When Old Hurts Still Hurt

"This is what rituals are for. We do spiritual ceremonies as human beings in order to create a safe resting place for our most complicated feelings of joy or trauma, so that we don't have to haul those feelings around with us forever, weighing us down."

A few years ago, my sister and I had a great, big fight. One so big that despite the saying time heals all wounds, there is still that little hurt that never has healed. In the past few weeks, we have been chatting online and while things will really never be the same between us anymore, I think (or at least I speak from my point of view) there’s a new dynamic that was born out of that falling out we had.

To be honest, I’ve never really been the type to do the whole silent treatment bit. I never was very good at it. She, on the other hand, has mastered the fine art of the cold shoulder. When she was still here in the Philippines, she had no choice but to deal with my yapping away and working out our issues until we find a resolution to the problem. And yes, I would never let it go at “sige na, I was wrong. Forget it na, tapos na, okay?”. I would always dig deeper for an answer and work very hard at finding out what I did wrong so I never do it again. I guess that’s really just the way I deal with things: I never like uncertainty, I feel lost in things I don’t know and I have difficulty letting go. But once I know, no matter how painful or hurtful it may be, I find my way to peace. Uh-huh…like I always say jokingly (but do know deep down inside mean, even just a little bit) I am a girl with abandonment issues, so when she would pretend I didn’t exist, that was what cut the deepest.

However, since she is away, there was no way for me to force the issue anymore and after that fight we had, I offered my apologies but never heard back from her. So from there, I did learn to ignore her. I held on tightly to that hurt that she gave me until it killed whatever good existed between us. And for the longest time, I was okay with that. At least on the outside.

During special occasions, like Christmas and birthdays, we’d do the customary civil greetings, but with little to no emotion in it. Well, at least from my end, that way I didn’t have to hurt so much because I still had that ache that wouldn’t go away.

During the dark night of my soul, letting go of that hurt was one of the few things I had to confront but never could.  Because I couldn’t let go of it, nor could I even talk about it rationally, my wise sage gave me a project. She told me to honor and welcome those dark thoughts in my life because they, too, were important. She knew full well why I couldn’t talk about these things. She understood that despite my seemingly sunshiney, happy and extroverted nature when I’m around people, this takes all conscious effort for me to do. She understood that for me, talking to others (even to her) would tire me out. But writing them, she promised me, will nourish my soul because I cannot let all the hurt and anger live in my heart forever. I won’t force you to talk about it, she assured me, but you have to give them permission to exist. Coincidentally, this also occurred at a time when my nights were filled with dreams of all kinds. From good to bad, scary to comforting, every time I slept I would emerge with messages from my dreams that I couldn’t make sense of. So she told me to write them down so I can remember them and begin to understand its hidden messages to me.

At first I did it because I was told to, but it didn’t take long for me to welcome it into my life and cherish the act of honoring my thoughts and feelings. In fact, I credit a lot of how my blogs have evolved to that simple act of allowing my words to exist. In yet another moment of synchronicity,  just as I was beginning that project, I came across a passage in the book Eat Pray Love (yes, I know I’ve cited this book way too many times lately, but heck, I’m going with it!)

This is what rituals are for. We do spiritual ceremonies as human beings in order to create a safe resting place for our most complicated feelings of joy or trauma, so that we don’t have to haul those feelings around with us forever, weighing us down.

Yes, even back then the messages from the Universe (okay, I think I’ll stop calling it the Universe and just say God), the messages from God were loud and clear.

So I bought myself this little box and rolls of ribbons of different colors and decided that whenever I had these thoughts and feelings, I would write them down and give them a place to exist. I began honoring these dreams and emotions through nightly rituals that allowed me to express my heartfelt gratitude, ask my questions and even shout out my deepest hurts. In some ways, I think this became my way of praying…I never really was good at the whole conversing thing, and for a long time, that’s what I always considered prayer to be: a conversation between me and my God. The thing is, I never could get the words out right and while God offered no judgment, I always felt like I was saying the wrong things. However, once I would be in bed in the quiet stillness in my room, writing them down, they just flowed so naturally. After offering my prayers and giving thanks, or perhaps arguing a little bit every now and then and expressing my hurts, I would carefully fold these notes, tie them in a pretty little bow or two or various colors depending on the type of note it is, brown and teal together for gratitude and wholeness, yellow for affirmation, red for power, teal for good challenges that need to be taken and for bad dreams and angry thoughts, brown on its own. After tying my bows, I would carefully lay them inside the box where a bed of soft tissue welcomed them.

So that special box still lives today, hidden carefully in a little corner of my closet holding in it all my secret dreams and wishes, as well as my deepest, darkest and most unspeakable thoughts. In so many ways, this box has seen me through my brightest of days and my darkest of nights.

From time to time, I take it out and read myself a few of the notes, usually those with the teal and brown ribbons, occasionally yellow or red ones, but never, ever the brown ones. Once in a while, I also add in new notes. At times I ask myself why I still do it and I realize that this is still a special ceremony that allows me to appreciate what comes my way. Also, despite me being able to blog about many of my experiences and insights, there are still some of these dreams and secret thoughts that are too deeply ugly to show or personal to share and must remain forever between me and my God.

Tonight I saw, however, that so many of those notes in my box are tied up in a color I don’t like very much for it represents all my wounds. And yes, many of them come from my sister and the childhood we had.  And yes, a whole bunch of them were born out of those three years of silence between us.

I realized, however, that I still am holding on to those hurts, even though I thought I had laid them to rest by allowing them to exist.

So earlier, I took a few of them, and read through them. Some remained in brown ribbons for they are old hurts that still hurt for now.  For others, however, I am able to add  a teal ribbon around because I  know in my heart of hearts that it’s healing nicely now.

  • #1
    Posted by blankPixels on October 17th, 2010 at 2:23 am


    The book Eat, Pray, Love to me is now like what the Bible is to religious people (no offense meant to anyone), especially now that I’m also going through a lot of changes in my life.

    Old hurts still hurt when they’re not resolved… when both parties won’t completely forgive each other… or one’s self. And, I can completely relate to you. In my case, though, it’s with my partner of 5 years who I recently just broke up with. I have my own special box, but in my case, it’s a hidden folder on my laptop where I write about my anger, the feelings I’ve tried so damn hard not to let her know just to make our relationship “work”. I don’t have any positive things written in there though. I guess I never felt really happy.

    I’m re-acquainting myself to the real, the old Michelle…. and I’m slowly trying to put my pieces back together after being so broken/damaged from a very unhealthy relationship. I know it’ll continue to hurt. I’m slowly forgiving her and myself for what I’ve let happen in the past 5 years. And, I believe you also should forgive yourself, especially when the other person won’t give you the forgiveness you’ve been longing for. Just believe you deserve to completely be happy and free.

    One thing I realized these past days is there’s so much that I should be thankful for. So, let’s keep our heads up, sis! *hugs*

  • #2
    Posted by yapatoots on October 17th, 2010 at 8:04 am

    of so true mhel 🙂

    hey…do you know im so glad that we “met” through this whole influential blogger thing? although we still have to get to know each other offline it’s nice to have people on your corner, even if it is just to drop a comment every now and then in your blogs 🙂 i may not be too good at that, but thanks 🙂

    good luck to you too…and yes, it’s really a process, huh?

  • #3
    Posted by echertweena on October 17th, 2010 at 2:49 pm

    awww… 🙂 very nice, ria. 🙂

  • #4
    Posted by yapatoots on October 17th, 2010 at 3:34 pm

    thank you eecher 🙂

  • #5
    Posted by blankPixels on October 17th, 2010 at 8:24 pm

    I’m glad I participated in EIB 2010, too, ’cause I met you. I read your posts, but I sometimes don’t know what to comment. All I know is I feel yah! 🙂

  • #6
    Posted by yapatoots on October 17th, 2010 at 8:26 pm

    🙂 i know how that feels…actually…ako im guilty of not really reading much of others unless it’s plurked or posted in fb hehe. not much of a blog hopper kasi

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