Twelve years ago I could not tell you what “hurt” me outside of what was physically, mentally and emotionally going on in my world at that moment. And at that moment I was hurt by the lying and cheating. I was hurt by the unending manipulation. I was hurt by the palm to the head and the blow to the chest. I could identify those hurts. They were reality and there was no denying them. However, I could not and did not see outside of the here and now.
When I tried to express that my feelings were hurt, I was told that I was “too sensitive” or “no one is hurting your feelings” which always led me to second guess myself. Was I overreacting? Was I being “too sensitive”? Was I making mountains out of mole hills and pole vaulting over mouse turds? After awhile I wouldn’t express my feeling to anyone anymore. I kept them to myself and packed them tightly into a tiny compartment. The more I felt hurt, the more I packed them in. Do you know what happens when you do that? Yep. It happened. A massive explosion. A nuclear melt-down.
I came home one day and it only took one little sarcasm from a five-year-old to detonate it. My husband at that time worked nights and stayed home with the kids during the day while I worked. Day after day I would come home only to have to start working on the disasters they created. I came home that day and I had had it. He left for work and all I could do was yell at that tiny little girl to clean things up. I was on a rampage, throwing things at her to put away and yelling and cussing the whole time. As I walked by her room, I heard her mutter under her breath and I lost it.
I snatched her up by her arms and held her in the air as I carried her into the living room, yelling at her the entire way. I sat on the ottoman, still holding her arms, trying to hear that little voice in my head asking me, “what the f*** are you doing”? I stood her in front of me as I lowered my voice trying to calm myself. I began to try and explain to her why I was so upset then I began apologizing. I was so terribly sorry. She told me, “it’s okay Mommy”. It wasn’t. I hugged her and she said, “But Mommy, you hurt my arm.”
She had been wearing a big baggy sweat shirt with the sleeves rolled up. When I grabbed her arms, I knew I had a good grip on her left one but I only had a hand full of sweat shirt on her right one. I thought I hurt her left arm and went to pull up the sleeve so I could see it but she told me, “not that one Mommy”. I rolled up the sleeve on her right arm and in that instant, I thought I would vomit. When I grabbed that handful of sweat shirt, I had pinched her skin the entire time. She had a bright purple/red/blue bruise on her arm and you could see every one of my knuckles in this pattern. I cried. I sobbed. I begged this precious child to forgive me.
I knew in that instant, I had some kind of problem; there was something so terribly wrong with me that I would lose control like that but I didn’t know why. In that instant, I knew I needed help. The very next morning I scheduled an appointment with a counselor for that week. I went and explained what I had done and that I never, ever wanted anything like that to happen again. You know that saying, “hurt people, hurt people”? Well, I was deeply hurting but I was never going to hurt my child like that again.
On my very first visit with the counselor, she told me that she felt I was codependent and recommended I read the book, “Codependent No More” by Melody Beattie. I went out and bought it and read it. I related to everything in it but because of my financial situation I had to stop seeing the counselor after a few sessions so I would not truly understand codependency and how past hurts in my life affected me for at least another 10 years.
When I learned how to recognize and acknowledge my past childhood hurts, I was able to understand what role they played in the endless poor choices I had made. Only then was I able to work through them so they would not continue to play an unhealthy role any longer. I did not need to make sure that everyone who had ever hurt me knew what they did; I needed to know that I was hurting myself and those I loved the most in this world by holding on to them.
Today I am able to express myself in a healthy way when I am feeling hurt. I do not instantly react and I acknowledge how I feel and why. I do not need to seek outside validation. I can do that myself these days. I ponder if there is anything I need to do to release it. Do I need to make amends for my part? Do I need to forgive? Is there any truth in it? I do the necessary work and then I move on with my life.