It lines your inside, this presence you’ve become so familiar with that you’re not sure where you end and it begins.
It’s just… there. Always there. Images. Scents. Sounds. Fear. Memories. Pain.

You try to shut it out. It returns. You lock it up inside. It gets out. It wants you to stare into its deceiving eyes. And when you do, it consumes you.  And that’s what perhaps scares you the most. That you no longer recognize yourself.

Talking about it hurts like hell. And it’s not that you can’t stand the pain. It’s that it sends you spiraling into a black hole that takes you days, weeks, months to climb out of.  And every time you manage to claw your way out, you’ve lost even more of yourself.

They tell you “you need to talk about it.” Go to counseling. Tell your stories. You’ll feel better.

But talking takes you back. You don’t want to go back. How could you find words to make anyone understand anyway? You can’t even find words to help yourself understand.

No. Silence is the only place that feels right.
It’s the only place where you can contain all that possesses you now. What you know and don’t know.
What you feel and don’t feel. What happened and what didn’t happen. What you are certain of and what you doubt.
All of it.

It’s not that you haven’t longed to speak. To scream it out. To eradicate it from the fabric of your being. But your scream gets stifled in your throat or at the recurring jolt awake at 3am. There have been times, you’ve been so close… words slid from the back of your mind to your tongue, but your lips wouldn’t say them.

No. You can’t talk about it. You just… can’t.

Because the intensity of your experiences are overwhelming. Spiritually. Emotionally. Mentally. Physically. Silence is your home and that home is lonely. There’s no one ever there, but you and “it”. Sure, you see your buddies and recognize your pain mirrored in their eyes.  But they’re silent, too.  A “Remember when…” A shot of whiskey, a crude joke, change of subject. You could talk to them but then you’d all be back there. And who would get you out? No, silence is best.

And so here you are. Reading this blog post on this site you just happened to stumble upon. A place where this author talks about shit that no one else does. And talks about it in a way that no one else does. A way that makes you feel almost…safe. A way that makes you think, maybe someone actually does “get it”….and by god, what if that could be true?
Only… no, you can’t talk about it.

Does that mean you can’t heal?
Does that mean you are fated to the exasperated, exhausted “fuck it. it’s just the way it is”?
Hell, you’re wondering right now if you should just click off this page. Because this is getting too damn close to home and there’s a good chance you’re fighting back tears. And tears mean that presence is stirring and the pain is going to wrap its bony grip around your heart, pull you under, and you’re going to drown again. And you’ve got shit to do, like bills to pay, and kids to shuffle around, and cooking that needs to be done. You don’t have time for this. Fuck.

Stop… stop right there.

And let me put my arm around your shoulders and speak this gently to you now.

Those tears, the ones you try hard to stifle, carry all the weight of everything that you can’t say.
They are your lifeblood. They connect your mind to your heart.
You see, you’re not dead inside.
You’re not too far gone to be saved.

(And if you can’t cry? You’re still not too far gone to be saved.)

Those thoughts that are too hard to think, that fuck you up over and over and over again?
They’re not supernaturally stronger than you.
They’re not even your enemy.
And they’re not you.

They are triggers that cause you to feel the emotions of those overwhelming experiences. You have emotional energy trapped inside you.  It’s that energy that emerges when you recall traumatic events. It’s what you haven’t found context for… or been able to create a new sense of meaning for. How do you create meaning out of the fucked up shit you did and witnessed?

By changing what you believe about how the world works and your role in it. You can’t change the facts of what happened. Facts can be recounted in order…. this happened, then this, then this… But it’s not that part of telling that hurts. It’s what you feel when you tell your stories that hurts so bad. And what you feel is based on what you believe about what happened and what your thoughts and perceptions were then, and what they are now.

So what do you do to heal when you just can’t talk about it?

First of all, you need to know that it’s okay to NOT talk about it. You don’t have to share your stories with anyone to heal your pain. Why do those of us in healing work encourage you to share your stories? Because it moves that trapped energy out of you and immediately reduces its power. (Think about those times you’ve worried about something and kept it to yourself. Your worry got stronger and stronger, right? But when you told someone that you were worried, the worry deflated and you didn’t feel so overwhelmed anymore, did you? The same thing happens for all that you keep inside. As long as you keep it inside of you, it grows stronger and your ability to see events from different perspectives diminishes.)

It’s important to know, too, that sharing your experiences is healing ONLY if the person you are sharing it with knows how to receive, honor and hold it sacred. They need to be able to hold you in a healing embrace of acceptance and respect. Otherwise, sharing a story of intimate pain can be absolutely re-traumatizing to you. And you may end up more trapped inside than ever. Many of you have had very bad experiences when you’ve tried to express yourself… and that just sends you further into the silence.

Not talking about your experiences doesn’t mean you haven’t set an intention to heal. It doesn’t mean that you are not moving toward healing–as long as you have consciously decided that you are not going to stay where you are anymore. Because for emotional healing to happen, you need to change the beliefs and perceptions you have about it… and that process can take place in your mind without you ever uttering a word out loud. Just know, that it won’t happen on its own. You have to make a point to do so.

Second, I want you to know that your pain is sacred. What you experience in combat is very personal, even though many of you have experienced the same type of events, no one perceives it exactly the same way. So, your pain is yours. Your war is yours. It belongs to you. You get to own it. You get to decide what you’re going to do with it. I know that sounds strange when you are having all these overwhelming sensory perceptions and PTSD symptoms… because they make you feel as if you’re not in control. And you’re not in control of many of your symptoms. What you DO control is the decision to stay where you are or take a chance on finding a healing path. Staying where you are may feel safer right now. But that’s because your fear of feeling the pain is greater than your desire for freedom from it.

And that leads me to my third point…

The only way out of the dark is through it. It takes a ton of energy to keep the intense emotions locked inside (it also takes a ton of pills, drugs or alcohol to keep yourself numb). What you fear most isn’t the actual pain… it’s not knowing what comes next if you do feel it. Remember, you feel it anyway, right? Throughout your day, at night, in strange and odd times, unexpected. It’s always there. There are triggers for memories everywhere, all the time. All it takes is one faint association for a memory to come flooding in. So, keeping it suppressed is one way to try to manage it, but is it really what is going to set you free? Or are you just keeping yourself captive?

Right now, you can’t bring yourself to talk about it because it hurts too much. You don’t know how to express it. You worry about getting emotional in front of someone else. Or being judged. Or being exposed and vulnerable. And the idea of sitting down with a “counselor” just gives you anxiety. Where do you begin? How are you supposed to put into words the visceral experiences you’ve had? How are you supposed to convey it? It’s not unusual to freeze up. Or to try to tell a “safer” story, one that doesn’t feel so threatening. But what I wonder is this: if you can’t bring yourself to share your story, maybe your spirit is just not ready to tell those stories yet. What if, instead, you had support — acceptance, love, encouragement in your daily life — that embraced you as you are and allowed you to heal at your own pace?

Timing is everything when it comes to healing. Healing cannot be forced. It has to be supported and allowed, but it occurs at a pace that aligns with what your spirit decides is safe. And that is what I want you to remember. You are reading this post because your spirit is searching for answers. You are tired of dealing with this shit, but you aren’t sure what to do now. You still can’t talk about, and you don’t know if you can ever really get better, but there is a part of you that longs to have someone be there and accept you and love and nurture you. Someone who knows this path you’re on and will walk with you at your own pace. Someone who will believe for you what you can’t believe right now. That you CAN heal and create a new sense of wholeness. And that’s what I do.

Your spirit knows how to heal itself… IF you give it permission to guide you and you choose to act with courage.
You don’t have to jump into the fire. You can stand near it and let it gently warm you.

You don’t have to talk about your pain, you can let Love hold you in a healing embrace until your pain is ready to be released.

So, if you can’t talk about it now… don’t believe that you can’t heal.
Or that you’re doomed to a lifetime of this shit.
You’re not.

8 thoughts on “What to Do When You Just Can’t Talk About It

  1. This is SO HARD. I feel ready. I pull back.
    I see a counselor who I finally trust enough to say things I don’t share, While Crying. And, she Gets up and turns her back on me walking away to her table of papers and tells me we should change the subject.
    You’re rt about the traumatizing. But, I didn’t just leave. I told her what I felt I needed and that I couldn’t allow myself to keep getting hurt like that, not my exact words & not during tht “session.” Staying for months trying to rebuild trust, it happened again. Why did I stay as if it was my job to train her? I gave her another chance. One more. And, Finally, I told her I was out.
    I don’t know why I’m telling you this. It just took me a couple of hours to reread the above, incl. breaks to cry. Your having essentially said tht my tears are in themselves messengers and story tellers or words about my pain is a concept tht helps me hold onto the hope that I can heal w/o hvng to know whn (as if it’s a destiny and not the life process it feels that it is/will be)…

    I don’t want to pass this pain on into another lifetime, wh/I believe can & will if I don’t heal more deeply. That belief kept me from suicide attempts as a child & teen going thru another kind of warfare… There’s nothing fair about combat is there?
    What if you can’t cry? What if you feel nothing, consciously? As said, it probably means I’m not ready at the level of Spirit, the deepest levels of who I am, to move away from the pain, consciously… Though, as said too, this doesn’t mean tht it can’t be or even isn’t happening, right?
    I liked what you said about being able to trust the person you tell. I wrote down a Lot of things that I ws supposed to say aloud to my 12 step sponsor. He wanted me to make all of the resentments I had written of for each person and institution etc., and use 5 words max to describe ‘m all. He barely listened, almost falling asleep at one point. And, he wants me to tell him about the Military prt. No Way. At least there I’m looking to protect myself.
    I jst got moved to Bjp’s reply: ATTEN. TO RESPONDENT BJP:

    OMG. I cld relate! Waking at 3am so frequently; Having the sense tht the memories are going to sear us w/the same intensity of overwhelming emotion and other sensations, forever, as if locked and lost in that hell eternally, It’s familiar.
    It’s true tht we won’t ever be who we were, yet prt of us Has Felt trapped, as you said, [As If ]w/o escape: That Is how it Can FEEL. YET, Experience is telling me that IT DOES NOT HAVE TO BE THAT WAY, that THERE ARE WAYS OUT! THE COMPASS AND THE MAP YOU SEEM TO HAVE LOST TRACK OF, OR HAD TAKEN FROM YOU IS ACTUALLY STILL WITH YOU. It’s INSIDE OF & PART OF WHO YOU ARE.
    How would feeling good enough feel? The fact that you ask tells me that prts of you Do Know, and Want to. This Can lead to the seeking & finding processes of discovery. YET, Facing the Unknown can feel unsettling, even Frightening, For the ‘Toughest of the Tough!’ incl. when we’re talking about changing for the better.
    Bjp, YOU ARE NOT IN SOLITARY, No matter how much it feels that way. VITAL PARTS OF WHO YOU ARE KNOW THIS! Remember, YOU Reached Out Here because You Recognized that you are NOT ALONE. AS LONG AS YOU’RE ALIVE, YOU’VE GOT CHANC-ES TO FIND YOUR COMPASS & MAP, whether consciously or not. PLEASE DON’T GIVE UP! I think that we’re ALL Looking For Answers to Very Similar Problems…
    If your own worst prison is yourself, there are Some things about tht which are good!!! Example: You Are AND Live In & With Yourself. There are parts of who you are, like the soul/the spirit inside that is The Reason You Were Made, Have The Abilities And Courage to Keep Living, Seeking out And Finding Purposes To and For Your Life, Created to Better Life for Yourself and Others, For Life & Creation Itself, things you’re actually in progress & process of doing by responding to this Blog, helping me to reread and grow in my beliefs about what I’m saying as true for you, also true for me.

    Getting Out of your prison will involve mentally, emotionally, getting outside of yourself. Your writing is a good start. Doing anything to be kind to another will likely hlp you to feel better about who you are, rediscovering who that person is, and very possibly finding out in the process some new ways to tap into your passions to serve in ways that won’t imprison you further, but honestly help you to find the releases you seem desperate for, the new sense if self you truly seem to want to find and live as, honorably.
    Bjp, You Are A Role Model for the rest of us. We Need your commitment to recovery and to getting out of the prison you wrote of. I need it, to push me forward, remembering tht I’m not alone!

    It may be that rt now, for yourself and others you Are as MIA and a P.O.W. Yet the fact that you wrote in tells me that you’re a survivor, not giving up, but letting others know where you are. I hope & pray you’ll keep us posted! Because, you are likely one who will end up helping others to become free from our own prisons of self.
    How will you measure who you will be with achievable goals? I don’t know about the measuring process, but I will share with you something that changed my life:

    I was feeling like things were so bad that I couldn’t go on. Someone I didn’t even know expressed concern about myself. It shocked me, and my train of thought shifted. Somehow, I came to the decision that if I could help at least one other person smile, then, I’d give myself permission to stay alive that day.
    It was something I did for a full year, before realizing that I was worth having around no matter what I was still holding inside.
    Even when I started w/a fake smile then or now, a real one returned pften gave me a real one. At the time, I was also smiling as a facial exercise, aware that the action would create joy producing chemicals within by smiling. Well before the year was over, I had become happier, and more connected socially.
    At that point I wasn’t at the point which you are, ready & able to log on to blog site about my self-imposed prison, created out of my perceived inability to function without the nightmares of war plaguing me, replaying in a futile attempt to help me find control where I had none, and would never have any, except in terms of how I view(ed) and chose/choose to use my thoughts, feelings, sensations from the past &/or present.
    There are “small” things you can do & say that will help one or more people each day. It’s pretty inexpensive therapy. And, I find, to this day that it helps me to feel better about who I am in present centered actions.
    So far, I still don’t have a clear sense of who I am or any ultimate purpose for my life. But, does it Need to be that complicated, as we try to live but one day at a time? This is not the Military. But, it is a world where we belong. Where we can and will find purposes, including achievable goals. One of mine
    at the moment is finding a new counselor &/or other forms of support that won’t judge me, until I do. Each move in that direction is measurable.

    I don’t yet know what it feels like to sense that I’m good enough as is. I’m motivated to learn more about practicing self-care, loving and accepting myself to accept and receive such for myself from others. And, Because I’m refusing to give up, I have come from feeling like what you described, to feeling that even I have a chance at Finding Out What It Feels Like To Feel I’m Good Enough, as well as to just believe & feel that I Am Enough jst as I am, AND wht it feels like to Really Feel Good!
    Let’s stay on the journeying out of Hell , into Life & Love of the kindest, sanest, safest, most secure, while extremely adventuresome kinds, requiring all of the courage we’ve got, allowing us to feel alive again, only this time, with a greater sense of Real Freedom, joy & love than we ever dreamed possible for ourselves… I hope you’ll say, “Okay. I’ll try. I’ll do it.” For, I also Need to Know that I’m not alone! We all do.
    Hang in there buddy. Your Life is worth fighting for in the new ways described in some of these articles.
    You Can Do This. It’s just that, like the rest of us, you can’t do it alone: That’s a fact, not a fault!!!! Best part, You don’t Have to even try it that way!
    Wishing you the Best, while Believing in You, Your Ability To Seek, Find, Experience And Share Healing, One Day At A Time!!!

  2. Thank you.
    I’ve been looking for a new therapist after spending months trying to hlp some person, somehow Licensed to “practice” therapy to practice therapy! If my expr. w/her is an indicator she needs … I was going to say, w/all caps., “a lot more practice;” yet, having gotten ths far in the sentence, I realize tht I believe she needs to “retire”!!!!!

    My intentions in going to see a therapist have bn to find a way, IN A SAFE ENVIRONMENT, WITH A TRUSTWORTHY CARING, NON-JUDGEMENTAL HUMAN BEING, to start finding some words to begin letting the __it out; to change my perceptions and beliefs; to release the pain and the terror of doing so; to let go of this weight tht one referred to as carrying around a mountain…
    Reading the above, I began to cry right about where you asked, ‘What if you can’t cry? Does this mean you can’t heal,’ or somthng similar… There seem to be many tears, which at this point are thankfully coming out in spurts rather than non stop, which I long feared. And, my ability to just shut them off has waned, a sign of healing I’d say.
    Whn I started therapy w/mentioned therapist (1 trying to be one), I’d leave feeling completely overwhelmed w/the emotions, flashbacks, etc. tht the human I went to see avoided & steered me away from. It scared me to be feeling my emotions so strongly, as if I might not be able to stop crying, or tht I might get stuck as if in passed situations. If not so physically weakened by mitochondrial encephalomyopathy, my walls would likely be “holey,” w/many beams visible. Anger/Rage has been a big problem for me, too. And, energy permitting, it seems tht my attraction to “risky” outdoor activity is still quite strong. That Power of Love you speak a good deal of really has watched my back A Lot, incl. recently, including now.
    Your interpretation of tears is comforting to hear/read. Hearing that It’s ok to Wait to tlk/Not tlk about some things until I’m ready; and, to Trust the Universe, or however you put it, to bring open access for me to find one I can and will feel & be safe with facilitating my self-expressions.

    It’s true, none of us has the same perceptions about any shared event we’ve gone through. I know in my gut tht there are some things I’ll Need to tlk to, things that affected others differently:
    I’ve known men who felt completely justified in killing civilians trying to protect themselves from our invading troops. My take on it ws different, all the more whn back in the States…
    Now, I’m thinking of the suicides of U.S.A. Military Veterans. There’s too much isolation, too much sense that no one cld ever understand our feelings, forgive us/help us to forgive ourselves, too much feeling unworthy of help, of forgiveness, of Love. Too many of us live in constant fear, never letting our guards down.
    Yesterday, looking at a catalog of items for Military Veterans, I noticed holsters, incl. bedframe holsters, canteen mugs… My line of thought led me to think of a friend I knew who was in a war over 30 yrs prior, and still slept with a gun. I don’t want to feel like I’m still “over there” for the rest of my life, as if my life is still jst as seriously threatened as whn in combat. That’s1reason I’m looking for help. And, as much as I enjoy target -practice, I do Not want guns in my home. For me, it wld be a temptation to take my own life. It cld also turn a severe flashback into a disaster. I want to release myself from feeling most “at home” when I’m in danger… If I cld adapt to civilian living on my own, I’d hv done it before, long before.
    Now, I’ll admit that I hv a set of crutches someone gave me, made for a shorter person; and, I hv held one as if an M16, seeing the wingnut on the side as if a sight! So, I’m not saying I don’t know what it’s like to feel you just can’t shake the feeling tht you’re still there and Not here. In fact, for me, it’s bn only recently that I’ve bn ably stopping myself from acting as though I’ve got a gun in my hands, carefully scoping out my own apartment, one tht I’ve been in for the whole day, alone, door locked.
    What I am saying is tht I do have that willingness to heal. I’ve been actively seeking help to do so for about 1 &1/2yrs. Finding this site has been a gift to my soul. There always seems to be another article that I Need to take in, feel and use as a tool. And, the writer? Legit. I’ve written And gotten responses!!! The fact that it’s free help for the asking whn many of us do hv $ limits, at least at the moment, is awesome. It’s help from one who knows what I’m going through, doesn’t seem to judge, Isn’t part of the VA or other Gov. Agencies… Thank God!
    “When the student is ready the teacher appears.” I’m willling. I’m ready to some extent, And becoming ready. This feels like a safe spot for me right now. And, the writer of the above article is a student of Life, as well as a teacher, as the best teachers are! ‘More like us than different… I’m feeling thankful for the permission to cry Or not to, to heal at my own pace without giving up or giving in.
    I’ve tried to take my life 3 times over the yrs. Only some power greater than I stopped the process before I was even injured, Each time! Now, I’m far more aware that I’m alive for reasons beyond my present understanding; more aware that not every one or every attempt will end with such good fortune, though escaping the pain seemed primary whn I tried… If I’m wanted alive, so I can heal rather thn to continue allowing my psyche to torture me w/replays of what’s tortured me far more than enough already, then, if I did try to kill myself (again) it may be that I’d end up in worse condition than I am now. THAT I know I don’t want.
    Write in. Keep looking for the help you need. WE ARE NOT ALONE HERE. Seeking help and not finding who or what one needs does Not equal failure! Remember, WE DON’T GIVE UP. We make and find ways where there “are none!” That’s what we do. It’s our job, as warrior spirits, and as human beings, all members of One Human Race. We’re all on the same side now, seeking survival, and then, more (e.g., quality of life as individuals and in relationships, able to feel comfortable in our own skin, as the people we are, alone, or with others around us, no matter who they be). We’ve been built strongly. If we hadn’t bn we wouldn’t be here.
    Thank you for another helpful read Brittareqe! Thank you, also to all who leave comments. And, thanks for letting me “just vent!” I need to. It helps to reinforce for myself tht I’m Not Alone, tht I Am, Alive for Good, Important Reasons, even whn I can’t always see what they are.

  3. You are so welcome. I am so glad that your soul has remembered that you are loved and that you are beautiful and that you are walking a healing path that makes sense to you now.

    It is a joy and honor to be here for you all. You contact me anytime…

  4. Thank you for putting into words what I can not. I returned to conus in 1968. Since then I have spread a wide path of hate and fear. Fueled by alcohol and my inability to deal with my own feelings and thoughts. Hurting others seemed to be my default setting.
    Recently 2014 I was introduced to a local Vet Center. The acceptance and love felt there were overwhelming the healing is slow but ongoing. The regrets of a life spent in turmoil are hard to face.
    All of those who were hurt when they only reached out to help are the new causalities. I so appreciate your work in putting this site together and your continued dedication to the healing of us. You have become a inspiration to me and a part of my continuing healing. I thank God for your writing ability, crafting words in a way that speaks to me and the other vets lost in our own prisons. .

  5. As I read the words on the page they were all too familiar. As if you were speaking for me in my own words. I do not know why I jump out of bed a 3am and always feel something is wrong. Just like you know things are going to be bad real bad. I always am preparing for what I do not like Creed I have built my own prison dark and solitary. I know I have done no wrong. I find my self slipping to the eternal never ending memories. Sight and sound. Hiding behind anger. I do not recognize myself and dislike what I have become. But this is only part of the misery the lose of identity of who I was and will no longer be. I really do not know which is worse. As left hollow the only emotion is lost without a compass or map they do not exist. The answer seem to be left behind were you lost who or what you were. So you do not know who or what you could be. How is there a measurement for all of this in a obtainable goal. When you need to Speke it comes out broken and incoherent or was just lost in you last breath leaving even more disappointment. Like Bobbie Magee
    Feeling good enough would be good enough. But what would that feel like. Some are trapped in the worst prison our own self. With no means for escape..


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