Yesterday I accidentally poked at a bit of past trauma from a few years ago I thought I had dealt with. It exploded in my face. I spent most of the day processing that mess and re-packing it. Still baggage, but I think next time it’s jostled a bit I won’t end up sobbing in the chicken yard.

Part of the work I did to sort through things involved going back and reading old journal entries. Turns out I had misremembered some of the details. Details that made a difference on how my feelings about the situation had evolved over the last few years. It’s a normal human thing to misremember. We rewrite our memories to better suit the stories we tell ourselves.

To be clear, this is an emotional trauma I’m dealing with. A hurtful thing happened at a time when I didn’t have the ability to cope nor a support system that wasn’t compromised by the emotional hurt in question. I didn’t deal well with it. I didn’t heal well after.

I didn’t realize how unhealed I was until yesterday.

Epiphanies can be wonderful, beautiful things, but sometimes they’re kind of messy and devastating.

I realized how the emotional wreckage of that event had kept me from fully engaging in the last few years of my life. How it may have led in part to me being where I am now (which is good), but how it also took from me things that I valued. A rift had opened and I had ignored it. It grew with age, and I didn’t notice. It cut me off from important aspects of my life, and I didn’t recognize it.

Oh, I knew it was happening, I just didn’t understand the source. I felt guilty for pulling away from things that were meaningful and necessary in my life, things that were important, things that made me happy, though they were hard work. I blamed myself for being lazy and unmotivated, adding more guilt and self-criticism to the problem.

If the more you love, the more you hurt, then I had a cure for that. I made excuses, I stopped trying, I opted out. I set my course by another star, one that I could hold at arms length and minimize the fallout if things should go bad again.

With this little bit of self-knowledge slapping me in the face mid sob-fest, I snapped out of it. The crying part, anyhow. I don’t know that I’m “over it” in any real sense. I said at the beginning that I spent yesterday processing and re-packing which makes it sound like it’s a done deal: packed up and back in the closet. That is definitely not the case.

There is so much more work to be done. The damage of years doesn’t disappear because you finally noticed it, and you certainly can’t fix it all in a day. Maybe it can’t be fixed at all, and you just have to cut your losses and start over. I don’t really know yet. All I know is that the path ahead feels a little more even, a little more open, than it did the day before.

 

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