Just over two years ago I had a near death experience 10 days postpartum. If you ask others such as counselors trauma has been prevalent in my life. I call them hiccups and lessons because that's what they've ultimately served as.
During each of these traumas, I've unconsciously learned that sharing my pain face to face is not safe. As I have not been met with those willing to sit with me as I was experiencing pain. But as I've journeyed through life after each experience I have let my wall down to a very select few. This time I thought I had allowed the "right" people in or the people that loathed the same thing... "those unwilling to sit with others during suffering and pain."
But my experience was... they didn't show up.
The friend who said she would show up at the hospital... didn't.
The friend who said they understood... didn't when I was 1 month in experiencing panic.
The friend who said "it's okay" to experience pain... didn't understand when I was 2 weeks into the pain and still "feeling" it and wasn't "choosing joy."
This time trauma came in and cleaned house. It was like the vicious ex that destroys everything in the house to make others aware of their inner hurt and pain. And every single "friend" was nowhere to be found to just be present with me. What made this experience worse was that this time there wasn't any words that I could "catch on to" that would give me a key into their thoughts. What do I mean by that? This time there wasn't anyone saying this trauma was "caused by the bible I read" or that I was a "baby killer" or that "I deserved this." I find that when others dismiss you like that or say hurtful things it's easier to dismiss them as not being a real friend. This time though they were my close friends and some were even fellow sisters and brothers in Christ. They were the people that I built something with and felt safe with.
The fact in all of this is: I experienced something intensely painful mentally, emotionally and physically.
Understanding why my friends didn't show up was something additional to all that I went through. ...It was not needed, and was internalized as "I am (or this was) just too much" because that was the easiest place to stick it. Blaming yourself often comes first from what I've learned, yay me! right? No.
Brené Brown defines shame as: "the intensely painful feeling or experience of believing that we are flawed and therefore unworthy of love and belonging – something we’ve experienced, done, or failed to do makes us unworthy of connection."
I had placed the blame on me which in return made me ashamed of what I went through. Making it difficult to want to own my story or share what I lived through. It left me scouring my brain with the questions of "what could I have done differently?", "Maybe I shouldn't have shared anything with them" and thought of "If this never happened I would still have these valued relationships." In my brain, I was unworthy of connection.
Sharing where these walls around our heart came from or where these deep dark thoughts that race through our brains at the most vulnerable moments root from with those who are there to teach us something is what our hearts need. When I shared these thoughts that I had been toiling with one of my teachers responded with "Who said this has anything to do with you? Maybe they weren't able to sit with you in this painful season because they don't know how to" "Maybe your experience brought something that they hadn't dealt with and weren't going to deal with because of your experience."
The shame that I was carrying around because of their actions was not mine to carry. The pain of their actions hurt me and reinforced the shame that I was carrying. It took lowering one of those walls that I had built to explain why I was now uncomfortable with connecting with others on a deeply meaningful level to truly understand that this shame isn’t mine and was never mine to begin with.
How do you work on healing the emotion of shame or the lack of trust in connection? You call it out when you see it. You practice compassion, self-compassion, self-empathy and you continually choose to courageously live in a bravely vulnerable state of mind.
What does calling it out mean? When those thoughts of "I am unworthy of connection" or "I am too much" come rolling in you say "NOPE, that is a lie. EVERYONE deserves connection" and "yes, that was too much even for me, but that doesn't mean that I do not deserve companionship for my most painful moments".
What is practicing compassion? Believing that we are all connected in some way. Believing that not everyone is out to hurt you. Honoring that their emotions might cause them from not acting in a way you would like.
What is practicing self-compassion & self-empathy? Practicing self-compassion is acknowledging, understanding and calming your inner self-critical voice. I have described my self-critical voice a black panther. It's fierce and pops up out of nowhere. So I've taken time to learn how to meditate and communicate with that inner critic. Practicing self-empathy is something I've learned how to do when I didn't feel like I couldn't call anyone at that moment to pull me out of the shame shithole. It's literally making the connection with yourself, not denying your emotions and saying "it's okay".
How do you "continually choose to courageously live in a bravely vulnerable state of mind"? You allow yourself to be you. Do not allow others insecurity or lack of willingness to sit in pain stop you from making valuable connections. I'll be honest, not having these friendships has hurt, but it has allowed me to grow. It's allowed me to realize that even those in our own inner circle and brothers and sisters in Christ can be uncomfortable with suffering and pain. BUT I will not allow it from keeping myself open to friendships. Do I move a bit more cautiously? Yes, and that is okay, but that doesn't stop me from connecting and having healthy boundaries in friendships.
The shame that comes along with being "too much" is a lie -- a lie that I will not allow to affect my life and how I connect with others. The feeling of "too much" is not a lie that I am going to buy into. I have experienced the traumas that I have and they have made me a better human. Does it mean that these traumas haven't hurt? No. Does it mean that I will stop talking about the traumas in order to help grow me? No.
The wife to a traveling Airman, Mom to 3 rambunctious girls and 3 baby angels. She often writes about faith, trauma, womanhood, motherhood, and her journey through therapy after a near death experience. She believes in purpose, mediation, and that yoga can fix anything. After striving for the #perfectlife she finds her self believing that the curated life can lead to false happiness, lack of authenticity and false sense of security.