I can’t sleep tonight. There’s no physical cause. I just can’t stop myself from reliving an old hurt over and over again.
It’s not something that matters anymore. That’s why it’s so frustrating. It involves someone who’s not in my life anymore and who I don’t even want in my life. But I can’t stop feeling an awful stabbing at my heart with a pain that feels just like a physical hurt.
For years, I assumed everybody felt this way, but I slowly figured out that I have something that’s like an emotional disability — another long-term effect from childhood “programming.”
I don’t trust people very easily. If you got to know me, that might surprise you, because I can be comfortable telling people my darkest secrets pretty quickly. I can judge someone’s character and trust people about pragmatic things — honesty and safety — but it’s very rare when I can trust someone with my inner self.
My real self. My heart. Who I really am.
If someone hurts me, it’s not like a normal hurt for someone else. Because I learned that trusting people to love me as a child always hurt, betrayal of trust feels as though I’m reliving my core wound. I haven’t been able to figure out how to change this.
An incident from a few years ago crossed my mind tonight. It really and truly doesn’t matter anymore, not in the pragmatic sense. But the wound is still just as powerful as the moment I experienced it.
For me, an emotional wound is a deep and painful gash that feels as though it’s going to kill me. It’s hard to explain this to people who haven’t experienced this sort of wounding, but it means that I react more strongly than someone else might to being emotionally hurt.
I’m not the sort to physically lash out at others. I don’t normally scream at others when I’m hurt. Instead, I withdraw and feel as though this is going to be the hurt that proves no one is ever going to love me — that I might move among human society, but that nobody will ever experience my heart.
If someone betrays me, I can lose faith in the person so profoundly that the relationship can’t be fixed. When that happens, I feel deeply wounded and betrayed. I feel so hurt that I’m like a wounded animal whose life is at stake. Being hurt is an existential threat to me in a way that’s hard to explain.
But here’s the strange part about it. I can forgive deep betrayal — and repair deeply damaged relationships — more easily than I can forgive small wounds and repair lesser relationships.
If someone hurts me in a fairly small way, I am prone to cutting off that person completely and permanently. If someone hurts me in this way — but I haven’t yet gotten too deep into trust with the person — I simply learn that this person isn’t worth trusting.
And I never trust that person again. I probably never speak to that person again.
But if the hurt is greater — because it’s from someone who I’ve trusted more strongly — there’s an entirely different template from my past.
It’s only now that both of my parents are dead that I can admit that a part of me never gave up on the idea — more like a fantasy — that one or both of them was going to finally be emotionally healthy enough and psychologically mature enough to love me.
I was deeply hurt by my mother abandoning me when I was a child. I hid that from myself. I didn’t want to admit it, so I went numb. But I was hurt so badly by it that I kept being drawn back to her — in my adult life — to try again and again to have a loving relationship with someone who just wasn’t capable of giving me what I needed.
After I finally figured out the truth about my father, I was incredibly angry with him and then I experienced deep hurt with him. I felt deeply betrayed. But there was a part of me which hoped — against the expectation of my rational brain — that he might go to therapy with me 10 years ago. I had the fantasy that he might finally understand what he had done and spend his last years repairing our relationship.
That’s my pattern with the deepest of hurts. If I have trusted someone enough to allow her into the deepest part of my heart, I am an unrealistic fool. Even when my rational mind knows better, I still expect for someone to finally resolve — once and for all — the old pattern by returning to love me.
My rational adult mind understands now why my mother had to abandon me. She had to leave us to save her own sanity. If she had stayed — or kept trying to take her children with her — she might have ended up dead. Or she might have killed my father. I understand that now.
But my heart still needs the old wound resolved. And that’s why my heart is full of fantasy even when my rational mind knows better.
Some part of me is still hoping — and even believing — that someone is going to love me in a way that finally resolves the old script of abandonment.
The betrayal of abandonment has gone on for my entire life so far, but all it takes is one miracle to change that for the rest of my life.
My rational mind knows I’m a fool to look for miracles, but my heart still has irrational faith that love wins in the end — in a way that finally resolves this long and excruciating story of betrayal.