Ep. 65 FACE IT
Tuesday, July 11th
I had to get a blood draw recently for an annual doctor’s appointment. I was early to the appointment, and I waited for them to call my name. I was so studious – really really proud of myself for being on time. It’s a big deal to get the kids out-the-door without tears, lunches made and everything. So, I’m like “I’M REALLY SLAYING THIS ADULT THING TODAY!”
I’m sitting there. They call my name. I go to the lab-room where they draw blood and I’m just talking to the lady. She’s telling me about her grandson - this gorgeous boy I see pictures of on the wall. I roll up my sleeve. Everything’s great…. And then she puts the rubber-band tourniquet on my arm.
Suddenly, the room goes silent. I’m flooded with fear, anxiety, pain, anger, despair. It was a freight train coming down the tracks and I couldn’t stop it. She sticks the needle in my arm and I’m about to lose my freaking mind.
You guys – I was experiencing my first ever, real-deal, MAMMA-JAMMA trauma trigger and it was INTENSE. There was absolutely nothing I could do. I wasn’t in control. My body took over and I was about to be a pancake on the tracks.
The lady finished the blood draw quickly and was like ‘you’re all done!” I was like ‘yeah, ok, bye.” I practically run out of the building and the floodgates opened before I even got to my car.
You guys – I sat in my car and just WAILED. There were sounds comin’ out of me that I had never heard before. My windows aren’t tinted, so people saw me right there weeping like someone had just died. And I went on like that in my front seat for a full 5 minutes.
When the tears stopped, I started to shake and felt completely spent. I was a zombie. That completely unexpected trigger took my body back to my hospitalizations in August of 2022. The last time - nearly 10 months before - that I had had a blood draw. It was the first time I’d felt the tourniquet, made a fist, and braced for impact. I didn’t remember – but MY BODY DID.
And in that moment I realized: for the rest of my life - ANYTIME I HAVE BLOOD DRAWN, I’ll have to FACE ONE OF THE SCARIEST CHAPTERS IN MY LIFE.
I WILL HAVE TO FACE IT.
If you listen to this podcast, you know how frequently my hospitalizations come up in my episodes. I’ve done so much therapy, energy work, yoga, meditation, breathwork – ALL OF IT – around healing the wounds of that time. In many areas, it’s now just a scar and a story. But with that blood draw, I found a hallway of my pain that was yet unexplored.
Pain doesn’t go away, ya know. It just blends with you, over time. Every time you share it, you get better and better at sharing the story until one day, it doesn’t bring you to tears.
My pain is medical. But maybe yours deals with loss. Loss of a relationship. Loss of someone you love.
Maybe it’s shame.
Whatever the source of your pain… when you leave it unhealed, it will always show itself.….. on the calendar, in cologne, on street corners, or in the prick of needle. When there are tears… THAT’S WHEN YOU REALLY KNOW… something is still stored in your body that needs to be healed.
Take a moment and hold in your mind what’s causing you pain.
Now ask yourself.. What’s it trying to tell me?
After we experience pain, we spend our lives trying to return to status quo. We try to get back to who we were before that pain. But we have to realize, we’ve changed. We were literally changed by the pain.
Pain and trauma force you to question everything. It forces you to realize what felt good… is gone.
And you have to FACE IT.
Blood draws weren’t terrifying for me. Now they are. I have to FACE IT.
So if we’re constantly changing -but then simultaneously fighting the change- we get stuck. We’re trying to live our lives as the person WE WERE… and not realizing we’ve become someone new. Someone who’s learning to live with pain.
There’s been a lot of research done around understanding emotional and psychological trauma. We used to think it only happens to soldiers in combat. But trauma happens in more situations that you might realize. I’ve put a link to understanding PTSD in the show notes.
One of the most effective ways to work through your pain is to talk about it. In the research it’s called CBT.. COGNITIVE BASED THERAPY.
Now I TOTALLY GET that it’s easier to avoid talking about it! Avoid people and places that remind you of that hard, painful thing. It makes you feel safe for a moment, but in the long run, research points to it making you more fearful.
There’s actually an antidote for your avoidance. It’s to gradually FACE THAT THING you’re afraid of. This goes for your thoughts, too. Avoiding thinking of something - like a memory, for example - will only make the impact of its intrusion greater. And you’ll become less and less able to cope with it. When you deliberately face that thing - the memory, the place, the story - it becomes less and less likely to pop into your awareness uninvited.
There’s actually a name for revisiting a HARD, PAINFUL memory. It’s called “imaginal exposure” and it involves you telling the story of what happened either out loud or in writing.
I can tell you from experience: the more you share about your pain, the more you heal. Because pain draws a line in the sand. It forces you to confront your self-concept and only bring forward what’s still true. But until then, everything’s up for review.
It requires you to be unafraid.
And this is a powerful point about the foundations of authenticity. Because if you don’t FACE IT – if you don’t look this trauma dead in the eyes – you are not living authentically. Because authenticity says “I PAY ATTENTION TO EVERYTHING ABOUT ME.”
Without this inner confrontation… you’re only authentic to your facade. Or your dysfunction.
I’m someone who loves knowing the root of words or expressions. I was doing some intuitive googling trying to find when we started saying “LET’S FACE IT.” I found something that I have no idea whether it’s true or not, but it sounds good:
That our expression “face it” goes back to the days of the Spartans. It’s documented that most men were trained to be warriors. When they died in battle, they were carried face-up on their shields, paraded through the streets to show everyone they met their death, face-to-face, because their wounds were on the front of their body.
Again - I like this story - so I’m gonna use it. That’s what it means to FACE something. As kids we face the monsters we think are under the bed. As we get older, our fears become more complicated. Fear is a basic human emotion. It’s normal to feel fear. But we have to condition our body to *NOT* go into fight or flight when we come into contact with that painful or traumatic memory.
Here’s another recent example of me FACING SOMETHING that was really hard. I had a super-unhealthy habit of putting the kids to bed and OPENING my laptop to start another round of work at 9 o’clock at night. I would work until midnight, OFTEN, just to get it all done. Then I’d be up early the next morning to do it all again. I did 18-and 19-hour days for 2 full years. It ‘bout damn near killed me.
So, three months ago, I had to face that final vestige of my need for productivity. I took my MOST UNHEALTHY HABIT and decided to put it to bed once and for all.
Instead of opening my laptop after I put kids to bed - you guys know - I now meditate for atleast an hour every night, in the bath. I faced my fear of not getting everything done and I said “what if I do NOTHING.” And in the NOTHINGness, I've found an entirely different world because now I feel like a different person. I talk all about this in Episode. 56 - so you can catch up there.
I FACED IT. I faced my most unhealthy habit. And replaced it with something research shows us over and over is the best thing we can do for our brains and body.
So, let’s talk through how you can go about FACING IT. What’s something you just won’t seem to deal with.
Step 1. Don’t judge yourself for not dealing with it. Your judgment makes nothing better. It actually makes it worse.
Step 2. Breathe. Like, really deeply. From your belly. When we do that, it activates our parasympathetic nervous system – which is responsible for rest, sleeping and all-out enjoying life. It helps you calm down and think clearly. Think from THAT place.
Step 3. Really ask yourself what’s keeping you from FACING the pain? Give yourself some love and compassion. Remember - we’re trying to rewire stuff here, so you want positivity wired in as you think about that difficult thing.
Step 4. Expose yourself to it. Do this gradually because you want to build on progress.
Step 5. I would say TALK ABOUT IT. If you don’t feel comfortable talking… WRITE ABOUT IT. You HAVE TO get this stuff out of your body. It has to be dealt with.
And lastly, don’t be afraid to get help. I’ll say it until I’m blue in the face. I’m OKAY.. because of my therapist. I could not function in August of 2022 after weeks on-and-off in the hospital. It wrecked me. Talking about your pain… HELPS.
And - just so you know - a few days ago I got a re-do on the blood draw. I needed to get a new panel for hormone testing and when I went in, I was prepared. I spent a lot of time trying to calm my body and I told myself, no matter what comes up during this blood draw, it would be okay. I definitely shed some tears during it, but I stayed calm and didn’t have a full-on trauma trigger. I was really proud of myself and l just said again – ‘okay, there’s still something here to heal.’
Just remember… the trauma won’t go away. All that’s required of you is being ready to FACE IT and heal.
As you go through this week, I encourage you to shine your light, lead with your heart and live life purposefully. I’m Lauren Lowrey and this is AMPstigator.