There are times when the old pain hits me like a tsunami, as if out of nowhere. Perhaps there always will be. There are moments when all I can see is the darkness and my heart and mind ache. Again, perhaps there always will be.

But when I pay attention, I can notice that those moments are fewer and far-er between. They hit less often, and they hit less hard.

And even more miraculous, some of the recent times they’ve hit, I’ve realized that I didn’t have to succumb to the old pain and heart ache.

I didn’t have to fully feel the feelings in order to heal.

When I first got into recovery, I learned that “the only way out was through,” and that “if it didn’t kill me to go through it, it can’t kill me to feel it.” I’ve spent many hours – and therapy sessions – digging into the mire to purge it from my psyche.

That was what I needed then, and that is what I sometimes need now.

But I’ve recently realized that I don’t have to dive into the darkest feelings – to search for the bottom and to feel all the pain – in order to move through and heal.

You don’t need all the feelin to have all the healin.

Now when it hits, I pause for a moment to decide if now is a time to feel it or if now is a time to just move on.

Sometimes it seems “rightest” for me to feel what is rising inside of me. And often I distract myself like a toddler. Often I ground myself in the moment – feeling my feet on the ground, the breeze on my skin. Often I put my hand on my heart and slowly, deeply breathe as I walk myself back away from the ledge.

This is actually huge for me. My “do it all, do it all well, do it all as my best” old self somehow thinks there is glory in my pain and I have to bear witness to the scars of my trauma over and over and over again.

I don’t.

There are moments when it is healing to be washed over, or at least it’s healing that I was washed over and now I’m coming up for air.

But there are moments, and more and more of those moments, when it’s healing to make a different choice, to take a different action, and to find anything and everything (and anyone and everyone) that brings a smile to my face and easing to my heart.

This is new behavior, and it is amazing behavior.

You don’t need the feeling to have the healing.

I’d love to hear your thoughts, and please share this post with others if it resonates with you!


If you have been in ANY high control group or religion, share your story with the hashtag #IGotOut. Share on your own platform OR if you need to be anonymous and/or would like support, there are resources at the @igotout_org website.

When you see a survivor share their story, let them know they have been heard. This is such a meaningful part of the movement. We all need to know we’re not alone.

If you know someone who has been harmed by a high demand group, share #igotout posts or stories you think would help them.

Together we can bring awareness to how many of us have been harmed by high control organizations and end the shame or stigma we might feel about our experiences.

Tell your story
Impact lives
Change the world

Find out more at igotout.org

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