I have a back tooth with a rough edge. It was pointed out to me by my dentist. Now I find myself running my tongue over it. Almost unconsciously. She asked if it bothered me and did I want it filed down. At the time I declined. Now, in addition to noticing the sharp ridges, I am creating a tender and red patch on the tip of my tongue as I fuss over the aged enamel at the back of my jaw. It is a reminder to me that jagged edges, left unattended, will eventually appear in our consciousness. And with them, associated wounds emerge.

On my journey of self awareness and quest for peaceful acceptance of the rollercoaster ride that is my life, I find it necessary to visit the jagged edges of the past. Sometimes they appear in my relationships with others. Sometimes they appear in my thoughts as I slow down and take time to notice and reflect. Sometimes they appear out of the blue, or so it seems. I have been reminded by a wise advisor that pop-up disturbances are unhealed traumas. Rather than bristle, assuming that my benign and safe life didn’t fit clinical definitions, I listened.

I’ve learned that some of the experiences in my life that I had assumed were part of the cycle of growing up, having children, and being an adult, were circumstances and events that needed attention so that I could heal. They left a mark – an injury. Being in the past doesn’t make them irrelevant to the present. Though the skin may grow over, it’s weak and vulnerable to abrasions. At least it is for me.

And it’s those closest to our hearts that are most likely to remind us of the mending yet to be done. Like the urge to pick at a broken fingernail, I often find myself deep into fixing, making better, trying to help, only making it worse. A mix of anxious guilt that simmers deep within, combined with the belief that somehow, and likely, it’s my fault, lasts until I am admonished or ignored. It’s a choreographed pattern with a repeating chorus as I feel the sting and retreat.

The process of healing requires me to dig into past experiences and acknowledge the damage. To say and deeply believe that it’s not my fault. To say and deeply believe that emotional injury happened in the past, and that doesn’t take away my power to rebuild. To say that I need time to rest, soak the pillow with tears, and find the energy and courage to be ok. That’s my healing process. I hope.

I finally found peace and acceptance in place of anger in my relationship with my mother. That was my first experience of a healing shift. Accessing compassion and empathy for her was the key to my heart softening. The words repeating in my head – she did the best she could. . . she did the best she could . . . she did the best she could. It afforded me three years of feeling loved and connected before dementia took her away. It was easier to care for her failing body and vacant mind having had that time together.

I sense a flow of empowered energy when I commit to facing the emotional triggers that sit within my evolved self. Acknowledging their origin makes them tangible. Taking them out of my subconscious and into the air between me and another is an admission of truths. The beginning of understanding their sustained influence over decades of living. Then comes the permission to be angry, to be sad, to be hurt, to be little. Before I can get big. Before I can smooth the raw margins. Before the past will be disabled and silenced.

At least, that is my experience.