Dawn Scott Damon
I didn’t understand the severe impact sexual abuse had on me. For years I wasn’t able to grasp the depth of my pain. I knew something was wrong, yet I rejected the possibility that it was connected to my childhood sexual abuse. I criticized myself and minimized my experience.
Stop overreacting; you’ve only suffered a minor offense. It’s no big deal.
You’re weak and incapable of shrugging off a bad experience. Move on already!
How many of us have heard the judgment-laden phrase?
I think I speak for many when I say, “we’d love nothing more than to move on.”
It’s not like we haven’t thought of that before, like some A-Ha moment, Wow move on, what a brilliant idea!
Moving on after a traumatic event, however, is not that easy and those simplistic answers thrust more guilt on an already guilt-ridden women.
Move on to where? Can’t you see my life is ruined? This is the inner cry of broken, wounded women.
If the solution for overcoming the past is that easy, then what’s wrong with us? Our faulty identity is solidified as we disapprove of ourselves once more:
I’m too weak,
Today, I know I wasn’t weak or ruined. You’re not either.
Struggling with the after-effects of a traumatic event is expected, the rule, not the exception. It takes courage to take the first steps in moving past a painful past, but healing happens when we take the journey.
Feel the Healing
But what if I don’t want to feel?
The past and all its pain knocks on the emotional closet-door we’ve buried them in, and will keep knocking until we let them out. Opening the door and acknowledging that these emotions exist is part of moving on. Your emotions are your voice and they want to be heard.
Give yourself the dignity of grieving what has been done to you. Grieve what has been stolen from you.
Feel the loss.
Validate yourself. You were stolen from!
I personally needed to feel, to grieve my unresolved sorrow, and find peace with my past.
Feeling Vs. Trauma
Maybe you, like me are looking for a way to release your feelings but you’re too afraid to re-live the past.
You don’t need to be re-traumatized.
I didn’t need to feel the trauma to heal. Being re-traumatized by painful emotions and memories is not necessary to our healing. The feeling that I’m referring to is what happens when I uncap my stuffed emotions and move out of denial into truth. When I choose to acknowledge what I’m feeling rather than numb-out I am growing and healing as I strengthen my mind and soul, challenge my sense of helplessness, and allow emotions to ebb and flow, instead of retreating to a place of mental disconnect. That former coping skill of disassociating was helpful during trauma, but today it cripples.
In fact, ignoring feelings takes much more emotional energy. When we try to escape what we’re feeling we drain our mental reserves, weaken ourselves, and keep our minds in a place of vulnerability. Locked-down emotions only intensify when we refuse to release them. Instead, why not answer the knocking door and let those trapped emotions out?
Here are some Tips on Feeling:
- Feel what you’re feeling- acknowledge your pain.
- Allow emotions to surface. Don’t stuff stuff.
- Name your emotions. WHAT are you feeling? Or NOT feeling? Fear, shame, anger?
- Share with someone what you are feeling. Pain shared, is pain lessened.
- Grieve with those emotions. Comfort yourself and have self-compassion.
Healing starts by acknowledging…. I hurt.
What is the most difficult emotion for you?