March 3, 2012

Honor Your Feelings, They’ll Set You Free!

(Photo: eyewash)

“Sounds to me like while you’ve understood the anger (of your childhood), you actually haven’t felt it. I would invite you to do so because it is only when you’ve moved through the anger and arrived at the place of grief, that deep, dark place, where you collapse in a helpless ball and cry your heart out, only then will you be at peace,” I heard her say at the other end of the Skype line.

“It seems that every time I’m at a major transition in my life, I’m returned to my childhood issues,” I thought frustratingly.

“While I understand what you’re saying on an intellectual level, there is a part of me that resists wanting to go to that place—for fear that I may never excavate myself from it. Yet, I realize that is an inevitable journey that I must trod, especially if I truly want to be leading the life that I speak so eloquently of,” was my response.

I’m now at the stage where my need, far beyond desire to move on, surpasses my fears exponentially so.

Day eight of my abstinence from booze, caffeine and chocolate, and I’m starting to get a tiny glimpse of what she may have been imparting to me. Since taking this conscious decision to clean up my act, one of the things I’ve immediately noticed is how keenly aware I am of my feelings.

Involuntarily, they seem to accompany me everywhere I go, uncomfortable at best yet agitating and jarring me to pay attention!

I remember one time having a tiff with a boyfriend and in my passive-aggressive, self-sabotaging way I said, “Oh, it’s no big deal, it’s just the way I feel.” Given that he was nearly a decade younger than me—twenty-something at that stage—I was surprised by his mature response—“If it’s something you’re feeling then it is a big deal and we need to talk about it.”

Several years later and I’m starting to appreciate his wisdom.

Our feelings are all we’ve got as our trusting compasses as we wade through this thing calledlife.”

Not only do children feel, they also express. We know when they’re happy, sad, hungry, angry and tired. As we grow chronologically older, we are trained to suppress our feelings, the end result being depression.

Suddenly our norm becomes forbidden, like placing your luggage on an aircraft next to the emergency exit as it prepares for take-off.

 For example:

• Children are seen but not heard

• Boys don’t play with dolls

• Girls don’t raise your voice (it’s not lady-like or even worse, the neighbors might hear!)

• Be strong, don’t cry

• Be polite (even if you’re gagging to tell someone—justifiably so—to go !@#* themsevles)

Like many I know and for those who I don’t, I’m learning how to honor that innate radar of my inner child, the one who was abandoned at a critical age and stage in growing up. Having been abandoned by one parent, I set about, the determined, fear-filled, feline creature that I was to ensure that the other wouldn’t do the same (intentionally). The subsequent result of this was building a life that actually was never mine in the first place!

Feeling the weight of my anger and not having the safety of my numbing devices to rescue me from myself, I’ve opted to be with whatever arises.

As a dear friend who’s on a similar journey recently shared, “this shit is so deep, all we can do is to (continue) to swim through it until we get to the other side.”

Jan Messersmith

Being robbed of a childhood, where that child has a right to feel (and be) nurtured, protected and loved, is a malaise that affects too many of us today.

When faced with a crisis, be it personal or professional, without even realizing it—even the supposedly most conscious of us—are reverted to that stage in our development where we were left circumstantially arrested.

Ill-equipped then with an emotional vocabulary to understand and articulate these events, traumatized, we attempted to erase them from our minds, not knowing that the body always remembers and will throw it back at us when we least expect it.

Nowadays, nothing stops me from reenacting my child now and showering her with the unconditional love and attention that she needs and deserves so that she may grieve, heal, grow up in every sense of the word and move toward living her best life yet!

And so it is!



Editor: Brianna Bemel

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