If there is one thing I learned from my healing journey so far, it is that in order to truly heal, to truly feel some semblance of peace, I have to acknowledge the pain in the first place.
When the Bad Thing happened to me, I pretended it didn’t hurt. It happened to me too. Whatever. What can I even do about it now? This was how I reacted to the rupture, the dismantling of my body, the dissociation. I kept myself from feeling. I banished the damage and my shame to the back of my mind. I tiptoed around it as if my mind were a minefield — I did this as a means of protection.
Psychologists say this is trauma denial. “Denial of trauma is a defense mechanism that protects you from emotional pain. Sometimes, however, healing is on the other side of it.”
Not allowing myself to feel the ugliness of my hurt and all its realness is what made it become dormant in my body. I exiled this damage to the depths of my mind and let it tenderly nestle into my being.
They say “The body keeps the score” and that’s true. This mental damage spread to my physical being. The ache became so strong and took up so much space inside of me that it became impossible to ignore.
What happened to me was not my fault, but how I heal from it is my responsibility.
I know now that in order to heal, I have to feel it. I have to face this very thing I pretended didn’t hurt. I have to drop the armor I once wore to protect myself. I have to do the work: delving into the moments I once dissociated from, desensitizing the parts of me I avoided and let linger.
By bringing the damage to the forefront of my brain, I can then confront it, fight it, and let it go. I have to be brave this time. I have to fight for my healing — and myself. Because I don’t really have another choice.