I’ve been doing it again. I’ve been trying so hard not to feel those pesky feelings. I have been caught up in the heady anger at injustice, the righteous indignation of all that needs to be made right, and it’s been self-medication so that I don’t feel how hurt I am. I haven’t been betrayed to the extent that many of you have been, but I have been hurt, used, and not cared for by people I trusted to do so. I’ve been told things about myself that are not true, by people whose opinions mattered to me. And the pain of that is real, and intense. My mind does not like to feel the complexity of trauma, and I have been medicating, numbing. With my anger, with my obsession with reformation, with alcohol, with endless entertainment…I have been frantically trying to not feel. I don’t want to feel sad, or weak, or used, or hurt. Add on top of that the guilt of not being able to just.get.my.shit.together, and you’ve got a real tender, wounded, sad and angry Rebekah who’s white-knuckling it through each day just to try to forget it all for a minute before starting the cycle all over again. It’s not always like that. But something will bring it all back and I’m there again, it seems, right at the beginning.
So last night I thought, in a rare moment of empathy for my own self, that I need to start talking to myself like I’m a friend. I saw everything that has happened in the last years, on top of my mental health spiral before that, and I let myself feel sad for myself. And rather than berating myself for not doing all the things I know I should, I tried out talking to myself a little differently. Like I would talk to you if I had you in front of me, with your own raw and aching heart.
Oh honey, I said, you are so hurt and sad. The things that have happened to you are not right. You need to take care of yourself, now. You need to give yourself space to heal.
Come, take a nap. Just rest, and sleep for awhile. Your body has been through a lot trying to deal with this trauma, it’s okay for you to just sleep. You’ll have more energy soon, you’ll be able to face it all soon. But for now, just curl up here. You’re safe.
You don’t have the energy to exercise. That’s okay. Come sit outside, and feel the sunshine on your skin. You can just sit here for awhile.
Let yourself feel sad. It’s okay to cry. You’re safe, nobody is going to hurt you here. You can choose who to talk to, who to cry to, whose words to allow inside your aching heart and mind. You can hug your husband, or your friend, and just cry.
These feelings are so hard, but they are not wrong. They’re not going to hurt you, and they’re going to come and go. You won’t be here forever. You don’t have to try to escape them, these feelings are actually trying to help you.
Look, I don’t know how we get out of here. I don’t know how long the pain lasts, or even if we’re strong enough to handle it. People say that we are, but I have never been to the other side, yet, so I don’t know. But you and me, the wounded and the runaways, we have to remember that the only way through it is through it. And I have a suspicion that, like me with my children, it is easier for people to come alongside us to help us when we are feeling the sadness that is so often masked by the anger. It’s just really hard to let the anger go, because it feels so much safer there. I don’t know. It’s not fair that we have to walk this road, it’s not right. But the pain is calling us, and on the other side we will be something more.