Emotional Wounds We Need to Heal


We are all a wounded people.  I hate when someone calls themselves broken.  Granted, broken doesn't mean unfixable, but at the same time, being wounded isn't actually being broken.  Sometimes our wounds are deep, yes.  But broken indicates there are pieces of us laying around in different places.  And maybe for some of us, that's a better description than just specifically placed gashes inside of us.  Maybe some of us do feel actually broken.  But we aren't made of plaster.  We can't shatter into dust.  We are people.  And our bodies, minds, and souls are made of the same stuff.  Being human means we have healing properties within us.  If we break, it grows back together, whether it be skin, bone, or our souls.  Yes, it can leave a scar.  But that doesn't mean the scar is part of our wound.  A scar is a healed wound.  Just a reminder of what once was.  We do not bleed from scars.  We do not seep from them.  So what people "emotional scars" are not scars at all.  They are still open wounds that continue to trigger us whenever we are in a situation that reminds of us our abuse or trauma.  

I have scars and I have wounds.  My father was an abusive alcoholic who beat my mother and sometimes hit me.  His abuse was more emotional towards me.  He called me names and made me feel like I was worthless.  As an adult, I now realize his abuse of me was just him acting out whatever he felt about himself.  He felt worthless.  Completely and utterly worthless.  What makes a person take that out on their children or significant other is beyond me.  I could not fathom ever saying that kind of shit to my children or my husband.  I could not fathom putting my hands on someone I loved (or really anyone else, unless I was defending myself or those I love), either.  I don't get why his brain worked the way it did and why mine is so different.  But I did decide to stop carrying around the weight of his abuse in 2012, twelve years after his death.  No, scratch that.  I didn't decide anything at all.  It just happened.  And by some strange act of healing, the things he did during my life with him no longer triggered me.  I could finally think about him without hating his guts or feeling numb anymore.  I forgave him because I felt that I understood him in a way I never did before.  I didn't set out to do it.  It was a combination of several things that got me to go through this process.  But I do have scars.  I do remember the things he did to me and while they don't make me feel shameful or angry, they do make me sad that so much of my life was wasted with shitty parents, when I could have been adopted to better people.  Like I said, my scars from him do not make me bleed or do I seep anger from them anymore, but they are still there.  And while the scars will never leave me, they are healed for the most part (once in a great while, the wounds are reopened just a smidge, but that gets less and less as times goes by).

The wounds I do seep and bleed from are the ones I got (and still get) from my mother.  They are triggered on a daily basis, which is something I am actively working on learning how to deal with all the time.  And recently, I was starting to think that maybe they'd never heal.  At least not until I no longer lived with my mother (she lives in our home).  But I keep working on healing and learning new ways to deal with her behavior (she is a narcissist) and learning new ways to protect myself against her attacks.   

Both my parents wounded me a great deal.  And both of my parents were also wounded a great deal themselves, by their own parents and life experiences.  Together, they worked to try to pass down their wounds to me, in order to get rid of them all, but what they didn't know is that it doesn't work that way.  Because the more you give wounds to others, the more yours are triggered as well.  The more you make someone feel worthless, the more worthless you feel.  These abusers see wounds as moveable items, as though by handing them out they are an act of cleaning house.  But when they take a box of their own pain and hand it to us, it just gets replaced by another box in their psyches. 


Inside of each of these boxes are wounds.  But rather than heal them, narcissists (as most abusers are) will try to hand those wound off to us.  So their wounds become our wounds.  But our job is to stop taking their boxes and work on healing the ones we have.  

Many of the different types of wounds we can have are: 

  • physical abuse remnant wounds (memories of being physically abused which can lead you to either be physically abusive yourself or be very sensitive to anyone putting their hands on you)
  • shame/humiliation wounds (you were shamed and humiliated for things on a regular basis which usually ends up with you hating yourself)
  • evaluation/observation wounds (always being observed, evaluated and judged which can lead to hating people noticing you or watching you do anything) 
  • boundary wounds (a trusted person always trampled on your physical, personal, or emotional boundaries so you grow up with little to no boundaries and are extremely codependent)
  • control wounds (when parent(s) tried to control you all the time so grow up either hating being controlled or crave others to control you)
  • devaluation wounds (when your parent puts you in a devaluation/idealization cycle)
  • triangulation wounds (when a parent pits you against your sibling or another person, which can ruin adult sibling relationships)
  • gaslighting wounds (when someone tries to make you believe that what happened didn't happen)
  • neglect wounds (when a caregiver neglects your physical, emotional, or personal needs so now you neglect yourself or become needy with others)
  • not-good-enough wounds (when a caregiver suffer from a lack of object constancy and assumes that when you do something wrong, you always do something wrong, even though you don't--this leads to disordered thinking that we are inherently not good enough)
  • parentification/incest wounds (when a parent pushes you to do things they should be responsible for, like taking care of your siblings or forcing you to do things way out of your age range)
  • infantilization wounds (when a parent treats you as a child no matter how old you are and you grow up never feeling like an actual adult)
  • individuation wounds (when your parent(s) refuse to let you be someone separate from them so now you either are staunchly independent or have no idea how to be an individual so you become the people you surround yourself with)
  • abandonment wounds (when a caregiver walks away from taking care of you)
  • betrayal wounds (when a trusted person betrays your trust or your love in some way)
  • rejection wounds (when a caregiver rejects you and creates a feeling inside of you that you are unloveable)
  • unmet needs wounds (when your needs were not met as a child so now either you shun people away or become needy as an adult)
  • guilt wounds (when a caregiver makes you feel guilty for them having to care for you and now you feel everything is your fault and say "I'm sorry" a lot)
  • ignoring wounds (when you were ignored as a child and made to feel like your feeling didn't matter so now you either ignore your own needs or get triggered when you feel ignored)
  • emotional scarcity wounds (your issues and emotions were ignored as a child which can lead to neediness or shutting off your emotions as an adult)

You may have one or many or all of these.  And when you add the together, they all seem to blend into one single gaping wound:  

I am, at my core, deficient and do not matter.  I am broken and cannot be fixed.  

And that is certainly not true.  We all can be fixed (except narcissists, but they don't see anything wrong with the way they are, so they normally won't seek change to begin with).  Even if we think we can't.  Sometimes we can be fixed with therapy.  Sometimes we need medication.  Sometimes we need a change of scenery and a new life.  And sometimes we just need a change of mindset.  And sometimes, we need all of those things.  

And most of all, we can helped with love.  Meaning, learning to love ourselves, forgive ourselves, and heal ourselves.  It also means surrounding ourselves with people who truly love us and want us to heal and will help us heal, rather than those who will use us for their own nefarious purposes.  Right Consumption on the mindful path (the Buddhist-style basis for the Soul Excavation Program) says that surrounding ourselves with people who only want the best for us is one step on the path to peace.  But it's also a HUGE step on the path to healing.  

If you want to, then look at the world this way: we are all sick with wounds of various sizes and depths and unhealedness.  There are those who want to heal and help others heal by not joining in inflicting wounds on others (even though we sometimes do because we don't always feel in control of what our wounds make us do--though if we work on healing, we inflict pain less and less).  And there are those who are sick who only want the sickness to spread.  Those people are the types to stay away from.  Only join groups of people whose goal is to heal.  And this includes family--if they want to heal, they are worth being around.  If they want to spread sickness, they are not.  It's as simple as that.   

If you are still at a point in life where you act from your wounds a great deal, you may consider taking time away from people and places who trigger you the most.  Like for me, I stopped participating on social media due to the fact that it triggers me a great deal to see people acting like fools to one another.  So I quit using it.  And certain friends of mine were HUGE triggers, so I gave them up, too.  During my hiatus from these things (though social media is never coming back into my life), I've been working on me and identifying my triggers as I go.  If I slip up, I journal about what happened and see what caused me to react the way I did.  That way I can know how my brain works at any given moment, what to avoid, what to work on, and where the trigger came from, so I can work on healing it.  I do not get angry with myself anymore for slipping up because I know I cannot truly heal unless I'm making mistakes to learn from.  The same should go for yourself.  When your triggers flare up, investigate it rather than berating yourself for doing it.  

Triggers are symptoms of open wounds.  So, if one flares up, know your wound is still open and needs to be worked on.  Here is my step-by-step plan do for doing so: 

  1. Trigger is flared and you've become angry.
  2. Stop.  Use the HALT questions: Am I hungry, anxious, lonely, or tired?  
  3. If you're hungry, eat something filling and healthy (if you're experiencing low blood sugar, reach for something full of protein and fiber to help even out your blood sugar, rather than something that will spike it and cause it to get low again soon after).  If you're lonely, call a trusted person, play a multi-player game online, go to a chat room, call your therapist, or just go out in public and strike up conversations if you can.  A family member I have member uses Second Life, but there are other programs out there that are similar.  If you're tired, sleep.  If you're anxious, identify your anxiety trigger and do some anxiety management (<~~click here for more info).  But if you're angry and have no idea why, you may be triggering an emotional wound. 
  4. Get out your journal and access your inner therapist (<~~ click for details) or call your actual therapist (or a trusted person) and identify what was going on and how it made you feel.  
  5. Identify which wound is being triggered.  Check the list above or research on your own or talk to your therapist/trusted person to see what they think.  If what they say doesn't jive with you, still explore it and see if they could possibly be right.  
  6. When you can realize what wound is being triggered, then you can realize this the next time it's triggered and you can stop yourself from reacting in the moment.  Or at least just recognize it and apologize faster.
  7. Explain to your loved one what is being triggered when you act a certain way.  It will help them understand that your actions aren't always on purpose and you're working on fixing it.  Ask for their help by them being more understanding when this happens. 
  8. Journal, journal, journal.  Explore your feelings.  Get to the root of what's going on.  
  9. When you are able, pick a new way to react in the same situation.  Choose your reaction ahead of time so eventually you'll remember to react that way instead of being on autopilot.  
  10. Forgive yourself.  Holding onto guilt for reacting badly doesn't help you heal.  Also apologize to people you've hurt with your triggered reactions and always be honest with them about it.  But know that we do better when we know better.  Now that you know better, you can work on doing  better.  Don't hold onto the fact that you didn't do better before.  Forgive yourself and be kind with yourself.  

Remember these particular steps in the Mindful Path (my version of the Eightfold Path, which I will post about later) when working with emotional wounds (these aren't all the steps, just the releveant ones): 

  • Mindful Understanding: I understand that I am wounded and I react from those wounds and I forgive myself for it, because I am working on doing better.
  • Mindful Speech: I remind myself to use the right words when triggered, rather than using reaction language (meaning angry words). 
  • Mindful Action: Instead of reacting, I will respond.  Meaning I will think before I act ("Is this the right way to act?  If not, then what is?")
  • Mindful Consumption: I will not surround myself with people or things that do not have my best interests at heart.  If someone triggers me by accident, that's one thing, but people who trigger me on purpose are not allowed in my life (you can either omit them from your life all together or go "grey rock" around them when you have to deal with them).
  • Mindful Love: I will love myself and forgive myself no matter my reaction and will work to do better next time.
  • Mindful Boundaries: I will give myself boundaries to stick by so I don't let others who do not have my best interests at heart (either knowingly or unknowingly) trigger me more than I already am.
  • Mindful Healing: I vow to work on healing every chance I get and not try to force healing before I am ready.  I also wish to actively concentrate on my healing, rather than only concentrate on what happened to me. 
  • Mindful Community:  I only surround myself with people that actually love me and want the best for me.  This doesn't mean "yes men", people who will let me do destructive or self-destructive things (those are the opposite of people who want the best for me).  I need people who hold me accountable for my actions, but also love me enough to understand why I do them and forgive me for them, and accept me as I am, without judgement.

Healing emotional scars from our childhood isn't always easy.  It's a long road full of repetition and mistakes.  The human brain is made in such a way that the behaviors of yesterday, especially negative ones, are engrained into our psyches stronger than the positive ones.  That's why we always revert to negative behavior when triggered.  But just by being aware that the triggers exist in the first place we can start on our path towards healing.  So, make a list of your triggers and fully explore them in journaling and/or with your therapist to get started on your journey to better mental health and a better life as a whole.  

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