“Don’t Cry” she whispered in my ear. It took everything in me to bit it back.
“Don’t let them see they’re getting to you” the long ago given advice popped into my head while turning away so they couldn’t see the impact of their words.
“Fuck him, he’s a waste of time, don’t waste a single tear on that loser” my friends angry advice rang in my ears as we ate cookies and ice cream, with me pretending I didn’t care.
As I pulled the bandaid off of hurts, more and more instances popped up – some minor, some major. But the same story over and over again – don’t feel. Stop crying. Buck Up. Stiff upper lip. Move on. Get over it. Don’t show weakness, ever.
The pretending eventually became natural, normal. Feeling became foreign until I felt nothing. Until I was numb and nothing hurt anymore. Eventually nothing felt good either.
“To feel something” a tattoo on someone’s neck recounted by a friend impacted me. Yes, I get it. All of the things I’ve done to feel something, anything. It was better than the numb, the nothingness, the emptiness.
Piece by piece I removed the armour that I had spent a lifetime building. With each piece of armour a scab was picked off, a would opened and bleeding. Old coping skills wanted to shut it down, screaming to not to be stupid.
“You’ll be one those stupid girls” if you do this. WHY would you do this? I could hear a far away voice screaming inside of me. But I couldn’t take the loneliness, the pain, the void, the bottomlessness, the vastness of the space between me and others, anymore.
I needed more. The part of me that wanted authentic relationships, the part of me who was done pretending to be someone I wasn’t, the part of me who wanted to be free from the “should” life. But the part of me that was protecting us wanted more security, more safety, more comfort.
A war was in effect. On one hand working to be more real, trying to deal with things and go into the hurts, the pain, the wounds. On the other hand, running from them, putting walls back up.
I felt insane. I guess I was for a while. The war was exhausting, each battle a dance of dealing and not dealing. A cha cha; forward and backward. Until eventually the need to move on became too much to bear, the need to heal, too hard to ignore.
The letting go, of the image that was me, the one I created to protect myself against a cruel and hard world was at war with my need to live and fully experience life. It felt like a rejection, a betrayal of the plans we had created – just “me” against the world, not needing anyone; that of me that is hard and defensive to protect the part of me that is soft and feels too much.
The old me hates the new me. But the real me loves the freedom, honesty and realness that is life.
The problem with feeling is, of course, feeling. As the old wounds opened and let bleed, the pain of what was not felt culminating in raw emotion being ripped away.
As new hurts come my way – disappointments, being let down, tragedies, trauma’s and fears – I am painfully aware of why it was so easy to numb, to not feel, to check out, not be in it. Feeling is hard. And it’s even harder when you’ve spent a lifetime not feeling.
But as hard it is to experience it, to feel it, to go through, it’s still not as hard as pretending not to care. When we pretend not to care we stuff it down and it eventually turns up in some destructive behaviour – rage, anger, eating, drinking, smoking, or other addictive behaviours.
We will feel it one way or another. We’ll feel the realness, the rawness of it or we will feel the numbness and emptiness of it. But we will feel it.
When we let it bleed it heals. Eventually the hurt stops and we make sense of it. We see it for what it was and move on, letting it go. When we refuse to deal with it, when we stuff it down, we carry it with us everywhere we go. Every experience, small and big, gets stuck and tangled up together.
When we start peeling back the layers of hurt, finding the stories we’ve denied for so long; opening them up and letting them bleed, it’s no wonder they hurt so badly and make us feel insane. It’s a whole mixture of emotions and feelings and experiences being processed together.
It will hurt.
Then it will stop hurting.
Then it will be done. It will be real and you will know the next best step. And you will move on.
Your life will have more clarity and focus than you ever thought possible. Once you’ve processed the old hurts and let them go, you’ll experience life in the moment, the good, the bad, the ugly. You’ll experience life in colour again. It will be magical and exciting again. And sometimes, life is real and raw and shows up in unexpected ways.
Let it bleed, then it let go. Feeling it will heal it.