Why is it so hard for us just to allow others and ourselves to be human? Why are we so goddam hard on ourselves and others? This isn’ t a cry for rampant selfishness and self destruction, but maybe self destruction would decrease if we could just love and accept ourselves a little more and see what part our very real human emotions play. And that includes most expecially dark ones.
I was having a text conversation with a friend in recovery last night, he is going through alot and back in a place of painful memories. He chose this time to do a resentment list and the result was he felt like shit. We had a chat about how AA doesn’t accept even justified anger, seeing it as a danger ground for more drinking. I have a problem with this. There is a difference between venting and scatter gun dumping impacted historical anger on present situations and finding a way to express it clearly and cleanly in order to get the toxic pain of invalidation anger out of our guts where it may have been buried or dumped for years over old pains and injustices so long deflected or denied by others.
I’m feeling the heat even writing this. Not getting our very real human needs for love empathy support care nurture and understanding hurts. It bites large. And it causes real consequences for those who turn pain in then follow an addictive pathway. To recover we have to face our hurts and other’s very real deficits and imperfections. And we have to face our anger. We cant just write it off as resentment but we do need to understand how we dealt with hurtful things. And that journey takes place over s a thorny path scattered with broken shards that it may take years to sort through.
In the end continuing to turn our pain or anger in doesn’t work. We need places to speak about it, air it, release it, hold it tenderly, and transform it. Most especially we need to be believed supported and affirmed, not to nurture a heart of vengeance but rather to grow an enlarged heart in which pain digested, mulled over, becomes a rich compost to nurture seeds of authenticity and selfhood.
We need to allow ourselves very real human emotions, understand the part they play and find compassion and insight into how such feelings toxify when not allowed the air to btreathe. And we need not shame ourselves further by denigrating ourselves any more in the way our abusers did, shifting the blame and shame back on us.
Knowing what hurt us, knowing what riled us will also give us insights into what we need and value, being able to let go in time of old pain will free us from having to go over and over old ground that led us to deeper wisdom about what it means to grow as a person.
In the narcissus myth, Echo was unable to advocate for herself; she was unable to express her feelings, and she died. This is a vivid metaphor for the need to be in touch with our feelings, and the need to find ways to express them assertively and – we hope – be successful in getting our needs met.
Stephanie Donaldson Pressman
The Narcissistic Family