Reading others posts can sometimes provoke strong reactions. I just read a post on validation which was a call to speak for how seeking validation is not just attention seeking behaviour, how validation of our human emotions is just a very real need.
I cried after reading the post as I realised how much I battle with validation. I had a very common experience with my mother again yesterday when I tried to raise an issue my brother had bought up on Friday about how Mum and Dad interacted. I got immediately dismissed and shut down. My mum’s standard response when I am feeling something (not always but a lot of the time) is to tell me I shouldn’t be feeling it or that I shouldn’t let it bother me. When this happens I feel everything in my body contract and disappear I think I also feel naturally frustrated and angry but that later feeling is not always fully conscious. Afterwards I just feel confused! The desire then is to talk to someone to get validated about what the fuck just happened!
I struggled yesterday after the phone call. When I was born I also didn’t get to choose the time of my birth, Mum held me inside while she went about some chores she had to do at home. She had to get all the plum jam bottled before I was born! When my feelings cant flow out I feel they become all trapped inside, I struggle with them. I naturally look for somewhere to turn but I remember in childhood when this would happen there was no where to turn and so I would internalise. I could not look to my Dad as he would just laugh some of Mum’s intense behaviour off, check out or go AWOL. I remember how much my internal frustration would grow to the extent I fantasised sticking a knife in my mother. But I could never really express how it felt to her and so I think in the end the knife went inside me.
I remember after my marriage ended and I was in a great deal of emotional pain, living alone in our family holiday house, effectively in an emotional hostage situation with my unresolved past that I had a dream about a loaded gun I had turned against myself. The feeling of being trapped inside with no way out replayed when I had my major car accident at 17 I was trapped in the car after having been cut to ribbons and then I was trapped in skeletal traction for 101 days and missed my graduation and formal. And the theme has replayed in a major way with me trapping my true desires, needs, feelings and impulses deep inside myself and finding it so hard to validate them.
So when I read that post on validation it touched such a deep wound inside of me. I was also thinking of the countless people out there who self harm and are then blamed or accused of ‘attention seeking’. How mixed up and lacking in empathy can some people be. When I think of self harm this phrase comes to mind “inarticulate speech of the heart”. When we are in deep pain or suffering and that hasn’t been validated its often impossible to find words, the action of cutting says in a very strong way what is going on deep inside. The person is trying to externalise pain, suffering, trauma or distress that has gone so far down inside the person they can only find this way to express it. What they really need is to be understood and seen, not labelled or judged by someone who hasn’t got a fucking clue about what is really going on.
Reading the post made me realised how confused I can be at times about my own feelings and emotions and how much I can also deny them to myself. Lately I am doing a practice when I feel very distressed of stopping everything to sit quietly with myself and dialogue with my inner child. I did it yesterday when I returned home and felt so sad. At that time I really sat with my heart and my child and listened in to what she was telling me. I heard how frustrated and angry my child gets when I over ride what she really feels and needs in order not to be rejected or if the cost of belonging means the erasing of parts of myself that I really do need. I do this erasing thing so often in my life. If I think something may hurt someone and I will be inconvenienced I try to be there for the other person and I see now that is not a healthy thing to do. My child lately has also really been needing me to hear how lonely it was for her as a youngster as those feelings are still alive in my body all of these years later when I feel so sad about how none of my own close male/female relationships have survived. Luckily now I do have good male friend in another town and I can talk to him about these things. He tends to internalise his own feelings and so he understands. Speaking to someone else who understands helps me so much to fill that empty space in my heart. It also helps my friend.
I care so much about my Mum’s feelings at times that my own take a back seat and at the same time I am always longing for the validation from her and a way to discuss the truth of emotional issues that affected us all deeply. But realistically I see that I am not ever really going to be able to get these things. Being able to speak about all of this with my therapist or a valued friend who can validate me puts me back on the right track. I have endless body symptoms of twisting, contraction and startle/shock as a result of the invalidation and emotional confusion of my past that led me to become an alcoholic and then blame myself for that for years. It is taking some time to see how much my body suffers after difficult times where emotional confusion, delusion or hiding and denial occur. This happened to me yesterday and I got whacked out of alignment for most of the day, it was only later in my day as I validated myself and centred within that I started to feel better and last night I actually slept through the night. Yesterday I terminated a conversation with my Mum and only engaged with good friends who really hear me and keep me calm with their goodness and love, that helped me yesterday to get into a calmer space.
I am so glad that someone can speak up for the importance of emotional validation. We all need to be seen and understood and mental ill health results when our pain isn’t validated and soothed or cared about by someone. We need this kind of affirmation and support in order to really be able to live in alignment with our deepest feelings and soul and find a place of emotional and mental at one ness.