Unmasking Pain: A Treacherous Yet Most Necessary Journey

February 8, 2020 by Charlie Hedges − 0 Comments

That which is not recognized cannot be reconciled. Charlie

A Brief History of Early Childhood

Although I have alluded to it for several years of blogging, I have never really divulged many details (don’t expect much today). Until I was nearly 8 years old I was essentially a homeless child, abandoned by a needy mother, and a remote alcoholic father. As a result, I was forced to live with 4 or 5 relatives for varying lengths of time, each of whom seemingly provided me with a home, only to find myself shipped off to another relative after a handful of months. And sometimes back to my mother for very short periods.

This time of my life was capped off by one and a half years of living with my quart-a-day drinking father. I survived on the roller coaster of severe alcoholism, becoming accustomed to bouts of rage as well as moments blissful love. But walking on eggshells, never knowing how to please this person or precisely where the boundaries of his anger lay, always marks life with a “wake-up-to-pass-out” drunk.

Feeling Unlovable

As I have later discovered, a child at this age is acutely in need of safety, acceptance and love—none of which came my way. This process of living with one relative, then shipped off to another, then another, ad naseum, left me with one excruciating conclusion about myself: I was not worthy of love; I was unwanted and unwantable.

NOTE: At almost 8 years old I was adopted, nurtured and unsurpassably loved and accepted by a goddess of a woman—Aunt Billie.

Still, for the following 60+ years I have been haunted by debilitating fears of abandonment and rejection. At least that is what I thought until my recent courageous journey into my deepest self, only to discover that fear of abandonment and rejection have only been masks of the real fear of pain. And with this pain also comes a natural but hidden unresolved anger with those people that hurt me.

Freedom to Feel

I have most recently come to understand my real wound is an abandoned child pain and the anger that comes with it. Until I recognized that truth I had no chance to reconcile it. Now… I know it; therefore I can deal with it. And therefore I can heal. Although the hurt will never leave—nor should it, for it is the remembrance of that pain that gives me compassion for others… and patience… and love.

Yes love. Once the mask of surface level pain is removed an even deeper pain is brought to light, now I can make sense of my fears and reconcile them, redeem them even.

Today, still, my first response to the threat of pain is unrecognized anger. I am hugely pissed off that someone might try to hurt me, knowingly or unknowingly, for intention makes little difference. My driving thought is “how dare you mess with my deepest pathological fears?” My anger seethes, albeit hidden, even to myself—most of the time. Make no mistake however—it is ever present and ever real.

Right this minute, I am on a plane heading home after a 10-day retreat in the jungle, 6 days of which were devoted to silence in a sequestered 8 square feet of land next to my hut, which I was not permitted to leave except for 4 nights of healing in song and reflection.

Only Two Choices

After all this, I have come to one overriding conclusion. There are only two choices for dealing with unmasked pain and anger: (1) revenge, or (2) love. Revenge leads to even more pain while love leads to redemption and reconciliation.

I choose understanding. I choose forgiveness.

Yes, I choose Love.

It is the only sane choice!

Unmask Your Pain

With Unmasked Love

Photo courtesy of flyingv43 at istockphoto

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