A few months ago, I had a radio interview where a male caller spoke candidly about his past philandering ways. He swore he was a changed man these past 10 years, yet his wife still treated him as a whore-monger. The gentleman was at the end of his rope, feeling that no matter what he did he could never ‘do right’ in her eyes. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard similar stories and my heart sinks every time. Stories where women nurse their pain like a newborn babe, all the while punishing the world around them. I have seen first hand how damaged a woman becomes when she holds on to her hurt. I grew up surrounded by many bitter women, and their pain and anger literally killed many of them. I would like to think we are a wiser generation and we are much more capable of taking control of our lives, and far more committed to being happy.
Infidelity, abuse, and many other types of emotional suffering are hard things to get past. In most cases, pain cuts deep and leaves us feeling vulnerable and helpless. Over time, we find ways to cope, but not heal. We often cope with negative behaviors that keep us hardened against the elements. Other times, our defense mechanisms leave us numb so that we can’t feel the hurt and painful reminders. But none of these approaches work towards recovery until we simply STOP NURSING THE PAIN!!
One of the primary tools in nursing your pain is continuing to feed it. Reliving painful situations causes almost the same amount of trauma as the initial incident. Reviving your pain paralyzes you and keeps you stuck in perpetual turmoil. Rehashing things keeps you from healing and living abundantly.
When I was 10, I accidentally tipped over a pan of boiling hot chicken grease which spilled right onto my foot. I got 2nd and 3rd degree burns on my left foot, and it took 3 months before I could even wear shoes again. It would be 6 months before I stopped feeling daily pain. It was nearly a year before I could go into the kitchen without having sweaty palms, and even longer before I would attempt to cook. And frying ANYTHING was completely out of the question! One day, my Mother ran out of patience and sympathy and ordered me to get back in the kitchen and cook again. I gave myself a stern talking to, and proceeded… and so did the phantom pains in my foot. But it was either stand up to my Mother or tackle the cornbread. I went for the bread, I forced myself not to think of the ‘chicken frying’ incident and before I knew it I was pulling my golden brown buttermilk cornbread out of the oven. I think I ate that first pan all by myself, I was really proud! Over time, I thought about the ‘hot chicken grease’ less and less until I completely forgot about it. I stopped nursing the pain and fear in order to move on to something that allowed me to grow and mature. I let go of the fear of hot grease and the pain of the burns 30 years ago. Even now, when I look down at my foot, it takes me a few seconds to even remember how it got discolored. Healing your emotions works much the same way.
There are 3 steps – Grief, Healing and Movement.
1. GRIEVE– Once any trauma has been inflicted, you will not likely be the same as you were before. You have been robbed of your innocence, piece of mind, trust, etc. If you ignore the grieving process, there is no way to move to the next step.
- There are 5 stages of grief: 1) Denial 2) Anger 3) Bargaining 4) Depression 5) Acceptance. Note:Most of us try to skip stage 4 as we feel we do not have ‘time’ to be depressed. But this usually results in us being stuck in a perpetual loop that boomerangs us back to the Anger stage.
2. HEAL – This is the phase where you must find closure. Take your time to confront your issues. If you need to confront others, then do so. If you are not able to confront others then you must find another way to gain closure. This is where forgiveness comes in to play. By forgiveness, I mean releasing the desire to have ‘what was’ and embrace ‘what is’. Understand that your experience is a part of your story and it is how you have come to be YOU. As long as you wish for things to be different, your wounds will remain open. It is important to be completely healed and not just PRETENDING to be okay. Unhealed wounds crack open all the time. Here is where we learn to be kind, loving and forgiving to ourselves.
3. MOVE– The final phase comes when you have resolved that you want to feel a different emotion, other than pain. That’s when you DECIDE to move forward. There must be a conscious decision to put it all behind you and not allow pain and bitterness to alter you. There must be constant progression in your path, without progression the human condition is to revert.
I could write a lot more about this topic, because there is so much to say, but I believe I have said enough for now. My hope is that someone who reads this will take a step towards releasing their pain.