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Healing Suppressed Pain from an Absent Father

Me, five years old, Waikiki Beach, HI

I've been going through somewhat—oh, who am I foolingone hell of a spiritual awakening, and in the process, I've come to realize that I've buried many traumas that need to be brought out into the light, acknowledged, and healed. Taking a look at the dysfunction in just the past ten years of my life, I can trace the patterns back to a trauma, that spawned from an older trauma, that spawned from an even older trauma, and so on.

Like a Russian nesting doll, the smallest doll (my child self) experienced a pain that my innocent mind couldn't understand. As that core doll got concealed inside each new doll (as I grew up), each new version of me carried that childhood pain within. As a 35-year old adult with so many layers between my outermost and innermost dolls, I never knew how to access the originating wound. Even though, if rattled, I could hear it shaking about inside of me. At least I knew it was there.

My it was the trauma of an absent father.

My father, Jack, left my mom when she was pregnant with me. It's a complicated story, and not where the lesson lies, so we'll skip those details. I grew up knowing these three things:

  1. I do in fact have a dad
  2. His name is Jack
  3. And he lives far away

I would learn peripheral tidbits about Jack here and there over the years; about how he liked cars and that I looked like him in photographs, but that's about it. I never asked any questions.

Jack and I "accidentally" met for the first time when I was 13. As it turned out, we had lived in the same town all these years. I shared that story on Instagram. You can check it out here. It was unplanned and a mess of confused (and then suppressed) emotions for me. At 13 I was already too proud and full of denial to grieve the pain that I unknowingly had nested inside of me.

As an adult, I forgave Jack. I understand how hard relationships can be and life is messy. I know we make mistakes that we're not proud of, and that time heals most wounds. But even with 15 years of forgiveness under my belt, I was still displaying signs of trauma.

I've understood for some time that to "heal the trauma you have to heal the child," but it's not until I began journaling that I discovered how to access my innermost "doll" and began my healing process once and for all.

I'm going to share the text verbatim from my journal below, but first I need to set the stage. I had been writing in my journal and had called out and named two young versions of myself that suffered traumas from men: "Baby Girl Leslie" and "Teenage Leslie" (later renamed to "8th Grade Leslie" to be more timeline specific). I had initially thought it was 8th Grade Leslie that needed healing when I soon realized it was Baby Girl Leslie (my youngest cognitive inner child) that created the narrative for 8th Grade Leslie to navigate.

Then I decided I needed a break. I closed my journal and stepped away. I started walking around the house and was singing the song "Somewhere Out There" from the 1986 movie An American Tail. I hadn't thought about that song (or movie) in ages—but I remembered that Baby Girl Leslie loved it.

I intuitively took that as a breadcrumb from Baby Girl Leslie. She was communicating a big message to me in the only way a five-year-old knew how—through a song that resonated with her. I knew I needed to listen to the song, so I took a deep breath and watched the video below.


THIS IS MY JOURNAL ENTRY AFTER WATCHING THE VIDEO Information in brackets added for context.

"I just watched the video and cried uncontrollably hard. I remember sitting in my bedroom [when I was about 5 years old] looking out at the city lights of Huber Heights [the small town next to mine]. I declared it was New York City and said that's where my dad was. I'd look at each light, pausing momentarily, thinking that one of the lights was Jack. Feeling with my whole heart that if only he knew me, knew I was here, that he'd love me. I didn't feel unloved. I knew I was loved as a kid and I was so full of love. But I longed to be loved by my dad who I knew would love me too. I sat in that window and sang "Somewhere Out There" to myself. Watching the video from the movie just now, I see that the mice did the exact same thing. [Impressionable mind.] They were alone, looking out over the city lights, thinking about how someone they know is out there and hoping that they were thinking of them too. I so badly just wanted to know that Jack was thinking about me too."

And just like that, I had connected to my innermost child and finally knew what my adult brain couldn't figure out—I just wanted to know if my dad ever thought about me. This was the very first time I had understood my feelings. And it was the first time I ever cried and physically released the emotions tied to being "unwanted" by my father.

Since making this realization and shedding the initial emotional weight, I've felt so much lighter. I have plans to see Jack this summer and finally ask the question I've always needed to ask. And while it doesn't matter what his answer is, I can't wait to experience closure and have this part of my life healed.


• • • 

Are you dealing with suppressed pain in your life? Sometimes it's possible to navigate yourself out of it, sometimes it's not. If you've chosen to take the path to be your own medicine man or woman, I can't recommend journaling enough. If your traumas are too heavy to take on alone, please consider seeking professional help. While healing emotional wounds are not easy, it's absolutely worth it, and you deserve to enjoy every magical, golden drop of this life.