I believe everyone endures pain, sometimes excruciating pain. I find that physical pain is more acceptable, publicly and privately, than emotional pain. Physical pain is usually readily addressed, while it is the most fortunate who acquire help for emotional pain. Too often though, emotional pain is ignored; it slips through the cracks and falls into an abyss only to fester and grow into rage, revenge, hatred. Most young people grow into adulthood without the necessary healing from endured atrocities.
What about the many young children of Afghanistan, Syria, Uganda, Zimbabwe and so forth, who are forced to watch as their mothers and sisters are raped and murdered or are raped themselves? What do they do with their emotional pain of anguish, rage, loss? What does a young American boy do with his anger and resentment toward his rage-aholic father who beats and humiliates him in front of his friends?
These kids, like many others world wide, often do not mature into functional, dignified adults who encompass integrity, passion, and love. I’ve seen too many wounded, angry people who don’t care about themselves or others. Maybe they are functional enough to attain decent jobs, but their work performance lacks veracity. When a mechanic knowingly takes a short cut, who deals with the vehicle that continues to run poorly? Who wants to be treated by a doctor who is passionless about his work and patients?
Hopefully, they awaken to the emotional pain with which they live and realize the pain they cause. When they reach a bottom – depression, alcoholism, lose their jobs, spouses – I hope they question their lives, acknowledge the wounds limiting their quality of joy.
I was 25 when I reached my bottom. My coping mechanisms of alcoholism and drug addiction were no longer effective at dealing with the effects of years of sexual abuse. My two young children were affected by my wounds, as well as the “me” who hid beneath the pain.
An angel crossed my path; she told me I could get past the pain. With her belief in me, I did the work – the hard, sometimes debilitating work. I discovered the beautiful, loving person I am without the limitations of that wound. Becoming clean and sober provided myriad opportunities to grow and flourish in school, work, relationships. I realized I had to use my experience to alleviate suffering caused by sexual abuse. I take my story to others – to survivors as well as perpetrators. I tell those awful secrets. I empower others to tell theirs. In this telling, the healing begins.
Today, at 36, I have freedom. With every passing day I choose to be free, my passion for life shines. As I transform my wound into a gift for others, I provide an example so that they may decide to heal their emotional pain. As more wounded individuals hear my story and choose to heal, they will, in turn, empower others to heal. This I believe.
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