Over the course of the past month, I’ve been writing to you about, well, the not-so-popular emotions. We’ve taken a journey through toddlerhood, parenting, and the danger of disconnecting from our emotional world. I’ve encouraged you to lean in, stay with your discomfort, and allow yourself to feel your divinely human emotions. Have you tried it? Chosen a moment that would usually prompt your running shoes and instead slid down next to yourself? If you have, I’m curious. How are you feeling? What was it like? What is in your wound?
I ask these questions because it is against our nature to stay in discomfort. Choosing to stay with your “negative” (ok, not jazzy) emotions is not something that is, well, comfortable. Believe me, I know. Actively choosing to both witness and stay with dysregulated emotions is nothing short of brave, because it can be painful. Yet in doing this work and approaching the pain is the only true way to know what the wound consists of that is causing this pain. It is the knowledge of what is causing us pain that allows us to first offer ourselves compassion. Through this compassion, we are able to bravely continue our journey and heal.
Diving Into the Wound
So what is in the wound? When we’ve noticed that we’re experiencing a negative emotion and choose to stay in our discomfort what will we find? I know I’ve told you to follow her before but Tara Brach’s U-Turn is the best practice I’ve found to do this investigative work. When you’ve chosen to stay in discomfort and look at your pain (wound) you’ve already done the hard work, I promise. The urge to flee from negative emotions is powerful (thanks reptilian brain) and staying with them takes active work. As you push aside all of the past coping mechanisms that allowed you to ignore the wound you are building a new neural pathway that tells your mind it is safe to explore this pain. Not just safe, necessary. Imagine yourself on Ms. Frizzle’s school bus, armored enough to go in, but curious enough to learn.
As you approach your wound what will you find? What is it that is causing the dysregulation? What needs love, care, and compassion from, well, you? I’m not going to lie to you, what you find might range from, “huh that’s annoying,” to full-blown trauma that has metastasized in your subconscious and therefore body. The wound is your wound and whatever is there are life experiences that you couldn’t, for whatever reason, provide yourself the love and care you needed at that time. That reason could be simple and you merely didn’t have the tools to emotionally take care of yourself say when you were rejected on the playground growing up. It could be complex like my own Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Each wound has a different size, origin, and healing need and yet each wound is equal.
Equal you say? How could feeling left out be equal to let’s say an Aversive Childhood Event? Well, my theory on this is that wounds should not be measured against their importance and instead evaluated to provide the treatment each wound needs. A papercut on your thumb is still going to cause you pain when you squeeze a lemon and so is a car accident. All wounds need treatment, the amount and type are simply different. Our soul needs us to look at each wound for that exact reason; to know what type of care our beautiful souls need.
Delving Into The Roots
In coming to the wound as an observer we are able to disconnect from the thoughts, “I am the sum of my wounds,” and instead shift into the mindset, “my wounds are real and need care.” As we approach our wounds the tricky thing, among other reasons, is that some of our wounds require brave witnessing of how we hurt others. This is the part of the wound that creates shame that when it goes unchecked creates harm to our brothers and sisters. The original wound (as you go deeper in this work) will almost certainly be a wound you experienced yourself that bred suffering. However, when acknowledged that wound will grow into behaviors that either hurt you or others and that shit is difficult to look at. I don’t know if there are other T-Swift fans reading but her song Anti-Hero is my current theme song for this brave work. “It’s me, hi, I’m the monster, it’s me.” We all have monsters, and we all treat ourselves and others in ways that we shouldn’t.
I do however believe that this type of wounded behavior can lessen in our lifetime from an overwhelming existence of disconnection to small hiccups easily repaired with a glass of water; a self-love glass that is. We do not have to stay in a world where we are spiraling and constantly wounding and re-wounding ourselves and others. Trust me, I know firsthand that sometimes this can feel very real as a woman who proudly wears the title of survivor. I have seen and experienced some messed up shit from other people and struggled to care for myself during that time. But what I know to be true is that when I lash out because I’m upset about how other people are treating me, I feel worse, not better.
I don’t want to feel worse; I want to feel free. That freedom only comes from brave witnessing, healing, and offering ourselves a life where wounds do not select our futures for us, we choose them for ourselves.
It’s okay sweetheart, everyone hurts, lean in and offer your beautiful soul compassion. If you’re feeling lost, gently kiss your own shoulder, stroke your own cheek, and breathe baby, breathe.