I know you have been waiting for this moment when we discuss on matters of emotional pain and healing. I will discuss this topic on three focus areas: How emotional pain manifests, why we need to take emotional pain as seriously as we take physical pain, and how to support your emotional healing process.
Today we look at how emotional pain manifests.
Several years ago I received a call from Patrick at 3.00Am. At first I thought he was drunk dialling and I disconnected the call and even switched off my phone as I did not want my sleep interrupted. Karma is real; the sleep also switched off and I started tossing in bed restless. I thought it better to switch on the phone and play some games to lure sleep. As soon as my phone was on a few messages came through that Patrick had tried calling me, then came the call. This time round I answered, though grudgingly.
The only thing he said, “She is no more!” His mother was dead. Though she had been ill for a while and they had probably seen it coming, they didn’t see it coming this soon. When life crushes you, you’re devastated and all you are left wondering is, “Why did it happen?” whether you saw it coming or not.
Over the next several weeks I noted a lot of changes in Patrick.
Firstly, Patrick was a good Christian who was a regular church goer but he stopped going to church. When I inquired he told me, “And to think that I used to fast and pray in service to please God. Now I take the same nap He took when I needed Him to heal my mum”. That was deep. Emotions get us closer to spirituality than beliefs. Spiritual pain can happen if you are struggling to find sources of meaning, hope, love, comfort, strength and connection in your life. When faced by a certain life crisis such as what Patrick experienced when his mother died, we experience spiritual pain regardless of religion, beliefs or culture. This makes us challenge our core values and beliefs about how things are supposed to be and cause us to lose meaning or purpose in life.
Secondly, Patrick became a regular client at one of the local chemists. He was always in need of medicine to treat some form of self diagnosed illness ranging from malaria to bacterial infections. When people have their feelings hurt they experience physical pain in the chest, muscle tightness, increased heart rate, abnormal stomach activity, headache, fatigue and shortness of breath. Emotional pain involves the same brain regions as physical pain, suggesting the connection. When we suppress emotional energy it lands in the energy system for the physical body generating pain, illness and disease.
Thirdly, Patrick became angry and resentful. The association between emotional pain and anger is almost irresistible. Anger provides analgesic amphetamine effects which temporarily numbs pain and provides a surge of energy and confidence to ward off threat. Each repetition of this process reinforces the perceived need for self defence. Over time the blame-anger response results into chronic resentment which is geared toward protecting an injured ego in need of protection. This eventually affects our relationships with others making us socially withdrawn and isolated.
Within two months of his mother’s death, Patrick’s lost his job in the accounting firm. The mistakes were too obvious to be ignored; he missed appointments, misadvised clients and often missed work without notice. Work did not seem to matter anymore. When in emotional pain our ability to focus and concentrate, problem solve, think creatively and function is significantly impaired. The feeling of emptiness and hollowness often leaves us wondering who we are going forward. Patrick’s siblings’ seemed to be more resilient and their lives normalized soon after. Though they shared a similar experience, every pain was personal. No one will understand another’s pain however much they say they understand. Emotional pain is very personal.
March 2020 – My heart beats
On Emotional Healing
Kenya, March 2020
P.S: Happy Birthday Lucy Ngari, we thank God for you.