Has a loved one hurt you so bad that you feel physically ill?
You’re not alone.
Recently I was hurt deeply by someone I love, so I’m right in the thick of it with you.
While I’ve been in “the thick of it,” I’ve observed what practices are working for me as I recover from the hurtful blow. What I found are five essential tips that are navigating me through this sticky swampland of betrayal, shame, anger, and overall discomfort.
While these five tips don’t quell the emotional pain entirely, I can tell they are transforming me into a better person than I was before.
And now I’m going to share them with you.
1: Consciously validate your feelings
While many people benefit from the practice of validating their feelings, this tip particularly applies to those of us who have endured abusive relationships where there was no space for our needs or emotions.
As a child, I wasn’t allowed to have needs or boundaries. Now, in adulthood, I have a knee-jerk reaction to shame myself for having needs and boundaries and for feeling upset when my needs go unmet and my boundaries get crossed. Subconsciously, I try to force myself to feel differently so I can make it easier on the person who hurt me and get through the painful process quicker.
Can we agree that’s silly?
What I want you to know is: given the same background and set of experiences, I would feel the same way you do right now. You aren’t wrong for feeling hurt and you don’t need to change how you feel.
If you’re putting your needs aside for others, even when they have hurt you, this is probably the most important tip of all to keep in mind. Because how are you supposed to heal your hurt when you can’t even accept that you are hurt?
It’s not your fault. You’re not wrong for feeling exactly how you feel. Embrace it and own it. This is your baseline, where the rest of your healing begins.
2: Move toward the pain
I mean like straight toward it. Don’t pretend like it doesn’t exist and try your very best not to self-medicate, as it will only prolong the process and the amount of time you feel the pain.
As I heard Beatrice Chestnut, once say, “If you sweep it under the rug it doesn’t go away; it just sits there for someone to trip on later.”
If you’re going to heal from this, you’re going to move through the pain to the other side.
Throughout my recent process of healing from my hurt, there were several times where I was sobbing on the floor whispering, “I can’t do this. This is too much.”
So I’ve been to that place, too. You aren’t alone there.
The reality is, of course, we can take it; it isn’t too much. We are big enough to move through the swampland of this pain and fully receive all of it. (See: Are you big enough for all your weird? One massive trick to finding instant peace.)
This isn’t just the quickest way to get through the hurt, it is the only way to get through the hurt.
I can do it.
You can do it.If you’re going to heal from this, you’re going to move through the pain to the other side. Click To Tweet
3: Check-in with your body
This tip alone has saved me hours of headache and overthinking. I am so grateful for my adviser and sex coach, Bez Stone, who taught me this technique.
It’s the best way I know to take Tip #2 seriously and go straight toward my pain. It’s a two-step process and it goes like this:
- Identify where the pain is manifesting in your body. What does it feel like? Do you have a knot in your stomach? A lump in your throat? Something going on with your arms and legs? Identify that feeling in your body and hone in on it.
- Next, try to expand it. Wait, what?? Yes, trust me. Make it as big as you possibly can. Make it cover your whole body. Don’t worry about what it means. Don’t analyze what is happening. Just feel into it.
(This was the part where I was sobbing on the floor, by the way.)
Even though it hurts, stay open to fully experiencing all your emotions in this way. Stay connected to your body. Bez encouraged me to speak words like, “OUCH,” or other words that make the “O” sound. Also, this doesn’t have to be a stagnant exercise. Move your body to reflect how you feel inside.
You will know when the wave of emotions has subsided as it always does.
In my case, I had to do this exercise several times a day (seriously) before my emotions were fully experienced to completion. Which brings us to the next tip…
4: Respect your cycles
After getting hurt, have you ever went from sobbing uncontrollably to totally pissed off to generally optimistic only to find yourself sobbing again and then getting even more pissed off?
Don’t worry. You’re not crazy. You’re healing.
As I’ve learned from my shaman, Shanna Romanyshyn, healing isn’t a linear process. It’s cyclical.Healing isn't a linear process. It's cyclical. Click To Tweet
Respecting your cycles means fully surrendering to each stage you’re naturally in. Each time you feel the cycle starting again, trust you’re not “going backwards” in your healing, instead, you’re just going deeper. Each time you cycle, you allow deeper healing.
The less you fight it, the more likely the cycles are going to settle back into a state of equilibrium.You're not crazy. You're healing. Click To Tweet
5: When you speak, speak your truth
This is an invaluable lesson I’ve learned from Gay and Katie Hendricks from their book Conscious Loving: The Journey to Co-Commitment.
They say your innermost truth is something that cannot be refuted. For instance, you may feel betrayed, but if you tell the person who hurt you, “You betrayed me,” they could say, “No I didn’t.” If it can be refuted, it isn’t your truth.
What if instead you say, “When I think about this situation that we’re in, I feel like there is a sinking dagger in the middle of my chest. It makes me want to curl in a ball and hide. I feel small inside.” How can someone refute that? Nobody can tell you how you do or don’t feel. That is your truth.
Also, this seems like a no-brainer, but your truth is about you. It can’t be an accusation: “You betrayed me,” “You’re a liar,” “You don’t love me.” These statements can be refuted and lead to arguing in circles. Instead, get to the core of your truth, which is usually a body or heart feeling, and speak it.
Gay and Katie have an entire chapter on this if you’re interested in their book, Conscious Loving: The Journey to Co-Commitment.
(You know it’s good when I link it twice.)
What you’re going through really sucks. There is no getting around that. It sucks. And I wish it was different for you.
But since it’s not different, you’ve still got to wade through the swampy mix of turbulent emotions and broken relationships. These five tips are here to support you in that. They have altered the trajectory of my healing such that I already am a more whole and joyful person than when I started – and I haven’t even finished healing yet!
I sincerely hope they do the same for you.
Cover photo by Cristian Newman.
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