Feeling the Feelings This is a follow up post to a previous article titled “Reassembling Life.

I’ve recently been challenged with yet another growth step.  As with all growth steps it’s confusing and uncomfortable… sometimes downright disconcerting as I try to reconfigure my beliefs.  What do I believe, now?  I am endeavoring to reincorporate some lost, or banished, parts of myself from long ago.  They want to come back.  I don’t recognize them.  I’m not sure I welcome them.  I certainly don’t know how to be with them.  “Hi, I’m back.  Remember me?  I’m the part you sent away when you were 5.  Wanna play?”  Sheesh.  Now what?

Early in my life I banished certain parts of myself. I sent them off to the nether regions, that dark cave of perceived non-existence. “Go away. You’re not wanted here. All you do is cause trouble.” We do this as children, when the people we rely on for love and connection reject parts of us that they deem unacceptable.  We send  away our wild and crazy parts, or our angry parts, or our assertive parts in the hope of preserving the love and/or connection with the people that we need. As I’ve learned more about how life works I realize the parts of me that others don’t like is more about what they don’t like in themselves than it is about me … but who the heck knows that at age 6 or even 16?

Those banished parts have gotten louder, more rebellious, and more persistent in their attempts to get attention just like any 2-year old who is sent to his room and ignored. “See me!” The shouts come with yet another assault on the door. “If you won’t let me out then I will make your life hell from here.”  Can you relate?  Do you have forbidden parts of your own running your life from some darkened back room?

Feeling the Feelings

Unless we are raised in a special environment we learn at a young age to water down and/or ignore our feelings.  “If I don’t feel I won’t hurt,” which is about as logical as hitting your thumb with a hammer and saying it doesn’t hurt. But the reality is that YOU STILL HURT.

Your wife leaves you–you hurt
Your husband finds a girlfriend–you hurt
You lose your job–you hurt
Your children yell that they hate you–you hurt.

Perhaps we think that pretending will act as some kind of a force field so we don’t have to share our vulnerability and humanness with others, so we can be perceived as having it together….stoic and powerful. The problem is that we shut down the troubling feelings, our joy and love and happy also gets muted. Healing takes place when we connect the hurts with another human.  That means sharing.  We must be heard. We must feel.  In short, we must ‘be’ with our emotions not ignore and deny them.  Doing so expands our whole range of emotions.  Love and laughter here we come!

Letting Those ‘Parts’ Out of the Basement

“Being with” a feeling, an emotion, an event, or a person is not necessarily just about tolerating the bad stuff.  It is about allowing ourselves to have our feelings, right now, in the moment, unedited, and without apology. It is about allowing myself to be fully human and alive. If you are excited then you get to BE completely excited.  If you are sad, then you get to allow your grief to be.  If angry, invite its message and use the energy of it to make appropriate changes. Only by truly experiencing and expressing our emotional life do we have the ability to grow.  It’s not easy.  When those parts come out of the basement they generally arrive at the age they were when we sent them away.  If we sent anger away at 7 years of age, it will return from the basement at 7.  It has some growing to do.  And usually those parts left in pain.  When they return they bring that pain, or fear, or dread, or feelings of being unloved or attacked along with them.  We must have courage to be with them in whatever state they return.  We must love them anyway and invite them back to the light of daily life.  We may need supporters who can help us.

I just returned from a road trip with my 3 teenage grandchildren. At that giddy stage that seems to happen near the end of any long road trip the 14-year old used her water bottle as a microphone and sang along with country songs on the radio. She was completely into it without a hint of self-consciousness.  I envied her ability to laugh so freely. I’m trusting that my new journey is leading me to release my free spirit.  I think that free-spirited part of me has been busy for many years struggling to keep the basement door shut on those banished parts.

Wonder what will happen when I open the door?  She might feel a tremendous amount of freedom when she doesn’t have to do that any more.

Photo from https://megzone.wordpress.com/2011/04/25/freedom/

What do you suppose is behind your closed door?

I’d love to hear any comments below.  I will respond I promise:-).