It's amazing what can trigger a reaction to pain long forgotten, things buried and excavated and buried again. Sometimes it only takes a phone call.
This call wasn't from family or a long lost friend. Simply from a business I thought I'd severed ties with a few months ago, calling to inform me that no, I hadn't taken the appropriate steps and had not indeed ended my relationship with them.
The surface level story seems simple. I'd called to cancel, they'd told me no, I needed to come in to either cancel or switch my credit card information, and I'd simply let the card expire. Today they informed me that they were continuing to bill me although they couldn't charge my card, and that they would eventually turn me over to a collection agency - for $98.
The force of my reaction caught even me off guard. Before the ordeal had run it's course for tonight, I was shaking and in tears. Because the REAL reason I didn't go in and cancel, the real reason I was canceling in the first place, was because I'd let something slip instead of dealing with it. I'd let shame and guilt and fear silence me in the moment and afterwards. I'd stood by and let something slide that I needed to speak up about. I felt victimized, and I hid. And the call today took me back to another time and another place where those same feelings overpowered me.
I think the reason I found those emotions so close to the surface today is because I've been listening to stories that remind me and stir those old memories. Stories so horrid and unbelievable that staying detached is almost impossible. Stories that break my heart.
And today, I discovered that my own story is not yet healed. That the compromising of my safety and my voice has wounded me in ways I still don't even comprehend. Those wounds can be medicine for others, but only if I bring them into the light instead of burying them because I'm too afraid to look. I have to heal, a bit at a time, before I can effectively sit with someone else's pain.
The story isn't over yet. I have to face the situation and tell my truth. I should have done it before, and before, and before. There is no easy way out. I tried the hiding, and it didn't work. So now I have to dig deep and find my voice and my power and my center - and speak from that place instead of a place of fear covered by anger. And then, maybe, the next time the phone rings, I won't jump.