For most of us, the recovery journey starts as a venture in to the world of feeling. Our poor bodies have been numb for so long, we don’t have any idea what it feels like to feel. It is like being an infant exploring emotions for the first time. Of course, there is a huge difference. We have defense mechanisms and they are well-honed. Dissociation has been our fast friend, and leaving that behind sounds like a horrible idea.
So we spend our time discovering our feelings. We re-examine our default stance of “I am fine” and feel some very hard emotions. How does grief feel? How does anger feel? How does shame feel? How does true happiness feel … not the masky kind? The bad emotions feel awful and the good emotions feel awkward. As time passes, we slowly become experts in how we feel. We may also learn that how we feel is not necessarily a representation of this moment. We may also learn that the traumatic emotions don’t always need a trigger. Sometimes they are just there.
This tolerance for emotions is an incredible shift in our lives. We can learn so much through understanding how we feel. But this is the start of the journey. While learning how we feel will give us access to our traumatic response, learning why we feel that way is how we stop the traumatic response. I know what you are thinking. I feel that way because of my trauma. What else do I need to know? But what if I told you each emotion has a reason. What if I told you we can shift those emotions for good by asking one simple question.
Why do I feel like this?
When your inner parts are willing to share emotions with you, they are often willing to share the reason. Maybe not at first, but eventually, if you open your mind to what they have to share, you can learn the reason. And when you learn the reason, you have the power to transform the emotion.
Let me give you an example:
Last summer was not good for me. I spent most of it with a feeling of futility and hopelessness following me around. At first, like always, I was enmeshed with the feeling. I was sure they were about the present moment and my thoughts had convinced me all the ways my current life was completely hopeless. At some point, I had an epiphany. I realized the feelings were old and had nothing to do with my current reality. That was a huge breakthrough. I still feel it sometimes, but this realization started to turn the tides by lessening the impact on my daily life dramatically.
And I realized I was embodying some bad stuff. And it was holding me back. I was not able to manifest the life I truly wanted because my energy was saying, “There is no point in trying.” Honestly, up to this point, I thought I had recovered all the memories I was going to recover. To be fair, I have thought this many times along this journey. Sometimes, my inner defender can be so convincing. And when I am inundated with futility, my inner defender is even more convincing. But I started to realize that I had work to do. So I dove in deep. I found the inner part who felt this way and I asked for the reasons why.
And suddenly, I was recovering a string of memories that were meant to prove my inner part right. They all focused on the times I tried to make things better, but nothing got better. In some cases, my attempts to make things better even backfired. It wasn’t pretty. And it was easy to understand why this inner part felt this way.
But there was a catch. Most of these events were random events. They weren’t punishment for my attempts to make my life better. They were just things … things that happened at inconvenient times. Granted, some were nasty attempts by my family to sabotage my life. But even then, none of these memories represented the reality of my current life. And none of these memories were my fault or a result of some innate evil I carried.
So as I explained these new perspectives to my inner part, my deeper perception began to shift. She learned that it wasn’t her fault, she wasn’t being punished, her attempts to make life better were not entirely futile, and she never had to put up with those family members again.
Slowly but surely, the futility lifted and motivation came back. I was able to find a semblance of the motivation I had once known. But this motivation was less manic and more grounded. I had pulled through a difficult period of emotion because I dared to ask my inner part the ultimate question in this journey.
And more importantly, I dared to listen to the answer.