It happens to us all. We have the blazing row with someone, or take offence to what they said, or choose to ignore the one who has hurt us, certain that our hostility is the right and only course of action to take. Fueled by pride and anger in the aftermath of the ‘offence’, we scream (aloud, or in our heads depending on who’s around) “How could they???? How dare they!!!“
We utilise every opportunity to re-enforce our already self-justified reaction to what has happened, that they were “the bad one”, whilst we, on the other hand, were “the good one” of the scenario. We seek out others to agree, to confirm our righteous fury. Some nod their heads, afraid of the powerful volcanic eruption in front of them, that is you. Others might never have liked the person you are talking about anyway, so it’s an easy chime in, “Of course!!! You’re dead right! They were soooooo wrong!”
One day, you catch sight of something that triggers a memory of “the bad one” and you feel a twinge of something. Another day you remember something funny they said. Then comes a flashing realisation that you miss them, and worse, that maybe you did over react a little to what they said, or maybe yes, you went a bit too far yourself (though you stem that thought immediately with a self-righteous, “but they were still way worse!” bit of mental reinforcement).
Sometimes you feel lonely, sometimes you feel sad about it all, but never good now when you think about them. So you decide to distract yourself from thinking about them at all, because any time you do, it does you no good, you tell yourself, so you select Netflix, or a bit of online shopping as vital distraction tools, for your ‘well-being’.
You’ve noticed though that despite your ‘wellbeing’ efforts, you’re eating more doughnuts than ever. You’ve been working harder than ever too (those awful employers!) and find yourself unable for anything in the evenings except to watch more Netflix and do more online shopping (well you need some outlet after a long day!!) but you’ve noticed your postman is beginning to not make eye contact with you, perhaps to save your blushes, over the scale and volume of what is he bringing to the door?
You wonder if you might have developed a bit of an addiction to shopping, or eating, or viewing, or all. You blame your overwork, and enforced sedentary life style from the overwork, and limited ‘well-being’ tool choices, due to your reduced energy, as well as the awful friend who’s actions forced you down this path in the first place, and some great grandfather’s addictive personality gene, all the combined source of this addiction.
You attend your doctor. She suggests a therapist. The therapist suggests your over indulgence in all things is because you are trying to avoid ‘going there’ as regards what happened between you and your loved one and that you need to ‘go there’ if you are ever going to be truly well. You think she’s crazy. How, on top of the exhaustion and the over-eating, and the potential inherited addictive gene issue, could you possibly unleash the hurt that person caused you all over again? It’s not the right time, or place, you dismiss.
But as you finish the last doughnut in the bag, before you turn off the car engine outside your house that evening, you wonder if all this pain avoidance you’ve been practicing has really been working? Could the therapist be right? Could going through the pain again be the gateway to being truly well?
Your phone pings, a friend has shared a poem with you called ‘Finding grace’, saying she thinks it might help you… you read it and are convinced its a sign to take a new course of action…
Written for anyone afraid of re-living the pain of past hurts. Know that the hurts we inflict on ourselves and others as as result of pain avoidance, are often way worse. With the right help and support, be it a counsellor, a friend, or a family member, you can ‘go there’. Resource ideas and links, can be found through previous blog posts here or through clicking on tags below
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