In the spring of 1970, I was thirteen years old. One night, I was washing dishes after dinner. The window above the sink was open and a gentle wind billowed the curtains, bringing in the smell of damp earth and budding trees. Dionne Warwick sang “I’ll Never Fall in Love Again” on the record player. It was a forty-five I had on repeat. I sang along, my hands deep in warm, soapy water.
My father came into the kitchen and growled something in my ear before walking away. I said nothing, continuing my work, but inside I reeled in anguish and terror as I had so many times in the previous four years.
And then, for some reason I’ve never understood, in a moment–everything changed.
That soft, vulnerable place inside me, awash in agony, shut down and was replaced with something like steel.
I suddenly felt nothing. No fear, no anguish, no sadness.
And I knew my dad would never again have the power to make me feel bad. I wouldn’t allow it. Neither would I allow anyone else in the world to make me feel bad the rest of my life. I would never love anyone either. Other people might love me, I thought, but I will never love them in return. I was done with pain. I felt strong, powerful, invulnerable–though I somehow knew this was a horrible strength.
In the years that followed, whatever my survival brain didn’t freeze and compartmentalize on its own, I easily blocked out.
But eventually, emotional pain, intrusive thoughts and flashbacks emerged stronger and stronger. I turned to drinking and drugs to shut it all down.
When I was twenty-nine, my psychiatrist prescribed meds that numbed me pretty well for twenty years. I was able to sleep at night and make a living, but eventually they stopped working and all the emotional and trauma energy I thought I blocked and deleted long before came pouring out, manifesting in excruciating physical pain and nearly unbearable sadness, as detailed in my book PTSD Frozen in Time.
I didn’t know how to get the sadness out of me. I’d spent a lifetime not crying. Music helped immensely in the beginning, but then my tears dried up and even the very saddest songs didn’t help. I couldn’t stand feeling the sadness!! I had to find a way to release it or I was overwhelmed with fatigue, nausea and pain. Trauma Releasing Exercises helped unlock my ability to cry and I was grateful for that, but how I hated it! Every single day for a year and a half, sometimes three times a day, I had these weeping jags. Just sobbing like a baby. I couldn’t stand it. I’d ask Spirit, “How long? How long?”
And yet…and yet…I was so thankful. I knew it was healing my heart, cleansing my soul, and, without a doubt, getting rid of my debilitating physical pain, fatigue, and nausea.
In my opinion, before I came into this life, I agreed to have a human experience and learn certain lessons. Therefore, I can’t imagine I was going to get away with a lifetime of picking and choosing what I’d feel and what I wouldn’t with impunity. I suppose I could’ve tried to continue shutting down everything as best I could until the very end–what with free will and all–but then I’d have to come back and do this all over again in another life.
At the end of my book, I was cautiously optimistic that I was all cried out and the daily weeping sessions were over.
That’s pretty much been the case. I still cry sometimes, but just a few tears maybe once or twice every week or two.
When I look back at the me I was in the spring of 1970, tortured and without protection, I’m glad I found a way to stop the bleeding, take a stand, and find power, but it led to unintended and unpleasant consequences down the road. I had no idea that when you cut out emotional pain, you also end up cutting out pleasant emotions, too. I stopped feeling anything. The world became gray and lifeless, and so did I.
I often feel a deep sadness at my core now, but I also get to feel joy, too.
And love. Yes, love.