re-staging the past
Today in session was one of those moments where time stood still while I went back in time and made the wrong right.
It wasn’t planned, it just happened and I have to say it was the most empowering thing I have ever done in the 5 1/2 years I have been in therapy.
When I was 9 years old, I sat at the kitchen table and watched my father read the paper as I shook in fear of what was about to come out of my mouth after years of keeping in a deep dark secret that I swore I would never speak of.
I sat there at the table rocking back and forth laying out the consequences of my words, and knowing that if I spoke it out-loud, I could never take it back – but I took the chance.
I sat at the table and the words came out “Dad, things are being done to me that only grown up’s do, and it hurts and makes me feel bad, and I don’t want them doing this to me anymore”.
I remember so clearly in that very moment that my ears got hot, and I knew I could not take back those very words.. and I wasn’t prepared for what was next.
My father got up from the chair, and threw everything off the table! He then went upstairs and dragged both my very much older brothers into the kitchen in front of me and beat the crap out of them right in front of me.
I stood and watched the horror of my brothers being thrown up against the wall, and I was frozen and shocked as I stood there and witnessed this.
There was this fear that came over me of “what have I done?” and I ran upstairs and thought the world was about to end. I thought all the lies were true “you will be sent away if you tell”, “they will never believe you”, “no one will protect you”.
I went back downstairs and saw my father hugging my oldest brother and saying “I am sorry I hit you” .. and in that moment I felt betrayed. I felt as if my father was proving a point in front of me, but then taking it back once I left the room.
I felt the lies were true “they will never believe you”, “no one will ever do anything about it”.
I dont think I have ever felt hurt like that in my life. I felt so betrayed at just 9 years old! I felt so alone, and abandoned in my truth.
The thoughts and visions of that day send me into such a deep place, that when I am faced in hard sitatuions, it reminds me of the horror of what I witnessed.
Today as the adult, I still have a hard time confronting very hard situations. I would rather swallow the hurt it causes me, and let time heal it.
When something big is happening in my life and I need to confront something, I freeze up and think about the very moment where the consequences of telling the truth were outweighed by the relief or good it could create for me.
I have lived a life since that moment believing that if I just take care of it on my own, it’s easier than being betrayed or hurt – or better yet, someone else getting hurt.
This year I was faced against something that was truly hard! It was hard because it brought back a lot of old memories for me, and this situation seems to still linger from time to time.
My therapist and I have contemplated over and over and over on whether to find empowerment over it, or for us to confront the situaiton head on.
This decision has caused such a distress for me because it replays the past in my head that “confronting = betrayal” “confronting = pain and fear” “confronting = someone else getting hurt”.
I have come to truly believe that bad will come out of it and no one can protect me from that.
Today in session my therapist and I stood up, and I told my therapist exactly how this situation has made me “STILL” feel, and how it makes me feel to know it’s still going on in the background at times, how hurt it makes me feel, how scared it makes me feel, and WHY.
I stood there and re-staged my childhood at 9. I felt like I was at the kitchen table telling Andy my therapist how I felt and I even allowed myself to cry and be with that moment.
After I spoke it all out, I stood there, I waited, I waited, I waited, I looked at him, and nothing bad happened. No tables flying, no beatings, no loud screaming, no hits and NO BETRAYEL. My therapist gave me a hug, he smiled, he supported me, said he cared about me very much, and offered to help me move through this with support.
No this situation is not the same, but it parallels my past in having that fear of telling someone who “does” support me – about something that bothers me that is hitting my past so strong. I was able to tell someone that it was still bothering that it was still going on, and how I wanted empowerment over that.
The 9 year old child inside smiled at the relief that this time she made it right, and she has empowerment to own that moment for ME.
I went back into my past and made the wrong right. NO I cannot change what happened to me then in that moment, I can’t go back and change the outcome of how that moment happened for me – but I can change how the fear over-comes me today.
It was like allowing the 9 year old to no longer hold that alone. Me being the 40+ year old adult today, I got to experience what it was like to truly tell someone what was still going on inside of me around this situation, and allowing that person to protect and support me and not hit or be abusive or betray me and actually trust that.
I stood there and got a hug, and got comforting words – I got to do it over, but this time I am the adult who can accept all the goodness that comes out of it, and give it back to her so that this wound can heal, and this moment she can rest in this memory.
This allows me to be open with my past and find the empowerment by talking about the past, so that whatever is happening now that is causing me to feel this way, can LOSE it’s power.
I realized today that I hold the empowerment of choosing what to do NOW with what happened back then. I am not the one stuck, and I will continue to work with this as I need to.
It was scary being at that table again, but the adult person I am today got to experience it the way it should have been, and maybe this will create the opening I need to trust that when I open the past, it doesn’t mean it’s here, it just means God has given me a chance to make it right today – FOR ME and FOR HER.