The Process

When it comes to recovery, I am lucky. I am lucky because I get flashbacks along with my emotions. I know what you are thinking. That doesn’t sound very lucky. But flashbacks give me valuable information about why I am experiencing the emotions. It can keep me from drowning in them because I know where they are coming from. I can say to myself, “This emotion is about that flashback.” And I can calm my brain down (sometimes).

But there is an unlucky part. I often get the emotions first. Sometimes I get the emotions a day or two before the flashbacks, sometimes it is only minutes, but there is some period of time where I am not sure where the feeling came from. But even with this, I am lucky. You see, my memories come in themes. I get a wave of memories back at a time and they all relate to something I am processing. The great thing about that is the emotion and memories are similar. So after I make it through the first in a series (which is a bit of a mess), I know what I am in for.

This latest round of memories has been quite the journey. There were a bunch of people in my childhood who felt the need to tell me what was wrong with me and why I couldn’t succeed. My adult self recognizes all of these conversations as projections, but my child self is still trying to determine if they were right or wrong. With each memory she shows me, I am able to show her how they were lying, how they were to blame for their projection. And with each memory, she breathes a sigh of relief. She is one step closer to unburdening the weight of the past.

My Inner Conversation

So today, like many recent days, I felt the emotion coming and I had a basic sense of what I was in for. My normal approach is to wait while remaining curious. Of course, this often depends on how the emotion has taken hold. But today, I surprised myself with the following inner conversation. I said, “You can show me anything, anything at all. I don’t care what it is. I will guarantee you that it was not your fault. You don’t have to worry about my judgment. It will not be there. I will show you how you were just an innocent girl caught up in the wrong life with the wrong people.”

And I could tell she really needed someone to tell her that. She needed to feel supported. She needed to feel like she could trust me.  She needed to know I wasn’t going to use it against her. It doesn’t matter how many memories are processed. It doesn’t matter how many times the work has been done or how many times we have been around the spiral of healing. The needs of a child are the needs of a child. And a child needs love and support. And the inner child is no different.

The Balance

So I will not make the assumption we have done this enough or she already knows she can trust me. I will treat each reveal as if it was the first (except with much better coping skills). I will let her know that I am here for her for the rest of my days and I will never be sad about receiving new information from her. She can talk to me as much as she needs and I won’t turn her away.

Now I am not suggesting that it is possible to stop the outer world from spinning while I recover. Things still have to get done. And sometimes, I can’t focus on that flashback or feel that emotion. But I have noticed that when I give her space to share, she gives me space to live. We work together. And honestly, that is foreign to me. My childhood did not provide many examples of positive collaboration.

But we keep trudging along together. And we understand that with each memory comes a little more peace, a little less self-sabotage and a little more physical well-being. And we know that it sucks now, but it won’t always suck so bad. And we know that we are not alone or isolated anymore. And we know that the light at the end of this tunnel is not a train (most days). And we get that each time we make it through a nasty emotion, it is an emotion and belief that no longer occupies space in the body and mind. We know there is healing happening here.

And I know I am lucky.


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