A few years ago, I was pissed off. Really infuriated. Not like "I'm having a horrible day" mad. Not even a hot, volcanic rage that explodes and then is all over. This was a cold, slow-burning fury. But I didn't want to be mad. So I convinced myself I wasn't. A year later, I was still mad. It took another year before I was able to move beyond the anger. During that time, I lost many opportunities for love and beauty in my life.
Due to my personality (I'm an INFJ on the Meyers-Briggs personality assessment) I am very skilled at analyzing feelings. My own, and everybody else's. This can be very helpful. In my job, I do a lot of sort-of therapy. When parents are trying to overcome the negative behavior patterns of their past, and make better choices for their children, a lot of stuff comes up. It's my job to sit with them in that space, and help them find their voice. I truly enjoy doing that for people. There is something so sacred in sharing someone's emotions with them, and then helping them make something beautiful come out of a hurtful or upsetting experience.
As much as I believe in doing that for others, I am shockingly bad at doing it for myself. I consistently jump straight to analyzing, so I can put the feelings in a nice tidy box and tuck them away. It's a handy way to deal with them without really dealing with them. I can label it, feel I know what was behind it, and pat myself on the back for being so smart, all while avoiding having to deal with the messiness of actual feelings. I know. I'm a little messed up.
See, the problem with that approach is that emotions aren't logical. They don't disappear just because you analyzed them. Feelings need to be, well, felt. They insist on it, in fact, and don't go away until you feel them. If you don't let yourself feel them, they just lurk around right under the surface, waiting until you have a vulnerable moment and then they jump out at you. They mess with your happy moments. They get in the way of you achieving your goals. Sometimes they insert themselves into your relationships and screw them up. They become a pain in the ass, honestly. And that's exactly what happened with me. My unresolved feelings were interfering with my life.
But once I was brave enough to let myself feel them, without judging myself for what I was feeling (well, trying not to judge myself), a beautiful thing happened--the feeling moved through me, and then moved on. It didn't continue to linger. It didn't sabotage things anymore. Instead, it let go.
I wish I had done that right away, instead of wasting time feeling mad. Now that I've learned it, I hope my mistake can save you from the same experience. It can be scary to sit with your own mess, especially if your mess is something big and bad. Some feelings are so big that we are sure we won't survive feeling them. In Glennon Doyle Melton's book Love Warrior, she described her own experience of sitting with her feelings, and how it really tore her apart. It was almost more than she could bear. But it was the only way she could move past those feelings. Not feeling them just allowed them to fester within her, like emotional rot. It was slowly poisoning her and her happiness, as my feelings were doing to me.
What mess do you need to sit with? What emotional stuff do you need to allow to move through you? If it helps, email it to me. It is lovely to have a friend to sit in that space with you. Get it out of your body and send it away from yourself. Let's move past our mess and move into a happier future.
It's nice to meet you! Welcome to my blog. My name is Amy, and my husband and I have three lively kids. We are so happy to share our journey with you. Come along as we learn to embrace the messiness of life, and maybe chase a dream or two along the way.