Emotions are extremely powerful. I have avoided them my whole life. I didn’t cry; I didn’t look sad, ever. All I ever did was smile. A fake facade to so many for so many years.
So why am I writing about these emotions today? For the last twenty-four months, I have been given permission to engage these emotions in a way I never thought possible. As I exited my therapy session last week, my therapist encouraged me to engage those emotions, good or bad, and experience the joy or pain of what was to come. I wasn’t sure if I could do it. I wasn’t sure if I was ready for this experience, this life of genuine emotions. I had hidden for so many years from these “feelings.”
As the therapist spoke to me, I wondered if she thought I was ready for this. She had concerns herself but thought I should take the time and effort to explore my feelings.
What was my escape plan if it went wrong? Shut down! Run! Just walk away if I need to; I always have an escape plan.
We invited our daughter, son-in-law, and their two sons down to the lake house for the weekend. I decided to be fully engaged in whatever activity was going on; that included experiencing emotions that might be uncomfortable or even joyous. At first, I enjoyed the surface play and joy of being with my grandchildren; it was an experience that I had been avoiding for the last eight years. My grandsons are now five and seven years old. I didn’t realize it had been that many years until just now.
We played in the water for most of the day, just us and them, no big deal. There was no emotional detail to speak of, and then, like the flip of a switch, it happened.
The sun shone just right on the five-year-old, causing a glow around his tiny body as he stood on the dock. With wet footprints on the dock from his path out of the water, he took off, running down the dock to jump in the lake, screaming loudly with excitement. He surfaced with joy, laughter, and complete happiness.
I was fully engaged, emotionally. This seemed dangerous and somewhat scary. As I gazed at him in the sunlight, I thought, he is who I was but even more blessed than me.
I was removed from my family at his age. I was completely separated from the most dangerous, violent, torturous environment that a child of five-years-old should have ever encountered.
I watched him as I went back in time and realized that tears were streaming down my face; my heart was hurting so badly. I was experiencing this for the first time because I had given myself permission to engage these emotions.
I wondered what kind of mom would allow her five-year-old to be removed from the family? Then, it hit me. My mom saw there was no hope for me there in that environment. No hope, only death, and beating after beating, torture after torture, kick after kick, lack after lack, and nothing but destruction on the horizons; she was a good mom. Really, can I say that now? Yes!
We harbor so many emotions that make us who we are. Sometimes, we need permission to explore these emotions and see what they may uncover to help develop us into what we are destined to become. We are complex, loving, emotional, happy, sad, and beautiful people.
As I watched my grandson, it was like watching who I could have been. He is so blessed to be living his best life and not having to worry about being beaten, tortured, hungry, or homeless. He is free to be only who he is, loved and happy. He is experiencing life at a level I never knew. I am grateful to God to know that the chains have been broken, that the enemy is defeated, and that evil didn’t prevail.
In the end, I found out it was okay to explore these emotions and new fears that pop up because of this exploration. Give yourself permission, take it slowly, and relax when you need to. Learn when to stay and when to walk away; also, it’s okay to say no. It’s okay to be who you are, and those around you who know your struggle will understand and be kind. Some will understand and some will judge because they cannot empathize and understand your struggles.
Writing this and other stories has helped me discover a hidden chest of emotions and experiences I have been suppressing for many years. Note, I didn’t say treasure chest because I’m not sure if they are treasures just yet. Some have left me in tears and caused me deep sadness. However, writing about these stories has given me great freedom in my soul. I hope that releasing these emotions will bring healing that seemed impossible just two years ago.
It’s so easy to ignore our feelings and not deal with difficult emotions that may take us to unpleasant places in our lives. But it’s important to take the steps to open up. Then healing can bring positive changes that foster love and authentic relationships, true healing, and a more meaningful life.