One of the worst feelings in the world is to feel alone. To feel misunderstood. Not understood at all. To feel like you are the only one who has been where you are. You stand on top of the mountain – the vast and wide world before your eyes, but you don’t see a single soul. You are alone.
You’re going through something dark or have been through the darkness and are still wounded. Where do you turn? You find comfort at times from others, but there is still something lacking. An aching. A searching. A desperate need in your soul to find something or someone to help you – to heal the pain you feel in your heart. You feel alone in your thoughts and feelings. “No one has felt this way before.” Or, “There must be something wrong with me.”
And, then, the frustration comes. The anger at yourself. The guilt for feeling this way. The guilt for still feeling so affected and hurt by the past; even after all this time. Time. We feel or are sent the message that after a certain amount of time has passed is when we should be “over” something. Those bad memories all placed neatly in a box, the box locked, and cast into the ocean. Moved on. Never to remember those memories again or be hurt by them.
But this is not so. It doesn’t work so easily like that.
For me, the past has been hovering over me lately. Like a huge wave, it hovered above my head. I knew what was within that wave. Memories. I tried to keep them away – building a make-shift, flimsy sea-wall to keep the wave away. I succeeded for a few days when I tried this method. But it was hard. And then, just like that, I allowed the make-shift seawall to come down, and the tsunami-like wave came crashing in. I couldn’t fight it anymore. Part of me told me I had to let it crash in. And so they began. The memories. One by one, until there were hundreds of them that I’d been trying so hard to avoid – they flooded my mind. The waves would not stop coming. And I didn’t resist. I just sat there and let them come. I dwelled there with my thoughts and memories. With each memory, came pain. An indescribable pain. Fear came with the memory. So much so that I felt my body jerk at times and shiver in fear. The tears fell that I’d been resisting, and the tears brought something to me that I needed. I felt a weight being lifted from me with each warm tear drop that fell. It was cleansing. Freeing.
I recently told someone about some of my most painful memories from the dark time in my life when I had postpartum depression. I was then asked, “What is the purpose of you thinking about this?”
I was floored by the question. I had just poured out my heart by sharing something so painful from my life, and instead of answers, I was greeted with a question. A question that surprised me. That I didn’t know the answer to. A question that, after thinking about it, didn’t think needed to be asked.
I had been hoping for healing in sharing my memories. But instead was sent the message that I should just stop. I was basically later told that I should just try and not go there. The message I heard was that after all this time that has passed, I should be completely over this. To just not think about it.
I don’t think there is an answer to the question of what is the purpose of me thinking about that painful time in my past.
Perhaps there is no purpose, and maybe that’s the point that that person was trying to make. But maybe we shouldn’t be concerned about whether or not there even is a purpose. Focus instead on the fact that I am still thinking about and remembering this time in my life, which is saying I am still hurting. Let’s realize that I am still severely wounded and these memories maybe are coming up for a reason. I don’t need to be told to just not remember it anymore. How does healing come that way? For one reason, it is natural for us to remember things, and sometimes it’s easier to be triggered to remember our most painful experiences in life.
The biggest reason I think these memories come and when they do, I don’t always resist them, but I let them come, is because I am still wounded. My heart, soul, and mind still need healing.
Also, perhaps because there are still questions I have. Questions like, “Why? Why did that have to happen?” Or, “What if . . . fill in the blank.” What if some element or factor had been different – then, maybe I wouldn’t have gotten PPD.
Maybe you have an experience like that and wonder those same questions about your own pain you went through.
I don’t have the answers to my own questions and probably never will, so maybe my thinking and sometimes “dwelling” on my painful PPD days is really in vain. But, we’re human. It’s only natural to think about the past.
And, as Rafiki said in “The Lion King” . . . “the past can hurt.” Oh yes, it can, and does.
I realize that it is not healthy or good to “dwell in the past” for forever, but we should be allowed to think about these painful experiences from time to time. I don’t know the purpose behind thinking about it. Maybe there doesn’t have to be. Maybe it’s just a part of life and part of the journey towards healing from the past.
A few days ago, when I let the wave finally crash in, it hurt, yes. It brought me fear and anxiety. It brought tears and sadness.
But it also brought me grace. Grace for myself that I haven’t given myself much of before. Since the time of being sick with PPD and then getting better, I can tell you there have been many times that I’ve been triggered by something and my mind goes back to that time, and it’s like I’m there again. Flashbacks I guess you’d say. And more times that not, when one memory comes, they just all start rolling in. Over the past nearly three years since my battle with postpartum depression, when I’ve gotten triggered or find myself “there” again in my mind, I usually beat myself up for thinking about it and still being so deeply affected and hurt by it. I’ll feel guilty.
The other day, though, I lay there crying and it was like I had a revelation. I said to myself, “It’s okay. Lindsey, it’s okay that you’re feeling this way.” It’s only natural and human, especially to be triggered by the time of year of it being my daughter’s birthday, and not very long after that, getting hit hard by the sickness. It’s okay that I still think about it three years later. Telling myself and actually believing that it was okay brought such relief to my soul. I was giving myself permission to feel this way; without guilt. Without anger and frustration. And perhaps without judgment. Tears flowed from my eyes. Good tears. I exhaled a sigh of relief.
Bad things happen in life. There’s no way around that. At times, when the waves of memories were crashing in for me, I felt the need to run away. To literally grab my husband’s hand, and, with or without a suitcase, board a place for some exotic place. So that I could forget. So that I could escape the memories. The pain. But I still remember. I can’t help but remember that time, as it changed my life forever. It changed me, mostly for the good. God’s hand was in it all. He had a purpose for it happening to me and my family. I truly believe that. But I can’t run away from my thoughts. They always catch up to us. I can’t escape from my memory.
I must face it head-on. I must be brave. Let the waves crash in and know that I will still be standing after they have passed through. And I will be stronger than before. For, I made it through the storm.