Sometimes the weight of my despair feels so heavy I am afraid it will break me. I will be left in a heap on the floor crumpled. Broken. My heartbreak being so enormous, it will swallow me. Whole. And there will be nothing left of me.
I understand why people disconnect from their feelings. Often they are too much to bear. Why would we invite them to come on in, sit down and join us at the table? No thank you. I’d rather be numb.
But disowning our feelings only works for so long. Buried truths are like secrets. They become septic and start to weep, begging to be seen.
My remembering came to me as a body memory 19 months ago. I was lying face down on my acupuncturist’s table and it washed over me like we imagine the icy-cold breeze of death swooshing over a still body as the warmth of life departs with the last exhale. It’s indescribable. The missing piece of my life-puzzle finally filling the empty space. Once there, everything made sense. Everything.
I was shocked that I didn’t know. But looking back, I see that I always knew. I just didn’t let myself feel the truth. Feeling the level of fear I felt as a helpless child — living with a sexual predator for ten years — is beyond anything you can ever imagine. It was safer to disconnect from the truth of my hell than to experience it. Had I, I know I would have surely gone mad. I would have never been able to get out of bed in the morning. I would have lost all hope.
Lately I hear myself asking hollow, tragic questions. Ghostlike thoughts of disbelief murmured to my therapist. “Who does that? Who?” I ask in a horrified whisper. In my darkest moments, when I’m tired and worn down from a day of being triggered and frightened, I turn to Rob. Unable to sleep because I’m afraid of the memories, I sob out in desperation, “How is this possible? Who allows this to happen? Please help me because I cannot understand a mother who feeds her child to the wolf and then turns away while he feasts.”
Unconsciously I have always made sense of being sexually abused by believing I was bad. Because anyone good would have been worth saving. I am so tired of this old story-line I keep replaying over and over again in my mind. But it’s starting to skip and these days, each time I replay it, I come back to this thought that deep down I must have believed that there was so much more to me than the sexual abuse. Not only did I survive, but I have thrived despite it. I made it out highly functional. There is no dig here at those who do not. I see you. I hear you. And I get it. The anguish is enveloping and invites us to sit there eternally. Entrapped in its snare because, really, it’s all that we know.
And with all of this — all of my sorrow and rage, my fear and terror and my self-loathing — I just keep coming back to my conviction that we are all so much more than our stories. Our traumas. Our suffering and heartbreak. They are a part of us. Not all of us. I have to believe this. I have to believe that within the broken pieces of myself, I am unequivocally whole. If I let go of this truth, then he will have truly devoured all of me. And I refuse to allow that to happen.
So come on in, Feelings. Come inside. I have set a place for you at the table. My un-welcomed guest. I invite you to sit down. I will hold a place for you here with me. And with each encounter your weight will lighten and I will feel less frightened because I will have reclaimed my whole-self. We are all wholly broken. Un-brokenly-whole. This is being imperfectly human. The question that remains, as I sit with these unbearable feelings, laced with the unwavering presence of hope, is this — what beauty and power do I want to create with all of the remarkable pieces of myself?
Categories: Tri-Umphant Living