Holding onto pain…

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    Christiana Moore

    Dear Anita,


    I specifically am writing to you because you respond frequently. I recently wrote a letter to my parents in order to heal my “inner child” the wounded part of myself that seems to only know how to cope with pain by holding onto it. I was abused in many different forms by those closest to me or I feel that should’ve shown me what protection was at a very young age (relatives). I wrote the letter in hopes to heal and also receive some sort of closure from my parents but it was in fact the exact opposite response. My father is angry and doesn’t want to speak to me anymore and my mother is very hurt. My father only showed up in my life financially and that still didn’t get me the things I needed or the comfortable home because my mother had 6 kids by 3 different men that meant whatever support had to be rationed for everyone. I am black I grew up poor and I know my mother did the best she could with what she knew but it doesn’t change the fact that I turned out with severe anxiety issues and depression.. I had no idea I suffered from until after I had my first child (a daughter) 1 year ago. I knew that during my pregnancy and way before I had conceived that I needed to heal these wounds before she was born and before I became involved with anyone on serious romantic level. I avoided digging deep.. I would touch the surface through meditation and crystal healing but never actually taking time away from dating to go within. My child’s father and I split up after 3 years because we just weren’t on the same page and I just couldn’t let some of the hurt he caused go also. It just seems like I’ve become this sponge of hurt. Anything that has ever happened to me I’ve chosen to carry it and hold on it to it hoping to be able to confront each and every person that every hurt me only to become scared when the opportunity presents itself. I was taught to speak up but never to an adult in charge even at the expense of verbal or physical abuse and in turn I believe that cycle of silence manifested in my adulthood as me not having a voice or being afraid to speak up even when I am aware someone is doing harm to me. Out of all 9 of my siblings I’m the second to youngest (24 years old) I seemed to just turn out a little different…more soft.. naive.. gullible and growing up they made me hate it. I have now chosen to embrace who I am but writing that letter to my parents and seeing their response made me question what is going to take to feel healed? How do let go of hurt and pain so that I can become my greatest version because I no longer want to carry this hurt and pain. Writing the letters did more healing than I thought it could but I still feel the pain..the emotional abandonment. My goal is to not let this pain manifest or I project it onto my daughter if/when I get angry or upset because as an adult I now understand why so many things happened. (I am open to anyone commenting however Anita is very consistent…)


    Dear Christiana Moore:

    I admire you for being a conscientious mother, for caring about your daughter’s emotional well being, for not wanting to do to her what was done to you.

    “Anything that has ever happened to me I’ve chosen to carry it and hold on to it”- it was not a choice you made, to hold on to pain. Some people channel their pain into aggression against others, so they spend time angry more than hurt. I suppose you didn’t channel your hurt into aggression against others, so you spend more time hurt than angry. Does this make sense to you?

    “I have now chosen to embrace who I am but writing that letter to my parents and seeing their response made me question what is going to take to feel healed?”-

    – the people who injured you are not likely to be the people who will help you heal. Your parents don’t want to look into themselves and acknowledge that they injured you- guilt doesn’t feel good.

    Your emotional injuries happened in the context of your family of origin (parents and siblings). Healing is not likely to take place within the same context. Healing has to be outside the context of the injury.

    Sometimes we have to end contact with family members in order to heal. What do you think?




    Christiana Moore

    Hi Anita,


    So grateful for your reply I will respond in the order of your question. I definitely channeled that energy into hurt. I’ve felt for some time this deep agony for years like I’m shackles and cant free myself. I wouldn’t say that I’m seeking healing from those that hurt me but I was looking for closure to the situations and now I understand that I may not even be able to receive that. I’ve always questioned if moving away from my family would truly bring me that closure I need… I have been sorting out some ideas since I had my daughter.




    Dear Christiana Moore:

    You are welcome. We become who we become in the context of the family where we grow up. Think of a family as a jigsaw puzzle- each member  is like a piece of the puzzle that fits with the other pieces to create a picture. Often the picture is distorted (a dysfunctional family), but there still is a picture, and each part (parents, siblings) fit into that picture.

    When one of the pieces wants to recreate itself, to change, to heal- the other pieces do not cooperate, because the fit will be messed up. The other pieces don’t want to accommodate the one changing piece by changing themselves. This is why if you want to change and heal, you can’t do it in the context of your family.

    (The only exception I can think of is serious, long term psychotherapy where all members of the family attend session with a quality family psychotherapist).

    And so, basically, holding onto your family = “holding onto pain” (the title of your thread).

    Moving away from your family, on the other hand, is not equal to healing, it is only the beginning of healing.



    Hi Christiana Moore,

    I understand what you are going through and how deeply painful and heartbreaking it is to be treated poorly by your family. I also grew up with a mother who was doing the best that she could, and often took her internal struggles out on me, and my father, the provider, never bothered to question if her at times emotional instability was spilling over onto her children. It was not until my mid twenties where I really began to realize that I was crippled with anxiety and stress, and I began to experience PTSD like symptoms when my mother would revert into her emotionally unstable self (usually after drinking).

    I, too, wrote a letter to my parents, hoping it would stop the toxicity they were creating around my boyfriend, and get them to realize the pain I was going through as I self healed. This also did not work. It back fired on me and they used it against me. It fired the ammunition as well for my other family members to take a dislike in me, without even trying to understand me.

    It is a long story, but for the sake of the relationship that I was trying to build with my now husband, and the sake of my own sanity, trying to build my individuality and create healthier spaces for myself, I had separated myself from my family. I have very limited contact with my siblings, I rarely speak to my father, and my relationship with my mother has gotten better but I do not ever expect it to go back to how I thought it use to be (this was after almost 2 years without speaking/speaking very little).

    I had to do this for my sanity and to break the cycle of dysfunctional relationships in my life. I still struggle with boundaries and with carrying my pain, but I promise you as time goes on it will become easier and you will strengthen your character.

    Every day you are going to wake up as Christiana Moore and you are going to go to bed as Christiana Moore. You cannot live any one else’s life for them, nor can they live it for you. You have to forge your own path in life and take ownership for your actions and how you decide to grow and develop yourself as a person. Sometimes this means we have to put space in between us and the ones we love because they cannot respect us enough to grow into something different. That is okay. You are not responsible for their emotional work. You can only do your own and let it be an example for your daughter. Bringing yourself peace of mind, awareness of self and emotion, and the ability to implement change within yourself for the better is the best role modeling you can do for your daughter.

    For me, a lot of my self work and healing came through meditation. I dealt with fierce anger, rage, and shame in the beginning of this ordeal, and reading books from the Dali Lama on anger, and books from Pema Chodron on meditation and inner healing helped set me on a path of self compassion. I also read some books on how to set healthy boundaries. Identify the habits you have learned from growing up with your family that you wish to change. Habits are hard to break. Be aware of them and when the moment arises where you see the habit and you can make the choice to do something different, do something different! It is empowering to make those kinds of changes and over time your habit will become less and less and you will form a new habit of reaction.

    More than anything be kind to yourself throughout all of this. You are your own best friend and you should treat yourself as such. You deserve that kind of self respect and self love. We all do. And do not forget to forgive yourself and your family for how this has played out. We all react with whatever level of awareness we have at the time we need to react. Learning from this reaction and its outcome is how we grow as people.




    What Kim wrote is beautiful. Sometimes we think that if only we can get the other person to change, then our lives will be golden. This is what I have heard is a fallacy or illusion of control. It can be our own codependence, sometimes when we grow up in dysfunctional families, we pick up behaviors and thinking that don’t serve us well as adults. They served us well to maintain our lives in that familial dysfunction but as we grow older, it helps to dig deep into why we may think or react like we do. Many people are very limited in their ability to change, like some of our parents, some of our former partners, some of our friends. We can’t do their emotional work for them, as Kim said. But we can do ours for us. Because our journey is about us and is the path to moving forward. Sometimes we do hold onto our pain because we don’t know how to release it or do our work to heal ourselves. While I said others have trouble changing, we can also have difficulty or stress with the thought that we can change ourselves and work on what we need to work on. All humans come into this world with issues, problems, things that happen bad in life. Our journey. I admire you for wanting different in your life.


    Dear Christiana Moore,

    You have had some very good replies with lots of suggestions to help you deal with your emotional distress.

    I don’t believe that it is healthy to carry your hurt with you until you can confront the abusers.  The letters you wrote were not well received but have you thought of writing individual letters to all your abusers but instead of sending them, hold a ceremony to release your words into the Universe.  You can do this by setting them on fire, safely of course, and make a statement that you are releasing all your hurt and pain to the Universe instead of keeping it locked away inside yourself.

    You say that you touched the surface of your pain with meditation and crystals.  This is good, very good.  Clearing the surface will allow other things to come up and you will then be able to deal with them.   Sometimes it is like peeling layers off an onion.  You remove one layer and another one appears from underneath it, no longer hidden from sight.

    It might also help if you were to have a talk with your inner child.  Tell her that you love her and that you (the adult) will do your utmost to see that no-one ever harms her again.  Keep reassuring her that she is safe now.  Send her as much love as you are able to and gradually your pain will ease.

    Anxiety issues can frequently be overcome by learning correct breathing techniques.  It sounds too simple doesn’t it.  Meditation might have taught you this, i don’t know, but if you put your hand on the area between your lower ribcage (your solar plexus) and breathe into your hand until you can feel that area rising, you will be breathing more fully and your anxiety levels will drop if you practise this on a regular basis.  Ideally, this should be your normal breathing pattern.

    It is worrying that you are not able to speak out when someone is causing you harm.  You need to address this as soon as you can.  It may help you if you can take some assertiveness training to give you more confidence.  A simple “please don’t do that” might be all it needs sometimes.  You can practise this in front of a mirror at home until you feel that you have some authority in your voice and maintain eye contact when possible.

    I sincerely hope that you are able to overcome your difficult start in life and wish you all the best for the future.


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