Choose In Podcast with Roxanne Kennedy Granata
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August 31, 2020

Episode 30: Recognizing our Heart Wounds Part 1

The walls we formed around our heart were built to protect us. But they will harm us in our present and future, and prevent growth and love, if we don’t heal those wounds.


On today's episode, we are going to be looking at the heart. We have developed heart wounds over our lifetime from different experiences that we've had and our heart really strives to do a good job at protecting us. But it also stores unhealed pieces of our experience. And with those wounds, it holds us back it keeps us from progressing. It stunts our healing and our growth. And we even start seeing things in a way that really is quite unclear.

And we start making up stories and dialogue in our head of what things mean. And that's not necessarily true. It causes us a lot of harm when we don't heal our wounds. My husband right now is reading a book called Heart Wounds. And I was looking through it and it just kind of prompted this subject about how much our heart holds and how painful it is, and, and all the things that are holding us back. And I looked into it, I looked through the book.

And then I also looked up this author on Audible, she had another book that totally interested me. It's called emotional sobriety, I listened to the first two minutes, and it had a huge impact on me, the author's name is Tian Dayton. And her information was just mind blowing, because it's all the things I've already learned. It's what I've done in counseling, it attributes to the healing that I had, by the things that she is saying and kind of why we do what we do, how our heart does, what it does, and what we can do to work through the things that are holding us back.

In that two minute clip, she talked about our defense mechanism, and talking about how we have to feel the sore spots in our heart in order to heal them. I had an experience in counseling years ago, where my counselor said to me, I want you to close your eyes and imagine that there is a picture of light being poured over your head. And this light is so bright, and and it can its endless, it just will keep flowing out of this picture.

As it pours down your head and through your body. Imagine it going down starting from your head and going through all your limbs and everything down to the bottom of your feet. I visualize that and I could see it, I could see the light, it was so bright, it was almost had golden little ribbons through it. It was beautiful. And it felt warm and it felt inviting. And as I had it pour down my head and I imagined it going through every cell and piece of my body.

As I finished, I noticed something. And what that was was I could not get it to go into my heart. So as it was pouring down through my head through my shoulders down my arms everywhere. It's as if therewas something blocking it. And it just went right around my heart and then filled back in and filled all the way my whole body was filled. Everything except my heart. I even tried, I was trying to imagine it go into my heart, I was trying to make it seep through.

And I was trying to turn my body even to make it turn down and go into my heart. But it just wouldn't there was no way it was completely a solid wall. That's very telling. That is definitely saying my heart does not know how to accept light in it didn't know how to let go of any walls that it had. And that kind of began my next stage of counseling work. And that is where we ended up starting into more EMDR and also parts work. Parts work was so profound for me and we'll talk about that next time, as I'm going to do a second part to this heart wound episode.

But I wanted to mention it because it's important to know that these wounds in our heart can be healed. We just have to have the bravery and courage to look at them. When we can see with reality and say, okay, that would make sense that I have a wall up and we let down our pride and our ego. We allow ourselves to be vulnerable. That's the only way to do this.

Our ego is just there to protect us. We don't have to use it though. We do Don't have to stroke the ego by saying we don't have to do this. We don't need this. We don't need anyone. It's okay if we just isolate and tune out all the healing work that we have to do and reject all the people who want to help us. We can reject relationships, we can reject love. But we just create more heart wounds by doing that. So let's get into some of the work that

Tian Dayton talks about in her heart wounds book, The subtitle of her book is the impact of unresolved trauma and grief on relationships. I mean, come on, that's exactly what we need. We are having chaos in our lives and in our families and our relationships when we don't heal our wounds. So it talks about it gives us a quote, first by Albert Schweitzer.

And it says "The tragedy is not that a man dies, the tragedy of life is what dies inside a man while he lives." So her first subtitle is the wound that can't be seen healing the wounded heart. She says "when we avoid the experience of grief, we lock ourselves up in the loss, we carry around an unhealed wound." Now, when my son was younger, he's 23. Now, but when he was eight years old, we had a tragic loss in our family.

My nephew, who was his best friend at that time, suddenly passed away. And he was nine years old. And it was shocking to our entire family. And my son at that time being so young, he had a traumatic event. Now, at that pointin my life, I wasn't aware of counseling or doing our healing work. I was very communicative with my children. So we did talk about it. And we, we hugged and I sat with my son, but I did not know how to do the healing work with him.

I didn't know what he needed. Now, years later, I think, Wow, if I had only known, I could have talked to him different, had him talk to a therapist for just a few times even just to navigate through such a tremendous loss, that experience for him of loss, a death of someone he loved and cared about so much, who he looked up to and thought he was the best person in the world. How did he managed to heal from that?

You know, in my opinion, I don't know that he has, I don't know that he has dealt with it fully. There's a lot of grief there. There's a lot of pain and sadness. And how hard is that. And it's not something I knew. So now that as he is an adult, he gets to choose to work on that himself as he decides he needs to. But looking at loss like that, we acquire different kinds of trauma, from childhood all the way up to

our lives right now. We can't prevent it, it's going to happen. So what we do with it is important and to be able to look at the grief and feel it is the best thing that you can do for yourself. Because the more we look at it, the more we see the sore spots, the scars, the pain, the sadness, then what happens is we don't have to create any walls, because that particular thing that happened has now been seen and heard and validated. And so it doesn't have to do any harm in creating some sort of false protection.

Like for me the the walls that I created on my heart where I wouldn't let light in. She goes on to talk about how our bodies are designed for healing, they are biologically driven to heal. So when we cut ourselves, we clean the wound, and we can suture it maybe or something like that, but we rely on nature to complete the healing process. So she goes on to say that we cannot remit our flesh but nature can. And that's the same thing with emotional wounds. wounds to the heart needs to be cleaned in order to naturally heal.

These are her words, a wound to the psycho spiritual body can be just as crippling to the whole person as a wound to the physical body. Life is full of losses, passing wholy through the stages of mourning whether it be for a loved one a job a divorce  a child who has left home or a stage of life not only strengthens the ego and the inner self but increases our trust in life's ability to repair and renew itself. it deepens our inner relationship with the self.

So grieving helps us It serves a number of important functions. She goes on to say it releases the pain surrounding an event or situation so that it will not be held within the emotional and physical self. grieving allows the wound to heal if we do not grieve we build walls around the aggrieved wound in order to protect it even though these very walls can keep healing experiences out as well. So when we build walls, we prevent also healing and and others

experiences that are going to be light and give us a good. We don't allow those to happen when we create walls if we don't properly mourn and grieve. She talks about different types of people and how some remain stuck. And some thrive in creating safety by healing their wounds.

She said, there's certain qualities that someone who chooses to heal has, she says they're able to self reflect. So they can look at their own thinking their way, their feeling, their behaviors. And they can look at a kind of from a self observer, someone who is realistic about what's happening in their lives. Something else that they do, they take their own good advice, and they live by it, rather than spending valuable time and energy digging trenches, then sitting in and defending them.

How many times have we done that when we are feeling stuck, and we are in our own pit of despair, and people are trying to help us and they're trying to offer us different solutions. And we can't see anything pastwhat we're going through. I was in a counseling session once with a group and somebody was asking the therapist that was leading it, what to do about a situation and she was really having a hard time and really struggling and this therapist, my therapist doesn't usually give us any solution, he helps us figure it out ourselves.

So that we'll actually do it. But at this point, I think he was feeling like, okay, she's really spiraling, I need to give her something and we were thinking, Okay, he's like, I'm gonna tell you what to do. And all of us that were in there, there was about eight of us, we were like, Oh, my gosh, he's gonna say I, we've been trying to get him to tell us what to do forever. And he never tells us and here he is, he's gonna tell her. So he tells her exactly what she needs to do. And she sat there for a second. And and looked at him and said, Yeah, but dada da da da

and relayed her entire experience she had just said, and so he said, Okay, I'm going to tell you this one more time, I want you to listen. And he tells her again, and again, the same cycle repeated. Why is that? Why is it that we want the solution? yet we're afraid of what the solution is, we are trying to protect ourselves. But we're only causing

ourselves more harm when we sit in that pit. And we are offered the best advice or solution or insight or wisdom or knowledge or education from somebody who knows. And we say yeah, but I can't do that, or that won't work for me. So we're sitting in our pit of despair. It's a hard place. I've been there before I have been in that place that says that won't work for me, there's no way my situations different.

No, he loves me, he's going to choose the work, I just have to wait for him to do it. While I waited and waited and waited. And he still continued to do what he was choosing to do. I did not need to wait that long. I could have taken action for my own self not waiting on someone else to do something. It's one of those moments where you realize, wow, okay, I had a lot to learn and a lot to let go of I was trying to control a situation through fear.

So she goes on to say, more things about how we can identify if we are someone who wants to heal, or if we're not, and this can help us if you're finding that you are one that wants to stay stuck. You don't necessarily want to but you are you can look at and go, okay,

I've been in that stuck place. That's the life I've been choosing. But I don't want to do that anymore, I'm going to do something different. And I want to learn how she goes on to say, people who don't want to remain stuck, who want to get through their walls and their heart wounds. They identify what

they're feeling and articulate it to themselves and others, which gives them the ability to face the pain of loss. When we say it out loud, when we write it on the paper, I have so many

journal entries of me writing out to my ex husband, to God to myself of all the ways that they made my life hard. All the ways that they didn't rescue me and all the things that happened that I couldn't control. I wrote those out. And by doing that, I was able to come around and by the end, I could see Oh, you have been there for me. You have shown me what to do God, you have given me No, you couldn't change a person's decisions. But you could show me the way out which he did.

And I took it had I not taken it had I stayed in the spiral of the the this is unfair. And you did this to me and you didn't save me even after all I've done. If I would have stayed there, I would have still been there still been stuck, my resentment would have grown and my heart wounds and walls would have grown bigger. Okay, the next one, they identify their issues and live with a realistic rather than an idealized view of themselves. And when life hurts, they're able to own their issues and work with them. When we can recognize our own personal wounds, even if we didn't cause them.

We now have to heal them, right. So when we can recognize them as we get into different relationships, or we start learning how to set boundaries, and so at work or with friends or family, we start noticing the things in ourselves that are issues for us, we can start changing those things. When we notice we can heal.

The next one, they cope with loss by calling it by its correct name and move through the emotional turmoil of a grieving process. So calling it what it is, I am feeling grief, because this happened, I am feeling angry and sad because of this. Why am I angry? Oh, it's because I'm fearing that this loss will cause more damage to me, and I don't know what to do about it. That's what calling it out is. That's what saying the right name is, if we just say, I'm so angry that you

took this person from me or that you caused so much harm to my life. If you're talking about a spouse, or somebody like that, if we stay in that place with our hands clenched, and we're fighting, then we're actually not seeing clear, with an observant view of what's really bothering us. And usually, underneath all of that anger and resentment is sadness and fear. What are we fearing, with this new loss with this new experience? With what we just found out about our own selves about our weakness?

What is it that we're feeling and when we uncover that we can heal it. This next one is a huge one. A person who wants healing separates the past from the present, which allows them to live in today without sabotaging it with unresolved unfinished business from the past. So I'll share with you that right now. My husband, he I already shared this with you. But he has been doing his healing work before I ever came into the picture. He actually even read my book twice before we actually even met again, if you listen to this, you know that we dated 27 now 28 years ago in college, and then we reconnected, it's been almost now two years.

But we got married just a year ago. But he was already working on his healing with a counselor before I came into the picture. And he had read my book. And so he knew some of the things that we related on. But some wounds cannot heal outside of a relationship. And the reason is, is because we are designed for love. And when we feel loved and cared for and safe, we are able to see more clear what the wounds really are. So for him, a lot of his trauma has been coming up over these past several months.

And so he is now in depth in the work of his trauma, and how to heal that. And he's working with this therapist, and he is awesome, because he does the work. And how refreshing and amazing is that? For me, it's like his trauma is hard. And it does cause for a lot of communication that we have to have. And there's boundaries and and sometimes there's their sadness and pain. But it is absolutely beautiful and amazing to be able to walk alongside somebody that is choosing to do their work. It's life changing. That's what I've always wanted.

That's what we all want someone who's willing to work as hard as we are. And that's what he does. And I just think he is so strong and brave and courageous for doing it. Because it's not easy. We all know the healing work is not easy. As he's doing this work. He is finding himself in this place, the one that says separate the past from the present. Because what trauma does is it's in there as if it's waiting to be alerted that there's something scary going to happen.

We are unsafe in this situation. So when he has a situation with me in our marriage, and we're talking about something or I'm sharing something with him, and his mind wants to go to the past, this is his wound that wants to do this, his fear his his walls, want to go to the past and say, Oh, we know what this looks like. This is not a safe situation for us to be in. So with his counselor and us talking all the time, we can say wait, is that actually true right now? I said this to him the other day, is what you're feeling right now true for today. And he's like, No, I said, right. I

s it Is it from the past? Are you currently being threatened at the moment? He's like, no, that's past I said, cool. So it's like acknowledging that can show you a different way and your brain heals and shows you that Oh, wow, that was a past wound, we no longer need to have a wall around that. Because in the present situation, were safe. And that is the best feeling because as those wounds heal, there's a lot of emotion around those things because of the pain that you went through.

And when you're in a safe environment, and you can finally do some of that relational healing work. It's hard and there's a lot of grieving to do because you realize even more so what you were in. We don't always see the different types of emotional abuse that we were in, if we are still in a situation. Now I know many of you are probably still with your spouse, and you guys are working towards recovering and healing, that's wonderful.

We need people that are willing to both work on healing. If you have a spouse that's working on it, keep going, you guys just keep working, you will know if you need to let go or not. But for those of us and those of you whodon't have somebody that is also putting in the work that doesn't want to, I'm telling you, you cannot carry them to safety, as much as you want to as much as you're sacrificing your own self. I did it for years.

But they have to choose, we all do, we all have to choose what kind of life we want to live. And if we want to be healthy or not. This line in her book goes perfectly with that "there is a result of the surrendering to the grief process, which is having the courage and willingness to walk through it and the commitment to stay with it for as long as it takes. Healing is a series of quiet awakenings born of the willingness to struggle to have a true and honest encounter with the self."

It's hard work. But it's so important. We are complex individuals, our mind and our relationship with even our own self, who we think we are the stories we've told ourselves that we're not enough or that we are too much all those different things we have to clear, we have to heal so that we can get back to our authentic self, and work towards having the relationships that we want and loving ourselves in a way that heals our heart.

If we keep the wounds in our heart and the walls, we're constantly looking to fill it up. We're looking to do something with that void, we need to find something we need to do something you've heard me share before that at one point, my heart was so lonely. I felt so empty, like my whole soul and heart or barren like, if you see in a movie, the wilderness movies, the old westerns where it's just dirt, and you can hear the wind. And there's a couple tumbleweeds here and there. But it's it's deserted. Nothing's there, except the one person standing there. That's how I felt. I couldn't have

felt more empty, more broken, more lonely than I did at these certain points in my life. And I really wanted to not fill those, those empty holes with something that wasn't good. I didn't want to look for outside relationships or a new relationship because I was so broken. I wanted to heal some of the wounds before I did that. And as I sat there so empty and pleading and praying with God, please help me, please fill this up. I don't know how I was told to imagine the Savior holding my heart.

And maybe you've heard me say this. Imagine the Savior holding your heart. He is the one who holds your heart. He is the one who can fill it up. And he can fill it more than anybody else. Well, I would imagine that I would go in my closet, and I would get on my knees. And I would plead and pray in this despair. And this desperate cry for healing I was I was calm, and heartbroken. And the tears would just silently and not so silently poor.

And I would say I cannot do this. I don't know how you expect me to do this or thrive in this. I have nothing. I am nothing. I felt like nothing. And I would imagine I would say I'm imagining the Savior holding my heart. And I kept practicing over and over and over time after time. And nothing was happening. But I just kept doing it until one day it happened. And he filled my heart it filled all the way up kind of like that same idea where the light with the pitcher was pouring down through my head. It was like this same kind of feeling where the Savior was holding my heart. I was imagining that I mean, he's warm and tender and loving, right.

And he's holding my heart and it just filled up and started overflowing with love. So much peace, so much healing. And I knew I was not doing this alone. I had to walk it where it felt like I was alone, because I needed to do the work so I can actually see the difference of what healing does. If he just gave it to me all the time. Every time I asked. I wouldn't learn anything. And I wouldn't even realize how far I've come. It would be way too easy to go backwards and do the same old patterns that I had done. But not this time.

I wanted it even though I felt desperate. Even though I felt so alone. I wanted it so I kept doing the work. And it paid off and it pays off every single time not when I want it to. I don't think ever has it paid off when I wanted it to. But eventually it does. Eventually I feel that healing. Eventually, it adds up to where so much as release. There's just this total reprieve and assurance and it feels wonderful. That's what God can do for you when you're in your times of loneliness when you need someone, turn to Him, turned to him and have him help you heal your heart and your soul before you look for other ways to fill the void.

In her book, she talks about filling an empty hole. She says "hurt people search the world for just the right relationship that will make everything alright forever, that will fill the empty hole, provide missed nourishing and give them the life love and security that got derailed because of trauma. They become fixated on finding it, and so began a lifelong search. But they search for the wrong thing and they search in the wrong places.

Their black and white thinking causes them to see the solution to their problem as being a solution, a person a job and so on. Each new relationship becomes a hope for being saved for turning their life around when the person disappoints or the job is less than wished for, they return to a position of helplessness seeing themselves once again as having been cheated. Rather than look within themselves to find out what they are doing or not doing to contribute to the emptiness they feel they look outside. I've made another bad decision. I only choose unavailable messed up people, my boss is impossible, and so on.

They're very hurt and irrational shame render them unable to turn that the microscope back upon themselves to ask the hard questions that would lead to a resolution rather than a repetition." So when we're traumatized, and when things happen to us, we create those fight flight and freeze survival mechanisms. Those are real, they are important. They they do what they need to right, we're trying to stay alive, we're trying to protect ourselves from something. So they need to be there for a minute. But they don't help us resolve the problem after the fact.

That's the problem with it. It's like we go on high alert. It's like the the alarms are sounding off in our bodies going okay, this is not good. What do we need to do, and we want to do one of those things. But at some point, we have to see why we were feeling that way, what we were doing, what the burdens were, how we need to look at our situation, and what kind of trauma we're carrying about these things.

Because what happens is now in the future, if we have old trauma wounds that we've used those coping mechanisms, and we now are in a situation where we're not in trauma, or we're not being abused, or we don't need to survive, the reactions will still come up, kind of like we talked about about living in the past and having past trauma come up and trigger you, it's the same. We have to when we have a trigger response when something present that is a safe thing gives us a false alarm. If we are living presently, and observing ourselves, we can say wow, I wonder why my body is reacting like that.

And we can start questioning ourselves. And this is how we heal our wounds. We question what's in front of us asking ourselves questions. Is this actually happening right now? The person in front of me that we're having this discussion, or this person said something? Is it the same? It might feel the same It might even look the same, But is it the same? And as we answer that. No, it's not the same. Okay, no, this person is safe. This is not the same situation as last time, then we start healing.

And those wounds don't keep causing harm to us year after year of our life. So why do we want to heal all of those past things, this is what she says "later in life victims of trauma assess each situation as if it were a threat or a danger. And the intensity that those trauma survivors carry within themselves distorts their reaction to normal life circumstances, inhibiting their ability to have normal relationships. They see danger where it doesn't exist, a fence where none was intended.

They attach themselves anxiously to people driving them away because of their neediness. The fact that they have not learned to modulate their interactions with people means that they tend to overreact shut down or withdraw, which is the fight freeze or flight. So once again, they fall back onto their black and white thinking which in this case manifests as I made the wrong choice again, things will be fine when I find the right person, this was the wrong one, and so on.

Because of this type of all or nothing thinking they are unable to stand back, assess the relationship and make appropriate adjustments to make it work to fit themselves into the relationship and the relationship into themselves to compromise, adjust and work it out. Instead their life comes to mirror their trauma reaction, intense involvement or withdrawal, nothing in between. So when we're surviving trauma, we don't always understand that this is what we're doing.

We think we're in the right place. But as we start getting into our healing as you're working with a therapist or a mentor, or you're listening to podcasts like these or reading books as you're doing your work and and taking the next tools available so that you can heal you'll be able to start seeing what the trauma is right now you probably feel if you're in that place, that it's just what your life is. I know that's how I felt when I was in the middle of the trauma.

It was my current situation, so it was present. So what I needed at that time was stabilization. That's what I went to therapy for. He was just trying to stable me stable my life every single day, helped me get through it so that I could handle what was happening before me in those moments. It wasn't until later that we worked on all the past trauma, and working through that once I was no longer in a continuously traumatizing situation. Today's information was all about getting you to see your own heart. are you blocking it from light and love? Are you holding on to past traumas? Are you using your walls to prevent you from healing and moving forward?

Are you able to look at yourself objectively, like being an observer looking from the outside when situations come up for you so that you can handle them in a more calm and rational manner, so you can start seeing things for what they truly are? And notice, am I currently in a situation that's hard or not? Right? Do I need boundaries? Or is this something from the past, if this one was all about helping you see what your reality is for yourself, what you need for yourself, where you're at for yourself, so that you can change what you're doing so that you can move forward.

So we're going to end that for today. We're going to start there, take this week to evaluate where you're at, maybe write down on a piece of paper, what your walls might be, maybe imagine the exercise I did with the light pouring down through your head. Imagine where you still have walls, maybe it's your heart, maybe it's somewhere else maybe maybe you have light all coming in, see where you're at, see, see where your wounds are, so that you can go Okay, that's where our wounds are, then lovingly give yourself empathy.

And really give yourself a hug, saying thank you for showing me where our wounds are. Our body wants us to heal. It wants to show us how it goes into protective mode a lot. And that is okay, but now that you don't need to be protected from certain things we need to heal those pieces of you and we'll talk about that next time and we'll talk about the different things that show up in our body the different parts that are trying to help us or save us and what that looks like. So work on that this week and we will see you next time.

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