NO, YOU ARE NOT ROTTEN INSIDE
Trauma is not some big dark scary monster inside of us, some mysterious evil force working against us. Trauma is simply undigested life energy. It’s the tears we need to cry but have not yet cried, the screams we wanted to scream but didn’t. It is the shakes left unshaken, the loneliness left unfelt, the feelings repressed and stifled in order to hold up a self-image and stay safe and not fall apart.
It’s not our fault. We simply weren’t taught how to let terror, rage, or grief move through us safely to completion and we were only trying to protect ourselves. We weren’t shown how to feel it all and give it all conscious expression. Some of us as children were shamed or mocked for our thoughts, opinions, beliefs. Some of us were judged or even punished for having or showing certain feelings. Some of us were outright abused and had to squash down our authentic rage, grief, terror, or joy, in order to survive. Some of us were so neglected we wondered if we even existed at all.
That was the past. In the safety of the present we can begin to thaw. To recontact our precious authentic wild selves. To allow ourselves to think our original thoughts, and come to realise that we aren’t going to be struck down by some vengeful god, or punished, or damaged, for having ‘bad’ thoughts. We are free to think up entire universes, to fantasise, to have dark negative thoughts, and sexual thoughts, and ungodly thoughts, and thoughts are just thoughts, and all thoughts are allowed on the movie screen of awareness, and awareness doesn’t judge.
We aren’t going to die if we feel rage, or grief, or let fear move through us. We aren’t going to go mad or lose control. We can begin to discover that all our feelings are safe, and we can actually allow them in our bodies instead of reacting to them and running from them and numbing them out and fleeing into the mind.
In short, we can begin to bring love to the unloved regions of the body-mind, we can illuminate the achy, lonely, painful places inside with the warm, radiant light of our curious attention. We can begin to give ourselves the love and empathy we were starved of as children, begin to thaw the icy places, and breathe into the abandoned children inside.
As all our outdated coping strategies (which is what trauma really is) begin to collapse and deconstruct themselves in the light of love, we can recontact all the repressed energies that originally just wanted to move through us, and discover how damn safe they actually are. Anger is safe to feel, it won’t kill us. Sadness is safe, it won’t take us down. Fear is safe, it’s uncomfortable and intense but safe. Loneliness is safe, it can be hot and sticky and heavy inside but it’s safe.
We come out of our heads and return to our humanity, to our bodies, to our vulnerable hearts, and to the present moment itself.
We don’t have to live inside of our fear and shame any longer.
We can take the risk of letting love in. Of letting ourselves be seen without the mask. Of opening up our deepest truths to other safe human beings, showing them our awkwardness, our mess, our imperfections, revealing our secret thoughts and ‘shameful’ feelings, and let them love us for who we really are.
It is love that heals trauma. Love, and time, and patience, and a willingness to lean into the painful and contracted and lonely places inside.
- Jeff Foster
Photo: Gustav Klimt- Golden Tears