Even When It Hurts

I learned about dissociation this week.

I asked my councilor why I am struggling so much to dig deeper under the surface of my heart. Why can’t I talk to God? Why can’t I tap into the pain that lurks below the surface? Why do I feel like I’m blocked off from my feelings?

Dissociation is a break in how your mind handles information. You may feel disconnected from your thoughts, feelings, memories, and surroundings. It can affect your sense of identity and your perception of time.

My councilor told me that there is a series of actions that take place before dissociation begins. She gave me the following analogy:

  1. Stress: Think of an infant. If a baby is hungry or needs a diaper change, it cries out for help because it is helpless. There are two possible outcomes. The first is that the child’s mother or father or caregiver comes to help the baby and meet the child’s need. This will bring the stress response down, calm the child, and bring the child back to homeostasis. (Homeostasis is an organism’s process of maintaining a stable internal environment suitable for sustaining life. This is where your nervous system is calm and at rest with no fight/flight/freeze response. You are calm and feel safe.) If there is no suitable caregiver to respond to the child’s cries, the child will move to the next phase of the stress response.

2. Distress: At this stage, the child will cry louder, desperate to be heard. Desperate for its needs to be met. Again, if there is a loving, nurturing caregiver, the child can return to homeostasis. But, if the child’s needs are still not met at this stage of the stress response, it will move to the third stage.

3. Dissociation: At this stage in the stress response, the child has learned that crying won’t help it and so it separates itself from its needs. In essence, it believes that it no longer has any needs to cry about. This is where the child stops crying, stops whimpering, and stops trying to get attention because no one has come to help them when they did cry.

Now, this is a crude representation of the stress response. I am no psychologist or therapist, this is for my own personal development, but this definitely helps me understand why I can’t dig into my deeper memories, emotions, and thoughts. For years, I have pushed them aside and stayed active and busy to distract myself from them because I believed that if I met everyone else’s needs and ignored my own, than I would be happy.

Turns, out, I was deadly wrong. And now, I’m paying the price. I suffer from PTSD caused by domestic abuse over a 12 year marriage. I have started to build the foundation of a new life over the past 3 years and now that I don’t have to fight for mere survival, I have the capacity to learn how to move beyond survival. But first, I have to deal with my anxiety and dissociation.

The first step I have put into action is to listen on repeat to songs that speak to me to help me to get into the frame of mind to be able to shake off the distractions of single parenting and get into a place of safety where I can go deeper and lean into my pain a little more.

This is the song I chose today:

Even When It Hurts (Praise Song)

Hillsong UNITED

Take this fainted heart
Take these tainted hands
Wash me in your love
Come like grace again

Even when my strength is lost
I’ll praise you
Even when I have no song
I’ll praise you
Even when it’s hard to find the words
Louder then I’ll sing your praise

I will only sing your praise

Take this mountain weight
Take these ocean tears
Hold me through the trial
Come like hope again

Even when the fight seems lost
I’ll praise you
Even when it hurts like hell
I’ll praise you
Even when it makes no sense to sing
Louder then I’ll sing your praise

I will only sing your praise
I will only sing your praise
I will only sing your praise
I will only sing your praise

And my heart burns only for you
You are all you are all I want
And my soul waits only for you
And I will sing till the…

The ember remains. There is still a remnant of hope. We are never hopeless.

Jeremiah 17:14 Heal me, O Lord, and I will be healed; save me and I will be saved, for you are the one I praise.

This exercise allows me to sit with the feelings and memories I have tried so desperately to escape from. I hope to continue to chronical my journey as I dig deep and sort through the muck of pain caused by repeated trauma.

“Even when the fight seems lost
I’ll praise you
Even when it hurts like hell
I’ll praise you
Even when it makes no sense to sing
Louder then I’ll sing your praise”

Today, this song will be my voice. This process is the most difficult thing I have ever done. Taking this step today feels like I’m taking charge of this journey and going in the right direction, even if it hurts.

4 thoughts on “Even When It Hurts

  1. Dissociation leads to learned helplessness if the situation continually repeats, which is what occurs when a person gives up trying because they think there’s no use. Think about a circus elephant for a moment. Such a large animal eventually gives up trying to free itself after repeatedly failing, and no longer needs to actually be tied down. The elephant simply remains where it has been placed.

    Thank you for sharing your innermost thoughts and feelings. I pray God uses you to help others in similar situations. πŸ’›


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