Leanne Vaughan – Sheltering Oaks Counseling
I can still see the woman’s face. I was speaking to a church women’s group several years ago. Though the topic escapes me, I remember saying something like, “For some of you, there may be a secret in your past. You may know it’s still affecting you, but not know what to do about that.” I had met this woman before, and as I glanced at her in the back row that night, it seemed to me that she was being very still – almost as though she felt like a spotlight had been turned on her, and she dare not move, lest someone see what was happening inside her.
As it turned out, my words had come across a painful part of her life, which she later bravely faced in counseling. I might call it a “black hole,” now. You may have one, too. You might have a secret that you’ve been keeping for years. You might have some giant topic that everyone in your family growing up knew about, but no one talked about. There might be a time period that seems blank – it swallows up your memories and feelings if you try to think about it.
Like black holes out in space, emotional black holes suck up everything that gets near them so “everyone,” stays away, avoiding the topic but also avoiding the healing that might come if it were just addressed in a safe way. Here are some examples of black holes my clients have faced in counseling:
- Childhood or teenaged sexual abuse
- Life with a narcissistic parent
- Being raised by someone with borderline personality disorder
- Losing a parent or a sibling early in life
- Being raised by an addict
- Having cancer or another serious illness in childhood
Unlike black holes in outer space, there are safe ways to face the emotional black holes in our lives. There are ways to escape their pull, and to experience life with freedom and joy, even though the black holes are very real. Therapy is one of those ways. All of the emotional and spiritual resources you have, brought to bear on your particular black holes, can provide the way out. You can carve out time and space to work with someone outside of your regular orbit, who is not shocked by the black holes, but will walk alongside you as face them, and as you are set free.
If you have a black hole in your life, I hope you will consider finding a counselor, this week even, who can help.