I have been coming to some fairly intense realisations about myself over the past few weeks. Last night I awoke in the night conscious of the ways I have at times let others down, due to my fear of trusting in them. Its a huge part of coming out of trauma which occurs for us in personal relationships, that we learn to become hyper-vigilant and have a hard time trusting. Others may also be on the receiving end at times of a torrent of anger that has very little to do with them. They may have done something to us that triggers old wounds and old pain.
If we are not fully aware of what those wounds are, what our triggers are we can and will lash out. Its part of self protection and survival. We may feel bad at times for lashing out if our parents didn’t allow us to be real and have anger and express it in ways which helped us to assert our true needs and feelings. But recovery may mean that we get really, really angry for a time.
In her book on recovering from narcissistic wounding in childhood The Drama of the Gifted Child, therapist Alice Miller makes the point that it is when we can finally feel and get angry over our true needs not being met, nor our true feelings understood that we are well on the way to recovery. Ideally if we recognised our problem we get to a therapist or others who can take this anger and help us to process it. It is our legitimate protest and without it we are essentially fucked!
The alternative scenario is that we get angry with someone or something and are then told we are flawed or bad or damaged in some way. This occurs when true empathy is not being shown to the inner child of the past that is being triggered or if others are not deeply sensitive and capable of showing empathy. It has happened to me enough times to know how painful that is, and sadly at times I have done it to others.
And this is part of the guilt that I woke up with this morning, coming up to Christmas I am aware of the times I was pulled backwards and forward to my family in the hope of some recognition happening about the pain of the past, the trauma I carried silently and drank down for years. And then at times I also left a partner alone who had his own trauma and then was more preoccupied with my own trauma than really understanding his. It really pains me to see this now but I hurt another person who I claimed to love. And I so badly want to call that person and say how sorry I am. But the truth is that person also had narcissistic injuries and wasn’t always kind, nor did he show empathy to my wounded child because he was so caught in his own wounds. So in a way we attracted each other for the purpose of learning. And in the past I did try to apologise and he used that apology as a cat o nine tails to lash me with.
Its a harsh truth to swallow that due to the emotional unavailability or emotional neglect or the emotional inconsistency of our childhood we also turn into people who cannot be consistently emotionally available for others. But how could we actually give something we did not receive, at least before we became fully conscious of our wounds and grieve them? And so now seeing this enables me to grieve and feel so sorry, but also in some way to begin to see myself as less of a victim at least of that person, more as a victim of a painful past I had so little conscious control over before now.
A very wise person in I met in AA used to say to me “Deb, if they knew better, they would do better”. Its a little similar to Christ on the cross, saying “forgive them father for they know not what they do”. Our parents carried deep wounds and deficiencies, many of them were struggling to survive, many of them had harsh, lonely or painful childhoods themselves. I am not excusing in any way very, very harsh abuse that deeply scars or had scarred children around the world, all I am trying to say is that there needs to be a way we can free ourselves from the painful prison of the past where we replay over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over again the pain of the past.
Its a fine line between knowing how deeply it hurt, and using that knowing to protect us and not permanently remaining trapped in a endless repetitive feedback loop of trauma feelings, reactions and memories playing over and over and over and over again.
What helps? Soothing ourselves in the midst of our distress. Being affirmed by others with comments like “that was so deeply painful for you”. “I am sorry you were hurt so deeply”, “that must have made you feel you could never trust anyone again”. What hurts and drives the wound deeper. Comments like “isn’t it time you got over it”, “I am sure they didn’t mean to hurt you”, “well life is harsh, pick yourself up and get on with your life!”
You know something when its time to move on we will know that inside. When its time for our defences to come down and for us to trust ourselves and others again, that will happen. It may take years and lots of broken relationships for this to happen. It may take many dips and dives into deep depressions as a reaction to when we replay old patterns. This I believe to be true. The true soul within us has hidden within it its own hidden healing agenda. And it may be a hard thing to hear but I do believe that what happened to us does have a purpose.
On the way home I was anxious to start this blog after reading how one blogger has decided to take a retreat from openness to comments. I deeply respect this decision. AT the time I had not read her entire post but I had seen the title referring to a black tar baby. I believe the post was so powerful and expression of what trauma feels like I just had to post it here. But inside my mind these words were going through my mind. Trauma robs us of our present but maybe it has a purpose. That is what I truly believe.
We are at a critical time in our collective history as humans where we have the ability to rise in consciousness of how wounding, hurt, hatred, abuse of the feminine and ignorance repeats. We the wounded ones have to do the deep work to bind up our wounds and allow them places and spaces to heal. If that means a retreat or a disabling of comments, so be it. And it just might be that before we have to take on board a really painful truth of how we can unconsciously repeat our own trauma history we pull back from a full knowledge and recognition of the part we play in keeping it all going. But if we just trust, keep the faith and keep loving ourselves and others through it, I truly do believe that in time healing will come and so will the real rebirth of love that I believe to be the deepest resolution that we as humans are capable of in our most noble moments.
Could that be the purpose of our trauma. Could many of us together with the earth be undergoing a collective dark night of the soul or Kali Yuga as eastern mystics have foretold? Its an interesting question and we need to know the part we play in making choices which dictate how this will end up for all of us. What will win? Fear or Love? This I believe is a most interesting question.