My Ache

My daughter introduced me to Glennon Doyle’s book “Untamed”. This book helps me understand my childhood experiences. She helps me make sense of my triggers. This book brings light into my chaotic past and helps me find patience and compassion for me. This book helps me heal from an ache that inhabited my being for over 50 years.

Doyle dedicates a whole chapter on “The Ache”:

“I don’t know when I first discovered the Ache, but by the time I am 10 years old, it has become my constant interrupter.”
“When I am loving my life, I remember this is going to end. So I have to be careful and keep watch for when it is coming.”
“I feel losses before they happen. I’m trained to watch for the worst and prepare for the best.”
“This Ache paralyzes me with ‘you know how this ends’.”
“I don’t know if the Ache is trying to protect me or terrorize me. I don’t know if it loves me or hates me, if it’s bad or good. I just know that its role is to constantly remind me of the most essential fact of life, which is: This ends. Don’t get too attached to anything.”
“It always arrives in words (she’ll die) or an image (a phone call, a funeral) and immediately my body responds. I stiffen, hold my breath, straighten my spine, break eye contact, lean away.”

I play out a familiar scenario when I’m enjoying life. I start dreading when this wonderful thing will end or be taken away from me. I set myself up for the fall. Because I believe it will fall.

I remember decreeing one day in late summer around 1973 while sitting in a car. I was in a parking lot of an apple orchard. I had just learned my horse was euthanized by my parents and they felt it important to tell me after the fact. My Betsy was my best friend. I had no warning, no goodbye. I was beyond devastated and shattered. I remember my words clearly. “I will never trust my parents again. I will never get my hopes up again.” Then I proceeded to eat pastries and other sweets to numb the pain.

I created the Ache, always present in everything I think and do. I don’t trust I have the right to be happy. I doubt positive outcomes.

Words hold power. My decree held power and instilled itself inside my mind and heart as a truth. Everything from then on was filtered through this belief.

Now over 50 years later I have the ability to observe myself having lived through so much. I am dedicated to bestowing gentle kindness on me instead of punishment. I’m moving away from cause and effect thinking. I see the bigger picture and it looks like this. I experienced heartache from loss. I experienced heartache from abandonment. My heart was broken and I had nowhere to turn with my pain so I turned it on myself.

The truth is life is hard and difficult challenges happen to us at any age no matter whether we are mature enough to handle it or not. My parents were acting from their belief that they were helping me, skewed as it was. There was no malice. There was no contempt. There was a lack of understanding.

It’s taken me a lifetime to see the bigger picture. Life gives us hard things to handle. Doyle wrote, “We can do hard things.”

Matt Kahn talks a lot about trauma response. He encourages us when facing terrible actions and beliefs by others.

“Instead of asking what’s wrong with them or why can’t they be the way I like them to be, the question is how much pain and trauma must have they endured from this lifetime or before in order to act this way? When you recognize someone’s behavior that is annoying, triggering what is not reflective of your highest values or ethics, there is a trauma response going unrecognized."
People “may not be fully aware of the trauma response occurring within them because they may be so identified with their defense mechanisms that their trauma response is so well hidden that they are even hidden from the person having them.” - Matt Kahn

So it’s a revolution of sorts to nurture the evolution of kindness on ourselves. Deliver the patience, compassion and love we deserve. We all have suffered trauma of one sort or another. We all have trauma responses. It’s my intention to be aware of trauma responses and remember, the next time I am faced with an atrocity committed by another human being, I want to ask myself how much pain and trauma they must have endured from this lifetime or before in order to act this way?

The more I heal, the more I discover the answer for myself. I am well in my soul. I learn from every situation. There is a greater process in life and as it unravels before me, I allow healing to happen.

Self Love, by Vicky, from Voices of Youth

I looked in the mirror.

I saw not just a face

But a reflection of my past,

Accomplishments laced with mistakes.

I saw one space

Collecting all of my fears.

I saw tears held back—


Held back too.

How many years I have not known myself.

As long as it has taken to get back to you,

I would retrace every step

Just so that I could be here to say

I love you.

Because now I know the truth:

Love runs deep in the veins of the pulsing


Love is my name, and

I’ll not soon forget who I see

When I catch my reflection

Gazing back at me.

Participants’ Reflections:

  • Thank you so much. You made the same decision that I did about the same time in my life. There was a roller coaster I was on and sometimes I was up and happy and other times I was down and sad. I was at such a low point, I