Thursday, August 29, 2013

How to deal with past pain ... now

Nobody can take the burden of being "the one who heals" the other.

Some try.

During my marriage I often thought of myself as the healer ... the restorer ... the savior ...  of everyone, really,... and it tore me to pieces. I accepted accusations of failure even though I really didn't have the resources to handle the abuse, the demands, the constant drain.

Who knows why I thought I should have that strength. I was very religious, so in a way, I felt the ability to be enough for other's expectations and needs must be an inherent characteristic of good people. I wanted to be good so I tried to act the role. I thought it was my responsibility to fix everything, for others first and myself ... never.

It wasn't.

I was trying to be the sea when I was merely a channel somewhat capable of transporting water. And that, only as long as I hadn't been blocked by damage to my structure.  The blockage and damage were significant. We were in the same place of need, and I was trying to have enough for everyone. I needed a healer myself.

With Hawk the relationship is very different. I'm not trying to fix him, though it will be nice if he heals within our friendship. What I am doing is consciously allowing myself to heal because he very conveniently stumbles into my wounds and alerts me to their presence. And I'm being honest with him about that process whenever it arises between us.

He doesn't even have to try. Just living his independent life is enough to trigger my wounds at this point. When I want to cling and feel sad because he's not right there taking care of me, I realize how easy it is to be dependent ... to put the burden of my healing on another.

It's not his job!

Even if we were dating it would be wrong of me to expect that level of over-protection from him. So I don't expect it. I did let him know that I consciously choose not to demand anything of him, even if I might react emotionally at times and then realize later the full spectrum of what I was expecting and need to apologize.

He is still healing, himself, after all.

We both have our own first-aid kits, and it so happens that we each have some items (healing practices and attitudes) that the other doesn't. We can share that knowledge and insight with each other, and so heal a little faster. I can learn from him whether he triggers my hurt or my joy. And I'm so thankful that he is a gentle person, because he doesn't make things worse as a general rule. In fact, he is very encouraging.

I'm used to being told where I ought to be by far too many people, and have been surprised at how accepting he is of  "where I actually stand."

Because I'm already wounded I will be easily hurt by Hawk. I already know this, so hopefully it won't surprise me too much. Even doctors cause pain as they attempt to understand the extent of the damage, and as they actively assist in healing there is often further pain.

Pain is necessary information. It lets me know where problems are, and often whether I've found a solution specific to the problem. I  remain aware of my needs and path to healing by asking these kinds of questions.

  • Why does this hurt me?
  • Has he actually done something purposefully to hurt me, or is he just dealing with his own stuff?
  • Is my current pain only because of what just happened, or is it bringing up older wounds that haven't been dealt with?
  • Do I need to let him know how I feel about this, or is this feeling so disconnected from what he did that it is better to face the past before I overreact?
  • Have I acknowledged that past hurt and faced the damage it did to me?
  • Do I need to forgive anyone? (This isn't for their sake, but for mine. Hanging onto the past wounds me physically as well as emotionally. A bitter or fearful attitude affects my body by preventing me from resting, preventing my body from healing naturally, and by triggering unneeded emergency chemical communications through my system to further burn out my nerves and cells.)
  • How could I respond differently to this situation?
  • Am I believing any lies as a result of the wound?
  • What could I change in the way I deal with this that might change how it affects me?

Then I tell myself.

"I can't control what others do, but I'm always in charge of how I respond. How can I turn this into a story that will help me (and others) heal without trying to control anyone other than myself?"

And then, I move toward living that story. Or at least I do on good days.... This is why I need healthy friendships to help me keep balance. It isn't a quick ... or easy process. I often face the same lie again and again, each time sneaking up in a slightly different disguise.

"Everyone who is nice to me is lying," is one lie I've had to battle for years.

I still fight with it as I deal with Hawk ... because he is very kind to me. *laugh* I view that kindness with a suspicion he doesn't deserve.

But I'm learning to tell the truth instead of the lie when I hear it in my head.

"There are people who pretend to be nice just to deceive or get what they want, so it's okay to stay alert and identify individual patterns. BUT for the most part people who are kind actually mean it, and it is healthier for me to take their word for it."

As a result, I remain open enough to discover new friends, which is worth a few painful moments now and then.