I’ve been thinking a lot about just how to follow up with my previous post (here). I’m not quite sure I can do justice to explaining the process of healing. However, I can at least start to bring my perspective and experiences to light.
In the previous post I asked many questions, which erupted from a hauntingly dark and painful place – to the extent that I chose to write in that moment of pain rather than succumb to the circuitous thinking that was quickly spiraling downward. Here, I’d like to explicate a few things that have helped me to deal with a very intense struggle and to begin the rebuilding process: forgiveness, identification of emotions, release through music, and restoration through writing.
I mentioned forgiveness, and for me, this element has been crucial in overcoming and moving forward. When I am faced with a full day or few days of raging internal thoughts, I am continually (by the grace of God, I believe) brought back to the determination to extend grace. The defiance of refusing to become bitter, though it may mean releasing acidic tears on a now less frequent daily basis. I recognize that in order to be the person I want to be, as well as to avoid becoming my own arch nemesis, I must persistently forgive…I must ask nothing, expect nothing, wait for nothing from the person who inflicted the deepest wound. Communication may be broken, cut off even. However, I must truly absolve him from my own…hopes of what could have been, what the world might say he owes me, or what restitution they think I must seek. I must forgive myself and also recognize the part that I played (thanks, Andy). Ultimately, this ring of exculpation brings freedom for ME. I can only control my own responses.
However, in addition to this forgiveness I think it is vital to allow myself to actually feel the pain and to identify why it is looming again. I feel the darkness creeping in. I am so much stronger now than when everything exploded (and it actually sort of fell apart more than once after multiple attempts to forgive and rebuild, then I read the book ‘Boundaries’ and discovered that I really had to set hard limits due to a lack of trustworthiness…things they don’t teach you in college, huh?). But despite the strength that I have gained, there are indeed days when the ominous recollections of that abysmal time still seek to destroy me. Yet, something triggered all of those memories, and to deny that they are there feels like minimizing what I know is really happening. It is yet another layer of sutures that must heal. And so, while I may not be able to deal with the encroaching emotional and mental struggle as I sit at my cubicle, I know that once I’m done at my “9-5” (a poor and horridly inaccurate term for a research job), my work of investigating this next layer of mending will begin. I must confront, rather than hide from, my broken state. “Can’t let memories become the death of me,” in the words from one Alessia Cara song.
Speaking of which, music has been – Ah! Let me get my Pandora going again! As I was saying, music has been my primary cathartic tool and I will ever be grateful for the encouraging and Spirit-filled words of my main girl. It allows me to share my deepest hurts with the Only One who truly understands the depth of the damage and pain and provides a segue into a more prayerful solemnity. Music gives my mind an outlet when my tumultuous thoughts relapse to all of the lies and actually start to believe them again. It allows me to connect with that next layer that was mentioned above. It reminds me that I’m not the only one who has experienced some level of this heartbreak, betrayal, abandonment…Recovery. Strength. Refinement. Rebuilding.
Maintaining some semblance of a personal journal has also been imperative for my own process of restoration. When my thoughts become so loud that focusing on anything else becomes impossible, or if I need to clear my heart of a strong negative emotion, writing it down, getting it out in a place where I can actually see what I am feeling, brings my experience to a level of tangibility quite different from the world of cathartic music. I can see the dark places that I need to change, I can see the bitterness that I must allow Him to take again. I can see the thread of love despite the pain. I can see the humiliation that comes with mass betrayal. And then I can see…breakthrough. I realize that I must stay true to my own standard of integrity despite the perfidy. I am once again reminded that I deserve more than that, and also that his/their behavior is a reflection of them, not of me though I must also take responsibility for the large part that I played in that travesty.
My hope is that if there is someone struggling to find tangible ways of dealing with a past that nips at your heels, perhaps here you may gain at least some insight as to where to begin sorting the chaos. The concepts of forgiveness, emotional presence, release through music, and breakthrough via written word are just a few suggestions to get started. Many blessings and health to you.