Continuing on from Writing Core Wounds II.
The past shadows us until we shine a light on it
A splinter that doesn’t get removed, becomes deeply embedded, increasingly sore and begins to infect its environment. The splinter, regardless of how long it is stuck in the body, always needs to come out. So too does a core wound in the sense that it needs to be treated so the bleeding stops.
Until this happens the pain keeps repeating in adult life through compulsive behaviour that symbolically re-enacts the core hurt. This circling of the wound is a ‘stuckness’ that thwarts growth, healthy relationships, well-being and the opportunity to reach full capacity.
As adults, for growth beyond the determining and limiting forces of primary wounds to be possible, it’s necessary to work mindfully and compassionately through them. There’s no need or value in doing this alone or internally, the process must on some level be externalised so it can be consciously known, released, articulated and ordered. This can be achieved via the therapeutic dialogue, intimate relationship or artistic pursuit.
Formative hurts, betrayals and unmet needs feel increasingly threatening to engage with before we’re equipped with awareness and strategies to ride the waves when they come crashing in. The past will always find its way on memory’s shore throughout life; how we manage it is a choice we can always make.
It’s understandable that the hurt from our past is initially consciously and unconsciously avoided at all costs. However, the consequence is our lives continue to be interrupted by the harmful and hurtful mess it inevitably resurfaces. Therefore if we accept that the only way beyond is through and confront what is uncomfortable, learn about it and effective strategies available for coping we can ride the waves, make different choices and take new paths.
Although core wounds are challenging, confronting and upsetting they aren’t the monstrous enemy we typically fear, avoid, deny and flee. Rather, in essence, they are the opportunity to learn about who we are, why and how.
They inform the love and fear we act from, understand through and base our desires on and are key to the essence of the story we are living out. Core wounds make visible the nexus of negative thought processes, false perception and belief systems that can be changed with revisiting, reviewing and conscious questioning. How empowering this awareness can be became apparent to me in writing the novel ‘Warrior.’ By telling a fiction it became safe and therefore possible to confront the truth of past experiences that had left me feeling too ashamed, devastated, defeated and betrayed to directly remember.
What storytelling offered me
I used writing fiction to begin engaging with the core wounds imprisoning my capacity to enjoy, be present and make sense of life that felt out of control, random and too fast-paced. The opportunity to hide behind the veil of fiction by playing with metaphor, characters, events and the story world made both my present and past life bearable at the time of writing.
As an adult survivor of childhood complex trauma that included sexual abuse, the wounding experiences were multiple and complex. Too much for me to psychologically and emotionally confront head-on. Upon beginning to learn how to occupy the empowered position of the author, I began to realise that life wasn’t randomly happening to me. Since I was fourteen had I not been so highly reactive, afraid, distrusting, self-hating and mindlessly making choices based on my constant need to run away, I could’ve played my hand of cards very differently.
I was so confused, afraid and in pain that I often found it hard to get out of bed. I was so passive I rarely spoke and faded further in the others’ definitions. My body ached with a pain that doctors found no cause for. I couldn’t keep down the food I ate, sleep or concentrate on anything anyone said but I could drink alcohol and swallow pills. They made it possible for me to move with the lightness I watched others my age enjoy. I could get high enough to laugh, smile and not care too. So I did. That was my answer to surviving each day I woke up in but it was never living. For years my sole concern each day was “did I have access to enough to forget my name and possibly not wake up again?”
I wasn’t aware that these were choices I was making or it was the effects of fleeing instead of confronting my core wounds. It took me too long to see that these mindless choices were in fact indirectly re-enacting the painful wounds, toxic relationship dynamics and abuse that I longed to forget along with my name.
Follow this link for Writing Core Wounds IV.