*Reader submission - Artwork by author*
At some point in our lives, someone hurts us.
For some it happens in early childhood, and for others it could be later in life. Sometimes both. It even happens to us when we are absolutely unaware that it is happening. Our parents are sometimes the biggest culprit of this pain. Ex- lovers, ex-friends.
Ex is exactly what we do to them, don't we? We draw a big X over their faces in our minds. What? They hurt us! And we are sad and angry about it. Well, whether we know we’ve been hurt or not...eventually the uncomfortable emotions that we feel as a result of this pain come up to the surface and it is hideously ugly. And when we finally step into this awareness of self something happens...
You see, we bottle up our anger, resentment and aching heart pains, right? And we bury those feelings deep, deep down in the soil of our emotional garden. This emotional garden, of course, is our most vital energy center: our heart. So again, we put all of our painful memories in a box, dig a hole and shove it way down in there and then: we try our damned hardest to forget about it.
Well, I have come to learn that, to my dismay, my feelings do not disintegrate into the soil like banana peels. No no. They sprout underground. Yup. They fester down there in the earth of my mind and when I least expect it, these feelings shoot up out of the soil and it is so much worse.
Now it's a problem.
Because I have thick, grey weeds growing. Not just any weeds...they have thorns. Yeah. They're vines, actually. Thick, prickly poisonous vines of unsettled, unresolved hurt and despair. They have and sometimes still do fill up my emotional garden and infect it. My own weeds infect me. And I no longer feel emotionally healthy.
The kicker? I fake that I am fine. Oh, yeah! Are you kidding me? I fake that shit hardcore.
Because it's complicated and time consuming and part of me knows this whole infestation in my heart is a massive issue but in case you haven't noticed...I have a JOB.
A job that I need keep up to pay for my apartment! And a relationship! And neglected dishes in the sink and dirty laundry and dinner plans on Friday. And all of that is more pressing and I've convinced myself that no one cares!
Well, maybe some people do, but more importantly they don't quite KNOW about the whole overgrown weeds in my heart thing...so maybe if I chop a few vines off and make the garden presentable ENOUGH they won't even know...
Sound familiar? This may have happened to you. Maybe you're even at the point where you are aware it is happening but once we identify the problem and consciously realize the crap that is littering our hearts...we are immediately stumped.
HOW DO WE FUCKING GET RID OF IT ALL?
Well there are easy ways out and hard ways, backward ways and upside down ways. None of them are right and none are wrong they just simply are existing ways we deal with this. But I will tell you I've discovered from my own experience that those spiky grey horrible emotional vines are no different than real vines.
And when you have an Infestation, what would any practical licensed exterminator say?
You need to find the SOURCE.
But we don't have time for the complication of that, remember?
So, some of us pick up smoking. I did. And when we feel a thorn from the vine prick us (my metaphor for a trigger) we fill our physical bodies with smog. Some of us pour alcohol all over the damn thing. We drown ourselves with beer and vodka and wine and anything we can to make us forget. We don't want this big obtrusive thing growing in the garden so we ignore the problem entirely.
These are all temporary fixes.
If you're still with me on this journey to eliminating hurt and conquering this beast then you're probably anxious for the answer.
HOW DO WE FIND THE FUCKING SOURCE?
Well, I've tried many things. I've tried talking to pompous therapists who don’t really give a shit about me and I've talked to therapists who do care. I've talked my friend’s ears off about that time my ex-girlfriend demanded I get her a Coke and how badly she treated me like a slave and I've also told this story two hundred times and hate myself more every time because I know I am a sad, a broken record. I've tried writing songs, drawing, and I've tried ignoring my hurt by swallowing my pride and getting on with life.
Because IT IS WHAT IT IS.
Have you heard this incredibly ground breaking phrase before? (Sarcasm).
Oh man, how I wish I could spit on the person from generations ago who concocted this bullshit phrase. My favorite is when we slap an “Oh Well” on the front.
“Oh well” *shrug* “It is what it is”
It is what it is! We all have emotional weeds infesting our hearts and guess what? The answer is: DEAL WITH IT. Suck it up kid, and smoke and drink and hold back your tears and fail at it and cry yourself to sleep but don't tell anyone you did. Why? Because of my second favorite phrase of all time. Because:
LIFE SUCKS AND THEN YOU DIE.
You must have heard this before right?
Well I've decided two things when I mustered up the courage to write this article:
It most definitely is NOT what it is, and
Life is beautifully complicated and then we LEARN.
If I can help ONE person who reads this let go of these archaic and terribly unproductive mantras and adopt these two new ones, I will die happy.
Locating the source of the pain takes time.
Time we need to carve out for ourselves like today while I sit at a coffee shop and type this.
Bringing this all home:
Life can be so complicated and sad that sometimes the people who once hurt us are actually no longer here. They died. And we still live with this hurt. This has not happened to me personally but I know people that experience this.
I've developed a very hard, but very real virtual place where you may begin your journey to inner peace. And I call it “The Release and Resolve Room.”
And it will take many, many visits to this virtual room in your head in order for you to heal.
There is a code to enter the room, however. The code is:
1. You must accept wholeheartedly that you have pain and that you're aware of it's existence
2. You must hold yourself one hundred percent accountable for ALLOWING this pain to infect you in the first place.
You might be saying, "why should I have to take the blame?"
Well- it's not taking the blame. Your dad may have absolutely abused you with his words. Your mother may have hit you. Your ex-boyfriend may have cut into you with his words and your teacher may have humiliated you in front of the entire lecture hall. But it is crucial that you accept and take accountability that these memories, actions, and/or words penetrated your heart and you allowed this to happen.
I, Chelsea, allowed my past experiences with abuse, heartache and pain from other people to affect me in this way, and because of this I am aware that spikey thorned weed vines are infecting my heart and NOT allowing me to move forward or grow.
Enter: the Release and Resolve room.
In this room, it is a white room with a table and two chairs.
One, for you to sit in, and the other is for your guest.
There is a door on the other side of this white room. And when you are ready, you will call in your abuser.
As the door opens, you will sit face to face with the person who hurt you and say all the things you need to say. All the unresolved things that have been hurting you, all the resentment that takes up all the room in your heart. That person will sit directly across from you in your mind, and you will have the opportunity to say anything and everything you want that you never had the chance to outside of your head.
This is the room you will visit in order to face your fear head on. You will release the emotions that have grown into weeds and tug at it from the source until the whole vine is uprooted and no longer grows under the soil.
You see: You have had the power all along to take full responsibility for your own pain and do something about it. And this is why we are here. To live our lives and to learn.
Life is beautifully complicated and I have learned that facing my pains and locating the root of that pain has resulted in true care for my emotional garden. I'm starting to see more flowers sprouting, more ideas and creative outlets blooming and slow but impactful progress.
I only hope that these words have prompted you to take a look at your own emotional garden and see what adjustments need to be made...
And ultimately, what truths need to be illuminated in your own life for you to grow too.