Let me clarify, I do not get pleasure out of thinking about this crap and wallowing in my emotions – yuck, yuck. I want so badly to rid myself of the negative stamp of my past; however, I have noticed that there is something in me hanging onto the pain. Not so much specific memories, but the pain itself.
I have tried to think of reasons why I might be doing this (i.e., holding onto the pain) – after all, it seems kind of ridiculous. Finally, the reason why I might be doing this came to me last night.
I was working on a take-home exam, and part of the assignment was to write clinical goals for children with autism. One thing that my professor stressed over the semester was that in writing a goal, you do not want to write about the behavior you want eliminated; instead, your goal should state the target behavior you want to replace the inappropriate behavior.
I think a good chunk of the reason why I have been clinging unintentionally to the pain of my past is that I don’t know what to replace it with. My assault left me with a feeling of emptiness, and I think the pain caused by what happened helps to fill the emptiness. The hurt has been there for so long, even when I was trying desperately to run from it, that now I don’t know what to put in its place.
The cliché voice in my head says “love,” but it’s just not that easy. The emptiness feels resistant to love. It feels resistant to supportive comments from others. It feels resistant to my efforts to make it go away. I guess at this point, I don’t really know how to make it go away except by feeling pain.
Maybe that’s what professionals mean when they say healing from trauma requires acknowledging the emotional pain and grieving it. Maybe as I continue therapy and go through the painful memories and emotions, I will find other ways to fill the hole.
Perhaps “coping” is filling in the emptiness with pain to prevent the emptiness from taking over. And, I guess that would make “healing” finding other ways (i.e., besides pain) to fill in the emptiness.
As we let go of the pain though, how do we find what needs to go in its place?
How do we rediscover our sense of self?