pain tracing

Posted: January 8th, 2013 | Filed under: life | Tags: , , | 13 Comments »

Situations and the way they affect you are based on previous situations and the way they affected you in the past. This is how you learn to avoid pain and failure, and it’s how you learn to predict outcomes for the purpose of planning. Two different people can be in the same situation and pull two different interpretations out of it. Experience is personal. Perspective is a unique combination of genetics and experience.

It’s important to understand how perspective works because it aids in compassion and acceptance of differences. It can also help you understand yourself.

There is a reason that people say “you are the sum total of your experiences” or “you are the people you meet”. The truth behind those sayings has more to do with the lessons those experiences and people provide than with what and who they are.

When you’re in the middle of navigating your own pain, you have to look at your entire life for understanding the same way a psychologist or counselor would help you look at your life. I’m calling this “pain tracing”. It’s the idea of peeling back the layers of the flesh of a fruit to find the seeds.

I’ll use my own journey to illustrate what I’m talking about.

In the aftermath of my own sin, it took me a really long time to accept the rejection of every person I hurt. The logic behind being rejected is sound. I did something terrible and the consequences were broken relationships. It’s how the world works. The fact that it cut me deeper than I could handle was because it brought back the pain of rejection I have felt my entire life.

I was a foster child who never belonged to my own temporary family. There was no longevity, no real investment into me, and the resulting ‘good-bye’ that always came taught me how to never fully say “hello” in my relationships. People always left, so I never let them in. I was nine when my mother gave me up for adoption. I literally did not belong to anybody. I belonged to a cold and broken government whose only goal was to find someone to take responsibility for me.

Skipping ahead, when I became a Christian, my church family became my family. When they responded to my sin by washing their hands of me, they literally handed me over to Satan and gave him responsibility over me. That’s when God stepped in and revealed the truth about who He was to me. He was my father. He was my family and he would never kick me out. As dysfunctional as I can be, I’ll always be His. He is where my roots are.

The truth of the Gospel saved my life, but it didn’t take my pain away. The aftermath of my sin brought up feelings of zero self-worth that I had kept buried because I thought it was healed. The fact that I wasn’t healed from my childhood pain enabled me to sin the way I did and crushed me when I had to own up to it.

Talking yourself through the process of pain tracing looks like this:

  1. How do you feel?
  2. Have you ever felt like this before?
  3. What were the circumstances that made you feel like this in the past?
  4. When was the first time you remember feeling like this?
  5. What were the circumstances surrounding that?

There lies the root to your pain.

I’ll answer those questions to show you how it works:

  1. alone, rejected, worthless, toxic, unwanted, displaced
  2. yes
  3. When I lived on my own at 17, when I was bullied in school, when I was moved from foster home to foster home
  4. When I was left to fend for myself as a little girl. I was probably between 4 and 6.
  5. I would be left alone by my mother. Locked outside all day or locked in a room with no food all day.

Experiences that you have today are tainted by the experiences you’ve had throughout your life. If you look at today as though it had no connection with yesterday, then you’ll miss a huge tool for healing. The healing is not just for right now, it’s all encompassing.

I can easily see that my own failure warrants my feelings of being alone. Rejection is the price I pay. My failure did not add value to my relationships. I was a toxic force that dismantled lives and I lost my place in those lives. There is nothing left to examine, but the pain remained. In pain tracing, my whole life got examined.

A person would not normally look at a child and attribute those qualities to her. If a little girl felt alone, rejected, worthless, toxic, unwanted, and displaced you would know that she had been horribly lied to and you would try to convince her otherwise.

The difference between the child and the adult is where the finger of blame is pointed. If you can find a reason to blame the child, then you would not rescue her. If you can blame the adult, then she is cast out and left to be consumed by her sense of self.

The separation between the way the world works and the way God works is found in the way we view children and the way we view adults. We can call an adult a lost cause long before we can call a child a lost cause. However, God calls us all “children”. He sees us the way He saw us when we were children because, to Him, that’s what we are. Until the child within us hears the truth about our Father, we will be brought to the same place over and over. We will feel the same thing in the midst of different circumstances again and again until we start to connect the dots and trace the pain to the broken places.

It’s my own belief that God allows whatever circumstances to take place for the purpose of getting us to see Him. Our circumstances show us where those broken places are.

wds


13 Comments »


13 Comments on “pain tracing”

  1. 1 Rebekah said at 8:41 am on January 8th, 2013:

    "There was no longevity, no real investment into me, and the resulting ‘good-bye’ that always came taught me how to never fully say “hello” in my relationships. People always left, so I never let them in."

    This sounds so incredibly familiar, within different circumstances.

    In the pain tracing process, did anyone validate the root of your pain? Or did you even need that? I think I've traced back to the first event that has caused much of my problems. However, I lived 30+ years without acknowledging what that event did to me. I stuffed all emotions. Over the past year, I've started having mild panic attacks when the memory is triggered. But the people involved in the event want me to pretend it never happened. They want me to forgive and forget, but honestly, sometimes I can't even function when the memory is triggered. I need to be able to deal with what happened instead of being told how wrong I am for trying to heal from it.
    My recent post Grace And “The Right Thing”

  2. 2 Rebekah said at 8:41 am on January 8th, 2013:

    "There was no longevity, no real investment into me, and the resulting ‘good-bye’ that always came taught me how to never fully say “hello” in my relationships. People always left, so I never let them in."

    This sounds so incredibly familiar, within different circumstances.

    In the pain tracing process, did anyone validate the root of your pain? Or did you even need that? I think I've traced back to the first event that has caused much of my problems. However, I lived 30+ years without acknowledging what that event did to me. I stuffed all emotions. Over the past year, I've started having mild panic attacks when the memory is triggered. But the people involved in the event want me to pretend it never happened. They want me to forgive and forget, but honestly, sometimes I can't even function when the memory is triggered. I need to be able to deal with what happened instead of being told how wrong I am for trying to heal from it.
    My recent post Grace And “The Right Thing”

  3. 3 Rebekah said at 8:41 am on January 8th, 2013:

    "There was no longevity, no real investment into me, and the resulting ‘good-bye’ that always came taught me how to never fully say “hello” in my relationships. People always left, so I never let them in."

    This sounds so incredibly familiar, within different circumstances.

    In the pain tracing process, did anyone validate the root of your pain? Or did you even need that? I think I've traced back to the first event that has caused much of my problems. However, I lived 30+ years without acknowledging what that event did to me. I stuffed all emotions. Over the past year, I've started having mild panic attacks when the memory is triggered. But the people involved in the event want me to pretend it never happened. They want me to forgive and forget, but honestly, sometimes I can't even function when the memory is triggered. I need to be able to deal with what happened instead of being told how wrong I am for trying to heal from it.
    My recent post Grace And “The Right Thing”

  4. 4 Rebekah said at 8:41 am on January 8th, 2013:

    "There was no longevity, no real investment into me, and the resulting ‘good-bye’ that always came taught me how to never fully say “hello” in my relationships. People always left, so I never let them in."

    This sounds so incredibly familiar, within different circumstances.

    In the pain tracing process, did anyone validate the root of your pain? Or did you even need that? I think I've traced back to the first event that has caused much of my problems. However, I lived 30+ years without acknowledging what that event did to me. I stuffed all emotions. Over the past year, I've started having mild panic attacks when the memory is triggered. But the people involved in the event want me to pretend it never happened. They want me to forgive and forget, but honestly, sometimes I can't even function when the memory is triggered. I need to be able to deal with what happened instead of being told how wrong I am for trying to heal from it.
    My recent post Grace And “The Right Thing”

  5. 5 Rebekah said at 8:41 am on January 8th, 2013:

    "There was no longevity, no real investment into me, and the resulting ‘good-bye’ that always came taught me how to never fully say “hello” in my relationships. People always left, so I never let them in."

    This sounds so incredibly familiar, within different circumstances.

    In the pain tracing process, did anyone validate the root of your pain? Or did you even need that? I think I've traced back to the first event that has caused much of my problems. However, I lived 30+ years without acknowledging what that event did to me. I stuffed all emotions. Over the past year, I've started having mild panic attacks when the memory is triggered. But the people involved in the event want me to pretend it never happened. They want me to forgive and forget, but honestly, sometimes I can't even function when the memory is triggered. I need to be able to deal with what happened instead of being told how wrong I am for trying to heal from it.
    My recent post Grace And “The Right Thing”

  6. 6 Rebekah said at 8:41 am on January 8th, 2013:

    "There was no longevity, no real investment into me, and the resulting ‘good-bye’ that always came taught me how to never fully say “hello” in my relationships. People always left, so I never let them in."

    This sounds so incredibly familiar, within different circumstances.

    In the pain tracing process, did anyone validate the root of your pain? Or did you even need that? I think I've traced back to the first event that has caused much of my problems. However, I lived 30+ years without acknowledging what that event did to me. I stuffed all emotions. Over the past year, I've started having mild panic attacks when the memory is triggered. But the people involved in the event want me to pretend it never happened. They want me to forgive and forget, but honestly, sometimes I can't even function when the memory is triggered. I need to be able to deal with what happened instead of being told how wrong I am for trying to heal from it.
    My recent post Grace And “The Right Thing”

  7. 7 Rebekah said at 8:41 am on January 8th, 2013:

    "There was no longevity, no real investment into me, and the resulting ‘good-bye’ that always came taught me how to never fully say “hello” in my relationships. People always left, so I never let them in."

    This sounds so incredibly familiar, within different circumstances.

    In the pain tracing process, did anyone validate the root of your pain? Or did you even need that? I think I've traced back to the first event that has caused much of my problems. However, I lived 30+ years without acknowledging what that event did to me. I stuffed all emotions. Over the past year, I've started having mild panic attacks when the memory is triggered. But the people involved in the event want me to pretend it never happened. They want me to forgive and forget, but honestly, sometimes I can't even function when the memory is triggered. I need to be able to deal with what happened instead of being told how wrong I am for trying to heal from it.
    My recent post Grace And “The Right Thing”

  8. 8 Rebekah said at 8:41 am on January 8th, 2013:

    "There was no longevity, no real investment into me, and the resulting ‘good-bye’ that always came taught me how to never fully say “hello” in my relationships. People always left, so I never let them in."

    This sounds so incredibly familiar, within different circumstances.

    In the pain tracing process, did anyone validate the root of your pain? Or did you even need that? I think I've traced back to the first event that has caused much of my problems. However, I lived 30+ years without acknowledging what that event did to me. I stuffed all emotions. Over the past year, I've started having mild panic attacks when the memory is triggered. But the people involved in the event want me to pretend it never happened. They want me to forgive and forget, but honestly, sometimes I can't even function when the memory is triggered. I need to be able to deal with what happened instead of being told how wrong I am for trying to heal from it.
    My recent post Grace And “The Right Thing”

  9. 9 Rebekah said at 8:41 am on January 8th, 2013:

    "There was no longevity, no real investment into me, and the resulting ‘good-bye’ that always came taught me how to never fully say “hello” in my relationships. People always left, so I never let them in."

    This sounds so incredibly familiar, within different circumstances.

    In the pain tracing process, did anyone validate the root of your pain? Or did you even need that? I think I've traced back to the first event that has caused much of my problems. However, I lived 30+ years without acknowledging what that event did to me. I stuffed all emotions. Over the past year, I've started having mild panic attacks when the memory is triggered. But the people involved in the event want me to pretend it never happened. They want me to forgive and forget, but honestly, sometimes I can't even function when the memory is triggered. I need to be able to deal with what happened instead of being told how wrong I am for trying to heal from it.
    My recent post Grace And “The Right Thing”

  10. 10 Rebekah said at 8:41 am on January 8th, 2013:

    "There was no longevity, no real investment into me, and the resulting ‘good-bye’ that always came taught me how to never fully say “hello” in my relationships. People always left, so I never let them in."

    This sounds so incredibly familiar, within different circumstances.

    In the pain tracing process, did anyone validate the root of your pain? Or did you even need that? I think I've traced back to the first event that has caused much of my problems. However, I lived 30+ years without acknowledging what that event did to me. I stuffed all emotions. Over the past year, I've started having mild panic attacks when the memory is triggered. But the people involved in the event want me to pretend it never happened. They want me to forgive and forget, but honestly, sometimes I can't even function when the memory is triggered. I need to be able to deal with what happened instead of being told how wrong I am for trying to heal from it.
    My recent post Grace And “The Right Thing”

  11. 11 Rebekah said at 8:41 am on January 8th, 2013:

    "There was no longevity, no real investment into me, and the resulting ‘good-bye’ that always came taught me how to never fully say “hello” in my relationships. People always left, so I never let them in."

    This sounds so incredibly familiar, within different circumstances.

    In the pain tracing process, did anyone validate the root of your pain? Or did you even need that? I think I've traced back to the first event that has caused much of my problems. However, I lived 30+ years without acknowledging what that event did to me. I stuffed all emotions. Over the past year, I've started having mild panic attacks when the memory is triggered. But the people involved in the event want me to pretend it never happened. They want me to forgive and forget, but honestly, sometimes I can't even function when the memory is triggered. I need to be able to deal with what happened instead of being told how wrong I am for trying to heal from it.
    My recent post Grace And “The Right Thing”

  12. 12 Rebekah said at 8:41 am on January 8th, 2013:

    "There was no longevity, no real investment into me, and the resulting ‘good-bye’ that always came taught me how to never fully say “hello” in my relationships. People always left, so I never let them in."

    This sounds so incredibly familiar, within different circumstances.

    In the pain tracing process, did anyone validate the root of your pain? Or did you even need that? I think I've traced back to the first event that has caused much of my problems. However, I lived 30+ years without acknowledging what that event did to me. I stuffed all emotions. Over the past year, I've started having mild panic attacks when the memory is triggered. But the people involved in the event want me to pretend it never happened. They want me to forgive and forget, but honestly, sometimes I can't even function when the memory is triggered. I need to be able to deal with what happened instead of being told how wrong I am for trying to heal from it.
    My recent post Grace And “The Right Thing”

  13. 13 serenawoods said at 9:50 am on January 8th, 2013:

    No one had to validate the root of the pain, and no one really can. However, the human mind (both neurologically and metaphysically) is altered by events whether the person is aware of the shaping or not. That's why you can be damaged by something that you never acknowledge. We stuff emotions in dark corners because we don't know what to do with them. We block parts of ourselves out so that we can function and create some sense of our idea of "normal".

    The problem comes when we behave in response to the things we do not acknowledge. We become shells or facades of our best version of ourselves. We end up lacking depth as we are unable to access the depths of our emotions. Like the hiker who cut off his own arm so he could live, we mutilate our emotional functioning so that we can live.

    It's a good thing to not be able to ignore it. Healing is closer when we can no longer silence the brokenness. Forgiving people does not mean we are healed. Forgiving people means that they are no longer an obstacle. You are not saying that you are okay with them or with what they did. It just means that you are not their victim anymore. It's interesting the way we can deaden ourselves, but not the power our abusers had over us. Of all the things we cut out and bury, we choose the wrong thing when it's us that gets buried.

    There is no way we can manipulate our memory of their choices to make them less damaging. But, there is a way to see how our experiences have molded us into people with more compassion for others. Especially others like us. It should be no surprise when we cross paths with someone who feels alone in their pain. We have the ability to make them feel less alone. At some point, we have to consider our perspective like it's a gift. If we have the living God inside of us, then our perspective is a freeway of compassion on which many other people cannot travel. When the Spirit calls for someone who knows that road, we can rise to the task. We can show those who are lost inside themselves the way home.


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