Let that hurt go, sis!!

But before you can release…first you have to accept it.

I used to think that pain, trauma weren’t a real thing. That if I didn’t acknowledge the pain then, then it simply did not exist. Mind over matter type of thing. A lesson from my dad, ironically. Only I think I took the lesson completely wrong somewhere along the lines. That feelings, especially a feeling of loss, was not supposed to be messy or confusing. So, I want to share a story about my lesson that I honestly don’t/haven’t shared with many. But, I truly believe that we go through things to help others grow through things.

This instance in my life is why I am now huge on accepting pain, validating my feelings, and working through it in that moment without putting it off. 

*LONG STORY ALERT* 

When I was 16, my dad died. There was no warning or even a sign. We weren’t on the best of terms — because of past mistakes that he made that it took well after his death for me to forgive him for. Actually, I even denied a phone call from him the day before he passed…talk about regret. 

So, it was the day before Valentines Day and all day something just didn’t feel right. My mom came to pick me up from school a bit earlier than usual and was a little shifty the ride home. The second we get in the house, I sit down on the sofa and can already tell that something is off. She looks at me like she has the weight of the world on her and says “Daddy died”. In the calmest manner ever, I say “no he didn’t. What? Are you sure? No..what happened?”. She let me know that they are positive and that he had a heart attack. I felt a world of emotions at once, and automatically blocked them out. Because this can’t be happening….right? Like how can your whole world change forever within one day? 

So, most times when this happens what is the normal response? Crying right? I mean regardless of the status of our relationship at the time of his passing, it was my dad and I was a daddy’s girl so OF COURSE I would cry. Only, I didn’t cry. I was silent. Many thought I was in shock, but I wasn’t. I refused to confront my emotions because I felt like I was not strong enough to handle them. So, instead, I literally acted as if nothing happened but inside I was a mess. I could tell that my mom was beyond worried. What makes it even worst is that I went to school the next day. I didn’t tell anyone. I wanted to keep operating as if that had never happened. Well, that was the plan at least. 

I went to a Catholic school and that year a lot of people had coincidentally lost their fathers. So, of course admin not expecting me to be in class, announced in over the morning announcements to pray for me as I had lost my father. I will never forget how I felt everyone look at my in disbelief that I was in homeroom and acting normal at that. I tried to distract myself and open a valentines day candy gram that was on my desk instead. (Our school did this really cute thing where parents could send in $5 and a handwritten note on a heart and they would deliver a bag of candy to us on Valentine’s Day in homeroom). So, I open my note and bag expecting it to be from my mom. It wasn’t. It was from my dad. The note was handwritten and rather lengthy. Apologizing for his wrongs, reminding me how much he loves me as always, and say that he couldn’t wait to see me…signed “I love you princess. Love Always, Daddy”. It was that moment, that I cried for the first and last time throughout the whole process. 

 I thought that if I did not confront my feelings, then they would just go away. I thought that the pain and trauma that would (and honestly should have) come from it never would if I acted like it never happened.

If you didn’t know me when this happened, you didn’t know it happened at all. I simply didn’t speak of it…ever. It would come out here and there when I would get to know people in college and they would ask if my parents were still together, or where my dad was then I’d say it but always in a super casual way. “Oh, he died when I was 16” then continue on. They of course would say “Oh I’m so sorry!!” and I would act like I wasn’t affected but deep down I would cry every time.

 It wasn’t until I really began dating and tapping more into who I was that I realized this was something that did cause me a tremendous amount of trauma no matter how much I ignored it. So one day I realized, the time would never feel right. That you can’t ignore trauma in your life because that won’t make it go away. Ignoring it is like manure. I was feeding it. All I did was add shit to it to make it grow, into nothing beneficial at that. I was so nervous to confront my feelings because I did not think that I was strong enough to handle them. So one day, I hopped out of my dorm bed and went to his gravesite. For the first time in 5yrs. The day he was buried, I didn’t even stay to watch them put his body in the ground. I left. This was the hardest day for me. I went to the gravesite, and uncomfortably walked into the office. Asked to be shown to his site and laid on his headstone for two hours alone in the rain crying (like a movie right…lol I know). The only reason I left is because the groundskeeper came to get me because the cemetery was closing. I went back to my dorm, changed my clothes, took a nap and went about my day. Again, I didn’t tell anyone. That was okay though, because I finally confronted my feelings for myself. 


The takeaway from my painful experience? Confront your feelings when they happen. No matter how painful and messy they may seem. It will only help you in the long run. Also, it is okay if you don’t confront your feelings in a way that everyone can see, but at least confront them within yourself and for yourself.

Accepting your feelings and dealing with your trauma is ugly because it’s about getting down to the root of it and the root of you. The process of acceptance and understanding is very personal and very verrrry messy. If you want to scream and cry in your room, do that. If you want to go to therapy (which I recommend) do that too. If I’ve learned nothing else though, do not ignore your feelings when something traumatic happens. It will only translate into other areas of your life. Healing doesn’t happen overnight. But the goal is that you do not deepen a wound, just treat it slowly and at your pace. You’ve got this! I believe in you!


Sheila MatthewsComment