Sunday Cross Words – #4 Down
Another Little Aspie Rant
You know what I really hate? The notion that the past should not affect us. That we should “get over it.” That if you’re “living in the past” you’re doing something wrong. I just cringe when I hear that.
Early in my own healing journey, I was more apt to think of an emotional or psychological wound in terms of a physical wound like a cut or gash on my arm. A cut is painful, to be sure. It can make a mess, and get blood all over the place. But most of the time, the wound closes and heals, the pain goes away, and all that remains is a scar, to remind you of something that happened in the past, but which in no way effects the present. If an emotional or psychological wound is like a cut, then healing is possible, to the point where the pain is completely gone, and it has no effect in the present. The cut was a temporary interruption.
And perhaps some emotional and psychological wounds are like this.
But these days, I’m more inclined to think of emotional and psychological wounds in terms of an amputation or lost limb. Painful, again, to be sure, and messy and traumatic. And most of the time, the wound closes and heals, and most of the pain goes away, though not always. But much more remains behind than just a scar. What remains is a loss. A missing arm or hand or leg or foot. And that lost limb can cause an effect in the present for the rest of your life. The wound is a loss.
As I’ve struggled with the story of “get over it,” what I’ve come to see is that emotional and psychological losses are not “in the past.” They’re right here in the present, just like a missing arm is right here in the present. And most of my wounds feel like amputations. I’m not “living in the past.” I’m living in the present with a loss that never goes away. A grief. A missing piece.
What gets amputated in an emotional wound? What goes missing? Trust. A sense of safety. A belief that the Universe is a good place. A story that one is good and worthy and belongs somewhere. A recognition of one’s gifts. A knowing that there is help available, that it’s okay to be one’s true self in the world, or that one is wanted. There are a million things that can go missing when we bump up against others in this crazy world, and meet with judgement and anger and abuse and teasing and bullying and neglect and violence and violation and misunderstanding. Pieces of our soul get pulled off, cut away, knocked to the floor, or trampled on. They go missing. They are as lost as amputated limbs.
Living without a story that the universe is a good place is just as life-shaping as living without a leg. Perhaps more so.
None of this is to say that people cannot go on to live a good and useful and fulfilling life even with a missing piece. They can. I have. But there can be great challenges involved in doing so. And it feels essential, to me, to begin at the beginning, and recognize that something has been lost, and that this loss is still here in the present.
And I’m not convinced that even these amputations cannot be “healed,” just as some animals have the ability to regrow lost limbs. I think some missing pieces can be recovered. There’s an entire discipline out there called “Soul Retrieval” which attempts, shamanically, to find and call back lost pieces of one’s soul and reintegrate them back into the whole. It’s possible to recover one’s trust, or one’s sense of their own good self, or one’s sense that the Universe is a good place to be. People have done it. I think I have recovered some missing pieces just recently.
But my own experience is that the road to this sort of healing can feel long and arduous, and that we in this culture have largely lost our healing arts, and many of us do not have access to those arts because we do not believe such things to be possible, or that we are worthy of them. I’m pretty sure that taking as a starting point that “the past should not affect us” and that we should “get over it” will not serve us.
When people say such things, what I think to myself is that what they’re really saying is that they don’t want to have to deal with it, or think of it, or be reminded of their own missing pieces, and that they’d really rather we shut up about the idea that the past affects the present, because they are not up for doing the work of exploring that. And while I will accept whatever choice they might make in the matter (while questioning whether it’s really a choice they are making), I think that the perpetuation of this cultural notion that we should “get over it” simply adds to the wounding and loss, as the wounded then take on new levels of shame and self-judgment because they are not doing it right.
I think, no, maybe the people who say “get over it” are the ones who need to shut up.