PREVIOUS: Abandonment pain now #3
First: REVIEW Part 3
Re. OVER-SENSITIVITY (cont.)
• Present-day abandonment pain is so huge & persistent because it’s cumulative. It reflects an old reality from when we were too young to cope with or understand the daily abuse & neglect we suffered – with no one to protect or guide us, & no comfort, outlet or hope of ending!
To survive, our terror, rage & hopelessness got stuffed into a huge reservoir of the unconscious. Then some event (large or small) in the present blows the lid off & we’re flooded with painful emotions – expressed by feeling out of control: panic attacks, suicidal thoughts or actions, rage attacks at others, self-mutilation, binges, fight & other self-destructiveness.
SLIGHT ‘bump’: A still-tender wound (from the past) may just have been barely jostled by something in the present. Imagine that you have one ‘good’ arm & one arm with a severe injury. If someone accidentally bumps into the OK one you would barely notice. But if that same slight bump lands against the injured arm, it will intensify an already sensitive state. The pain in the wounded arm is real but not in proportion to the newest event – which was not an assault, likely only an ‘accident’ in the normal course of life.
SEVERE: Of course, there are times when we may experience a severe trauma in the present as well – great losses which take time to heal from – for anyone. EXP: a car accident or fire, loss of a child, parent or spouse, being fired…..
AND, if it also replicates a childhood trauma – it will take the ACoA longer to recover. Don’t be surprised, or blame yourself, thinking you’re weak! Instead, be extra patient & extra kind to yourself. LOVE HEALS, but imperfectly.
a. OVER-sensitive ACoAs need to:
• accept that even though the current intensity of our pain is mainly from childhood, it IS legitimate
• have our early experiences validated & explained, so we can fully understand & accept what happened, AND that it was not our fault
• vent enough of those painful emotions in safe places & with the appropriate people, so we’re not continually drowning in them. This will take more time than we like, because we can only do it in small doses & only as the emotions surface (usually, but not always, when we’re psychologically ready to handle it)
• share these emotions with the right people, so we don’t have to carry it all alone (“You’re only as sick as your secrets”) !
• learn techniques for calming our anxiety, especially for those times when we’re alone – like soothing music, reading the Psalms, journal writing, exercise, self-administered bio-feedback & EFT…..
b. UNDER-sensitives need to:
• gather accurate information about the emotional consequences of being abused as a kid, to cut thru our denial
• be willing to dig into those experiences & face the reality of our trauma, instead of white-washing them
• have permission to feel our feelings, whatever they are (break Toxic Rules).
Human beings are made to feel our emotions! or we wouldn’t have a Limbic System in our brain
• learn ways to get those old emotions to the surface – visualization, writing, drawing, 2-handed Inner Child writing, rousing or sad music…..
• keep talking about what happened – in therapy, Al-Anon & ACA meetings…. Read about it. Get lots of healthy mirroring & feedback
• practice being realistic (to counter denial & ignorance) as well as gentle (to counter the stoicism) with ourselves
STAY AWAY from anyone* who says:
• it was long time ago, so let it go / the past is the past, move on
• you’re wallowing in your pain / you shouldn’t feel sorry for yourself
• don’t rake up the past / what’s your problem? you seem fine to me …
✶ THEY’re only telling you about themselves – an unwillingness to deal with their own pain! ➼ YOU do whatever it takes to recover! You don’t need anyone’s approval. Your healing & growth is all the PROOF you’ll ever need that this process works – because YOU’re the one who is gaining self-esteem & self-empowerment!
NEXT: How ACoAs Abandon others #1