Tag Archives: sexual abuse

STAGES OF LONELINESS CONTINUED

The stages of loneliness continue in this blog. Remember, like grief stages, these may occur in random order.

2. Bitterness – Painful Feelings channeled. When we do not deal with our painful feelings, they may fill up and spill over and come out in ways we never intended. One of those ways is becoming bitter. When this happens, we may feel helpless and not have any survival skills that are working. The painful feeling turn into anger and we lash out at others.

This is a big one because we become someone usually, we do not like. Bitterness can consume us. We may seek vengeance. Again, when we don’t do our feeling work by feeling our feelings fully, they build up affect all aspects of our lives.

When I have become bitter, there is nothing okay in my life, everything is wrong, horrible and I feel like I want to lash out at anyone and everyone. Everyone is fair game.

I may even rationalize that it is everyone else’s fault and blame everyone for everything. I am critical, angry and obnoxious. This drives people further away and create more loneliness, the more loneliness the more bitterness. Often loneliness is so intense, the person gives up trying to be around people and isolates, which leads to more depression, fears, anger and bitterness.

3. Abandonment. A deep-seated fear, terror and panic is abandonment. These feelings are powerful and the core of our survival. As we all know, when we are born, and for many years as children, we have to have others taking care of us. HAVE TO! Or we will not literally survive. We will die. This is genetically ingrained in us. So, when we are abused/ neglected the fear is triggered and we know we will not make it. This is a primal fear. I then combine with the sadness that no one is there for us. We then have loneliness and terror of the most profound kind, literally- survival. This is a deep, deep seated terror because life always strives to live.

Underneath the loneliness is the fear, terror. It is part of the trauma, yes, but it is also part of the abandonment. We usually learn early that we have to hide the fear or we would get hurt worse. So, our protection system works to keep us away from it so much so we are not aware of it at all. We couldn’t face it, deal with it and keep going. It would have stopped us because it holds devastating truths about our lives.

To deal with this fear, we have to allow ourselves to be in the loneliness. We have to put our protective system on a shelf so we can allow ourselves to feel the feelings and go deep inside of us. Then these powerful feeling of fear surface and we can heal.
They are intense and have worked to take care of us all of our lives. These feelings have worked to protect us from the world as well as from the pain inside of us so we could keep going. I wanted to use ALL my OLD protective survival skills, we never lose them, just don’t need them, usually.  I choose to go after the healing and gifts it had for me. Here is some of getting to the core experience and its entanglement:

They will find out about the real me! Panic! No! Please no! They will then know for sure I am not okay, bad, awful, terrible and defective. They will know am the shame! Why would anyone be around me? I can’t survive! I decided because of what happened to me and how I was treated that I am the problem, actually many people in my family told me that I AM the problem. If I would just change then everything would be better and I would be accepted.  What a lie, it is an illusion on their part, using me as a scapegoat and desperate hope on my part. Since I am not okay, it then follows that people don’t like me because I am not okay and they don’t want to be around me. That is why I am lonely. Its’ all my fault. Whew! What a complicated way to not be okay.

Invitation to Breaking Free from Trauma class every third Thursday in Muskegon , MI. It is Live-Streamed!

STAGES OF LONELINESS

The Experience of Loneliness

Loneliness seems to be a constantly companion in our survival journey. There are moments or seasons of our lives where it doesn’t seem so bad, then it surfaces like an additional punishment until we deal with it. Loneliness has feelings of being lost, afraid, sad, depression, desperation, defective, rejection, and other feelings. All of them need to felt, processed and learned from.

Tom said it this way:

“I can’t keep pretending! I can’t! I am lonely! Horribly lonely and there is no escape! I can’t escape me! I am the one that is bad and terrible because I don’t have any friends. Actually, if I am honest, I never really did. I knew I wasn’t okay and that is why I didn’t have any friends. There was a time when I was raising my children when it didn’t seem so bad. But since then it has come back to punish me. Now I’ve carried that awful pain into adulthood and I don’t let anyone close to me because they will know how awful I am and defective. I really don’t know how to be a friend. I have come to accept that I will be lonely the rest of my life.” (Tom came to accept his loneliness as permanent, until he did his healing work.)

I have wondered about loneliness, are the existentialist right? Are we destined to travel our lives alone with intense loneliness? With loneliness comes depression, anger, hurt and tangles around everything in our lives. We may blame others when we are lonely – Why aren’t they there for me? Where are they? They don’t care! Don’t they know I am hurting and so alone and lonely. If they would just…. But that never takes the pain away. We can be alone and be okay. We can be in a crowded room and be intensely lonely. It is a journey.

Here are the seven stages of loneliness I have come to understand.  It will take a few blogs to get them all in. Like grief the stages are not rigid, it is a process.

Parts of Loneliness

  1. Feeling lonely. This stage demands we acknowledge it and then feel it. We can’t out run it, it is inside of us. Its pain can drive us to do things we would not otherwise do such as: alcohol/drugs; promiscuous; travel (run); become bitter/angry; divorce; isolate self; never be alone; abuse; and the list goes on. The ultimate running away is suicide. Suicidal thoughts are not unusual when feeling loneliness or on the healing journey. Please never act on them and get help immediately. There is hope!

 

Reminder: Breaking Free from Trauma Class. Every third Thursday in Muskegon.  Also Live-Streamed.

SPIRITUAL LONELINESS

Spiritual Loneliness: The Ultimate Loneliness

The ultimate loneliness is a deep core spiritual loneliness for God. Some people tell me, I don’t believe in God, I don’t need Him.  He wasn’t there for me when I was being hurt. The reality is – there is a God. God loves you beyond what you can ever imagine. God wants to help you heal. God cries with us and we are told He even collects our tears. Whether you believe in God or not, God is always with you. You can’t get rid of Him/Her. All healing happens with God whether we know it or not.

One of the strongest areas of loneliness is missing God. We even have a physical spot in the upper abdomen, solar plexus, which is considered the spiritual area in our bodies. When we are lonely, that spot often feels like an emptiness, a gnawing deep inside of us that never goes away causing a deep dark depression and desperation. It may even feel like a never ending hunger and we try to fill it with food! Or we may go to the doctors thinking we have physical problems. This type of hunger can only be filled spiritually. Please understand that it may be a physical problem so see you doctor. And it may be a spiritual emptiness that nothing physical can fix.

I believe we are spiritual being, having a human experience in a very intense, difficult lifelong school. We are here to grow and learn how to love and be loved no matter what happens to us. It is hard and we have to work to transcend and go above and beyond not just endure and get through what life throws at us. For me, I need God to help me graduate with honors.

Whether we decide to be connected to God or not, we have been created to be in a relationship with God. We are not complete or whole without developing our spirituality.  Without being connected there will be the existential loneliness or depression constantly in our lives.

So what do we do if there has been no connection to God? To start, take time  to meditate, walk in the woods and ask God to let you know He/She is there.  Nature has a wonderful essences of love and lifts us through biological and chemical process just by being in  it. It is a choice! Choose to be open to developing and learning about your spirituality.  Everyone has a spiritual part, everyone.

 

Breaking Free from Trauma class is live streamed on Facebook. Come join us! Every Thursday at 6:30 PM at 1560 Leonard in Muskegon MI. Under Donna LaMar.

Pride, Business and Loneliness

Pride, Business and Loneliness

This pride is sometimes true sometimes a survival skills that works to boast our confidence and self-perception. It like all survival skills work to keep us going. Often it is based on things we think others will like in us or looking perfect. Perfect does not exist and is based on others illusion of what perfection is. So we work hard to show others we are not only okay but wonderful in whatever area of our life. It works to cover our pain.

It helps us gain just a little something to feel a little bit better about ourselves when we don’t. I may pretend I can do something or know more than what it know. I may work hard to look fantastic and still not like the way I look because I am not perfect. I can get a lot of certifications and degrees, but insecurity, shame, feeling defective is still there are part of the loneliness.

In reality, I have raised myself. I have failed in that task because I am lonely and hurting. I worked so hard to have people look up to me to show them I am okay. I had to prove them, actually to myself, that I am not the shame and not defective. I have to prove to you that I am acceptable, okay and not the messed up person I know me to be inside. I am really fragmented, shattered, and not repairable. I will never show you that part of me, the real me.

I am trying to fix myself, heal and be whole. I keep failing at that too. I can’t fix me. The shame has done its damage. I am shattered into a million pieces of sharp glass. When I go to pick up a piece to examine it and work to heal, I bleed profusely and end up in a pool of my own blood for days….

Under it all is insecurity, shame, pain and the horrible loneliness that drains me of every ounce of life energy. I guess I will always be less than, always less than. I am ready to lay down in the glass and let the glass do its damage. I am tired, worn out, weary. I can’t keep going. There is nothing left to fight with, nothing.

Somehow, I lift myself up one more time. Lord I collapse at Your feet in the millions of pieces of sharp cutting glass bleeding profusely laying in a pool of my own blood. I am done and I can’t do this anymore. Only You can. Do what You will. Have mercy on me, please.

Pride can help us get through. We sometimes work to become proud of what we do and what we know. It gives us the confidence we need to keep going. If we busy, we think we will look important. If I look important then I am OK. It often is just trying to keep going. Or maybe our way of running away from our loneliness. It may also be our fear of our real self, fear we are not OK and not wanting anyone to know. (see chapter…)

We should have be raised to know ourselves and the amazing person God created us to be with all the gifts and abilities. Then we would have confidence and grounding in who we really are. Then we would not need pride to boast us up. So we may create things to be proud of in ourselves or stay busy, real busy so we see ourselves as needed and wanted. Then I must be okay!

What do I do with these feelings and pain? Again, we I have to feel the feeling fully and gain the wisdom they offer. When we do that, our body releases the pain, our  heads  clear and we  gain strength.

PLEASE REMEMBER THE THREE RULES OF FEELING FEELING FULLY:

  1. CAN’T HURT YOURSELF
  2. CAN’T HURT SOMETHING ALIVE – PLANTS, ANIMALS, PEOPLE  ( includes not yelling or raging at them)
  3. CAN’T DAMAGE PROPERTY YOU DON’T WANT TO DAMAGE

In other words keep you, others and living things safe!

Reacting to Loneliness

Ok so how do we deal with it?  It is painful, awful and I want to run from it.  When I decided to write about loneliness, my old ever helpful, maybe not healthy, protective survival skills surfaced trying to keep me away from the pain. That is that systems job in me – to keep me away from the feelings so I can keep going. BUT I came to a place where I couldn’t keep going.

 

My fears  surfaced! I was going to do what? Face my loneliness in a way that reveals it to the world? No way! But yes, that is what I am doing because I want to help you heal and grow and not be afraid of your feelings. I want you to know, like me, you can feel them, and release the pain that is in you and heal. Feelings are here to help us, all of them, even loneliness and have much to teach us.

Preparing to write often takes days, sometimes weeks. I don’t’ usually just sit down and wow it is there! As Clark Moustakas said, we have an incubation time where we immerse ourselves in the experience.  So I had to and needed to feel the pain of my loneliness. It came up like a vengeance. I hurt in a way I didn’t think was possible. I was intensely lonely and terrified. I isolated. I silently judged and was critical of everything and anyone. I was edgy and nervous. I forced myself to smile at people, but was a fake. The pain and loneliness colored everything and not in a good way.

Deep inside, where I really lived, I was desperate for someone to help me, to reach out to say something like – How are you really doing? Someone to just come and give me a hug, a “just because you need it hug”, hug. A few did, but they did not come close to touching where I was living in all my pain. But it was a lifeline. But truthfully and sadly, nothing really would have helped, because I really didn’t know what I needed. How like loneliness. We can’t be reached because we have walled ourselves off so we won’t be hurt. But we have to let people in to not hurt and be reached. There is no winning in this, except to feel the feeling fully until they aren’t anymore.

 What do we do with it?

We have to embrace loneliness and make it our friend or be destroyed by it. We can make it go away by being busy, pretending, addictions, etc., but at some point it will surface. When we embrace it, we learn, grow and heal at a deeper level. My loneliness taught me and helped me heal at a deep level I didn’t know existed. Thank God for being with me each step of the way!

Sometimes we think we have felt enough, but it just isn’t going away. At those times, we may judge us and think “I must be doing something wrong or I would not be feeling all this pain.” “I goofed.” “I am the bad, terrible person.” “I didn’t work hard enough or I would be out of this pain.” Something is still so wrong so very wrong with me because I can’t heal.” Here was mine: “Here I am supposed to teach others about healing and I am still in horrible pain. Yes I get! I need to feel and learn about it to help others, but enough is enough!” None of these are usually true. If we keep on the healing journey, we will heal.

Allow yourself to gain an understanding and compassion for and about you. We get this as we feel and go through the pain. I needed to face the pain of my decades of loneliness and gain its gifts. This writing  is one of those gifts for me.

TRAUMA AND LONELINESS CONTINUED

As my healing journey continued, life presented more and more challenges that took me to my intense, deep loneliness. Here is the next part:

At one point in my life I went through a very  painful situation in  my life and I lost everything.  I even lost the work I had promised God I would do.  The pain, loneliness and grief hit like a tsunami. I couldn’t believe it was even humanly possible to endure such pain. I would work, come home and crawl on the couch unable to move. I watched TV till I was so exhausted I would just fall asleep.

Now, it was time to feel all the pain I hadn’t dealt with, all the pain and loneliness. I had done a lot of grief work from the trauma in my life, but nothing could have prepared me for this round. It opened up all the old wounds as if for the first time. So it was time to feel the loneliness, accumulated grief and the pain, not just the loss of The Farm. Ugh! It was beyond human. I stopped being in my body. I numbed out. Checked out and did anything I could to avoid it.

The thing I decided I had to do, was to spend TONS of time with God. I spent at least two hours in the morning and two hours at night. I’d pray, read my Bible, journal and write. Most important was I had to feel all the feelings that had built up inside of me for years. This is where I found my rescue and sanity. This is where I truly found healing. God is the healer and He loved me so much He wanted me out of the pain and loneliness. He was always there for me with each tear.

I had never dealt with my loneliness of childhood, marriage, life. I just kept going and going. Truthfully, it seems to have become like an old friend that and oddly, very oddly, it keeps me company in a strange way. We can come to accept it as part of our lives. We are not so lonely because we have this feeling that is always there, a place we have lived for so many decades. Strange isn’t it? Depression can do the same thing. We know it and know how to be in it.

Please know, if we don’t deal with accumulated pain, it waits inside our bodies. It waits for us to heal. It sits there and causes us problems in all areas – physical, emotional and mental.

What is Loneliness?

Webster defines loneliness as “Achy, devastating, unloved, empty.  It is a sadness and belief that we have no friends or company…. (It is) isolation, a lack of friends/companions, forsakenness, abandonment, rejection…” It has depression in it and deep longing for people but sometimes we can’t stand the idea of being around people. Often we believe we are so bad, we shouldn’t connect to others. Or we have isolated ourselves so much, no one is around.

Loneliness is an aching, painful, gnawing and difficult feeling we can’t get away from no matter how hard we try. We can’t run from us because our feelings because they are in us physically. As one of my client’s said: “The trouble is I ALWAYS go WITH!” We can’t outrun what is inside of us.

Existentialist philosophers believe we are born alone, live life alone and die alone. They see us as always in the state of loneliness and aloneness. I pray that is not the case. What I do know is that being traumatized intensifies our loneliness and we have loneliness others have not experienced or understand. Why is this? Because no one is usually there for us. No one protected us when we were hurt and often we were hurt from the very people who were supposed to protect us. No one is there talking to us about the trauma, how to get through it or holding us while we cry. No one is teaching us how to do things, grow up or about how get through life. We seem to have to catch it.

I believe loneliness, along with fear/terror, is a core, if not the core of trauma. It is a silent root that hurts, devastates and twists around our pain. In our world, we are taught to hide being lonely. We are supposed to pretend and never show it. So we smile, pretend, avoid, don’t talk about it and put on our false self so no one will know. If you show your loneliness, then you prove to everyone something is wrong with you. You prove why people, we believe, don’t want you around. Which brings more loneliness.

Our deep insecurity, shame, defectiveness and hurt causes so much more loneliness because we distance ourselves from us, others and God.

Next: continuation of how loneliness affects us and how we can deal with it.

TRAUMA & LONELINESS

This blog starts discussion on loneliness and surviving and transcending trauma. I hope it helps and please let me know your thoughts and feelings.

TRAUMA AND LONELINESS

I am sitting on my bed and feeling sorry for myself, playing spider solitaire and rarely going out and actually blaming God for just about everything. Mostly I am intensely lonely. Horribly lonely with my whole being wanting to crawl under the covers and never come out! But the push the write is strong I can’t ignore it. How I wish I could. To help others I have to feel and fully and come to understand it. So this chapter is on loneliness

Being a Transcender, I have come to know loneliness in ways I wish I never had to know. It has been a constant companion beyond anything I could ever have imagined. It has filled me with its dull, aching, gnawing, emptiness and throbbing for days at a time. It has taken my life energy more times than I can count.

As I look back, and am truthful, I remember always being lonely in childhood. No one really there. Any friend I had and bring home was ridiculed so I learned not to bring them home anymore. I learned to raise myself the best that I could with no one to help me. I would watch others and learn by observing them and listening to them. I wish there had been one person to share the pain and loneliness. Of course then I probably wouldn’t be writing this book.

While growing up, it seemed like I was always by myself. So as a child, I found comfort in making clay images and fantasizing about how someday I would be important. Someday I would matter. I even remember pretending that I helped other people and rescued them. In the fantasies, I was not alone and was a heroine like in the westerns. I saw me as important to other people and they wanted to be around me. People talked to me and I wasn’t be hurt or ridiculed. I was okay and accepted. And I wasn’t lonely.

Then finally went to college and got out. Then work, marriage, kids and more work and then more school, I was extremely busy. That kept me out of the pain as well as the loneliness. Sadly, I divorced and when I look back I was extremely lonely in the marriage.  It all kept me out of the loneliness.

A dear soul sister, Betsy, stood by me through helping me raise the children and the divorce. We went on to create an amazing nonprofit farm program to help people heal and grow using animal and plant therapies. It was a success! For twenty years, we had a good team of staff and animals. People healed and grew. I loved very part of it.

Sadly, Betsy, my precious soul sister passed away three months after moving in to our beloved farm. Loneliness started to surface along with the devastating grief but the program demanded much I was constantly running. So I was able to keep busy for years and keep the loneliness as bay most of the time. I spent time with people and the precious animals when I needed comfort.

BITTERNESS – HOW DO I COPE?

When we are bitter, it affects our all our lives – thinking, feeling, speaking, behavior, and all our relationships. This is because of the pain and hurt inside of us. Sometimes we will even feel it in our physical bodies and the physical pain lodged from trauma can be intense. Please know, we have to go to doctors and have be examined and make sure something is not wrong.

When we have been so hurt for so long we may not even remember how feeling good feels like. We may just know the bitterness, anger/rage, hurt, fear, jealousy, sorrow and loss.  We may have many ways to cope with it, some healthy and some not so healthy trying to settle and stop the turbulence and battle down inside of us.

Here are some NOT healthy techniques;

  1. Ignoring my feelings – feeling literally grow stronger inside of us if we do not feel our feeling appropriately. (See below).
  2. Bitterness grieves even our spirit – ignoring God and our religion hurts us even more
  3. Substance abuse (any kind) – a drug is a drug is a drug that include alcohol. It doesn’t not matter how we get the drug in our system they all damage us physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually.
  4. Food – either over or under eating can help comfort us but may hurt our bodies.
  5. Any kind of addictions – food, exercise, shopping, stealing, work, etc.

Note: an addition is a repeated behavior we use to help us deal with pain that creates a chemical change in our bodies. We often get an Adrenalin rush from most addictions.

  1. Hurting yourself – cutting, hitting, burning, sexting, etc. This often gives us a high and reduces the emotional pain inside of us. Surprising isn’t it?
  2. Emotionally putting yourself down – we can be our own worst critic and even punish ourselves for any misbehaving as we perceive it.
  3. Staying in abusive relationships
  4. Yelling or hitting others – includes our children
  5. And the list goes on….

Here are some healthy ways to deal with feelings.

  1. Feel the feelings fully and appropriately. This is so important! Appropriately means to follow these three rules: (1) Can’t hurt myself, (2) Can’t hurt something alive – plants, animals or people; (3) Can’t damage property I don’t want to damage. Children get – you can’t damage property.

These HAVE to be followed. Following them we can do many things to release the feeling from inside of us.  We can cry, write, journal, draw, sculpture, etc.

Let’s talk about anger. Anger often gets us into a lot of trouble and we need a safe way to release its physical energy as well as the Adrenalin that comes with it.  Following the three rules, we can beat a pillow, mattress, punching bag (stuffed duffel bags are great); yell/scream (if you don’t want anyone to hear your, fill your sink with water and then scream in the water …or swim and do it; twist a towel real hard or have someone hold an end of a sheet and twist; yell/scream; slam doors (not refrigerator or glass doors – good strong ones); etc.  Again following the three rules we can release any feeling safely without hurting ourselves or someone else.

Note: If you were abused and have a fear of hurting someone when you are angry, always do your anger work by yourself when no one is around. Know also you may be afraid of anger because of what you experienced.

  1. Get into counseling or psychotherapy and stay there until you find more of you, have less intense painful feelings, gained insight and wisdom and life has gotten better.
  2. Talk with trusted friends about how you feel
  3. Pray and spend time with God.
  4. Attend religious services
  5. Find your passion and purpose. That often involves using what has happened to us in a way that makes a difference in the world.
  6. Start thanking God for everything in your life – the good, bad and ugly. This helps the brain physically shift old patterns of thinking to more positive ones.
  7. Develop the skill of forgiveness, forgive often.
  8. Forgive and pray for those who hurt you. This is a process and takes time. I usually does not happen overnight. The more we heal, the more we can forgive. The more I heal, the more I forgive, the freer I become.
  9. Exercise, but not to the extent it becomes excessive and abusive to you

These are only some of the way to cope, I am sure you can think of many more. We usually have to try different ways to find the ways that work best for us. People seem to have favorite ways to release them appropriately.

Feel free to contact me.

Blessings

 

BITTERNESS – THE CRITICALNESS

 

What is looks and sounds like:

“I don’t want to be like this, I want to be me, I am not mean I am really a nice person. But I hate everyone and everything. I want to be different, be the real me. I need to change, I want to change. It’s time to heal. But how?

“I am critical of everyone and everything. I judge, condemn and want to argue and fight with everyone. I fight for my time with God, beg people to pray for me so it think I am ok…. but I am still not aware of have become bitter……BUT I HAVE!  Lord help me I am bitter, angry and want to destroy and hurt. I think I think it will help with the pain…..nothing helps with the pain….nothing.

“I fight each morning to get my brain under control, to get the darkness out of it, but the pain seeps back in and I want revenge again. I know I won’t do it but love planning it…it feels good.  Thinking that, I hate me again. Life is lousy, lousy, no one likes me or wants me around…I don’t want me around!

“I begin to see life and people as mean and they are out to hurt me. It seems they are working to shun me. They have mean looks on their faces…no that is not true, I know I have a mean look on MY face and they are responding to it. I am desperately lonely, but I am so critical and afraid others will hurt me more.

“I view others out to get me, hurt me…I long to go home and hide. It is too hard in this world, too hard. I cry a lot, scream in the water, and try to keep going, giving and all I want to do is sleep and make all this pain go away. But I have to keep going pretending I am not bitter and hide it from everyone. Pretend to be nice when I don’t feel nice.

“I see and believe no one likes me. I am awful, horrible, mean, terrible person and no one wants me around. I know it is because of what I have gone through. I have a RIGHT to be bitter, look what happened to me! So I have a choice –bitter or better. Bitterness is like acid, inside of me. It’s like having ground up glass surging through me, hurting me over and over again. It cuts me and I am bleeding  profusely all the time…. then I lash out to hurt others. Sometimes I can control it for a while and pretend I am okay, but then I have to run and hide so it doesn’t show. Trying to make the pain go away. It’s grinding me up, eating me away like acid. It is destroying my real self, the nice me, the one that loves people and wants to help them. I never heal. I’m never okay. It comes out in zaps, hurts, explosions, misunderstandings, jealousy, enviousness, looks…..”  And the list goes on.

Bitterness crushes the soul. It is like a wound that never heals, never because the hurts and wounds form the world continue and the person does not know how to make it stop. So it devastates the spirit. The result is the hurt is so intense it feels like it is slicing through us—we keep bringing up the hurts over and over again, because they are inside of us physically until we heal—over and over again. The brain is brings it up because we are actually trying to get rid of it. But we can’t until we heal.

Until we feel, deal with and heal from the embedded deep wounds, we will be crushed and we can’t let go or go on. Our struggle to cope becomes habitual then it shapes and changes our internal frame of reference, how we see ourselves in the world, it becomes skewed. We then can begin and continue to see the world as hurtful, people as cons and out to get us, use us, liars, and manipulators. Or we can see us as being nice so we can get something back, even a little something.  Thankfully, we can heal.

Becoming bitter takes time and comes from having been traumatized, wounded. It does not happen overnight. Wounds include disappointed, put down, abuse, violence, not valued, not respected, bullied….wounded in many ways. Sadly, when we lash out from our pain, we then feel bad having been so critical. We can then hate us for what we did; we devalue and judge us.

Healing also takes time, not as long as it did to be abused usually. It is hard, painful, wonderful and awesome. At the time of the trauma we don’t know how to get rid of it. It’s all one mess of glass and blood. It churns inside of us affecting every part of us –inside, outside…our entire life and all our relationships. But we can heal, we can forgive and when we do we gain wisdom and joy from the strength we earned and learned.

What to do about it:

In our world today there are many people who have become bitter and angry.  Healing is possible, always possible. We have to feel the feeling fully and appropriately to heal. We have to forgive. (See my blog on forgiveness.) I will talk about this area more as we continue our journey together.

 

FORGIVENESS OR BITTERNESS?

 When I or others are struggling with forgiving others who have hurt us, there is a process we go through which leads us to a important choice. Are we going to forgive and get better? Better, that is, to choose to become kinder, nicer, wiser, more understanding person with others as well as with ourselves. OR we will choose not to forgive because “I want them to suffer and feel my anger at them until they die!” Sadly, what unforgiveness does is hurt us – mentally, emotionally, physically and spiritually. We usually stop growing and end up angry, hurt and our bodies feel pain and we can develop different diseases including the possibility of diabetes, heart disease and cancers. Diabetes has a direct line from trauma to our bodies. Deep grief also attacks the immune system.

Without choosing to forgive and heal, we often become bitter. So our choice is bitter or better. It is a choice and only we can make it. I was talking to a person who had been sexual, mentally and emotional abused. She was deeply struggling to recover and heal from trauma. The pain in her eyes was over flowing with tears. The hurt seemed unbearable. I felt it with her. It is overwhelming her and seemed like it would never end.

She said, “I can’t forgive that thing. He did horrible things to me, horrible. I haven’t told you about some of the worst. I can’t speak the words yet. My doctor is worried about me having diabetes. I can’t keep going like this but I can’t forgive. If I forgive, he wins! He can’t win I have worked too hard to win and stay angry so he never gets control again, never. But I can’t keep staying in this pain, it is torture.”

Becoming bitterness is the process that takes our hurt, anger, despair and fear and changing our Internal Frame of Reference. The internal frame of reference is a philosophical concept. It is the view we have of ourselves and the world that was developed and came from our many experiences in life from people, situations, experiences, traumas, etc. It is how I decide to feel and think about it about me and the world I live in. Often victims start as happy, loving children who after being traumatized change to depressed, fearful and angry children/adults. This is a shift in their internal frame of reference.

If I have been hurt and angry and see no way of getting out of it, or bent on vengeance, my internal frame of reference will see the world as out to hurt me or get me. I then may choice to avoid the pain by becoming aggressive, shy, class clown, bully, negative, bitter, etc. This behavior is how I have chosen to be in my world, often because I had to protect me. This is my Being in the World. How I behave is based on how I view the world, my internal frame of reference which influences my feelings, thought and behaviors, or Being in the World. Now you are philosophers!

John came into my office, upset, panicked and very angry. “I’ll never forgive him. He hurt me, he destroyed my life.” We had been working on forgiving his father for molesting him, father was now deceased. He understood intellectually that forgiveness was something he had to do for him. The hard part was he needed to feel the feelings of the betrayal to heal and forgive. He said “I understand it is for me! I get that! I hate it! Hate it! I won’t ever forgive him, may he rot in hell for what he did to me. I hate him.” He then began to cry with deep, painful sobs. He cried and cried. He yelled at him, cried some more…then when the deep anguishing tears were done, he became quiet. “I do forgive him, I loved him in spite of what he did to me. All I wanted was love from him. He called it “love” that it wasn’t for sure. I will never understand why he could do such a horrible thing to me, never. I don’t think he intended to ruin my life.”

John chose to forgive, so he could heal and let the deep anguishing pain go. “I had such a hard time letting go of the pain. I had tucked it away deep inside of me in a coffin-like box where it would stay forever. But it didn’t stay there. It keep changing my how I acted and I end up hurting others and myself. I coped the best I could but it always got out somehow.”

“I thought if I could stay angry and not forgive him then I could keep going. I kept going but I became angry, bitter and started hating my life and people around me. I tried and tried to change, but I had to let the deep pain go. I had to forgive. That made the difference.”

 

Next time more about forgiveness and bitterness and its process.