kid and bottleOne day when I was in Junior High, seemingly out of nowhere I was targeted and forced out of the little posse of 12 year old girls that was my friend group. For some reason, to this day I still have no idea why, the leader of our little group of pre-teen girls decided she didn’t like me and didn’t want me in the group and was able to convince the others of the same (talk about an influential person! I hope she’s using her powers for good now). Anyway, I was out. I say this a bit matter-of-factly, but don’t be mistaken, I was devastated and I was hurt, confused, sad, and scared for weeks and weeks. Eventually though, I did find other people to be friends with, and things got a lot better. And, not so long after, I was also able to patch things up with the other girls, but I never did go back to being in their group – I just didn’t want to be close to people I didn’t think I could trust.

You’d think that although devastating and confusing, because the worst of it only really lasted a couple weeks and then things got better again, that would have been that. Issues resolved and I would have just been able to fully move on. But no, unfortunately that’s not the way it all works. Although short lived, that was a big hurt at a very formative time in my life. I was able to move on somewhat from it all, and I thought mostly forgive and forget, but as it turns out, I wasn’t really able to leave all of it in the past so easily.

That’s because of the way things work up in our brains. The big hurt events from our lives – usually the ones from childhood and adolescence – kind of get lodged right in there. Sometimes they are so locked in there that even when we think we were able to forgive, forget, and move on, the big hurts have a way of creeping back up and rearing their nasty little heads well in to adulthood. Throughout my 20’s I can recall several occasions with friends when something would happen that I would interpret as someone leaving me out on purpose, and when I’d ask about it, they would insist this was really not the case. They weren’t trying to leave me out. Although part of me knew it was true and it had nothing to do with them not wanting me around or not liking me, but that old wound – that old all-too-familiar feeling that my friends were going to decide they didn’t like me anymore and leave me was still right there deep inside and obviously not totally healed.

That’s what happens. And we all have our own little hot button or big hurt in there somewhere. Some of us may even have a few. When something happens to us that causes a pretty intense emotional response that may not really match the intensity of the event or interaction that just occurred, what’s happening is that those vulnerable, unhealed wounds are being poked at we usually get either the pit-of-the-stomach hurt feeling; the hot head-is-going-to-explode angry feeling; or the heavy head-sinking-lower-and-lower-want –to-hide-under-a-pile-of-coats sad feeling.  AND THEN, to make matters worse, we verbally beat ourselves up and call ourselves down for letting stuff upset us and not being able to keep it together by being non-reacting fortresses all the time.

That doesn’t seem all that fair, or really all that useful. We need to learn to be more kind and compassionate with ourselves. We need to understand that there are sometimes deep wounds in there that are not healed. And although in the past, and often quite distant past, sometimes it’s not so easy to just “Get over it!” Sometimes, and by sometimes I mean most of the time, we need to learn to be more compassionate and understanding with ourselves, because goodness knows, those wounds and big hurts really don’t stand any chance of ever healing if we keep kicking ourselves when we’re down.