What is Holding Your Pain for You?

A major part of my journey towards growth and wholeness has been unlearning, or as I call it, Unraveling.

Over the years I have coped with my pain in harmful ways. Harmful to me and harmful to others.

I had trouble holding my pain so I tried to gift it to others through projection.
I have had a long affair with food as a way to numb pain.
I used alcohol at times but it was never my numbing agent of choice.
I also dabbled with certain drugs, again, not my go-to though.
After I was raped I actually used sex to numb because I thought it would help me feel back in control, it didn’t.
My number one harmful coping device was shopping though. Above all else I LOVED to shop.

Shopping was great because it did the job of numbing the pain so I didn’t have to feel my feelings AND it is a socially acceptable action so no one would be trying to intervene and raise concerns. Yep I flew under the radar for years, I was just another woman with a closet full of clothes.

My shopping addiction had been riding shot gun with me for years by the time my husband came into the picture. This is when it started getting complicated. He was the first person to ever energetically hold up a mirror and say, I think we have a problem here.

I had been avoiding that mirror for over a decade – Now this guy shows up and wants to love me and care for me by telling the truth? Who the hell does he think he is?

Even with his compassionate honesty and my coming to terms with a really uncomfortable truth, it still took 6 years to get a handle on my unhealthy relationship with shopping. What I learned in the process is that it wasn’t just the act of shopping that I had to address, it was my deeply unhealthy relationship with money in general.

Since the age of 18 when I got my first job I had been using money to hold my pain for me. Just like I used food, and alcohol, and drugs, and sex, and even other people through projection. I was doing everything I could to run from my truths and NOT hold the pain they carry.

Last year I worked on my relationship with money, that work continues, and it has changed everything. It is part of what got me to the place of actively wanting to hold my pain, I know now this is the only way to the other side.

I have had a few epiphanies since unraveling my relationship with money. One being that less stuff actually brings me more joy and peace. Another a-ha moment was paying attention to what I spend money on when I have a more connected, intentional relationship with money – art supplies. It is not clothes or shoes or bags or anything to impact my appearance, it is art which is one way my soul communicates.

So, like the alchemist I am, I am turning my pain into something beautiful to share through art. My healed relationship with money is going to support me in this venture, so are my own words from this blog. I understand now that nothing and no one is meant to hold my pain for me AND it is okay to allow myself to be supported. Money can support me, my writing, my art, those whom I love – they can all support me as I hold my pain.

I believe I am stepping across a threshold into the life I was meant for.

This is BIG.

I am grateful for the knowledge that love heals and I no longer have to run from myself. I can hold my pain and all of my truths in love and be WHOLE.

 

what is holding your pain

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Losing You Was My Becoming

Last night I struggled.

I was triggered during the day by something my mother said in passing and by bedtime I was unwound. I was face down in my husband’s lap balling. It did not stop there. I cried when we went to bed. I woke up an hour after going to bed and cried some more. My husband held me and talked me through it as best he could.

This morning he let me sleep. He got up with little bubby and handled the morning routine. Two hours later I came out to a quiet house. Little bubby was taking his first nap, my husband was sitting on the couch watching the news on low volume. I was greeted by his smile and by the wagging tail of my excited Lucy.

I pat Lucy’s head and crawled into my husband’s lap.

I have been holding in all the pain and grief. I have been trying so hard to remain functional. The lid is off.

I asked to feel my pain and The Universe obliged. I am in pain.

I have decided to attempt to talk honestly with my parents one last time about our dysfunction and working towards healing as a family. If this message falls on deaf ears, as my previous attempts have, that is it for me. I will not subject any of my babies (internal or little bubby) to this swamp.

I am raw and reeling and trying desperately to keep my head above water. AND there is a deep sense of peace rising from my power center because this is the decision that has been waiting to be made and finally I am here.

I never wanted to be here AND somehow I have known I was coming.

Right now I do not feel big. I do not feel much like a hero. I am though and even if I don’t feel it, I know it is true.

Because here I am, going through it, not running. I am doing hard things. It is so hard.

I am scooping everyone into my lap and I am walking out of this place we do not belong…

And I am not afraid.

losing you was my becoming

Getting to the Other Side

I have been struggling with the knowledge that my father lied to my mother about stopping by to see me and little bubby the other day.

He and I have had a limited relationship outside of my mother and now that my mother and I are severely on the outs I am starting to see behind the curtain of their relationship a bit to see how dysfucntional it is.

Why does he feel he has to lie about being with me? Is it because he is afraid of getting in trouble, like a child? Is it because he is trying to save her feelings? Both? How am I supposed to feel about this? Apparently his love for me, his daughter, is not greater than his fear of my mother. At least that is the story I am telling myself because my family refuses to communicate openly leaving room for painful (hopefully untrue) assumptions to be made.

I love my father. This hurts. I worry that I will lose him because I know my truth, I am not willing to participate in this. Either love me in the open or admit the fact that you don’t love me that much at all.

My husband and I watched a show once where a kid got himself in too deep when lying and his sister’s advice to him was, keep lying until you get to the other side.

I feel like this is what my family has been doing my entire life only our lies are dressed up as denial, avoidance, and minimization.

Part of my untangling is an unwillingness to take part in the lying. I will tell the truth. I am going to keep telling the truth until I get to the other side, until I am healed, until I am seen – even if it is not by my family.

I do not know what the other side of this pain looks like, I don’t know who will be there, or how it will feel. I do know that is where I belong though.

My Dad is trying to peace-keep right now, he is trying to smooth over, this is his role in our family –  he sacrifices self for “the good of the whole”. It is not for the good of whole though, and it is absolutely manipulation. Well-meaning, Yes, but manipulation none the less. I will not participate.

I love you daddy. This is breaking my heart. I won’t stay small for you though, please don’t ask me to do this – I don’t want to leave you, but I will in order to get to the place I am meant to be. I will put you down to pick myself up if I have to.

unraveling

 

Finding My Way Home

After my devastating tumble with the truth about my mother I spent the rest of the day and that evening in my pain. I cried, processed with my husband, and we cuddled. That night I had another dream about water. Water is my symbol for motherhood/my mother which is why it keeps coming up in my dreams.

In the dream I am with little bubby and my parents in a car. My father is driving and little bubby is not strapped in, he is in my lap, we are in the backseat. Suddenly my Dad lets go of the wheel, just totally abandons ship and the car starts to veer off the road towards a swampy lake. I yell at my Mom to hit the brakes, she can’t/won’t stop it. As the car enters the dark water I jump out with little bubby in my arms and wade back to shore. In the dream my phone goes down with the car and is consumed by the darkness, I cannot call for help. I find a landline at a nearby business but I still cannot call my husband. I try over and over but the call will not connect. No one is coming to save us and I am stuck with little bubby in my parent’s swamp. My parents are sitting casually on a dock making no effort to correct or even address the situation, it is as if they do not even see the swamp. They are minimizing everything, not even acknowledging that their car was just eaten by the mud. I am arguing, I am furious they endangered us – they are denying, lying to themselves and me. I am done. I leave. I start walking with little bubby. I don’t know where I am going , it is a road I have never traveled on but I am going. I am walking away.

The symbolism here is clear – being in the car with little bubby not strapped in while my parents are not in control of the vehicle is a metaphor for how unsafe it is to expose little bubby to my family’s dysfunction because my parents still do not have a handle on things. The trauma is still happening and as the dream illustrates, they are still in denial and minimizing. If I continue to expose little bubby to their sickness I become the unstable branch and little bubby will never trust me because I did not keep him safe. This will not be out story. This ends now.

I will not be the unstable branch. I will keep both little bubby and myself safe, I will protect us both from my family’s chaos. This is my job, I am momma and my family of origin is mine to walk away from. My husband keeps showing up absent in these dreams because he cannot save me, not matter how much I want him to. I am not small, I am the hero of this story, and it is time to go.

I don’t know where I am going but I am not lost. I will never be lost again because I will not play small and abandon myself, I will not try to belong where I do not and abandon myself, I am ready to feel my pain and love myself well – I will never abandon myself again.

I may not know where this path leads but I do know I am meant to be on it, it is mine. I cannot walk other people’s paths home, the only way to find myself is through myself.

I am my hero

This is All I Get

My father popped in to say hello to little bubby and I. It was kismet because I was actually preparing to call him.

I miss him. He has always been the the closest thing to a calm in the storm of my family for me. He is the only one who has ever felt even close to safe. I have never doubted his love.

He held little bubby and we chatted casually for a few minutes then I told the truth.

Dad I don’t know how to communicate with Mom and I do not know what else to do. I do not mean to drag you into the middle of our relationship issues but I am at a loss, I do not know where to go from here.

Then he told the truth and it broke my heart wide open.

If you are waiting for your mother to take responsibility for anything, you will be waiting the rest of your life. It is never going to happen, it is not who she is.
She is not interested in having honest, difficult, uncomfortable conversations even if it would mean deeper connection, healing, and growth.
She does not want to lay anything out on the table and deal with it.
She is not okay with what you are doing.
You have to accept her for who she is and stop fighting for something different; this is it, she is never going to be different.

I am 35 years old. For 35 years I have been fighting with this woman. I have been energetically and directly/verbally begging to be seen, to be allowed to be who I am and that be okay and enough. I have been DESPERATE for connection.

But this is it, this is all the mother I get, she is never going to be different. It is time to stop fighting.

I am devastated.

I feel ripped open. I feel orphaned, motherless. The loss is immense.

I do not hate her for this truth. She cannot give me what she does not have, she has never been able to. My mother was wounded by her mother and I believe that her hurt is so great that she simply does not have anything left over for me. She cannot give love she does not have to give, and I know now that there is a difference between someone telling you they love you and them actually loving you. I know what love feels like now and she is not it.

All of this true AND I am still devastated. My pain is so deep and so vast, I feel I could cry every minute of everyday for a whole week straight, and not be through it.

She has always been the raging water and I have always been trying not to drown. There is a piece of me that wants to slip beneath the surface now and sink. I have been fighting for so long for something I know now will never be different. I feel defeated.

I will not drown in my mother’s rage. To do so would be to agree to carry this pain with me forever. I will not. I will not pass on my mother wound to those I love, I will not.

I will feel my pain. I will grieve. Then I will rise off this branch and fly. I will stop trying to fit somewhere I do not belong.

After my talk with my dad, the pieces of me that want to play small showed up and tempted me with numbing habits I like to engage in to avoid my pain. Here eat this, go buy yourself something nice, watch TV all day, call someone and gossip.

No. It is time to feel the pain. I have been numbing for 35 years, no more. Someone has to take care of me, I am that someone. I will not destroy myself as a way to avoid my pain.

After my conversation with my father I felt closed in being in my home. I needed some space to process. Little bubby and I ran an errand together to accommodate this need. While we were out I was seeing cacti everywhere. On blankets, bowls, bags. Cactus symbolizes self-love for me; it is a plant that relies heavily on itself – even when there is a “love drought” the cactus can survive because of the inner supply of love.
I appreciated the reminder but did not connect too deeply with the message because cactus are in fashion right now, this is less of a message and more of a fluke.

Wrong.

The Universe showed up for me twice in my pain. Driving home from our errand I looked out the window while at a red light and there was a single cactus plant growing alone on the side of the road. Message received. The love I am longing for is my own.

Then at the end of the day little bubby and I went outside and watched the most dazzling sunset I have witnessed since his birth. The sky was on fire. Reds, oranges, pinks, peaches, purples, and deep magnificent blues. There was one solitary star in the middle of it all shining its light bright enough to be seen even in the midst of this glorious display of color. Again, I see this as a message that I am okay on my own. I am enough, I always have been. My love will sustain me and once I have felt my pain and am freed from this burden I believe my love and light will shine so bright that I will be that star.

This gaping wound was caused by lack of love, it will be filled and healed with love, that is the only way I know. I will love myself, I will give love freely, I will accept it gratefully, without shame. I will be love.

I will close this difficult post with the same words I used to hold myself after my last post because I understand it is my job to hold me now, that will never be her job again.

I am my own salvation. I will use these words to rescue/save/heal/connect/love myself.

I see your pain. I am here. You are not alone. This was NEVER okay. I will protect you. We will get help. This will not continue. 

I love you.

You are lovable.

You are loved.

And once more.. I love you. You are lovable. You are loved. You are love.

 

Salvation Spoken

When processing pain in therapy my therapist often asks, what does that piece of you need?

It is a way to help me look inward and connect with the injured part of myself and then show up in connection to support and heal myself.

Over the years my parts have been injured by my mother’s words, as well as my mother’s silence. Her words and silence have been used as a form of psychological warfare – gas lighting, silent treatment, shaming..

I was thinking recently about this injury – the injury caused by words – I was thinking, What if words could save me? What if the place of injury is also the place of salvation.

To answer my therapist’s question, I think that is what my parts need, words. The right words.

Instead of you can never tell anyone what happened. I need I see your pain, I am here, You are not alone.

Instead of this is normal or that never happened. I need this is not okay, I will protect you, we will get help, this will not continue.

Instead of yelling, I need I love you. You are lovable. You are loved.

Instead of the silent treatment, I need truth speaking coming from a place of love and connection.

I am my own salvation. I will use these words to rescue/save/heal/connect/love myself.

I see your pain. I am here. You are not alone. This was NEVER okay. I will protect you. We will get help. This will not continue. 

I love you.

You are lovable.

You are loved.

self-love.jpg

 

 

This Sickness Won’t Last

I spoke with my brother and stepped out of our relationship on a Monday, that Wednesday I saw my therapist. I explained how the grief I felt churning felt stuck beneath the surface, unable to flow. I explained I want to feel my pain, I do not want it trapped inside me festering. I explained how confused I am; I feel pain swirling inside me, I want to feel it, why am I experiencing this disconnection? Why can’t I feel my pain.

She doesn’t have answers, just reflections. She cautions about holding my pain in; it can (and will) manifest in your body.

By Friday I was sick. Congested. More yuck stuck inside my body, unable to get out. I want it out. ALL OF IT. The yuck, the pain, the grief, the truth. The message from my body is clear – I DO NOT WANT TO HOLD THIS, and if you make me – I will make you MISERABLE.

My in-laws are in town. I am grateful.

I am grateful to have help with little bubby while I am sick. I am grateful for family connection that feels safe. I am grateful for boundaried care giving that allows me to rest and feel supported without fear. I am grateful for the opportunity to practice being seen.

I allowed my mother-in-law to see me. It was scary. I did not cry. I am not small and I was telling the truth;

I am not in my relationship with my brother right now. I love him AND there are experiences from our childhood together that I need/want to heal and I recognize this happens outside of our relationship. 

My parents are not around right now because things have shifted and we are spending less time with them. My mother has difficulty with communication and boundaries so we do not allow them to babysit little bubby. 

I am working on these relationships. I am rebuilding.

I don’t know how I feel about being seen. It is like asking my husband to hold my hand while I experience my pain. This is support, this is connection, AND this is foreign.

Blowing my nose to relieve the congestion I am experiencing does not necessarily feel good, it is what my body needs in order to heal itself and feel better though. Doing this well help me feel good.

Asking for support, seeking out connection in new vulnerable ways, allowing myself to be seen in my painful truths does not necessarily feel good, it is what my soul needs to heal itself and feel better though. Doing this well help my soul feel good.

I hid the truth/from the truth to survive. I will not hide anymore.
I disconnected from my pain to survive. I will not disconnect anymore.
I am sick today, in this moment. I will not always be sick.

truth speaking