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Bob Livingstone, LCSWBob Livingstone, LCSW
Healing Emotional Pain and Loss

Do You Ever Recover from Emotional Pain? The Answer is Yes

Bob Livingstone, LCSW Updated: Oct 17th 2011

Many of us who have experienced emotional pain wonder if it is ever really possible to recover from it. You have been to therapy, support groups and read plenty of self-help books, but you feel unresolved about your emotional pain. You wonder if you are dealing with it in the most effective manner and you become angry at yourself for not feeling completely unencumbered from whatever trauma you have experienced.

sunrise over rocksYou may have been abused or abandoned by one of your parents or someone close to you died years ago and sometimes you still feel like it happened yesterday. You may have been betrayed by an authority figure or had your innocence shattered when you were a young child. You still have vivid memories of the event come up from time to time. You believe that these memories should all be in the past by now and should never arise again.

The word recovery has become one that is absolute in its nature. It now means that you have reached the promise land and no longer have any issues about your emotional pain.

Recovery is not an absolute and we have good reason to celebrate every step we make towards our own emotional healing.

Examples of this:

  • The 50 year old woman who has difficulty accepting her mother is really dead, but can acknowledge that she will never talk with her again. Perhaps none of us can actually accept that a cherished one is now dead. Maybe, as human beings, it is impossible to wrap our brains around this concept. However, it is possible to accept that you will never see this person again. There is sadness and finality in this understanding, but you can also experience an end to emotional infighting.
  • The 30 year old man who has trouble believing that he will ever get justice for the physical abuse that he suffered at the hands of his father, but he can find gratification in that he didn't become a violent man himself. His father may never be arrested and hauled in front of a judge for various reasons. However, the 30 year old man can look at his own internal strength in knowing that he has self control and choices how he handles confrontation.
  • The 42 year old woman who feels that she has been forever harmed by her parent's tumultuous divorce, but takes solace in being careful about choosing a partner for herself. The longing for her parents' unification can be soothed with acquiring wisdom and knowing what the red flags are when checking out a potential lover.
  • The 25 year old woman who feels that the inconsistency of her alcoholic mother led her to now feel insecure, but she feels strong in not becoming an alcoholic herself. Memories of her mother's screaming at her for no apparent reason may be more distant after realizing that she has purposely steered away from any of her mother's dysfunctional behavior.

When I listen to Bruce Springsteen's Jungleland and hear Clarence Clemons thrilling saxophone solo, I become very sad knowing that we will never hear Clarence, who recently died, play again; however there is new music such as the great new song called I'm Alive from Garland Jeffrey's King of In Between CD. This song celebrates the fear, anguish and joy of living. Listening to this song after Jungleland allows you to realize that there is always a fresh song to hear and a brand new experience to take in. The process of recovery will lead you to the newness.


Bob Livingstone, LCSWBob Livingstone, LCSW, has been a psychotherapist in private practice for twenty-two years. He works with adults, teenagers and children who have experienced traumas such as family violence, neglect and divorce. He works with men around anger issues and with adults in recovery from child abuse. He is the author of two critically acclaimed books: Redemption of the Shattered: A Teenager's Healing Journey Through Sandtray Therapy and Body Mind Soul Solution: Healing Emotional Pain Through Exercise and his newly released book Unchain the Pain: How to be Your Own Therapist. For more information visit

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