I spent several hours thinking about this.
In all of our lives are the experiences and situations that have scarred us, teaching us that while some of the dangers of this world might not be life threatening, they have the power to destroy our innocence, to shatter our illusions and to eat away great chunks of who we once were.
Some people spend a lifetime trying to gather up the pieces of themselves, arms full of bits and pieces, running here and there in the field of their life where the bomb went off, dropping as many as they pick up, and never quite getting it all.
Healing can sometimes seem like a commodity too rich for even the grossest amount of money. It can’t be bought.
There are hundreds of books devoted to “how to” heal, there are an equal number of healing guru’s out there, who, for part of that gross amount of money, will deliver a seminar or a lecture on how healing is achieved. People run, like hamsters in their wheels, attending, reading, doing . . . what others suggest and say.
And still the demons come at night and we never seem to gain back what we lost.
“Let it go,” they say. As if one might simply get up from the plane crash and walk out of the field and back home, and carry on as if nothing happened. You “let it go” and left it all in the field. But every experience, every person, every situation impacts on our lives and we do ourselves a great disservice by ignoring the damage.
It is not that we should become so damage focused that all we do is wander our lives showing people our wounds. We do have to get out of the field and get home eventually.
When a person has a physical wound we see the reality of it. We understand when a person loses a limb that it is not going to grow back. However, a person can adapt and learn to live without it, perhaps use a prosthetic replacement. We understand emotions and know that they can be so overwhelming as to cause shock and so we treat shock, or we sit with a person until they finish crying. We have a formula that helps us to understand grief and we all know that time can help to ease the intensity of the emotion so that it is not so debilitating. But we speak very little about injuries of the soul. Soul injuries are just as serious and like physical damage, we can lose parts of ourselves that cannot “regrow.” Our innocence is an example of this, like when a child is sexually abused. Those are the wounds that we least understand, seldom attend to, and are the specific reason why “letting it go” is not always a healthy option.
Sometimes we have to sit with the pain. It is like child birth, a necessary valley of pain that we travel through in the effort to “birth” new life. In this case, the new life is our healed selves.
That valley is filled with mixed emotions that fit no formula ever invented and contain an exact, specific prescription for each person. Only you can prescribe it, administer it, and swallow it.
I look at those situations of my life where I survived. I cannot even say that I fought valiantly, because the truth is, some of them were so damaging, I was lucky to keep breathing. My soul was being crushed. M. Scott Peck, in his book People of the Lie, talks about the kind of insidious evil that can crush souls. As I struggled to heal I looked at the situation, the people involved, and felt the same conflicting emotions I did when they first occurred. I love many of those people. I loved/love them because of who I am. ME. I love. I loved them even when they made me cry with so much pain that thoughts of suicide were my constant friends. I never blamed them. I believed them when they hated me and it was easier to turn against myself then it was to turn against them. I cannot deny that there were happy times, that they could be good people, that they did good things, that they are loved by others and that they are capable of love. I cannot say, because of my experience with them, that they are evil and should be eliminated. I do not want to journey into hate in order to heal. I don’t.
But I had to find balance. I did not deserve any of that. I was an innocent child. What they did was wrong. I had to find the balance of allowing that to be true, and still not hating them. Can you transfer the weight of hate? Can you risk sharing loss? Can two opposing ideas exist in the same space and my head not explode?
Acknowledging they were wrong, acknowledging they were toxic, would mean I had to walk away. And no-one knows the pain of that except me. I gave them what they wanted. They wanted to destroy me, and I was never going to understand why. When your whole life is a series of lies, and records are destroyed and no-one will talk, after over 50 years …. there is not much hope of every knowing the truth. You have to accept that what you saw and experienced was real and that yes, these people hate you that much, without any seeming reason you will ever understand.
That is the reality most of face as we heal. There is no promise of justice, of healing, of closure. There is only you breathing alone in the dark, having spent most of your life running and them breathing in their space as if you never happened. Then there are the miles that separate you. Looking at them is either an obsession, or your greatest fear. Either way, it controls your life, even when you think you have escaped and “let it go.” At times, I would run my attention over my brain, like a tongue in a mouth after a visit to the dentist, carefully avoiding that spot where the tooth had been removed. Other times I would keep poking at the “cavity” in my brain, for some unknown reason, repeating it again and again until the pain was 10 times worse.
Being able to accept that is what happened, making sure I was not wearing responsibility for what was not mine, accepting that these people are toxic and not allowing their lies or their hate to have any access to my heart here and now, knowing how much I still loved them. How to find a stronger me that could take this experience and work it into my life to make me stronger . . . it is a tall order.
I needed independence from it all.
I am not there completely.
But I am walking away and making choices that are about me. I avoid them. I avoid anything to do with them. I have to walk away from any situations that echo the nuances of the past, because the amputations from my soul that these experiences exacted are ruts they pushed me into that can grab me and pull me back, swallowing my life again. I am vulnerable to cycles of activity that echo the past. The abused woman, escapes one relationship and ends up with another man who abuses. The child who was abused, and has not resolved his damage, can end up abusing other children now he is an adult. The person who was dominated by a mother who sucked them dry, ends up with a boss or partner who does the same. We repeat our cycles and when they are damaging, we have to be vigilant.
I surround myself with people who know me and love me. I make time to be alone. I allow myself to cry.
Sometimes the people who have the most power to hurt me are the ones I love the most and as always, I have to learn to love them, even when their actions are completely unlovable. My wounding makes me need their love more than I should and I am constantly untangling me from them, in order to just find balance and not let my past claim another victim.
And I can look at the situation without hate, without anger. I can accept that I will never have answers and justice will never be meted. I know that I am not destroyed. I know that I am not the person they saw.
But my body bears the imprints of it all and that is a reality that I struggle to overcome. When we ignore our lives, as if we can pull the people and experiences and situations from us, and put them on a shelf and pretend they are not “us,” we actually cause damage. Yes, we can wall off memories. Yes we can “let it go” and yes we can “survive” and win the praise of others looking in. But we can’t cheat life.
THIS happened. THIS damaged me and damage has had a huge impact in reshaping who I am and how I see the world. It is not about right or wrong, in my management of its impact, it is simply the reality of my life.
So healing is not the return to the way things were. It is the survival of love, first and foremost for yourself, in the face of possibly unspeakable cruelty.
And maybe that is what life is really about. Each of us with one body, one life, limited time, to navigate and negotiate a physical world filled with other people doing the same, with varying degrees of understanding about what life is. Somehow through that we are meant to understand ourselves. We are afforded experiences and relationships to teach us. What will we leave here with? In the end will life have taught us fear and hate? Or will we have learned love?