As I continue to figure out the whys and hows of my denial of deep, sad feelings, I am also realizing how denying those feelings that are most difficult over the years has helped me to create coping behaviors to cover them up. You see, each and every time that I would come to a feeling or situation that I just did not want to feel, or deal with, I would use these default behaviors instead, which would immediately distract me, and keep me from truly feeling in my heart what was going on.
In my life, the feeling of sadness has demanded the use of these behaviors the most. When I know that I am facing a difficult situation, or I am in the midst of something that emotionally hurts in a sad way, I get busy. I clean, I work lots of jobs and lots of hours. I spend money furiously, usually with credit cards. I eat, and not salads and fruit, but fried, greasy, crispy and junky food. Or, lots and lots of sugar. Until a little over nine months ago, I would drink alcohol too. That was one of my favorite ways to avoid feeling what I needed to feel.
Yesterday, after having these avoidance behaviors pointed out to me the night before, I had a lot of errands to run. As I was driving around town, taking care of the things that I needed to, I felt deep sadness on and off throughout the day. I was finally letting go enough to let myself feel. However, something else was happening too. I thought about going shopping and buying a lot of stuff that I hadn’t planned for. I wanted to break into my Easter candy and eat all of it that I could before I would puke. I wanted to go to bar, sit down at it and order a drink. I wanted to STOP feeling. That was what sadness was demanding of me yesterday.
Now, on one level, I knew that I wouldn’t do any of those things. I wanted to, even the drinking. But, I didn’t. I was clear enough as I was feeling my feelings to know that those behaviors would not make the sadness go away, not anymore. I am onto myself now, so I can’t play those games with myself anymore. And, when I try to, I am getting better at finding myself out, and soon.
I believe that for many of us, truly feeling emotions is a frightening thing. For me, the fear was in the idea that if I let myself get sad, I would never be happy again. Or, I would become paralyzed from changing my life if I stayed sad. Or, it meant that I let a situation get the best of me.
I don’t believe any of those things in this moment, at least not as much. I know that when I feel my feelings, whether it is joy or sorrow, I am allowing myself to go to my heart, and appreciate what is there. I am allowing myself to be human, raw and vulnerable, without having to filter it. And, that even if it would be easier for me to do something other than to feel, I will never have all that I desire if I run from it.
I know that I am on my way to genuine healing.