Joy in the Pain

I sat on my couch listening to the words of an “oldie but goodie” song that I love. “Joy and pain, like sunshine and rain…” I had been dealing with a lot of anxiety, fear and just the craziest up and down emotions. I wasn’t feeling my best and I really didn’t know why. Well, I was denying the why, to be more accurate. Suddenly it hit me – I had to face it in order to heal.

The “it” I needed to face was actually more than one thing. At age 14, I was raped. My parents did the best they knew. They consoled me, cried with me and nurtured me. They tried to put me into counseling, but were told not to force me to go. I didn’t want to, and they didn’t force. The police looked for a while and then that tapered off. There was no justice; there was no closure. This was probably the most difficult thing to accept.

But time went on and so did I. I adapted to life. I went to school, hung out with friends, graduated high school and went on to college.  But everything was built upon that one painful night, and the normal life disappointments became more than I could bear.  As I reflected on my 20’s and 30’s, I realized that each failed relationship, each disappointment was heightened because I hadn’t healed from the core incident; being raped. Subsequently, when I had a failed relationship and subsequent heartbreak, I didn’t really process or heal from that either. I simply piled that on top of the prior “hill or hurt.”  That hill became like a volcanic mountains that spewed ash over every area of my life.

It became glaringly obvious to me that a good part of my young adulthood, I dwelled in denial…embraced it like it was a long lost lover in a long and sensual dance. The thing is, when you’re in denial, you know you’re denying. The pain manifests in other ways. For me, the “other” ways were unproductive, emotional abusive relationships, overeating, and approval addiction. Yet, PAIN kept waving a flag begging “see me!” “deal with me,” “process me” – but nooo – I wanted to wade in the water of repressed pain, all the time knowing that I was unnecessarily hurting myself and other around me.

But there was that day…listening to “joy and pain,” that something just clicked. It was if my soul was now willing, now strong enough, to allow all my feelings about the rape and other events in my life to well up within me and overflow!  I simply felt what I felt. Facing my pain wasn’t easy or pleasant, but it began an unfolding journey that I am on to this day.

Since that time, I’ve learn to have what I call “emotion sessions,” with myself. I try not to judge my emotions or “make sense of them.” I simply feel them and grieve my losses, allowing it to hurt until it doesn’t anymore.  Facing me in this way has brought me out of denial and into a relationship with myself that is joyous, “roller coaster-ish,” happy and teary! However, I have been healed in ways that I cannot begin to express. I have a willingness to trust myself that I hadn’t had before.

By finally facing my demons, I’ve developed a personal plan to process my emotions.  For me, it’s simple direct, and doable.  It keeps me grounded and  in touch with where I am with me.

  • Pray.  I seek God for direction and help.
  • Cry, Scream and Shout
  • Write it Down
  • Feel it – for real
  • Repeat

I’ve found that the fear of facing my mess was worse than actually facing it! Truly, there is joy in facing and releasing the pain!

Lattice Shaw
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