In The Power of Now, Tolle defines a pain-body as “the human tendency to perpetuate old emotion” which is accumulated in their “energy field.” He says any negative emotion not fully faced and seen for what it is in the moment becomes a remnant of pain we carry with us throughout our lives. According to Tolle, the pain-body is addicted to unhappiness and seeks out negativity like nourishment to grow bigger and stronger.
Here, today, I’m going to recognize my pain body, so I can send it away into a dormant state in my being.
This is 74 Doremus Street in Paterson NJ, (as it exists now from google maps). At the time I lived there it was a 3-family house and our famiy rented the ground floor. I lived here with my family from elementary school years through age 13. At 13, my father died of esophageal cancer and we moved to West Milford, NJ. My family consisted of my mother and father, two sisters (one older, one younger), older brother and (in the final two years), our baby brother and then me.
At the front of the house was a parlour. Next to the parlor was a back bedroom, shared by my father and older brother. My father worked third shift, which meant he would get up at 11pm and work until 9am the following day, thereby sleeping during the daytime hours. He worked 6-7 days a week. This bedroom had two twin beds and was brown. Everything was brown. The walls, the door, the furniture, the bed coverings. The shades were always closed. That room was dark and out of the way. I remember it being a quiet, unfamiliar place.
I remember what happened to me in that brown room.
I had been in that bedroom only twice during all the years we’d lived there. Once was with our father and my younger sister. Our dad was a smoker. Muriel air tip cigars were his undoing, leading to his death in 1979. While he worked, to keep from smoking, he would buy Wrigley’s gum from the candy machine. On the nights when he bought Juicy Fruit gum, he would offer the remaining sticks of gum to my sister and I. This day in my memory, she and I were jumping on Dads’ twin bed, (probably getting yelled at for doing it), excitedly waiting for our sticks of Juicy Fruit. It was a treat, and our dad loved how delighted we were for it. That was a lovely memory.
Our father slept during the day. That room was off limits most of the time. I think this was why it was easy for my brother to lure me into that room on the second occasion. How old was I? 8? 9? 10? In that ball park. A kid. A little girl.
The house was an old house. It was always cold in the winter and sweltering hot in the summer. I grew up wearing flannel pajamas. It’s just how it was. My brother lured me into his room and I climbed into his singe bed with him to get warm. He reached his hands into my pants, under my underwear and fondled me. He took my hand into his hand and made me touch his penis under his underwear. I had no idea what was going on.
I ran from that room and never went in there again. From that day, this brother became an enemy. Someone who made me feel bad. Someone who does bad things to me. Someone to be avoided. As a child, I remember telling my mother and father that he was touching me. My father would smack him on the back of the head and tell him not to touch girls. While I told them….I never told them what he really did. How do you tell your parents something you didnt understand but knew felt bad? I didn’t know how. Back then, girls in our family wore dresses. I only owned pants for when we played outside in the snow. I owned my first pair of jeans the year after my father died, at 13. My brother would incessantly pull up my dress, threatening to touch me. It was a terrible way to grow up. I never told my mother and father what happened that day. But I began to yell. And he soon turned his attention away from me.
When we moved to West Milford, we were both in high school. The house was small, with one shared bathroom. He would walk into the bathroom while I was curling my hair or putting on a little makeup and unzip his pants and pull out his penis to pee right in front of me. I’d scream and run out of the bathroom, and he’d laugh. He took my security as a young woman from me. I saw him as a disgusting person I had to tolerate until I could get away from him.
All my life, I have worked to avoid this brother. I have never been alone with him. I’ve never visited his home or gone on vacation with him. When we were together in a place because of family time, I was in another room, or at the other end of the table. The distance was my protection and it was the way I became able to keep the secret all these years. However, the distance also created my pain body. I kept my pain a secret to protect our family. But, no longer. I won’t carry his shame any more. I’m putting it down.
Last year when our mother went to the hospital in FL, his wife asked me if they could stay at our home down there. She didn’t understand what she was asking. She has always been his stand-in our family. Although ironically, she never asked why these relationships were so distant. I’m sure he sold her a story and she chooses to believe what is easy. I traveled down to get to see my mother, whom they told me was dying. And there in my home, my sanctuary, was the person I learned to tolerate through avoidance. It was very very difficult. What happened during this time with mother and our sister stressed me beyond belief and I let my stress out in the form of pent up anger toward him. I was full of rage. Rage that no one understood and everyone was quick to judge and push me away.
Fast forward one year to the present… this brother has taken our mother to live with him. He has cut off my ability to see her. He is the POA for our sister and will not allow me to be involved in her care. Our younger brother says “I have burned my bridges with him”. Such a foolish thought. There was/is/and never will be a bridge for this man. He is a source of pain for me, having never acknowledged what he did to me. I told my younger brother that he touched me inappropriately when I was a girl. Nothing. No response. Gone. Ghosted.
So this is my story. This is what happened to me. I remember what happened to me.
From here, I’m recovering. I’ll do it without my sisters, my mother and my younger brother if I have to. Life is complex and people come to acceptance in their own time. Hope transcends time. I will always be hopeful.
Ciao for now…Diane