I never knew until very recently how often I hold onto my feelings/emotions until they overwhelm me. I guess I must have been doing it all my life and just thought it was what it was. Then, a few weeks ago I read something that woke up some long forgotten dormant part of my brain. (Hello light bulb moment.) Feelings, especially the icky ones aren’t supposed to fester around inside you for weeks on end. They’re simply supposed to pass through you. You experience them, let them tell you what they need to, (in essence process them) and then they simply move on. It might take a few hours or even a day or two – but once they’ve done their job they’re supposed to go away.
I think perhaps I missed the interoffice memo about that one (hang on showing my age, let’s make that email or even facebook update). Somehow I’ve spent my life getting stuck in my feelings and then using all sorts of other ‘things’ to try to escape them. You know (well maybe you don’t actually) but being stuck with feelings of insecurity, grief or simply not ‘feeling’ good enough is not a nice space to be in. So I’ve had to put some effort into getting away from them. My weapon of choice has always been food. But there is a long list of other things you can use to do the same job. Something to dampen the intensity of emotions that make us feel uncomfortable – for whatever reason.
For me the reason has a lot to do with grief. Between my 15th and 19th birthdays I swam in it daily. I lost firstly my sister and then both my father and grandfather. The pain was intense and couldn’t be explained away or justified by my mind. Over eating calmed me. It somehow lessened the pain and gave me internal peace – even if it was momentary. It became my rock. My place to crawl away and seek comfort from the hard cold realities of life. But what I didn’t understand was that by blocking out the pain I stopped myself from fully recovering and moving on. To this day if someone is late home or not where I think they should be I start to feel the panic rising. Perhaps the grief was so intense, for someone so young, that I couldn’t really process it? I don’t know – but the outcome was the same.
So now, over twenty years later I’m seeing this. Isn’t life amazing? I’m forty-one and still learning about myself. I’m learning that the emotions that move through my life are just passing vapours. That I can feel and experience them, even allow them to show and teach me things, before letting the move away from me. And the amazing thing is that they do. Once you acknowledge and respect them they just go marching away and peace and calm restores itself. Sounds simple. But it actually takes practice. I’m having to train myself to be still and sit when I start to feel negative feelings building up. To listen and respond before I reach for a packet of TimTams. To actually make it a daily practice to hear what’s going on inside my own mind. Right now I don’t get it right all of the time. When life gets stressful I have to be mindful or I’ll automatically turn to the pantry shelves for support. Here’s hoping that as time goes on I’ll get better at catching the moments and processing the feelings. I can’t really ask for more than that.
End of post where I chatter on like a wanna be psychologist!
Linking this one up with Singular Insanity and Things I Know – follow the link to check out what other people know 🙂