Tuesday, June 25, 2013

If It Worked, I'd Leave You Alone.

From the time you realized what had happened to you had, in fact, happened, I'd wager your first instinct has been to ignore it.

Call it what you like. Maybe it's denial.

But more likely, you have another word or phrase for it.

"Moving on."

"Putting it behind me."

"Not letting it affect me."

"Keeping it in the past."

Does any of that sound familiar to you?

It's common to want to move past bad things. Whether the "bad thing" is abuse or assault, or some other source of shame, you just want to forget it happened and return back to your normal life. There are several reasons why this seems to be the solution when faced with a situation like that.

1. When you're going through something terrible, the way you get through it is by focusing on "getting back to normal." Whatever is happening right now, there's that ray of hope that someday you will be able to separate from it and return to how you felt before. You want to feel happy and free again.

2. You feel like what happened can't be undone or fixed. So why focus on it? It seems like the better choice to just ignore it.

3. You've tried dealing with it before, and haven't gotten the results you hoped for. You may have even been hurt more than you ever have before, just from facing this one time. Therefore, you "got smart" and decided to never go there again.

Any of these reasons makes perfect sense to me. I can imagine easily making the same choices in any of those scenarios. But that brings me back to the title of this article:

If any of that worked, I'd leave you alone.

If you could erase it from your memory and have it never impact you again, then I'd be thrilled for you. If you really felt relief when you stopped allowing it to come to mind, then I'd shut my mouth

But that's the problem. While I'd love it if that happened, I've never seen it done successfully before. Ever.

Without fail, every time I've seen someone try to ignore a pain it just gets worse, not better. Inevitably, the hurt multiples.

And the bigger the hurt, the more painful it is when you ignore it.

I know it feels like denial is the solution.

I know it feels like you have to hold out and hold on. That if you don't, you might not make it.

You may even feel like if you open that door, that you won't be able to close it again. That if you face your pain, you won't be able to handle it, and you'll simply melt into a bottomless depth of misery.

This is a very real fear for many people. It is not manufactured, it is not exaggerated. It's terrifying to contemplate. Absolutely terrifying.

But it's a false fear. No matter how strong before, and how painful during, I have never encountered a client who honestly confronted their hurt in therapy and regretted doing so. Instead, most (if not all) of the people I've met have expressed their sense of relief at finally releasing the pain. They feel free again. They have hope.

It's not easy, and it can't be rushed. But I encourage you today to recognize that in dealing with your past, there is another possibility outside of shame and misery. There is the possibility of peace and healing.

I encourage you to ask yourself this, and ask yourself what it would take to get you there. What's holding yourself back from giving yourself healing?

You hold the key to setting yourself free from your pain. I know it's been a long, hard journey but there are people out there who want to help. Right now there is someone waiting to tell you about the services available to help you heal. There is someone there to help you whether:

  • It just happened to you or it was many years ago.
  • You are male or female.
  • You reported the incident or not.
  • You identify as gay or straight.
Whoever you are, you are not alone, and it CAN get better for you. Call this number:


for the National Sexual Assault Hotline or click here to go to the Online Hotline right now

Getting help works. Which is why I won't leave you alone about it. 

Let me know about your experience reaching out for help, or why you've been hesitating to do so, by commenting below.

No comments:

Post a Comment