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Woundology: Stop Using Your Past To Define Your Life

Photo by Sydney Sims on Unsplash

Let me say this first: I was abused for many years in my marriages. And before that, in my childhood. For much of my life, I was a victim of abuse.

This created for me what is well-known as PTSD: Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Because of abuse, I’ve experienced grief, anxiety, and depression throughout my life triggered by my upsetting memories.

I’ve focused on this fact, that I was abused for such a long time by many different people at different times in my life.

Once I got out of my abusive cycle for good, I felt that life had dealt me the shitty end of the stick. I carried that trauma around with me. I was successful in many other aspects of my life; career, money, motherhood, or setting personal goals. But this intimate relationship thing was the part of me that failed miserably.

I shared my wounds with everyone I knew. I was open with my anger about my failures and unfairness with the world. I developed a ”Woundology”. This became my persona. It defined me. I felt this was a good way for me to heal myself.

It wasn’t.

“We think we’re living in the present, but we’re really living in the past.” ~John Banville

Have you ever met someone for the first time and they started telling you all of their problems, their aches and pains, the problems they have with the people in their personal life, work, or that life is just overall crappy for them? They lay it all out there, scapegoating whoever or whatever to blame for their ongoing suffering, to the point where you’re overwhelmed and walk away stunned, yet relieved you escaped. That person is living in their wounds, wearing them like a badge of honor. That’s Woundology.

Why not just scream your pain out to the world? Photo by Jason Rosewell on Unsplash

Woundology is a concept derived by Caroline Myss, and she talks about it extensively in her book, “Why People Don’t Heal And How They Can”. She talks about people who continue to open the wounds of their trauma long past the occurrence, and share with everyone they come in contact with.

We all have a healing process to undergo after a trauma, in which there’ll be a period of time where we express our wounds out in the open. It’s the grief process. But there comes a point where there’s personal responsibility in taking charge of one’s own life again.

In Woundology, the person instead takes their old wounds and continues the grief long afterwards, sometimes for the rest of their life. They never heal from their wounds, but instead continue to re-expose the trauma to themselves and others.

Woundology is like a seductive mistress. It uses the role of victim as a power play as a way to receive love and compassion from others. It creates a lot of emotion and drama. This kind of connection with another person can be a powerful feeling.

With Woundology, the person speaks their wounds. They connect best with other people who also have a hurt past. They define themselves by their trauma. It’s the way they form intimate relationships; with family, friends, lovers, and coworkers.

This tactic gives a sense of being loved by the other person when expressing emotional wounds and they respond back with attention and affection, creating a victim/rescuer relationship. Or the other person also expresses their wounds in kind, creating a mutual victim/victim relationship. This is an unhealthy connection, because the foundation of the relationship is injury, pain, power and fear.

Don’t be like this lady…Photo by Cristian Newman on Unsplash

People with Woundology won’t develop healthy relationships with mentally healthy or truly healed people. Instead, they’ll only attract those who also express their own wounds too and thus perpetuate an ongoing living hell long after their actual trauma has passed.

And once one person or the other decides that it’s time to truly heal, the connection is lost.

This means if a truly healthy person comes across their path and doesn’t speak their own wounds (because we all have them in one form or another) there is no connection. The person with woundology will not feel supported and loved. They may even become hostile, especially if they’re confronted about how they’re interacting in the world.

This pattern was especially true when I started dating again after my second divorce. I lived in my hurt and failure to make my marriage work, and because of this, I only attracted men who were also recently broken from their own relationships (or whatever else had broken them).

It made for one fantastic shit show.

I soon learned the hard way that how I was running my life was NOT working for me. I suffered from Woundology. I was taking the blame for my life being crappy and putting it on my past, then letting that control how I lived in the now.

After a while I got so sick of this, I knew I had to change in some drastic ways to become a truly healed person. I realized that I needed to take responsibility for my life instead of continuing on as the victim, feeling sorry for myself and inflicting that on other people.

Only after I took a hard look at what I was doing in my life and did some real work on myself, did I start healing.

Today, my life is different. But I still come across the poor choices I’ve made in my past.

Last week, I reconnected with a friend I hadn’t seen for a while. I met her about six years ago. That was while I was undergoing some serious counseling and all the shit was coming out. My time with her was ok, but I felt the connection had faded considerably. Her attitude was rough and a bit defensive.

I thought to myself, how did I choose this friend? I remembered that I chose her during a time when my woundology was at its greatest. I opened my wounds and let them bleed, until I had nothing left and all I could do was finally let them heal.

Not the best time in my life to make new friends.

Today, not only do I not let my past dominate my conversations, I also don’t let it affect my moods, or cause me the grief it used to, which in effect has brought me to the joy in my life I’ve strived for, and created more healthy relationships with the people I now have as friends. The openly wounded friends fall away. The best people stay. And life is better.

I’m not saying I have the perfect life now. It’s a regular life with ups and downs. And I haven’t forgotten my past. That would be ridiculous. I still relive my past at times. I still have nightmares. I probably always will. I’ve accepted it and do self-care when I have these moments. And with time and continued healing, my nightmares become less and less, and I slowly detach from my Woundology.

What I’m saying is that I’ve stopped using my past to direct how I live my life and more importantly, how I connect and communicate with people. I’ve learned how to manage my emotional pain, and relearned how to connect with people in a more positive and healthy way so I develop loving, healthy relationships.

For those of you reading this and still clinging to a hurtful past, let me tell you this:

You are not meant to stay wounded.

You are meant to heal from your trauma and transform into your higher self. You’re meant to connect with others based on your love, your passions, your skills and talent. You are meant to create healthy relationships.

You can move past this. You can heal and become attracted to a person who you never thought you’d be attracted to, and you can develop a healthy, loving, intimate relationship. You can have healthy friendships. You can love your job and the people you work with. You can love all parts of your life. Most importantly, you can forgive your past, and you can love yourself. When you shed your woundology, positive and beautiful things start happening to you.

Read the message BEHIND the woman on her phone. Photo by Aziz Acharki on Unsplash

When I shed my woundology, I found a job I love doing. My friends changed and now I share friendship with some pretty awesome people. And the most beautiful thing is I found a loving, kind, and compatible partner to spend my life with. I set my boundaries, and transformed into a healthier me.

I still have my days. I still have pain. But I don’t let it run my life. I look at the world in a different way. I changed the internal monologue and it has shifted my view of my life. I decided to stop letting my abusers continue to abuse me.

The times I really express this is with my writing, but only to serve a purpose. Writing is my way to show that you are a beautiful, flawed person in this crazy world, that shit happens, and you must keep moving on in life and work towards personal joy. Healing can takes years. It will most likely take years. But working towards personal joy was my goal and I believe you must also have a goal to work towards. That is the most important thing.

Now when I meet new people in the real world, they would never know what’s happened to me in my past. I don’t connect with them using my wounds. I connect with them in many other, more healthy ways. Only when they get to know me and find I’m a writer who writes on personal development (and read my work), do they discover this.

Recently, one of my friends read my post, “My Life As An Abused Wife”. She responded, “Michelle, I never knew you went through all of that! I had no idea!” No she didn’t, because she doesn’t need to know that about me. She doesn’t need to connect with me on that level. I don’t want her to connect with me on that level. I want to have a loving, communicative and respectful relationship with her.

Another recent event, last week I attended a friends party. She introduced me this way to another of her friends “This is Michelle. She is the most soothing, kindest person you’ll ever meet.”

That’s how I’d rather people know me. That is the new me.

How incredible is that?

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