Hidden Emotional Wedges: Part 2
My reasons for writing these blog posts has shifted since posting Part 1. I'm so grateful for all the supportive feedback I've been getting. I'm especially grateful that some of you have shared Part 1 with friends who have also been abused. Part 2's message has shifted to address anyone else who may be experiencing similar things.
Since being molested at age 12, I’ve been living with varying degrees of constant emotional torment. It has crippled my education, career, social life, & spiritual life. During this struggle I’ve learned a few things, including: time does not heal all wounds, not all therapists & therapies are made equal, & as Jeffrey R. Holland put it:
“No one can responsibly suggest [these issues] would surely go away if those victims would just square their shoulders and think more positively.”
But the key thing I’ve learned is that healing lies in the subconscious.
Let’s start by saying that the subconscious is freaky. Super freaky. Mental health professionals are still trying to fully understand it. Subconscious means “below consciousness”. No one is aware of what their subconscious mind believes, yet the subconscious is the captain that steers the ship of human behavior & emotion. A scary notion for people whose captain has gone a bit coo-coo. Yes, we can consciously control our thoughts & actions, but when we hold putrid, toxic subconscious beliefs, it is indescribably more difficult, maybe sometimes impossible, to live a normal healthy life.
After being molested, my subconscious developed unhealthy beliefs about myself & about life. These beliefs are hidden from my conscious mind, yet they are the driving force behind my emotional torment.
Discovering & Resolving the subconscious beliefs resolves the emotional torment.
Well, how can you resolve beliefs that you’re not conscious of?
Make no mistake, discovering your subconscious beliefs is DIFFICULT. Especially when we’re talking about trauma. You can’t just consciously make a list of all the possible beliefs & expect your subconscious to ring a bell when you say the right one. You can’t guess. You have to access the subconscious mind, navigate it, discover, then heal. Again, it’s difficult. And I don’t know that one method works for everyone. But what I’ve discovered & what is working for me right now is a therapy called EMDR. I’m currently working with a therapist at the Military & Veteran Counseling Center, here in Utah (yes, they see civilians). I’m having great success & feel confident that I’ll be able to clear the remainder of my unhealthy subconscious beliefs soon. But again, it’s not the only method. My therapist suggested that I write about my experience. I took it a step further and have decided to share my experiences. Posting Part 1 has already helped me tremendously. Also, last year I was profoundly helped by Lifespan Integration therapy, introduced to me by psychologist, Dr. Karen Nickl. Some things I have cleared simply because of something my therapist said. You should be the judge of what is or isn’t working for you. Instead of blindly following any one therapist, do your research & be in charge of your recovery. (Note: God is a great partner to counsel with while you’re sifting through a sea of endless theory, opinion & “facts”.)
What’s also interesting is that when you have trauma, not only does your mind develop unhealthy beliefs, it buries those beliefs, deep, in an attempt to protect you from feeling the emotion of those beliefs. Ironically, the subconscious mind doesn’t know that this leads to even worse pain in the form of anxiety, depression, etc. (I told you the subconscious is freaky). The subconscious belief that led to me writing these articles is still unknown to me. That’s part of why I’m writing this, to help unearth it. All I know is that it’s a strong one. I’ve been working with my therapist & any time we’ve attempted to uproot this specific subconscious belief I’ve literally felt my brain fighting it. My brain starts to shut down in an attempt to keep me from discovering the hidden belief & feeling the pain associated with it. Again, the brain tries to protect us.
My sister told me about a friend who was also abused who said that going through therapy feels like peeling an onion. You pull back a layer only to find another. That’s such a perfect analogy. Each layer may need its own way of being resolved. It’s a process. It takes time & patience. From yourself & loved ones. I’ve told some family members about these things as they patronizingly listen as if I’m trying to tell them about a time I saw Bigfoot. I literally thank God for my wife, Gina, who has been my guardian angel during this process. She is saving my life.
I believe there’s hope for any situation. But my heart especially breaks for children who experience developmental trauma. It’s unfortunate that sometimes you have to spend years not understanding why you feel what your feeling or how to resolve it. It’s unfortunate that it can take even more years to find the right medication or therapy or therapist. I know what it feels like to contemplate suicide, to wish I was dead, to be desperate to numb the pain. My faith in Jesus Christ has kept me alive. My wife & children keep me going. Writing these articles is giving me hope to help others. Hang in there. If you’re struggling with similar things, do what you can to stay alive, to stay as hopeful as you can be, even if you have to temporarily use things that aren’t good long term solutions & are only helping you avoid the pain. Use medication. Play video games. Eat delicious unhealthy food. Watch reruns of The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. This is war. Use what you have to to make it. Most importantly, be nice to yourself. The negative feelings aren’t you. They are not a good indicator of your worth or of the worth of living.
I’m becoming a witness that there is light at the end of the tunnel & life is absolutely worth living.
Stay tuned for Part 3.
© 2018 Andrew Cengiz