I’ve struggled for years with feeling shame for feeling pain at the lack of everything I received when I needed everything the most. Compared to so many others my neglect was minimal. The emotional abuse was a blip compared to the sexual and physical abuse so many people I hold dear have dealt with as children and as adults.
There is no winner or highest achiever because it’s not a competition. While it may seem natural to downplay one person’s trauma while contrasted to another’s seemingly deeper trauma, it all still remains trauma. There is no rule that if you don’t reach a certain amount of awful, you have to just stuff it down. These are our truths.
The irony is that often we follow this lifelong martyr routine of diminishing our own pain, when we should be bringing it all out of the darkness so that we can look it right square in the eye as it begins to lose its power in the light. The only way to turn this agony into something good is to hand it over to Our Father and do the work of facing it in the light as He calls us to do. Finally, we are called to walk through pain with others because we are called to love like Jesus. We are called to follow Him as He turns our ashes into beauty as we walk it out in the relationships He brings into our lives.
Your anguish is real. It’s good to see that without any obstruction. Having a counselor confirm my grief was absolutely freeing for me. Broken parents, teachers, friends often hurt us deeply because they don’t see their brokenness. Our charge is to see our wounds and not cover them up so that they fester, causing more pain as we soldier on. The truly courageous choice is to do the painful, valiant work of healing our festering wounds so that we can walk in the fullness of the identity He has for each of us.
We can wallow for a bit. Mourning is part of this pilgrimage. We can and should find trustworthy people to come alongside us as we do this hard work. I’ve found some wonderful people to help me as I’ve traveled toward health. Counseling can be so helpful. A good 12 Step program (not just for people addicted to drugs or alcohol) can be life-changing. I’m a big believer that EVERYONE should work through the steps and more than once. I’ve done it twice and plan to start my third round in the near future. It’s like a little Jesus tuneup for your emotional and spiritual health with other peeps who are just humble enough to know they need a Jesus tuneup, too. The Destiny Project is an extraordinary retreat for women. The men’s counterpart is called BraveHeart and I’ve heard nothing but great reviews. Inner-healing prayer (which goes by several names and can vary a bit, depending on where the facilitator was trained) can bring exponential healing in many cases and is something I’ve done in the past and am engaging in once again. One of the most helpful pieces in my “health toolbox” is the enneagram. Learning about this has helped my family tremendously.
Not everything will work for everyone. I went to counselors that I just didn’t click with. I didn’t do every step of the twelve perfectly. That’s why I’m so thankful that there are so many options. I’m grateful for people who have helped me speak my truth and didn’t shame me or compare my pain to other people’s pain. I spent too many years allowing satan to tell me that I was being a baby, (*See enneagram 2 and shame) so that I wouldn’t face my junk and move toward health. I pray you decide to ask Jesus to help you bring your stuff out into the light and begin your mission toward the beautiful identity He has for you. I pray you are protected from people who want to minimize what you’ve experienced. Lastly, I pray you have the courage to walk through the especially painful parts of the journey, knowing there is abundant freedom along the way.