Flipping the Script: Healing from the Oldest Wound
"Voice in my head, need a muzzle 'cause you're way too loud." - Alessia Cara
As an aside, I wish safety and success to the Americans who will be protesting over Roe v. Wade.
The Old Wound
One of my deepest emotional shells cracked open this week. Pretty much spent the whole day weeping. I wouldn’t say there was any one thing completely responsible for this breakthrough. It’s been a sustained effort combining my support network, therapy, time — all the good and bad over the last decade or so. Most of my adventuring is into the depths of my own mind. My hobbies don’t include hiking or travelling, but I do enjoy diving into the depths of my soul, and I just found the jackpot.
I finally felt the long-overdue flood of emotions. What was I protecting inside this emotional shell? I just want to be loved. My attachment style is anxious, so most of my labour has been an effort to receive love, to be noticed, acknowledged. The rush of intense grief was my inner child finally allowing themselves to process the overwhelming experience of parental rejection.
I never felt lovable as I was, so I had to work in order to become worthy of love. Well, not anymore. It’s taken what feels like forever, but my brain is slowly accepting the theory that I am enough as I am. Nothing can change my intrinsic worth, even if I develop high levels of extrinsic worth. It’s cool that I have all these hobbies, skills, knowledge and whatever, but they’re utterly incapable of substituting the value I have just by being me.
Why the sudden change?
Probably the recent increases in emotional safety. I’ve probably always been safe at an objective level, but it has certainly not felt that way until now. I’ve heard all the same positive messages my entire life, but they’ve been absolutely insufficient compared to the flood of negative ones. In the house of my mind, it wasn’t so straightforward as carrying this package of kind thoughts through the front door. Side door was locked, windows were nailed shut, chimney was boarded up. Ultimately, it took years of standing outside, having long and repetitive conversations to convince my brain that, even though I was deeply hurt in the past, these positive thoughts won’t harm me in any way. Looking back, it’s kind of disorienting to see that it was so hard for me to accept some very basic aspects of reality. Thinking about the friends who got so exasperated when I wouldn’t accept even minor compliments.
Alas, I feel like I can finally start healing from this very old wound. I also had the realization that it was draining so much of my energy. I think it’s been a bit of a mystery why my mood has been so low for so long. I'd been taking care of myself in all these wholesome and restorative ways, but there was this black hole that vacuumed up all of that goodness in a very short time. It’s like I’ve been swimming with weights tied to my feet, and after some eight years of trying to kick them off, I’m finally free. I’m probably still due for a lot more weeping, but that’s okay. One day at a time.
As a result of this reduced energy, I have to master the art of saying “no.” I already know how to solve most of my problems when I use 80% of my capacity, which is effective but terribly inefficient. Can I accomplish the same productivity using only 50% capacity without burning myself out? Well, I'm going to have to figure it out.
Rest has been the top of my priority list. I’m so very tired. There is no emoji to express the pure existential dread I feel from nursing this wound. I’ve been getting a lot of sleep, but my soul is still exhausted.
It's not all bad though, because I have some new allies in the fight.
Everyone say hello to the sisters, Walter (right) and Jesse (left)!
They are a dream come true. They’re more precious than I can say, and they’ve opened up a whole new room in my heart. Simply being around them is fulfilling all of my needs on Maslow’s hierarchy. I’m so captivated by their mere existence. By giving them all my attention, I have little capacity left over for negative thoughts, like my typical anxious rumination. It’s not the most elegant or sophisticated solution to managing my stress, but it’s a really common tactic and both effective and efficient. Sure, I forgot about some chores this week which meant playing catch-up for a couple days, but that’s the magic of it all. By gaining some distance from my problems, by not letting them live in my head rent-free, I’m able to return to them with renewed energy and strength.
Having kids didn’t seem like a viable option any further, so this is a close second, all things considered. Cats require far less responsibility, but it’s also been nice to shift the focus away from myself towards building a home and a life for some tiny, helpless little creatures. As much as I wanted cats for my own reasons, I’m also trying to give them the best cat lives. I’ve witnessed too many people who bore children only to prop up their own lives, along with the friction and sometimes destruction that followed in the child's, so I don’t want that for the kitties, even though they’re “just pets.”
I am healing from my oldest wound, being rejected when I wanted love. Despite the victory of finally cracking open my protective shell, it’s left me exhausted beyond emojis can say, so I’m going to have to master the art of saying “no” moving forward. Thankfully, my kitties, Walter and Jesse, are giving me new life as I try to give them the best cat lives.