In This Week's podcast I'm talking about why it's so hard for us to see, admit, and feel our own pain as a result of family dysfunction and childhood trauma and offer a different perspective on pain.
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What I notice so often that trips people up, is that they don’t want to acknowledge and provide grace and space to their pain.
They don’t want to feel their pain. They make themselves wrong for feeling it. They torture themselves for feeling it. And often this judgement and ridicule that we give to ourselves for being in pain as a result of our pathological families and childhood trauma and adverse childhood experiences is a result of the judgement and ridicule that our parents fed us when we tried to be emotionally honest with them.
When we expressed our pain.
When we asked for our needs to be met.
When we cried.
They may have said things like: “I’ll give you something to cry about” “You’re too sensitive” “What’s wrong with you” “Your childhood isn’t half as bad as mine” “I never wanted children anyway” Or they may have implicitly through their actions, stonewalling, ignoring, or emotional withdrawal shown you that your emotions don’t matter, that your pain doesn’t matter. That you don’t deserve to even be experiencing your own suffering.
They diminished your suffering.
And now we diminish our own.
All of that early family imprinting lives on within us until we become conscious enough to say no. And begin the process of deep release, change, and engaging our nervou system and brain’s beautiful ability to learn and change. And accessing our spiritual capacity to heal and transcend the ocean of pain.
Start at Ground Zero.
You don’t have to hate yourself because you’re in pain.
You can just be in pain.
When we resist feeling our pain, we use distractions, and sometimes self-sabotaging habits to drown the pain out and run from it. I heard Lisa A Romano once say: Codependents don’t seek pleasure - they avoid pain. And isn’t that so true for those of us who’ve been wounded by family trauma and dysfunction in childhood as well - we build our whole lives around escaping the pain. Blaming the pain. Making the pain wrong. Trying to chase it away. Trying to out run it. Trying to do all kinds of things to make it go away. We think it’s our enemy.
We think it’s going to destroy us.
Because that’s what pain meant to us as kids growing up in our abusive pathological homes. Pain meant the imminent threat of death - the ultimate threat to our survival - the parental bond being snatched from us. The abandonment of that. The loneliness of that. The crushing nature of that.
But here’s the thing - there is pain that is a result of abuse and trauma - that’s the pain that so many of us unfortunately know from our childhood homes. But then, there’s discomfort and pain that actually serves us and leads to our ultimate growth.
And this is so so so challenging for my clients who are so high-performing, soooo high-functioning, and so accomplished and successful in so many areas of life. They have built an armour around their pain. It’s like a garbage bag in the road that we go around. And we spend our lives going around it. MY clients feel weak for crying. They feel stupid. They feel if they give themselves the luxury to just stop resisting and ridiculing their pain that they might crash adnd burn. That they may never recover from the onslaught or the tsunami of heaviness and murkiness that tends to come with creating space in our lives to feel the pain. And they place a time limit on themselves - they don’t allow their bodies and nervous systems and spirits to release what our system’s naturally want to release because their filled with judgements about what their pain means about them.
But here’s what the pain means about you - you’re a human. You went through some horrible hard shit. And it hurts.
That’s it. It just hurts.
And this is such a big piece of building flow and resiliency in our systems is the ability to move through the pain - instead of constantly trying to drive around it. The only way through is through baby.
The only way through is through.
Nothing steals our vital energy and life flow and life force more than denying the existence of our own pain. NOTHING.
That’s why we felt so terrified, confused, and alone in our childhood homes. Because everyone was denying our pain.
And so if you’re fearing that creating time and space ofr yourself to feel and heal means that you’ll regress in your functioning and you’ll be a big puddle and it will just never end - know this. Creating space to allow yourself to be as you are - in pain, will allow you to actually feel more peace, focus, and clarity in your life. It will allow you to become embodied. It will allow you to receive love and be intimate with others. AND it will actually HEAL your pain.
The better we get at allowing ourselves to FEEL, the better our lives will get. Not because we’ll never have any sadness or waves of grief again - that’s not what life’s about. But because it will allow us to move forward from our TRUTH.
You literally start to exist in a different way. You re-code your internal experience when you give yourself the decency and dignity and grace and luxury of simply feeling your pain without diminishing, judging, hating yourself. This is a process of rebuilding truth with yourself. Trusting that your experience is real. Trusting that you went through something real. Allowing yourself to come out of denial and into your truth.
This is what i call starting at ground zero. And allowing yourself to be there.
When i first decided to start being with myself I constantly wept. Doing the dishes. Driving. IT was years of running and years of pent up survival energy finally being free to release.
The grief. The self-alienation. The pain of that. BEing released from me. Because I finally allowed myself to trust that it was real. I stopped negotiating with it. I stopped wanting it to go away. And I just lived with it. I allowed it to be there.
I stopped trying to show up all happy and go-lucky. I just allowed myself to exist as I was.
And in doing so, I unlocked more and more of my true self.
I started to trust myself more.
I became more and more confident.
And I actually found I had so much less buzzing, terror, self-doubt and confusion constantly pulsing through me.
Which was really that trauma survival energy trying to escape which I know now - but until i learned to trust that experience and trust myself to hold that pain and validate it - only then was I able to truly become one with myself.
A lot of my symptoms diminished - dissociation, codependency, anxiety.
And these days - I spend a lot of time FEELING. And because i’m willing to feel my pain, to FEEL the shame, and rage, and despair and loneliness and anger. Because i’m willing to trust my body and brain with those deep raw sensations - those shards - those remnants of despair from childhood - I can also feel the experience of deep peace. Deep joy. Clarity, vision. Hope. wonder.
And if my body and spirit needs to wade through the waters of grief - I let it.
I trust that my body and brain want to heal. I trust that my experience is real. And I allow it flow through me, and I hold myself through it. Trusting that the discomfort in the moment will give way to deeper embodiment and peace on the other side.
In this way - pain is a gift to me. It doesn’t last forever. I no longer resist it like I once did. I no longer make myself wrong for feeling it.
Those days are gone. I refuse to carry on my mother’s abuses toward myself. But it shows me the places that are ready to be seen and heard. It teaches me both to be still and to move and flow when life calls me to.
And most of all - it gives me deeper capacity for joy, grace and flow.
It helps me keep my promise to my inner child to give her a big, huge life far away from my mother’s abuses.