Thursday 11 November 2021

Sitting with pain

Two days ago I had a major mental breakdown. I had therapy in the morning, and I almost cancelled, because life is really good right now and I am so happy and content, it seemed unnecessary. But I didn't cancel, and halfway through something came up.
"I don't really trust women," I mentioned, almost as an aside. "I want to, but I don't. I only let them in to a point; there's a protective barrier around my heart, and almost no-one is inside the inner circle."
I had never consciously thought about it, let alone voice it; that's the thing about therapy. Once you start digging, you never know what you'll find.

For the rest of the day I couldn't stop thinking about my inner circle. Who's really in it? I half-jokingly told Rich: "It's just you and the dogs; nobody else made it." And that struck me as so utterly sad, I broke down. 

I know where my deep distrust towards women stems from. It's a wound from childhood, inflicted by the person who was supposed to love me unconditionally, but didn't. The reason why it comes up now, so many years after the fact, is because I never dealt with it. 

And even more importantly: I never learnt to sit with pain as it's happening. 
None of us is. We are told to "move on", "focus on the positive", "don't dwell on the bad stuff", to "shake it off and be happy". It's a basic human instinct to move away from pain, because being in pain sucks. 
But here's the thing: if we avoid it now, it will come back later to haunt us. You cannot escape pain indefinitely. No matter how far you travel, how many miles or years you put in between your pain and yourself, it will find you. 

Mine found me two days ago, decades after the fact, in the midst of an exceedingly happy and fulfilling phase of my life. 

I'm afraid to trust women, because I've been deeply hurt.
I'm afraid to make a mistake, because I learnt that when I do, love will be withheld from me. 
I was told over and over that I wasn't a good person; that I was a disappointment; that I should be better. 

It hurt to badly, I did everything I could to make the pain stop. I told them what they wanted to hear and hid or lied about the stuff I knew they wouldn't like. 
I became a people pleaser. I avoided most confrontations by agreeing just to get along. 
I moved to the other side of the world. 
We don't talk about anything deep or personal. 
They don't know me; I let them see only a tiny part of myself.

I got myself a good man, a pack of dogs, and a life far removed from my old one, and I thought I'd outrun my demons. 

But they found me. And I have to sit with the pain now, once and for all, and work through it. That's the only way how I can heal; the only way how I can learn to trust women again. 

Because while I thought I got away unscathed, I found out to my dismay that I didn't. There's a hole in my life where true, deep friendship could be. I have friends; but they're all outside my protective barrier. I could carry on the way I have for 25 years, keep everybody at a distance, keep myself safe. 
But that's no way to live. You can only love fully when you trust fully, and I don't want to miss out on that. 
I share a great love with my husband, who taught me all about loving with a wide-open heart. Our relationship means everything to me. 

I barely dare to imagine that I could have even more love - that I could trust women as much as I trust him? 
I want to experience that. I want more people in my inner circle. 

So here I am, sitting in my pain. 
I described it to Rich like this: "It feels like a layer of skin got scraped off and I'm on open wound. Everything hurts."
I had to hide from the world yesterday to protect my open wound. I was a limp puddle of a human, with zero energy. I could barely move; all I did was rest and watch TV.
This morning feels better. A thin protective layer has formed over the raw flesh, I have more energy, and the first tendrils of the sweetest of all emotions has started sprouting: hope. 

I choose to believe that the old wounds that have opened up can and will heal.
I choose to open myself up to hope, possibility - and love. 

And I love this thought:

See you on the other side!



  1. Hey Miriam, It sucks that you feel that way, but I get why you do. If I lived in BC, I have a feeling we would be fast and forever friends. I'm thankful to have a small posse of lifelong friends, sometimes they're all that gets me through. Our group motto is "no judging," and we don't. We all met mostly working at a bar 30+ years ago. We all just got together last weekend. We kid and rib each other a bit, but we also group text everyday and know we have each other's back through anything. I'm eternally grateful for them, even more so now. I hope you find your gal pack!

    1. That sounds amazing! I have some good friends, just have to work on letting them in all the way. I'm a very lucky woman when it comes to love though, I couldn't ask for a better husband. Very blessed.
      Where do you live?


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