the anger of healing

I've been having a particularly hard time, this week, grappling with the ways trauma affects people's brains. Healing from the things that happen to us is really profound and brave and self-aware, but it also fucking sucks. It's draining and exhausting and tedious. I find it so frustrating to come to terms with the fact that the people who hurt us - physically, emotionally, verbally - get to then take that piece of ourselves with them forever. They don't just hurt us in that initial moment, they make it difficult to trust, securely attach, and cope in every moment afterward. They make it a chore to exist every time our brain is reminded of what we went through.


Over this past year or so in therapy, I've focused a lot on childhood wounds. It's explained many parts of my personality for me, which is lovely and insightful on the surface but a bit more earth-shattering the further you dig. Becoming more intuned with my inner child has helped me understand my emotions more fully - our bodies remember everything and their only goal is to keep us 1. alive and 2. safe. Despite not always having the most ideal solution, that's a fact that helps me give myself some grace in moments when I don't understand why I'm feeling anxious or scared or uncomfortable.


Last night, I was around a person who made every part of me feel like I was not safe. Not because they were actively a threat to me, they weren't. But my brain recognized similarities to situations where past versions of me hadn't been as safe. Once I got home, I cried, for an embarrassingly long time that we won't acknowledge with a number here. I had to keep reminding myself that I am safe and that I am an adult now, one that can healthily cope and one that is capable of keeping myself safe. I reached out to friends, did some breathing exercises, drank water, and watched grey's anatomy. And in doing all of those things, I realized that part of why I was so upset was because I was angry.


The anger I was feeling wasn't coming from having been around someone who unintentionally triggered me. I was angry because of the control that past situations I was put in still have over me, my emotions, and my brain's response to the world around me. Angry for having been the collateral damage to other people's problems, choices, and actions. Angry that all the things they did that hurt me they would have said, and might still say, were seemingly insignificant to them. Angry because that dismissal means it does not affect them but that I, unable to move or sleep or stop crying last night still feel the aftershocks, permanently.


I will admit, I didn't have the energy last night to figure out where to put that anger; so, I scrolled until I couldn't keep my eyes open and eventually just fell asleep with it. And now I'm writing. Which, is first and foremost a way to let it go. More productively, however, it's also a way to acknowledge it. A way to let it know that I see and hear and understand it. The anger is valid and in the same breath, it's unnecessary and invaluable to hang on to. Healing is always described as this beautiful, ethereal journey, and at times it can be but I've come to learn that, for me, the most crucial moments of healing are the ones that feel the most gut-wrenching.

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