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Have you ever had the experience of telling a story from your past, one that you might have even told a thousand times without any emotion, but then this one time, you suddenly find yourself reduced to tears as you recount the tale?

This reaction can alarm us. We may think “What is THIS about? I thought I moved past that issue a LONG time ago and here I am feeling as hurt as if it just happened.” Furthermore, if the story is from childhood, you may even feel as vulnerable and hurt as you did when you were a child!

 Our stories are part of our history, but they are also insights into who we are and how we see the world. Our stories also hold the keys to opening the doors to our own self-awareness. All of us have experienced the telling of stories which at one time held great emotion and now can be told with so much detachment that, in some ways, the story feels as if it belongs to someone else. We experience a sigh of relief, noticing we have moved pass the pain.

 Sometimes, (often when there seems to be no apparent reason for it), we experience a “flip flop” from cool detachment to a sudden reopening of old wounds,  and wonder, “Does this mean I am regressing in my healing process?”

 While time affords us distance from our story so that we can develop the insight and objectivity to heal, recovery is not linear. We come to terms and deal with all the emotions and practical challenges in stages. As we process our hurt, anger, betrayal, abandonment, and fear, we begin to distance and then eventually detach from our pain. Time even can grant some closure and we adjust to a “New Normal”. Like an ever morphing seascape, our life is fluid and images and memory are constantly in flux.   

 The resurgence of old, long ago dealt with experiences can wallop us like a gigantic unpredicted tsunami! These waves of emotion can be triggered by an old love letter, an anniversary date, hearing a favorite song, connecting with an old friend, the invitation to a reunion or family gathering or even something as elusive as the smell of a familiar food from childhood. Feeling “under the weather” can also make us vulnerable to the onslaught of overwhelming pain.

 Just knowing that these moments can sweep over you without warning, can help defuse their power. We need to be cautious when we dealing with a resurgence of these painful memories not to judge ourselves for what we are feeling, but to simply allow the feelings to flow freely. This way we avoid getting tangled up in fighting an undertow of self-doubt and judgment. When a wave of pain knocks us down, the best thing we can do is be patience and simply float through the feelings. Often no energy needs to be expended. We don’t need to judge, analyze, defend or doubt, we just need to float and trust the tide will turn and once again, deliver us to safe shores.

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3 Comments

  1. CJ Golden on the 17. Jul, 2011 remarked #

    And, Donna, being vulnerable to the onslaught of overwhelming pain can make us “feel under the weather”.
    your blog this week hits close to home. I bet it does for many of your readers.
    We all have a past and all our pasts contain some pain. I think it is most important to recognize that reliving that pain is normal and natural and we should never judge ourselves harshly when we find ourselves living through those wild waves of emotion.

  2. Wendy on the 20. Jul, 2011 remarked #

    Donna, I often find that these waves of emotion surge when talking to someone who emits a genuine sense of concern and caring. It feels “safe” to let go and ride the wave rather than fighting the current.

  3. Donna S. on the 19. May, 2012 remarked #

    Just when I thought I was doing so well, I got hit by the “emotional tidal wave” recently. Isn’t it interesting that the first thing we do is judge ourselves? Much like your article states, I went to self-criticism, admonishing myself for not having moved past these feelings of loss. Reading this blog (as with all of your writings) has reminded me to continue to exercise the practice of loving myself. Thanks, as always, Donna, for your insight.

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