[2/21/22] Mind-Body Mondays: Emotional Detective (Part 2)
This week we are going to finish where we left off on February 7th, with Becoming an Emotional Detective. If you are new here, I would highly recommend you watch the previous Emotional Detective video at least once, before watching this one for greatest understanding. In addition, at the end of today’s video I am going to share some personal trauma that I hope might help some people to hear how I have healed it via Thought Pain Therapy. Before I do so, I will give a trigger warning, so you may leave if you desire.
Previously, we were discussing how to turn our thoughts from feeling victimized and angry at someone else for their words and behaviors, to an internal investigation as to why we were angered and where our wounds lie. By focusing on going “undercover” in self-inquiry, we can find that the power we have over other people and situations in life, is by NOT expecting them to change. Our true power lies in our choice of how we respond to their words and deeds.
So, back to our exercise. I was discussing how would we respond if someone called us an “idiot” which is a derogatory term and one that we might have a pre-existing “charge to”, and how that would be different to the word “purple”, which we would not have an attachment to.
If we felt charged because we felt responsible that our actions preceding the comment were ones of ignorance or thoughtlessness, then we can make the decision in that moment to change our own behaviors to better suit our personal greatest and highest good. We don’t need to give anymore thought to the whys and wherefores of our friend’s words and instead we can just decide to commit ourselves to becoming our own hero’s. We do this by acting or speaking in ways that are more in accordance with who we wish to be. By doing this, by honoring our internal desire to be proud of ourselves, we can let the charge go.
Miguel Ruiz, in his book The Four Agreements, states as the fourth personal agreement, to: “Always do your best. Your best is going to change from moment to moment; it will be different when we are healthy as opposed to sick. In any circumstance, simply do your best, and we will avoid self-judgement, self-abuse, and regret”
To elaborate on his wisdom, I want you to think about how often you internally criticize yourself for not doing or being enough. When you make the determination to always do your best, then you know if you have behaved in a way you found distasteful in retrospect, that you still did your best. This doesn’t mean that you wouldn’t do better next time, but it does mean that you have to trust that you always doing your best based on where you are at, at any given moment in time.
Now, If the word is said to us again upon another occasion, we can ignore it because we will know that we have done our best, and that we have forgiven ourselves for who we were. We no longer need to take their words home with us and replay them by going round and round in our mind building tracks of shame and resentment. We can simply check in with ourselves and be reminded that we can choose a new best that we will be prouder of in the future. Thus, we can release the charge now, and make a decision free from emotional pain about how we might wish to address the matter with our friend when we feel clear enough of our own attachment to their words, that we can respond with a greater certainty that we are unaffected and no longer suffering.
As an example, do we say something to illuminate the fact that their motivational technique is ineffective? Do we choose to ignore it, deciding that they are likely responding out of their own similar wounds? Do we choose to remove ourselves from the environment and find another more appealing to our self-worth? Whatever we decide, we have become the holder of our power. None was given to our adversary, whether it was a friend, boss, spouse, child, lover etc... Our thoughts remained on ourselves. Our energy remained focused on the only individual we are capable of changing, which is us..
In the end we found that their words gave us a greater opportunity to grow in knowledge of ourselves, find freedom in forgiveness, and take steps towards greater self-love. Remember, that we always must forgive ourselves first, or we will never be free of the powerful shackles of distrust we place on ourselves and others. Pema Chodron says, “Inner peace begins the moment we choose not to allow another person or event to control our emotions”
We must forgive ourselves and others because we want and deserve to be free to live the life that we have only ever imagined. This is a life we cannot live if we are constantly being moved about in reaction to another person’s words or behaviors. No one is responsible for our lives but ourselves. Even in cases of abuse and neglect, we can choose to perpetuate what we have been the victim of by putting our pain unknowingly on others or go down the path of forgiveness instead. This provides the freedom we need to think thoughts free of the memories of others and behave in ways that are not reflections of the pain they have caused. One of my favorite quotes for many years, is “A traumatic childhood, cracks open the learning path of forgiveness.” I have repeated this to myself and others many times over the years. It helps to take me out of the past and reground me in the present. Remind me that although I may have been victimized, I am not, nor will I ever be, a victim.
Now before I continue, I would like to give you all a trigger warning that I am about to speak to sexual abuse and allow you to take a moment to prepare yourself or end the live here and any comments you have made prior to now, you can simply check back to see my answers. So, if you are still here then I will continue the discussion by becoming very vulnerable with you over something that was especially traumatic that happened to me in my youth. It was recently brought back into my mind by a series of dreams about it that I have had this week, wherein I was reliving the moments both during and afterwards, as well as telling others what happened, which in real life I never did.
When I was in my early 20’s I had a very dear male friend that I did a lot of Renaissance Faire’s with. We were in the same guild, and we played together, ate together, and camped together for many years. I trusted him and thought of him as my best friend. This took a long time because trusting men was especially hard for me considering the fact that I had been abused by them throughout my childhood. So, one weekend I invited him to crash on my couch as the Faire was a local one and the weather was poor, so I was going to stay Saturday night at home. He came and we hung out watching old movies and sharing a pizza and a bottle of wine. At some point during the night, he drugged me, I can only assume he put something in my wine. I passed out on the couch and woke up later to having my clothes removed, being touched all over, and having pictures taken of my semi-comatose self as I struggled again and again to awaken enough to stop him. I have no idea how long this went on, as I kept going in and out of consciousness the whole time.
At some point he went the bathroom, and I was able to stumble to my room, lock the door, and pass out again in bed. The last thing I remembered was hearing him trying to force open my locked bedroom door..
I don’t remember much of the morning after, other than being confused, shocked, and traumatized and trying to get him out of my apartment without him realizing that I was aware what he did to me. I was afraid if I confronted him, he would overpower me in my home and continue the rape, as he would have then nothing to lose.
I never spoke to him again, even though I continued to see him at every Fair event. I avoided him in shame and fear. Our mutual friends were surprised we weren’t hanging out anymore, as our friendship was well known. I didn’t tell anyone why. I don’t even remember today the excuses I made. All I could think of was the look on his face when I next saw him as he smirked at me with a sense of possession, and I felt violated to my very core. This trauma continued to affect me for the rest of my life in ways that I never even realized for decades.
So, when I had dreams about reliving this event over the week and telling people about it, which again I never did, it was quite surprising and re-traumatizing. I realized that I never told anyone at the time, because I blamed myself. I blamed myself for trusting him. For inviting him over. For having a bottle of wine. For wearing pajamas on the couch. For everything.
So, how do we handle trauma of this nature. Trauma that has continued to affect us for the rest of our lives. We begin by forgiveness. By forgiving the person that we were for the experiences that led up to the victimization that we underwent. We forgive ourselves by knowing that regardless of whether or not we would have chosen the event, it “is what it is”. It has happened, we cannot argue the point successfully by thinking that it “shouldn’t have.”
If you know my work and teachings, you know that I believe that holding onto anger and resentments only converts itself to pain and dis-ease in our body. Thus, holding on to the belief that something “shouldn’t have happened” when it very clearly did, does the same thing. It keeps us believing that the world has unfolded in some way that was not the way it “should have been.” This is in its essence an argument against reality. And those are arguments in which we will always be the loser. We cannot fight the past with our pain, it only deepens it. Being angry at yesterday only limits our chances for joy today, it doesn’t change the past. So, if I ask myself “should this have happened”, then I have to answer, Yes. If I am honest, and if I am in accordance with the reality of my life. Thus, I can forgive myself for any part, real or imagined, that I played in my own feeling of being victimized. I can also forgive him. I can forgive him for not being the person I thought he was, or the person I wanted him to be. I can know that while he sought to take my power, he did not succeed. Neither has any other person that has sought to dim my light or my life. The only way that could happen, is if I allowed it to happen by dimming myself for them.
I share this vulnerable story in the hopes that it will be helpful to someone who has been holding to anger and unforgiveness and wishes to let those feelings go and be free of them once and for all. I realize that this memory-dream came to me because there was one remaining component of release I had not attained. After working with a beloved teacher and myself this weekend, I have finally attained what I was missing. Perhaps I will share that with you next week. Or perhaps we will talk instead about compassion.