Those of us who experienced childhood pain, are often very good at minimizing our pain.
We do it because in the moment it makes us feel better, we do it so as not to feel the pain, so as to keep the pain at arms length, to avoid being overwhelmed by the sheer magnitude of it. We do it so we won’t fall apart, so as not be seen in the truth of how painful it was because ultimately we are afraid of being annihilated by it.
To us, the above equals an emotional death, something we are so afraid we will never recover from. Minimizing is a very effective, yes effective, coping mechanism born out of a very real fear.
We fear annihilation.
We fear humiliation
We fear going to the brink and never coming back, losing control.
Perhaps even losing our own very minds.
Let’s face it, some of what happened to us as children is enough to leave us sobbing, and babbling in a corner for days on end if we let it.
And so we say….
It wasn’t that bad.
Other people had it a lot worse.
Who am to complain with all the horrible things going on in the world.
He just molested me, he didn’t rape me.
It just happened one time.
He/she really didn’t know what they were doing.
It was my fault.
I am just feeling sorry for myself.
Maybe I dreamt it, or maybe it was in my imagination.
If I had just said no or fought back. (over estimating the power you had in the situation)
I don’t really remember (yes sometimes we literally don’t remember and sometimes we don’t want to remember, we vaguely remember and we won’t go near the memories)
It was a long time ago.
I must be remembering that wrong.
Oh I’m over that.
I’ve moved on.
I must have been really bad for this to happen. (internalizing)
I must be a real drama queen to be making out that still affects me. (fraud syndrome)
And on and on it goes.
How do you minimize, how are you keeping your childhood pain at arms length, how might you begin to bravely own your story?
We do not want to be defined by our stories and the truth is we are more than our stories, but until we acknowledge the reality of where we came from, until we stop downplaying it and sugar coating it, we cannot effectively move on from it.
When we deny the story, make it small, we deny the incredible strength, determination and spirit, it took to survive. We lose access to those places within us that are not steeped in victim, but shining victorious. We lose sight of who we became in spite of and as a result of our pain.
Minimizing does nothing but keep us small.