us just can’t seem to accomplish that as well as others. We then feel judged. We judge ourselves. Now, positive thinking has backfired as another “failure” that we didn’t do right. It is important to have self-compassion and to aspire towards positive thinking with a gentle attitude.
It is a strange feeling to feel hopeless for months or years on end. Fear, depression, shame (about mistakes made), fury (about injustices), anxiety, exhaustion, and feeling shattered become intimate companions. Sometimes one feels defective or worthless.
It is strange to start experiencing glimmers of hope after such a long, dark night of the soul. There is a cycle that a person can get entrapped in. It has to do with holding on to our wounds. It is the proverbial catch 22. “I wouldn’t keep looking at the painful things in the past if things were working out now or if the future looked hopeful.” Fear becomes paralysis. The constant remembrance of the painful past (which has created a painful present and a scary future) keeps one stuck. I have known this cycle for too long and sometimes it feels like one definition of insanity.
Things have started to shift. They are nowhere near perfect. A new hopeful feeling is quite a breath of fresh air. (This hopefulness is just a small dose but a little hope is better than no hope.)
Feeling validated is a foreign feeling. It is a foreign and refreshing feeling to have a true partner. It’s strange being with someone who is unconditionally loving and someone who isn’t just another “taker”.
So, there is a glimmer of hope for this life. It’s even possible that someday hope will grow bigger. Maybe I will get to see some amazing places in this world or have a dream or two come true sometime in this life. It’s becoming easier to focus on the present and future with hope and faith. It’s starting to feel believable that I have the power to improve and heal so many things. I can be better in my relationships. I can feel less anxiety about the future. Maybe I could even complain less and count more blessings.
It is so strange to hold on to wounds and not know how to let them go. I start to think about the importance of self-compassion and self-love. It occurs to me that it is scary to let go of the inner critic. If I don’t catch all of the ways that I am horrible first, I will somehow become a worse person and be blindsided. I don’t really know what self love is. I don’t believe that it is completely absent. There just isn’t very much at all. I start to ponder love. I wonder if loving oneself unconditionally is like the decision we commit to when we choose to love another unconditionally. I start to wonder if we are supposed to figure out our own love language and then speak that language to ourselves by showing ourselves love. It only gets in on one track. I google “how to love yourself”. I wonder if it is even possible when you are almost 40 years old.
It occurs to me that this is one of the demons that might never be slayed. I realize that I can heal to a point. I can improve so many things. I can make a better life. So, there are things to be thankful for. There is hope. The reality is still that some things may be a lifelong battle. Some of these demons may be lifelong companions; they will stay until my last day. There is long-lost or newfound hope, but today there is no escaping being quite weepy..