“Feelings buried alive never die” – I’m pretty sure that’s a Wayne Dyer book that has been sitting on my shelf since my awful teen years but has never actually been read.
I’m learning through my life though, that that statement is undeniably true. Maybe if I’d actually read the book while I was trying so hard to bury all of my own trauma and feelings, I could have possibly avoided the illnesses that took hold of my body a few years ago – or at least assisted my body in fighting them rather than hindering it.
My body is teaching me so many lessons. Beautiful, excruciatingly painful lessons that I wouldn’t ever want to give up. It is so common for people with histories like mine to become chronically or life-threateningly ill at some point in their life. This is not a coincidence. I know that this can seem really far fetched for some people, and I’ve tried explaining it to some of the people closest to me and they’ve scoffed it off like it can’t possibly be accurate, but I’m living it. I know it to be true in my body like I know my own name. It simply just is.
Emotions or traumas that are not processed and released, that you believe are gone, are not gone. They stay trapped inside your body wreaking havoc on your immune system, central nervous system and every other part of your body until they come out in the form of physical illness. (I’m sure that this can vary, and I am not a doctor or a researcher, I am simply speaking from my own experience and from what I’ve witnessed in my friends and communities of chronically ill people).
Recently I have had so much unexpected crap coming up to finally be processed and released once and for all! (I hope!) Over the past year (or more, though likely less consciously) I’ve been slowly working my way through the thick sludge of emotions and experiences I’ve had trapped and buried for so long. Some of it since early childhood, others from later teen years or into my twenties, and some that likely aren’t even mine and are simply generational traumas that may have been trapped in my lineage for generations upon generations.
Most recently what’s been coming up for me has been the most jarring because it involves someone that I always had on a pedestal and never expected to be upset with let alone have the strong, ugly feelings that I’ve had arise. This is someone whom I know is always doing the best he/she can, and I never expected to feel like that wasn’t good enough. In my eyes this person is always doing more for others than he/she is for themselves, and is practically a saint. So you can imagine how shocking it was for me when all of these deeply buried feelings of abandonment, grief, denial, not being good enough, and more all came bubbling to the surface out of seemingly nowhere. Let me tell you, its a hard fall when you realize that the person you idolized and thought was super-human is actually just human themselves with their own set of crap to process and cope with. Imagine that – humans being human! I know, it shouldn’t be shocking, but, sometimes it is.
A friend told me today that he heard a psychologist say, “if you have a memory from the past come up and you have an emotional reaction to it, then you haven’t processed it and let it go,”. I 100% agree but I would also add, if you have a memory come up and you feel a shift in your body somewhere, then you haven’t processed it and let it go. It’s just buried deeper than your emotional self is allowing you to feel. For example, I have certain situations in my life that I’d like to think I have processed and released, but I know that when I think of them I feel an ever so slight shift in my pelvic muscles that tells me I haven’t done as much of the work as I’d like to think I have. Other ones trigger a subtle pain in my left shoulder and down my arm, while another triggers my sciatic nerve.
I have spent practically my whole life trying not to feel. I can remember feeling so incredibly terrified of my own mind, never wanting to be alone with it. I spent months, if not years, sleeping on the couch with the television on because I couldn’t even handle laying in bed waiting to fall asleep without a distraction. In fact it was my most feared time of day. I would distract with almost anything – friends, books, television, food, social media, sex, other people’s problems. I surrounded myself with people who had bigger problems than me or who were toxic so that I could focus on them and not myself. I would get involved with emotionally unavailable men or men who were bound to only do harm to me because that’s what I felt safe with. They would allow me to continue burying my feelings and give me lots of drama to focus on in the moment and distract with. The way they lived their lives and the way that they treated me aligned with my very low self-worth and enabled me to stay stuck in my comfort zone of burying my feelings, experiences and traumas while processing as little as humanly possible.
I would like to think that since my most recent processing and clearing was so unexpected and unpredictable, that that means that all of the predictable stuff has already been cleared. Unfortunately however, based on the slight shifts I feel in my body when I think about some of the more predictable things, that doesn’t seem to be true. I haven’t found any particular rhyme or reason for why what comes up at what time to be cleared, or in what order, but that’s okay. As I create space for each trapped emotion or event to come up to be cleared and released, I find more tools and more trust in my ability to process and clear the next ones as they arise. I have no idea how long it takes, and I imagine that it must be different for everyone. What I do know, is that throughout this process I no longer find comfort in the negative, self-limiting things that I used to find comfort in. I now find comfort in things that either allow me to sit in the uncomfortable, feel all of the feelings, process whatever I need to, however I need to, or allow me to release them and move me forward in a positive, healthy direction.
I no longer find comfort or self-worth in someone else’s bed, or in a bottle, or in a knife to my arm. I no longer feel the need to distract myself regularly from my own brain. I stand strong in my sense of self and no longer lose it in other people or relationships. I am the peaceful warrior of my own internal battles and I sit calmly and securely through my internal storms. Each time I sit in the uncomfortable and allow the emotions to be processed and released I heal myself a little bit more.