After a really, really long time, I have harboured a sense of loneliness the past couple of days. It wasn’t a literal loneliness for people. But it’s been there, just below the surface, this inexplicable reminder that in the end, I am on my own in feeling the depths of difficult emotions.
It has taken me some days to come into full contact with it and articulate it as this — a combination of many things. First, VC actually left town for a few days and I was quite literally alone. This coincided with the general helplessness and sadness about the state of the country, that resurfaced in a big way after going to the Frazer Town protest for a few days in a row. There is some other emotional stuff brewing on a low simmer that has caused some upheaval. There has been some work-related pressures. There is loneliness in feeling intense emotions, yes. But that is stating it simply. Because this was mostly spurred by a remembrance of rejection, which then brought up a landslide of old, forgotten traumatic memories, and then a fair bit of grief about said past memories. Add to it extra sadness and self-pity in acknowledging how hard it must have been for 20-something me, then, for my brain to have done a banging good job of cleaning out those memories entirely. Because it took my sister helping me recollect many of them, and even as she helped, it all sounded like fiction with only a vague, distant sense of a knowing and familiarity. There is sadness for how things have been. For what was and what was not, with this particular relative and the associated memories. And how that has made me be, in the past, and what it is asking of me now.
It was surreal.
It’s particularly interesting (and intense) because it has surfaced this time around, as a sharp pain in my the upper left side of my back. Again, it took me a while to make the connection. I thought maybe I did something to myself at the gym, or I slept wrong. I took it easy at the gym, I changed my pillow. Nothing has really helped. But since making this realisation, I have had to draw a boundary for myself and in a first, communicate it very clearly. In explicit words. Something I am still getting used to, and something I haven’t quite had to do in this way as yet.
But there’s always a first time, I suppose? And so it’ no coincidence that the tenderness in the area has flared up since the conversation yesterday. I didn’t make it to the gym today, as a result.
This is expected, when trauma resurfaces. It finds its way out of the body where it has had to lock itself away for so many years. And even with healing, even as it is finding expression in safe and possibly healthy ways, there is a somatic reaction.
So I’ve had to take some time to soothe the hurt, the grief and the loneliness that this has brought up for me. It meant dropping the efforts to feel better, leaving be all the external relief techniques I was trying, and just sitting with the feelings all of today.
There is power in recognising, very plainly, difficult and intense emotions. Not necessarily to fuel them and make them bigger than they need to be, but certainly in acknowledging what has surfaced and allowing it to come to light fully, rather than be pushed back into the shadows again.
I forget quite often that healing isn’t about pursuing singleminded happiness alone. It often requires looking at painful things from the past, even the things we don’t always consciously remember. It isn’t even about erasing or papering over those painful memories with sugar and honey. But in creating a safe container witin that can hold the expression of those memories, or trauma, or difficult emotions. In a full, honest feeling through of the vulnerability of them all.
Healing isn’t at all about wishing difficult memories or experiences away, but about acknowledging them such that the heaviness around them lightens up. So the grip they have over me is loosed. And one way or another, there is ease and flow once again.
Over the last couple of days of processing this, I’ve had to let the pain in my shoulder get really bad and I’ve had to acknowledge it fully, before finally, since about 3 pm this afternoon, it has started to reduce and I feel it finally ebbing away. This has quite literally felt like a burden I didn’t know I was carrying, that I have held in my body for upwards of 10 years. It is a burden I no longer want to carry.
What a relief it is to put it down. Finally.