are some of your writings so angry (or sad)?
Isn’t that much anger (or sadness) bad for you?
Isn’t it unhealthy to focus on such negativity?
Can’t you just “move on”, and remember the “good
Can’t you “just” forgive them, isn’t that what
you’re supposed to do?
But that’s your mother (or father) … aren’t you supposed
to love them?
Why do you believe you should “air your family’s dirty laundry”
been on a path towards Healing since 1986. I never thought so much would
be involved, and to be truthful – I really didn’t have much
hope of success in the beginning! But I have come to a point where many
things are now self-evident. I don’t think that someone could
have explained it all to me in the beginning, so that I could have had
a clear path ahead of me. The reason for this is in the nature of our
childhood injuries. Emotional injuries during childhood rob us of some
of our awareness! They give us a sort of emotional tunnel vision that
does not allow us to see others being hurt in the same manner as we
were hurt. We minimize the pain that we suffered in the Past, so we
minimize the pain that others are experiencing in the Present! And those
“Others” are usually children! So we may witness life-changing
events right in front of us, and never know them for what they are!
So how do we regain the awareness that we lost? Watch a child who falls
and scrapes his or her knee. First they cry, and if they got hurt through
the action of another, they rage. Their feelings flow immediately and
un-fettered. Rage leaves first. A caring adult attends to their needs,
both physical, and emotional. Kind words, bandage, and antiseptic are
applied. A “fully aware” adult never tells the child that
their injury doesn’t or shouldn’t hurt! A “fully aware”
adult will never interrupt the child’s tears. Tears may come again
if the child bumps the injury. Gradually over time the tears subside.
That is how the grief process works, when it is allowed to work. Grief
is our built-in process for getting past emotional injuries without
permanent damage. It works at the time of an injury, and still works
years later, as we “uncover” childhood injuries that were
“buried” where the grief process was never allowed to complete.
Child abuse causes some of the worst injuries that exist. What is worse
than loss of awareness? What is worse than being betrayed by those we
love? What is worse than being taught by adults who hit, or sexually
abuse us that we really don’t own our own bodies, so that others
may do as they please with us? How much crying is justified when we
have been raped or beaten, or brainwashed as children? How angry should
The grief process is uncomfortable. We avoid it like the Plague. Society
tells us things like “Men don’t cry”. We are pressured
to “forgive”. We are told anger is a sin. But the bottom
line is that those things that “Society” tells us about
grief are either not true or, at best, half-truths. Society is not made
up of a majority of “fully aware” adults, but mostly of
“the walking wounded”! Their lack of awareness does not
allow a fully flowing grief process in others, because to allow it in
others would bring it up in themselves! And like I said before, we avoid
it like the Plague.
Why do we avoid it so? Why do we avoid something as natural as our own
breathing, a natural process that we were born with? Because we were
taught to! By abusers, and by caregivers who couldn’t stand to
witness our grief because it reminded them of their own!
There is an important ingredient to this grief process that I haven’t
mentioned. A caring, empathetic witness is needed, especially when it
is a child who needs to grieve. When the child has no witness, it is
not safe enough to allow their grief, because their grief feels much
bigger than they are! That experience becomes their own way of looking
at their own grief. Every un-grieved childhood injury adds to their
avoidance. They become adults who cannot allow their own grief process
to flow, nor can they stand to witness the grief of children who need
them to be a caring, empathetic witness.
You may ask at this point, “How do I grieve now, for each and
every time I needed to grieve in the past?” The answer isn’t
black and white. I spent years in therapy, where my biggest injuries
“came up”. I grieved, and each time I seemed to be grieving
for more than just the one injury I was focused on. I re-experienced
the same pain that I felt as a child, and gradually learned that I would
always survive my grief. I learned to allow my grief when I felt safe,
and to “put it away” when it was not safe enough. My witnesses
were my therapists, safe friends, other survivors, my wife, and countless
sheets of paper where I have recorded my feelings from being abused
as a child. My website allows many witnesses, and my writings are as
angry or as sad, or as frightened as I really was as a child. They are
an act of defiance in the face of those who would tell me to bury the
past. To bury the past is to lose myself forever. To express my grief
is to find myself, and to move towards a place where what happened to
me no longer pains or angers me. In that place where I have fully found
myself, I find forgiveness both for many of those who hurt me, and for
myself, having taken so long to arrive.