A few days ago a memory of something awful that my mother said to me flashed across my mind. Her and I never had a typical mother/daughter relationship. It was marked by so much hurt and struggle for much of my childhood and adolescence. There was a time when this would have caused anger to flash in me or at the very least, a few tears would spring to my eyes. Why is it that when this memory of utter unkindness from someone that was supposed to love and protect me, didn’t feel like anything? It came to mind, I looked at it and then released it. The lash of pain that would have brought me to my knees in the past simply wasn’t there. I have found peace and I am here to support you to begin to heal your pain.
I know not everyone has had a difficult childhood. I wouldn’t wish one on anyone. I did. I know what it means to feel like you HAD to take care of yourself. I also know that there are people that absolutely have endured pain and trauma in their formative years and that perhaps they continue to carry some of that with them into their present lives.
I have been a prisoner of my past. I know what it feels like to have pain drive your decisions and interactions in life. I know what it means to keep yourself safe and to create space between you and the world around you.
Why change? If you are safe then why change anything? You can run from your past pain for your entire life. I ran for a lot of years but it made me shrink. The need to avoid facing my pain did not increase my living, it diminished my life force. You can heal your pain. You can be free of the energetic hold that your past has on you in the present.
Decide to Face It – This is certainly the most terrifying step as you begin to heal your pain. You have to decide that you no longer want to run and that you will look directly at the pieces of your past that are impacting you in the present. This is bravery. Know that you must temporarily step into the pain in order to understand it, heal it and release it but you don’t have to live there. You can heal your pain and find your freedom.
Look at the Patterns – As we begin to look at the pain, it is important not to get stuck in the why it happened. It doesn’t matter why, all that matters is that it happened. You could wonder endlessly why you didn’t get better parents or a happier family but it won’t change anything. You were dealt a particular set of cards for your growth and they have shaped you. Maybe the pain of your past has made you more resilient or more grateful for the goodness in your life. Maybe it has pushed you to create a life of stability. There is a chance as well, that it has created patterns in your life that you no longer want to have continue. Perhaps you refuse to let people close, because the people that were closest to you hurt you so every relationship you are in ends the same way. Do you know why that happens? Can you link it to something that happened in the past? When you can begin to see how a single event or transformative relationship from your past has created a pattern of behavior in your present you can decide if you would like it to continue.
Each time I had something to celebrate as a kid or teen, a good grade, a blue ribbon, my mother would tell me to shine less. She would undercut my achievements so that nothing was ever good enough. For so many years, this resulted in a pattern for me of needing external validation. I craved praise. I was trapped in perfection. It also meant that when I did something great I couldn’t celebrate it. I couldn’t shine because I was taught not to. I used to apologize for my happiness and feel guilty for my successes.
Is it Even About You? – My parents didn’t do anything to me. They were struggling with one another and their own demons so deeply and we kids were just along for the ride. I think this is one of the most important steps to heal your pain, being able to see that it was never really about you. As a child, you sponge up so much. I was a kid that saw too much too soon and carried the weight of that accelerated maturity with me. I see myself in kids I meet now. That look of knowing more than we should know. That sense of heaviness that can descend when you know that things are hard or painful. I honestly can’t blame my parents for being human. I can see that they struggled with their own pain and were doing the best that they could. We are always in relationship to ourselves first. How we behave in the world around us and treat the people we share our lives with, is simply a reflection of how we feel about ourselves. In thinking about the past and the pain that someone may have caused you, ask yourself, “was it even about me?” Can you see how that person may have struggled and wasn’t in the space to be a good role model or parent? I was able to find so much peace when I realized that how my mother treated me wasn’t about me.
It’s All About You – As I started on my path to healing and began to develop my self-awareness, I could see people in a different light. I began to observe where other people in my life were at in their own path towards self-awareness. It wasn’t a judgement, but each time I saw something in someone else that caused a reaction in me, I chose to stop reacting and to start listening. Nothing was going to change the things that had happened to me. I knew that each time I had a reaction that was born of hurt and anger that I was being triggered and it had absolutely nothing to do with the person that was triggering me. Understanding that I was responsible for every single reaction I had, was simultaneously humbling and empowering. If someone was rude to me, I had a choice to not react in the same manner, which would only cause me to get into a terrible mood and to create more separation. I am the only person that is responsible for me. If you want to heal your pain, take ownership over the choices that you make and the way that you navigate in the world around you.
What Did You Learn? – If you have had a difficult past and are reading this then you are a survivor. You are willing to have a different experience. You wouldn’t be reading my words if there wasn’t a voice inside you calling to you to heal your pain. What measure of strength did you have to embody in order to overcome the pain? Did it make you more compassionate, more resourceful, more patient, more kind? I invite you to see that it has made you the person that you are and instead of being something to be ashamed of, it can serve as a way for you to support yourself and find healing.
Practice Forgiveness – Did I just say the F word? Forgiveness equals freedom. You can hold onto anger towards a circumstance or a person forever. It will keep you stuck in this never-ending remembering-pain-anger cycle. You don’t have to stand in front of a person to forgive them. You can never speak to them again, but you need to find forgiveness. This is for you. When you find a way to forgive the past or a person that has wronged you, you get the gift of freedom. It is not about winning, it is about deciding that you are willing to put down the hurt and anger because you don’t want to carry it any longer. Forgiveness is for you, not for them. This can be extended to yourself as well. If you have done something wrong, finding a way to forgive yourself will help you to heal your pain, knowing that it won’t change what you did but it can change the way you navigate in the world moving forward.
Do you want to be a prisoner of the past? I ask this question of my clients. What is the experience that you would like to have? Safe behind the walls you have created or at peace in your open heart? If I can sever the energetic connection that my past had over me, so can you. I want you to know that I am not extraordinary, I just knew that I couldn’t let myself live in the land of pain and fear and hurt. It cost me too much. That is no way to thrive and I wanted my life to expand and grow and blossom. I can’t change my past and I can’t change yours. I can only invite you to heal as I have done and offer you support. It is the best work that I have ever done and I am holding the space for you to find your peace and freedom.