Tiny little shards of glass...
This weekend in my garden I found these tiny little shards of glass. I'll come back to the significance of those shortly, but their discovery made me think of an important metaphor.
When we experience something significant in our lives perhaps a bereavement, loss or trauma. We can lock the memories away in our subconscious mind. That may be because initially at least they are too painful to recall, too overwhelming, too sad, just too much.
In time with the support of loving family and friends, and maybe professional therapists we can process those painful or difficult emotions and work things through.
Those memories never fully fade but their emotional impact can. Rather than being huge crashing waves that overwhelm or wipe us out, they can become a calmer lapping of the sea or even waves we can successfully ride or surf.
This all sounds very nice I know and if you've experienced something difficult you may be thinking "yeah Liz sounds easy in all but life's just not like that". And you would be right its not easy. But I'm not speaking here as therapist, this is my own personal experience. In this post I am the client.
Those tiny pieces of glass in the photo are mine. Those tiny fragments that once made one huge piece. My difficult memories my horrible experience.
Several years ago now I came home from working in London one evening to a nightmare. I lived alone at the time and was initially confused when I couldn't get in the front door of my house. I could hear a sound like dripping water and knew (but couldn't figure out what) that something was wrong. Having somehow forced my way into my own home I had a slow realization that I had been burgled. My home and its contents turned upside down by strangers. Precious irreplaceable items taken.
The dripping sound was not water but shards of shattered glass where the burglars had smashed their way in. It was awful. I was shocked, shaking and barely able to move from the spot. Literally frozen with fear. It took hours for me to even go upstairs and see what had been done there.
I was supported by family. The physical damage swiftly repaired. Extra measures made my house more secure. But I like the glass remained in many pieces. Confidence shattered. Unable to sleep. In a constant state of alert. We literally cleared up tiny pieces of glass for weeks afterwards often finding the odd one lodged in the door frame or in a gap between paving slabs in the garden.
So how did I get over this shock? Time of course does heal in some ways, I did start to sleep a little better and feel a sense of normality return. But the lingering anxiety was crippling. Having experienced before I turned to a counsellor/hypnotherapist. I was able to relax, to talk through those crippling fears without judgement. And critically to see what had happened as what it was - an opportunistic event that although horrible had not cost me or my loved ones lives. I still had my lovely home that now was even more secure actually. This was a crucial realization. That's what had happened not what I had interpreted it to mean. Which was that I was under constant threat, every one was out to take things from me, that every bad thing I could imagine was going to come true.
Working with a hypnotherapist helped me come to this calmer place emotionally, where I felt safe again in my home. There are memories of course, it was a brutally alarming experience. But those memories no longer overwhelm me. In fact they remind me that it was unknowingly taking me towards my future path as a hypnotherapist so that I could help others.
So when this weekend years later I found these little tiny shards of glass in the garden I smiled. Astonished that they can still be there. Grateful for the reminder that big overwhelming memories and emotions can simply become tiny, little shards of glass.
PS If you're struggling right now with difficult emotions please reach out for support.