The idea of embracing emotional pain may sound barbaric or inhumane. Pain isn’t something that we generally invite into our lives to help us with our PTSD symptoms. But, what if every time emotional pain was overwhelming, you welcomed it — accepted it? Pain can include FEAR, loneliness, self-doubt, despair, sadness, depression, anger, and so on. I have felt emotional pain on many levels, just as I am sure you have, and spent many years trying to run from it. Hide from it. Pretend it wasn’t there. Tried to emotionally fight it in my head. Dissociated from it. Emotional pain is like a manipulative bully and will follow you wherever you go. When we keep our pain a secret – that is what kills you. That is why I knew in my early twenties I needed to create a healthier relationship with my emotional pain.
After witnessing domestic violence and alcoholism for many years between my mother and her second and third husband, I saw numerous unhealthy ways to deal with emotional pain. I had many loving family members in my life, but no one knew how to help my mother. Each day I feared could be her last. Her last drink or her last fight. Well….my fear came true. My mother’s life was eventually taken by her third husband, and my accumulated pain was growing like a cancer inside of me. I began to go into the Fight/Freeze/Flight response. I began to react as though I was reliving through several previous traumas again and again. This can happen to any of us and we might feel or believe any or all of the following:
– Confusion creeps in. Lack of judgement and unhealthy coping skills take off!!
– Sense of relief combined with a feeling of drowning
– “Someone is to blame for inflicting this pain” (form of victimization) OR “The intensity of this pain will never calm down and it owns me! I will never be at peace.”
No longer could I escape into sports, sarcasm, religion, and avoidance. My overall health was affected and my autoimmune disease (Hashimotos Thyroiditis) symptoms began to magnify. My own body was attacking my thyroid gland – the area of my throat and my voice. I used my voice before to try and speak my truth and felt rejected. Now my body was rejecting me. It was time. Time to use my voice to say out loud what hurt and allow myself to truly grieve. The emotional pain engulfed me and I had no other way out but through. Somehow, drowning in these emotions gave me permission to speak my truth. One day at a time….I allowed myself to feel each and every emotion I possibly could from my childhood up until that point. It was extremely uncomfortable, and yet, I didn’t die and actually felt relief by feeling the emotions and saying them out loud. A type of relief and comfort I had never experienced before. Why didn’t anyone tell me about this?!?
Isn’t it funny how we accept our POSITIVE feelings without question, but we don’t necessarily accept the negative ones. Sad and difficult circumstances will happen to us all, and it’s time we realize that accepting and embracing both of those emotions will give us the ability to come out the other side. It’s even possible we can become stronger, wiser, more loving, and grateful for our life experience. We can even begin to see life with a clearer and more truthful lens.
Suffocating in my emotional pain made me realize I was fighting against the tide. Emotions—be they uplifting and joyful, or sorrowful and scary—are here to teach us. Like you, I don’t always want to learn another lesson. I cannot control everything that happens to me in this life, so I will do my best to focus on controlling the things I can. Allowing myself to surrender ~ embracing all of life and the lessons dispensed to me for my spiritual growth.
Jeanne Weierheiser from mindbodygreen.com said, “Pain is an invitation to deal with the unfinished business of our past.” What a powerful statement! This is now an open invitation to self-compassion as well as understanding the source of your emotional pain! It is time to visit with the inner wounded child/teen and/or adult who needs your love and attention right now! This type of self-love is one of the best gifts you can give yourself to help establish connection with the fragmented parts of yourself. This is very empowering and helps create a sense of calm that you are not in danger in this moment….only triggered.
A powerful definition of pain from Iyanla Vanzant is:
P – Pay
A – Attention
I – Inward
N – Now
“HEAL YOUR PAST PAIN OR IT WILL CONTINUE TO BLEED. CREATE RATHER THAN LEAK OUT YOUR LIFE FORCE.”
My hope is that you can now begin to turn towards your emotional pain and begin to cultivate a new relationship. A relationship of thankfulness for gaining your attention in order to prevent you from drowning. One affirmation I say during these times is, “I am now learning to embrace the ebbs and flows of this life, the balance of light and dark, in order to grow into the person I am meant to become. I will now be moving towards living my soul purpose and life mission.”
Embracing this new-found understanding will change your life! There is more than one way to heal from PTSD and I am living proof that this method is worth trying. I wish you the best in your recovery!