We hide our pain in many ways. The obvious is by denying it and refusing to admit it. One time, early in my healing journey, I mentioned an abusive experience to a small group and said, "But I'm over it."
One of the men in the small group said, "You're not over it."
"But I am—"
"Your voice and your face show otherwise."
And he was correct. I was hiding the reality from myself. No one ever asked if I had been sexually molested and physically beaten. And that's not a blaming statement, but I had no memories of the sexual assault until I was 51 years old. One day, while running, the painful memories tumbled out and I couldn't stop them.
In retrospect, that experience of being confronted said I was ready to face my pain. It also told me that all those years I had hidden the pain deep, deep within.
Shortly after the memories returned, I had a dream. I was underwater and saw a huge cement structure. As I got closer, I saw it was encrusted with seaweed and rust and sealed with a padlock. I wondered what was inside. I pulled at the lock, it broke and a passageway opened up and I stared inside.
"I didn't know that was down here." Something between revulsion and fear grabbed me even though I don’t remember what I saw. Then I awakened. Later, I realized my dream was telling me that my pain had been hidden and sealed—and had been that way a long time.
Now the lock was broken and the past had been unlocked.
Then the pain began.
But so did the healing.