For most of my life I can remember feeling like I had a black cloud following me around everywhere I would go. When I became an adult,and had some hard things happen in my life. I went from feeling like I had a black cloud following me to feeling like I was fighting to keep my head above water so I wouldn’t drown in a sea of emotions that were pulling me under like crashing waves. For most of my life, I had been taught to not allow my feelings to control me. I became an expert at putting on a good face to others by stuffing and denying how I truly felt. But inside I was fighting to catch my breath because I was drowning in a sea of anger, pain, shame, fear, and loneliness.
After my 20-year marriage came to an end, these feelings increased in their control over me and my life was filled with rage, depression, worthlessness, panic, and loneliness. Through The Journey Training I learned that this was the result of stuffing, denying, and not acknowledging what I was truly feeling. I had spent a lifetime thinking that this was how you “didn’t allow your emotions to control you”.
The truth was they were controlling me – in very negative ways. By not acknowledging the anger I felt at my husband for his part in our marriage ending, I would blow up in a fit of rage at my children over something as insignificant as a sock on the floor. I was overwhelmed by worthlessness because I had not even considered the amount of shame I felt for staying in a marriage for so long with someone who had made choices that deeply wounded me. Depression also ruled my life because of the pain I had endured during my childhood, with an alcoholic father who physically abused my mother and the emotional hurts my mother inflicted upon us as a result of her own pain. Finding myself a single mom of 4 children, I would now have many moments of panic. I was afraid of not being able to adequately provide for them (even though their father was an amazing financial support during this time) and also paranoid that I would never recover and have the opportunity to be loved and married again. Isolation has always been a part of my life as an introvert. It is very easy to hide away and not interact with others, especially when I was so insecure that I often felt alone in a room full of people. So, I would isolate all the more to avoid that feeling of loneliness.
At The Journey Training, I learned tools to help me process or acknowledge my feelings and I found gifts on the other side. I learned that by acknowledging what I am feeling anger about, I could find the motivation to do something about the situation instead of denying what I was feeling. For example, my adult son was not paying us for his phone and insurance as agreed upon and was not putting forth much effort to get a job. Instead of continually griping at him about it (as if that was doing any good), I found the motivation to set a boundary and inform him that he had until a set time to pay the two bills and if he did not, the data would be shut off on his phone and he would not be allowed to drive any car because he would be removed from the insurance policy. The result, he found a job within a week and our relationship was not damaged by my continuous nagging. It was a win – win!
When you touch a hot stove, it burns to let you know that something has happened to your body that needs your attention. Feelings are that same kind of alert – to let you know something has happened to your soul that needs your attention. If we ignored the physical pain we feel when we burn our hand, the pain would increase and some kind of nasty infection would probably develop. Consider what our souls must look like when we ignore the warning signs that our emotions are giving us!
If you would like to learn more about tools for processing and acknowledging your feelings, consider coming to the next class at The Journey Training. I am beyond thankful that I did 4 years ago! I no longer feel as if I am emotionally drowning nor do I have a black cloud following me! Do I ever have a bad day? Of course! But now I know what to do to identify the cause of whatever I am feeling and deal with it before it infects my soul.
A friend was opening an essential oil the other day and exclaimed, “It’s like joy in a bottle!”
The oil was grapefruit and I really couldn’t agree more. I love grapefruit, it makes me feel like there’s sunshine on my face and a song in my heart whenever I take a bite.
The thought crossed my mind that I could never give up grapefruit, but just as quickly I realized that I have had to give it up for a while. A whole host of prescription medications have an interaction with grapefruit and grapefruit juice: anti-anxiety, cholesterol, mood stabilizers. While I love grapefruit, I needed my medication more. It was a choice I had to make.
Sometimes we have to sacrifice something we enjoy in order to preserve something more precious, like our health or our family.
I suffer from anxiety and depression and for now I am not taking any medications, so my self-care is incredibly important. I need to stay active and carefully manage my sensory input. My grapefruit, what I had to give up, was rock music. I am a huge fan of alternative music. I have been to many concerts and I have a ton of CDs. The drawback of listening to that genre is the overwhelmingly negative verbiage in the lyrics. My Chemical Romance had a hit song titled “I’m Not Okay” which just does not help when one is struggling to begin with.
Since making a switch to upbeat, positive music, my internal monologue is much better. I have far less days where I’m having to scrape myself off the floor. It’s another choice I’ve made.
Through The Journey Training, I found out that I have more control over the choices I make than I ever realized. I’ve been able to see things more clearly and take better care of myself.
What is your grapefruit? What do you need to give up to be living your best life?
Over the past few months I have had to deal with some physical issues that have led to the doctors putting a lot of limits on what I can and cannot do. I’m the type of person who loves being around others and usually hates having to depend on others for anything. In fact, for the last 5 years I’ve generally faced life with a “God and I can do anything” attitude, staying strong for my kids, family, and friends. So when the doctor said, “ You can’t drive for at least 2-3 weeks. You can’t lift heavy objects or even walk without being attached to a tank of oxygen,” it kind of threw me for a loop.
At first, I was tempted to go into a dark place, feeling sorry for myself and wondering how on earth I was going to get my kids to and from school, pay bills (without working), and basically keep life going at all. I felt like I was being given a sentence of isolation and being punished for something I had done. Fortunately, I had friends and family that reminded me of some things I learned through my experience with The Journey Training.
In The Journey Training I learned that I always have a choice and I was challenged to see circumstances that I face from a different perspective. Even the Bible says, “My brothers and sisters, be very happy when you are tested in different ways…” (James 1:2) In every situation, we have a choice on how we view it and respond to it.
I was seeing the restrictions placed on me by the doctors as a sentence of isolation and a form of punishment. I was dwelling on the fact that I couldn’t get out and do all the things that I enjoyed and be around those that added to my happiness. I saw myself as weak, stuck in the house, alone and broken.
As I was talking to a friend about my situation, they gave me a different perspective that I could possibly choose to see. They brought to my attention that there are people who pay large amounts of money to go someplace where they can be alone, have time away from everything and to refocus. They told me that I was being given this kind of opportunity for free.
A light bulb went off in my head and made me say “hmmmm”. How could I look at my situation differently than a sentence of isolation? How could I turn this situation into a window of opportunity? What could I do during this time of limitation that would take me closer to my dreams after this season of rest was over?
As I contemplated these questions and realized, I actually had a choice, new thoughts came to me. I could: spend more time with God, journal about where I wanted the next phase of life to look like, allow myself to get the rest I needed to heal properly, spend time dreaming more, and a multitude of other things. Instead of focusing on the “bars on the prison window”, I could focus on the light of the sun that was shining through it and all that the light could possibly represent.This brightened my attitude, increased my energy level and allowed me to enjoy the season I was in instead of dreading it.
What are you facing right now? Are things that are beyond your control placing limits on what you can do? How can you turn your focus from the prison bars to the sunshine? The Journey Training and the friends I made there have truly changed my life and given me tools that help me in everyday life continue to reach for my dreams and actually live life rather than just exist in it.