Healing the Wounds of the Past Aug 19, 2020 21:38:14 GMT
Post by Susan Peabody on Aug 19, 2020 21:38:14 GMT
Healing the wounds of the past is a long and drawn out process. This process begins when recovering people accept the fact that they were traumatized. Many people are in denial about this. They don't remember what really happened. They have blocked out the truth because it is too painful, or they see what happened to them as normal because they have nothing to compare it with.
Trauma is any experience which interferes with the feeling of safety and security that children need as they are growing up ─ any disruption to the child's well-being that is not worked through within the family unit via honesty, love, and communication
Once recovering people stop denying that they have experienced some form of childhood trauma, it can be helpful if they identify the nature of that trauma. Was it sustained or intermittent? Was it neglect or abuse? Was it at home or at school? What was going on, and who were the people involved? Some people will know the answers to these questions and others will not. It can also be helpful to read some books about childhood trauma or personality disorders. It is amazing how many forms of trauma can occur, both inside and outside the home.
If people can't remember much about their childhood, it might help if they talk to people who were there at the time (friends or family). Sometimes these people will not want to cooperate, but it's worth a try. Therapy can also help recovering people identify what happened to them during their childhood. A therapist can draw out the truth in a safe environment and help interpret the facts. If the truth never gets revealed or validated, recovering people should still go on with the healing process. They can refer to their trauma as "something that happened," even if they don't remember what that "something" was.
Once recovering people have begun to identify their past trauma, they must learn to talk about it to someone they trust. This can be a therapist, a friend, or another recovering love addict in their support group ─ anyone who can be trusted to listen without judgement. Talking is part of the healing process because sharing our deepest, darkest secrets brings them out of the unconscious and into the conscious. Once this happens, the trauma can be worked through. Of course, talking also makes people feel better, but most of all it promotes awareness and understanding ─ both important steps in the healing process.
At this point, writing can help recovering people. Key memories can flow when pen is put to paper, and the documentation of these truths can be useful later on. Writing is also a good way to get in touch with deep-seated feelings about what happened. Writing can mean keeping an ongoing journal about the recovery process, or taking an inventory of what happened with regard to the trauma and how it affected the love addict's life.
The hard part of the healing process comes when it is time for recovering people to feel the pain of the past. Up to this point, they have been trying to dig up the memories of the past. When they are successful there is apt to be a strong emotional response. These feelings will vary from person to person, but some of the most common emotions felt at this time are anger, shock, anxiety, sadness, and depression. No matter how painful these feelings might be, it is important not to run away from them. These emotions have to be felt in full force, as if one were re-living the trauma once again. When these feelings come up, it is important to remember that they will pass and that this experience is just one stage in the healing process. I cannot say how long it will take for the feelings to pass, but if they are embraced rather than repressed they will subside.
To move on, to get away from these feelings, recovering people must learn acceptance. Acceptance is the willingness to make peace with the fact that the trauma happened and that nothing the love addict does in the present can change the past. Acceptance is the willingness to live with the cards one has been dealt. The pain begins to subside with acceptance, so it is an important step. It is a hard step, but this is what it takes to begin feeling better.
Forgiveness is the next stage in the healing process. No matter how bad things were in the past, recovering people cannot let go of the trauma unless they forgive those who hurt them. This does not mean they have to like the people that hurt them. It does not mean they have to associate with them. It just means they must "renounce [their] resentment or anger." American Heritage Dictionary
Forgiveness, like acceptance, is hard for many people. They struggle with their feelings of anger and it seems impossible to forgive. To these people I suggest that they keep trying, because freedom comes with forgiveness. Therefore, they should leave no stone unturned when trying to move to this level of the healing process. If they are religious this might help. Christians, for instance, believe that forgiving someone leads to the forgiveness of their own transgressions.
If it will help you to let go of your anger, have some sort of confrontation with the people in your childhood who hurt you. Write a letter; have a face-to-face conversation; or act out a confrontation in therapy. (Don't have any expectations about a face-to-face confrontation. It may help or it may not. Sometimes it can even make things worse if the people you confront attack you.)
If a confrontation doesn't work, people should be patient, but think about the reward of forgiveness ─ freedom. Then there will come a time when the burden of resentment becomes too much to bear and forgiveness will just happen. From this point on, there will be periodic relapses, when the anger and sadness reappear, but these emotions will not be a daily frame of mind.
The final stage of the healing process is letting go. This is when recovering people not only put down the burden of unwanted emotions associated with past trauma, but they let go of this burden and walk away. They have faced the truth, identified the trauma, talked about the pain, written about it, accepted what cannot be changed, and forgiven those who persecuted them. Now, they must take the freedom they have worked so hard to attain and move on to the next phase of their life. In other words, they must learn to live in the present unaffected by the past.
Healing will be easier if recovering people try to see the good events of their past as well as the bad. Usually their childhood was a mixture of pain and happiness. That is, as much as recovering people suffered, they were also blessed in some small ways. If there is absolutely nothing to be grateful for, recovering people should at least see the good that has come out of their struggle to put the past in its place. Good does come out of bad, and from their struggle with diversity, people have learned wisdom and coping skills ─ things that can help them for the rest of their lives. Healing the wounds of the past takes time and patience. There is no set schedule. Healing is also a process, and recovering people cannot skip over any of the stages. They cannot jump from identifying the trauma to forgiving those who hurt them. They have to go through the feeling stage before they can work on acceptance, forgiveness, and letting go. It is especially important for them to feel their anger. Still, no matter how long the journey takes, or how many obstacles people have to overcome, someday the wounds of the past will be healed. The memories will remain, but the pain will subside and no longer disrupt the love addict's daily life. And most of all, the pain of the past will no longer lead to anesthetizing experiences that become addictions.
1. Identify the things that happened to you.
2. Talk about them.
3. Write about them.
4. Feel your feelings fully no matter what they are or how afraid of them you are.
5. Accept what has happened to you.
6. Accept what you did in reaction to what happened to you.
7. Forgive those who hurt you.
8. Forgive yourself if you passed your anger on to others.
9. Try to find something good that came out of all the chaos.
10. Move on. Live in the moment.