Stepping Into Our Scars
by Jo Ann Fore
Life leaves scars—we all have our stories. But healed scars don’t hurt; they’re closed, insensitive to touch. A reminder of something that once was. I have places on my body from bike wrecks, surgeries, and maybe even a dog bite, but those wounds are healed, closed off by scars. Not too long ago though, I had an open wound on my body and when I touched it, it hurt like crazy. I was obnoxiously overprotective of my sore spot, not allowing anyone near for fear they would bump it and make me hurt all over again.
If there is something in the recesses of our minds (those places we don’t let others see) that shoots pain when it is “touched,” we are still wounded. The best way to clean this sort of wound like this is to properly flush it out.
Nature could tutor us in this area, this healing of hurts. In his book Waking the Tiger, therapist and educator Dr. Peter Levine suggests we could learn a valuable lesson from the instinctive behavior of animals. Those in the wild apparently hold an innate capacity to both process and transform traumatic life experiences.
A gradual, intentional release of energy must take place before we can be healed. Contrary to what we’ve heard, this licking our wounds is not always a self-pity thing. It is appropriate, necessary, to give ourselves room to address emotional pain so that we can heal and move forward.
In his studies, Dr. Levine noticed how most animals experience physical tremors after surviving a near death pursuit. Once they escaped becoming someone’s dinner, they ran around, shook, cried aloud—whatever it took to release the enormous amount of negatively charged emotions that had overpowered them during the chase.
If for some reason the animal failed to process this compressed energy, and tried to return to his regular life still hyped up, he simply couldn’t survive. If he didn’t do this release-dance, these fragments of trauma eventually destroyed his ability to live a normal life.
“(There has to be a) mechanism that’s there to bring us back from the brink of insanity, the brink of fear and experience of threat to balance,” Dr. Levine said. “A threatened human must discharge all the energy mobilized . . . this residual energy does not simply go away.”
Ever hope if we ignore things long enough they will eventually go away?
Are we lying to ourselves? Suppressing unresolved hurts, believing that’s what we’re supposed to do?
If we deny our emotions long enough, our hearts eventually line up with the lie that we have to keep this pain hidden. But we can’t.
I have my days when I feel a little crazy myself, out of balance, fearful and hyped-up. It’s then I know that I’ve stuffed something, failed to process a hurt. Like adjusting a rear-view mirror to eliminate those pesky blind spots, sometimes we have to take a look back at our scars to make sure there’s nothing coming, nothing sneaking up on us that could cause a crash.
Not that we look back to hyper analyze, or to get stuck in the pain, we look back only to better understand the link between what’s happened and any negative influences that are making their way into our lives.
Excerpt from When a Woman Finds Her Voice by Jo Ann Fore