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Posts Tagged ‘feeling emotions’

On my blog entry entitled Controlling the Darker Parts of Ourselves after Child Abuse, a reader posted the following comment:

What if [your emotions] don’t come ONE at a time?!? What if its a flood? I might be able to deal with all of the emotions if I could control them, and release them one at a time! But that isn’t how it happpens for me! I don’t get a choice with how fast they happen, or which ones to ‘let out.’ It just happens on its own. ~Theresa

I strongly recommend that Theresa and anyone else dealing with this issue read Chrystine Oksana’s Safe Passage to Healing. She has a great chapter entitled Associating Emotions that deals with just about any question you might have about dealing with emotions.

Here is some advice that she has to offer on the subject:

Associating dissociated emotions may be confusing for a while. Survivors have coped with skewed emotions for so long that distorted emotions feel normal. Many have to learn basics such as how natural emotions feel and what they are… Survivors usually avoid associating emotions until they feel overwhelmed. It comes a question of which is worse—living with unbearable tension or coping with unbearable feelings. A better approach is to schedule emotional release on a regular basis. Even five minutes a day can help…If five minutes feels like too much, start with thirty seconds, increase it to a minute, and so on. With each release, you will feel stronger, more alive, more energized, and more genuine. ~ Safe Passage to Healing, pp. 228-229

Until you allow yourself to begin to feel your emotions, you are going to stay in this hellish place. The healing process has its own rhythm, and it knows what it is doing. If you will release yourself into the guidance of your healing process and release emotions as you feel the need, you will experience an incredible about of healing. The more you fight it, the more painful and stressful the process will become.

I strongly recommend working together with your therapist as you begin allowing yourself to experience your emotions. If you are afraid to “let go” in private, then perhaps doing so under the supervision of your therapist will help you feel safer to do it.

When I first released my anger, I feared that it would rage on and on. In reality, it was an intense 20 minutes, but then it was over for that session. I did not hurt myself or anyone else, and the feeling was A-M-A-Z-I-N-G.

If you keep doing what you have always done (repressing the emotions), you are going to keep getting the same results. It takes courage to risk feeling your emotions, but it really is a key part of healing. You will be amazed at how much better you feel afterward.

Photo credit: Amazon.com

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Over the last week or so, I have been focusing on the healing process and have stated that the healing process has its own natural rhythm. If we can identify that natural rhythm and allow it to flow, healing happens naturally.

Of course, since I wrote this, I had to put myself to the test, and it has been a tough week. I am apparently working on healing a deeper layer of myself (or another alter part for those with DID). I keep finding myself feeling intensely sad, and I have been plagued by nightmares. The nightmares got so bad one night that I kept waking myself by whimpering in my sleep. I knew that if I got up to take a Xanax or clear my head, I would never get back to sleep. So, I kept falling right back into the nightmares and finally awakened in tears with my heart pounding and my bed sheets soaked with sweat.

Early in the healing process, I would be beating myself up for this. I would assume that I was doing something “wrong” because, if I was really healing, I should no longer be having nightmares. Adding negative thoughts, self-hatred, and shame would be an impediment to the natural flow of healing, and I have reached a place where I recognize that I am not doing anything “wrong” right now.

Another common reaction is for me to throw myself into compulsive busy-ness. This can be over-committing myself through volunteer work, taking on more classes at my job, or doing other things to keep me “too busy” to have to feel this lousy. The idea is to stay too busy to feel badly during the day and then drop into bed too exhausted to dream at night. Instead, I am choosing to slow myself down, building yoga and meditation into my daily schedule and moving at a slower pace. My therapist always advises me to “sit with” the pain and just allow it to “be.” It takes a lot of self-discipline for me to do this.

Another reaction that I used to do a lot is to attach myself to those feelings. For example, I started working through this phase of healing over the weekend, which is when I was receiving all of the comments to Friday’s blog entry in which some of my readers felt “judged” by my words. It hurts me to know that I have hurt another person, so I could have easily attached my feelings of sadness to that event, but I chose not to. I was able to recognize that one was not related to the other.

When I attach my life today to the feelings I experience that are really echoes of the past, I can go downhill quickly. I take the sadness from childhood and add my experiences from today, which is like pouring gasoline on a fire. So, instead of feeling a malaise, I can feel suicidally depressed, as if I were being sucked into a dark hole with no way out. My yogi gave me the advice to think of myself as the fire hose and the emotions as the water coursing through it. No matter how powerful those emotions are, I am not the “water” – I am the hose.

So, I have gotten better about what not to do, but I am still uncertain what I should be doing right now. Until I figure that out, I am choosing just to “be.” I am choosing to “sit with” this pain and recognize that this is part of my natural healing process. It is going to feel lousy for a while, but then it will pass. I just have to be very gentle with myself in the process.

Photo credit: Hekatekris

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Dark Skies (c) Lynda Bernhardt

In my last post, Having an Emotional Flashback, I shared that I struggled with an emotional flashback yesterday. I think it was related to my deceased father’s birthday passing. Whatever the reason, yesterday was a challenging day for me.

After I wrote the post, I watched the series finale of my favorite television show, “Gilmore Girls,” because I knew it would make me cry. It did. I felt a little better after shedding some tears, even if they were for my “friends” in Stars Hollow rather than for myself.

Today I have been doing a little better, but it is still hard. I still feel deep sadness inside. I also received some disappointing news today, which doesn’t help. In the case of the disappointing news, it is probably for the best and simply a redirection, but it was still lousy timing.

One lesson I need to learn is how to “be” with the painful emotions. That is not an easy lesson for me, but it is a necessary one. I spent my life compartmentalizing my emotions so I would not have to feel them. They finally exploded out of me during the very intensive healing process. I have never learned moderation with my feelings. I just want to avoid the bad feelings. (Can you blame me?)

However, emotions are a part of the human condition. They need to be felt and expressed. The key is learning how to sit with them for a while, knowing that even when you feel lousy, they will pass. Emotions are transient. No matter how good or how bad you feel at this very moment, your state of mind is going to change.

My struggle is allowing myself to feel the emotions without attaching myself to them. I either want to fight them or wallow in them (if that makes sense). I have not yet learned how to “sit” with them and allow them to pass.

A friend told me that emotions are like water passing through a fire hose. She said that I am the hose, not the water, so no matter how much water pressure I feel, I don’t have to follow the flow of the water. I am trying to remind myself of this as I practice allowing myself to observe and feel the emotions without attaching to them.

Related Topic:

Trauma Thursday: Teach Traumatized Adopted Child to Express his Feelings

Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt

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