Sacred Ground or Haunted Territory?

My past still haunted me … This is trauma: a near constant feeling in my gut that something is wrong, or that something terrible is about to happen, the automatic fear responses in my body telling me to run away, to take cover, to hide myself from danger everywhere. My trauma can still rise up out of mundane encounters. A sudden sight, a particular smell, can transport me back to the past.” – Edith Eva Eger

Perhaps you’ve heard it said that memory is sacred ground. But I would also argue that it’s haunted territory.

Think about it …

What happens if you live through something absolutely awful? A trauma or a horror? Something truly devastating? How are you told to handle it?

The message we pick up from society is: Bury all that stuff. Never, ever talk about it. Push it down inside. Don’t look at it again. Whatever you do, don’t ruminate on it. Don’t allow yourself go there. Just pretend it didn’t happen.

So that’s what we try so desperately to do.

The sensible – even the perfect – solution?  

But here’s the problem

This isn’t the solution – for it doesn’t go away.

When we refuse ourselves permission to face and grieve what’s lost, we doom ourselves to constantly re-living all that pain. That’s why we keep being triggered, sometimes after many years.

The past remains haunted, and it holds us in its grip.

Finding Freedom

There is a way to be free – but it’s a very different road. It’s embracing all that happened, and then facing it head-on.

Freedom means we find the courage to look at all that stuff. We make the hard decision that we’ll tear the prison down. A slow and painful task that is accomplished brick by brick.

This is not an easy choice. But it’s the best choice we can make.

But let me also warn you …

Freedom happens very slowly. Unbelievably slowly. Depressingly slowly.

But, in time, you’ll see and difference and you’ll find that you have changed.

The past is in the past, and you can move on with your life.

22 thoughts on “Sacred Ground or Haunted Territory?

  1. This is really spot on. In our particular set of circumstances I’d suggest that it is important for both the recovering addict and the betrayed spouse to grieve (and to acknowledge that they may well grieve different things). For example, my husband had to grieve the damage he did to his integrity. He had to grieve the “loss” of the woman he married after the trauma he inflicted changed me. I grieved those same things but likely in a different way, from my own perspective. Neither of us could have healed if we just stuffed those feelings down inside ourselves.

    Liked by 4 people

    • You are so very right. As you get stronger, the traumas that surface become more difficult to work through, until the one that started it all pops up. This takes years–sometimes decades. Don’t ever give up. Look at the progress being made, not the trauma being worked through. There is a difference in “reliving a trauma” and “working through a trauma.” No, it cannot, must not be stuffed with a pretense it never happened. That is not the road to recovery. Finding your child within and healing it takes time.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Very wise words. It’s very true that: “There is a difference in “reliving a trauma” and “working through a trauma”” and by working through a trauma we eventually relive it less and less. Thanks for the comment. Have a great weekend.

        Liked by 2 people

  2. Yes. Grief was vital. I had expectations and plans. They were suddenly gone. A loss that bug required acknowledging.
    Freedom has followed. I sometimes have moments of sadness, which only seems normal after 25 years together, but I have new plans for the future. They are all my own. My way. My life.

    I am excited.

    Anne

    Liked by 2 people

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