The Need to have our Realities Acknowledged

Light leaking though the fenceI come from a nice family; people who get together several times a year to share food and laughter.  I love my family BUT sometimes they drive me crazy.

They drive me crazy with their unwillingness to discuss anything unpleasant; with their inability to acknowledge the pain in our lives.

They tell me to “move on”.  They tell me that “That is all in the past now”.  They declare that they “have friends who had it much harder than us”.   

They do not seem to understand the power of the past to shape our current realities.  They do not seem to recognize that our parents’ words have created the voices in our heads; the voices that tell us: who we are; what we are capable of; whether we are worthy of love; whether we can expect things to be okay in our lives.

I have gone through my life feeling unworthy, stupid, afraid.  I have met young people who are so full of confidence.  I have watched them soar in their personal and work lives with envy. So many times, I have wondered what I might have done with my life if I had only been raised to believe that I am bright, capable, like-able.  How different would my life be.  

So, here I am at 56 still struggling to step into my power.  I need to examine these things; to understand the source of my own limitations; to understand the source of my beliefs; to separate out the wheat from the chaff.  This process is not about blaming; it is about understanding, forgiving, and healing.

I want to feel heard.  I want to feel that my feelings have been acknowledged.  I want to feel that my reality has been affirmed.  For me, this is an essential part of the process.  It is what I need to heal; it is what I need to move on.

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About kp

I am a woman, a mother, a sister, and a wife. I have called myself a socialist and a feminist, an environmentalist and an activist, a pagan and an atheist. But, at this stage in my life, none of these labels feel right. I am searching; trying to find an inner calm; trying to make peace with life's disappointments; trying to answer the big questions in my own small life.
Aside | This entry was posted in depression, Healing & Compassion, Personal Growth, Relationships, Stages of Life, Writing, Writing for your life and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

14 Responses to The Need to have our Realities Acknowledged

  1. I fully understand this process Kim,, Its in the past that our wounds have cut us and for many its what we have to dig down deep into the scab before we can pick it out and let it heal..

    I went through much of my early life much of a loner, even in a large family.. I grew up too soon, as I looked after my younger siblings.. and in later years the final rejection from my Mother took me over the edge.. It took months of digging deep, and having help from Councillors to help me see how I was wounding myself.. I needed to let go of the past.. But first I needed to understand the past and air it with that stranger who allowed me to vent out my feelings…

    I understand the road you are on… Family often do not want to listen.. because they do not want to admit there is a flaw… It was a roller coaster ride for a time in my marriage.. and it came close to many rocks… But we did all heal.. learning to talk and listen, acknowledge and then let go…

    Wishing you well Kim… and I so connect with your thinking here.. Much Love Sue xox

    • kp says:

      Thank you Sue…for sharing your story and understanding what I am saying. I realize that I have been feeling angry at my family for their unwillingness to acknowledge my reality; it is like throwing salt on the wound. But I hear you. I know that my family does not want to look at these issues themselves. And I need to let go of the idea that they can offer me the understanding that I want. With love…Kim

  2. Oriah says:

    I understand (and share) your frustration Kim, I really do. But here’s the thing: the “natural” human response to trauma (and yes, being taught as children that we are unworthy or stupid etc. is traumatic) is to dissociate from the hard feelings this experience evokes. Most folks think of dissociation as something dramatic like multiple personalities, but most of the time, it simply making an internal partition in the psyche that cordons off an aspect of self that holds an experience that truly feels unbearable. And we continue on, constricted because we have lost access to part of ourselves which is held in the unconscious.

    Healing is in large part about reclaiming those aspects of self we partitioned off, but that means feeling the feelings and remembering the experiences that seemed unbearable. When we do this- in a titrated and tender way, we reclaim lost energy (and all the energy it takes to keep those aspects buried.) But we usually need skilled help doing this so we don’t re-traumatize ourselves in the process.

    Your family (like my own) do not want to talk about experiences from which they have dissociated. To do so would break down the dissociation- and honestly. since no two people have an identical experience, we don’t know whether or not they could really handle feeling what was felt without a good, skilled guide and container (and few family gatherings provide either.)

    The good news is that our healing is not dependent upon anyone else’s willingness to stop dissociating and start healing and reclaiming vitality, power, and energy that’s being used in keeping the dissociation going.

    Wanting people to be other than they are, causes us (and usually them- since we like to share :-) ) suffering. Of course, if we accept them fully as they are, we may decide we want to spend less time with them, but we are no longer held hostage to hoping that they will make choices more in alignment with our own. Much love, Oriah

    • kp says:

      Hi Oriah: Thanks for taking the time for this thoughtful and gentle response. I have vacillated over the years between avoiding my sisters and attempting to share with them at a deeper level, only to be repelled. I appreciate what you are saying about them feeling traumatized by our early life and therefore unable to discuss it. I have never thought of it that way. I know we were emotionally abused and neglected but I have never thought of it as traumatic; damaging but not traumatic. I will try to be more compassionate towards them. It has been many years since I went to therapy but perhaps that is the route to travel once again. Lots of love…Kim

      • Oriah says:

        Kim, As you know my son Nathan had surgery this week. I was looking for a book to read while waiting at the hospital and stumbled upon Mark Epstein’s latest (have read his other books- he is a Buddhist psychotherapist MD- so articulate) and the title is, “The Trauma of Everyday Life,” so I probably being influenced by this reading- which makes clear that trauma is a part of life and in some ways a possible entry into a deeper life. .

        I have to say that the latest round of therapy I have done about my own childhood, combined with Somatic Experiencing body work (which gently allows the neurological system to complete incomplete movements that release the residue of trauma held in the body) has healed things I thought I could not go near. I feel as if I am occupying my life, my body, my heart in ways I have never been able to do before- although it is hard to describe- as if I was unsubstantial in an energetic sense and have become more substantial, less etherial. .

        As wonderful and as liberating as this is, I also get that doing that hard work (and it took about 4 years of very focused therapy on top of all I had done in the past) is not something everyone will be willing to do- and that is their choice. My brother’s coping strategy (for similar childhood abuse) has lead to alcoholism and he literally plans to drink himself to death. I have great sadness about this for him- and we have talked about it openly- but it is his right to make this choice. I have compassion for his suffering, but I also know his choice puts a severe limitation on our interaction and relationship.

        Sending prayers- that the healing path your heart aches for open before you. You deserve to be happy and to know how deserving of love and life you are, O xo

        • kp says:

          Oriah…I have been avoiding therapy since I was single; feeling too strapped for time and energy. But that is not really an issue any more. My sisters look pretty healthy compared to me. They carry our childhood in different ways than me. Sometimes that leaves me feeling that the problem is me; other times it leaves me feeling that I am just a different person. I can tell from our conversations and your writing that therapy has been very healing for you. I will use that knowledge to encourage me to try therapy once again. Thank you for your loving messages!!

  3. Ellen says:

    ‘Nice’ is not so nice then. Your family’s need to keep pain at bay is trumping your natural need to have them accept your experience. Hard-won awareness of the situation seems a good step to start out with at least.

  4. Jerry says:

    Hi KP, I don’t think we fully appreciate how many people can relate exactly to what you say. So many people keep their own experiences locked away, but the outcome is the same. A sense that love was denied, a lack of confidence in our ability, and a feeling that we are different and unable to experience the success and happiness that others enjoy. But, I would urge you to consider the following.

    We are not our thoughts, feelings, actions or experiences. The fact that we can think about these things separates us from them. What comes across very strongly in your post is the powerful grip that the past has on you. You are not your past, put your past down and step away from it. Do not allow your past to create your present reality.

    The other thing that comes across very strongly in your blog is a dependence on others for affirmation. Until your last breath you may never get this and so it would be wise not to seek it. Do not wait to be heard, do not wait for affirmation. Offer to help others to deal with your shared past, but allow them to deal with it, or not deal with it, in their own way.

    I am 52 and at a very similar stage in life’s journey. We both feel much more mortal than we did 20 years ago, and we both have seen how fickle life is. However, I feel very young and empowered. If like me your children are grown, then life still holds many exciting opportunities and possibilities for us.

    It’s time to leave the past in the past. Do not seek affirmation from anyone else but yourself. :-)

    • kp says:

      Thanks Jerry… I hear you. I don’t actually think about the past that often, but I admit that it has shaped how I see myself and the world. All of that has been tempered by my life’s experience which has been relatively positive. I feel much better about myself today than I did 30 years ago. I feel much more powerful in my life today than I did 30 years ago. But I do agree that I need to let go of wanting affirmation from others; that at some point, I need to trust my own judgement about the past and the present. That is part of claiming one’s power I suppose; learning to trust one’s own judgement. Thanks for your note Jerry. Kim

  5. Kim, I admire you for writing so honestly about your struggles. I see you healing as you write and hope that slowly yo find yourself stepping into a more confident sense of self.

  6. I’ve been sitting here trying to write this comment and realising that I’m still processing the fact that my Aunt, who has been talking about the need to be heard for years now, has just recently been diagnosed with an aggressive brain tumour. To be honest, all the family had become quite impatient with her, because she seemed to be stuck emotionally. And none of us knew what to do. Now all I can think about is how she said “No-one’s listening to the things I’m NOT saying…”. Ugh. Maybe the signs were there all along, and we weren’t listening. Maybe it’s about a whole lot more than that. I don’t know. I’m not sure what to think.

    But I know one thing. It’s important to get it out. Have our words reflected back to us, so we can join the dots in our own evolution. Maybe some of us are better ‘mirrors’ than others. Maybe some of us suck at it because we’re not evolved ourselves. I’ve never been a fan of therapy, but maybe that does have a point to it. So does blogging. I agree with Sally, I see you healing as you write. And I truly hope you find the peace you’re looking for, because you more than deserve it! xo

    • kp says:

      Hi Alarna…I am sorry to hear about your Aunt. This post elicited very strong reactions from people. I suspect that people find themselves on one side or the other of the equation. I think, for me, with my sisters, I just want them to acknowledge certain realities so I don’t feel crazy with my perception of reality. BUT they feel like they have to make it okay for me or make me see it differently because they feel bad about the reality. I think they mean well; I think they simply don’t understand the power of simply acknowledging something; that they don’t need to fix it or make it better; they just have to acknowledge it. I do find the writing healing and the interactions with people such as you and Sally and Oriah very affirming. You be well. Kim

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