Yesterday I went to a church I attend every so often. I’m not religious, but the pastor and I have become friends and I enjoy his sermons. He is very wise and kind. The church is “Baptist,” but the congregation consists of people with diverse spiritual beliefs and practices. They are very welcoming to all people who want to come together in the spirit of love and peace.
Anyway, during the passing of bread, an elderly woman in the row in front of me fainted. A nurse in the congregation rushed to her aid. Several people were immediately on the phone dialing 911. While most of the people in attendance focused on the woman, I focused my attention on her husband. He sat there as he watched the EMTs tend to her. It was obvious to me that he felt helpless and perhaps even isolated.
A strange thing happened to me. My eyes welled with tears. I felt such empathy for this man. I think that my inner child, Penelope, connected with his feelings of helplessness and isolation. An immense sadness took hold of me.
I looked around at the other people in the congregation. I was the only one with tears in my eyes. I wiped my tears away. I didn’t want to draw attention to myself. I somehow felt embarrassed, as if I were crying over something not worth crying about. But I knew I wasn’t just crying for this man, I was crying for myself. Crying over my loss of innocence. Crying over my utter helplessness as others exerted power over me so many years ago.
I’ve mentioned in previous posts that I have been dissociated from any and all feelings related to my childhood trauma. I feel no sadness, no anger, no love, no joy. I’ve been walking through life numb for decades.
Recently, I sought and found a new therapist with the express goal of connecting with my repressed emotions related to my childhood sexual trauma. While we haven’t yet delved into my past, we have been addressing my feelings of low self-esteem and self-loathing. We are working on my learning to like myself and to believe in my worth. We have also been addressing how I avoid feelings – through spending, eating, and succumbing to the overwhelming desire to take a nap. We are working on identifying triggers, and on allowing myself to be uncomfortable – sitting with my anxiety and the feelings that lurk beneath it.
While I haven’t yet been able to do this, I think my crying in the church could be the beginning of connecting with the pain of my trauma. I am hopeful that more emotions will arise with time.