Image by cobalt123 via FlickrWhy do the memories of difficult moments in our childhood linger? Why do we react to the old hurts like they just happened yesterday? How do we heal?
When we are small we don't have the vocabulary to express our feelings or emotions. We rely on our caretakers to interpret our surroundings for us. When our caretakers are out of balance and unable to handle circumstances, they may fail to interpret them to us. This leaves us unable to understand our environment. We may not know how to handle what has happened, so we fail to integrate accurate information into our sense of self.
Over time as these occurrences continue, we lose parts of our self in the process. We may begin to dissociate from our feelings of being lovable or valuable. We may begin to believe that we must perform for acceptance. We may fear abandonment or losing a loved one. When we operate from a basis of fear we shrink our lives smaller and smaller as time passes.
When we enter into recovery we discover old hurts and mixed messages from the past. We find places within where we carry old bruises from events which we were unable to interpret as children. We unlock parts of our selves that we have been unable to access since our childhood.
If we have been numb to our feelings for many years we may find experiencing emotions overwhelming and possibly painful in the beginning. We may swing from feeling nothing to feeling everything. As we continue on our path of recovery we will lessen our tendency to swing wildly from one extreme to another and settle down to a balanced center.
If we have believed that we were unlovable or not valuable we may need to rebuild our self esteem through the use of our tools and self care. This will take time. We must be patient. It has taken many years for us to lose our self love and it will not heal quickly. If we are persistent we will reap the rewards that come with continued effort.
If we have been performing for acceptance we may need to begin to allow ourselves to be seen for who we truly are without pretense. This may be quite frightening until we discover that we are loved and valued for our inner self. Our tendency to perform may be strong. We may take three steps forward and two steps back time and time again as we learn to trust. We will find we can trust our gut and our ability to discern who is trustworthy.
If we have been abandoned in the past we may need to work on trust issues surrounding intimacy. This may be especially painful and scary in the initial stages. We are so accustomed to waiting for the other shoe to drop... because in the past, it usually did. Intimacy itself may have been linked to pain in our past. We take our time allowing ourselves to experience intimacy in small amounts, adjusting to the initial discomfort as we may experience some anxiety. As we continue to have positive experiences we will become more comfortable as time progresses. Eventually we will be able to revel in the joy of true intimacy in our relationships.
We may need to unlearn our tendency to be hypervigilant, allowing situations to unfold naturally without manipulation. This too can be overwhelming and feel out of control to us. We use our tools to calm ourselves and remind us that our higher power has our best interests at heart. We may not want to experience option B and have always manipulated the situation to create option A, but we never had the chance to walk our path where we find the best option of all... option C... the one our higher power always intended for us.
As we walk our path of recovery we discover that we can enjoy experiencing emotions once again. We find we are lovable and valuable. We realize that we do not have to perform to be accepted but are accepted as we are. The most valuable lesson we learn, however, is that no one can abandon us but ourselves. The most others can do is leave. As long as we have ourselves we will never be lonely again.