Dealing with Feelings
In families where there is a history of unresolved issues, feelings are often considered a threat. In my experience, if I said or did something that triggered any insecurity in a family member they would become angry. Their anger was often directed towards me because they were insecure or afraid. This anger would manifest as blaming me and then be followed by shaming me for making them feel. Unknowingly, these covert weapons – blame and shame – were frequently used to shield them from having to experience their own insecurities and feelings. By making me responsible for their emotional conflicts, they were able to remain in their own denial (Don’t Even kNow I Am Lying).
Although denial and transference would provide a temporary distraction away from their insecurity, the underlying, emotional turmoil would remain unchanged. This familiar cycle of transference would often manifest whenever they would feel insecure or afraid. Consequently, I was led to believe that because I caused their insecurity I was somehow bad or defective. Therefore, unknowingly, I was forced to carry both their shame (for being insecure and afraid) and my shame (for believing that I was bad or defective).
When I began my journey with 12-step recovery some 22 years ago, the idea of experiencing emotional pain was a baffling concept. What I had seen modeled never taught me how to recognize what I was feeling, much less why I might be experiencing those feelings, but most importantly what to do with those uncomfortable feelings. Subsequently, when I experienced any emotional unrest or discomfort, I would minimize and deny what caused the discomfort. Consequently, I found myself repressing any feelings that might lead to a negative reaction from anyone. To maintain this lie—that I was responsible for other people having insecurities – I learned that it was not safe for me to be in touch with my own feelings and insecurities.
Because I repressed my feelings and emotions, I lived in a constant sense of shame, while internalizing responsibility for other people’s feelings and insecurities. In turn, I became angry with myself. Through having to repress and deny these feelings I experienced a low-grade chronic depression – anger turned inward causes depression. The sad reality was that as I continued to internalize such anger, I remained in denial and found myself being victimized by others and myself.
In the process of thawing out or feeling my own emotional pain, I have gained a valuable lesson. I am not responsible for any family member’s insecurities and / or their emotional turmoil (or for that matter, anyone that I may meet). Through working on my own emotion pain and turmoil, I have gained an increased understanding into my own emotional health. I have found that emotional pain lingers only as long as I continue to deny why I am in that pain. In my experience, God has used the 12-steps of recovery to guide me in this healing process. I can now own my emotional unrest and discontentment, without remaining in a state of depression.
Through my process, I continue to learn why I react to matters out of my control. Reality has also shown that I am only able to feel my feelings when I am ready. I have found that more often than not, it is only after I have become sick and tired of being sick and tired that I becoming willing to do the necessary work to feel my feelings. It just takes what it takes. As I am able to process my own emotional pain, without looking to blame anyone, I find that my insecurities lose their power over my life. Consequently, I no longer need to defend, answer or explain why I chose to feel.
As you read my articles and questions come to mind, please send those questions to me. All questions are good question. In the event that you would like to leave a comment, I would love to hear from you. You may send your question (s) or a comment by clicking on this link: Contact Page.
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