No Longer Drowning! By Christy Kirtley

No Longer Drowning! By Christy Kirtley

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.

Don’t Worry

Don’t Worry


The other morning was a good teachable moment for my son David. He woke up, came into the living room, and screamed, “Oh no! I left my binder at the main High School! It has all my stuff in it! What am I going to do?! Oh no!” I calmly replied, “Get in the shower and get ready for school.” He continued to panic, and I told him again, “Get in the shower and get ready.” He asked me, “Don’t you care that I might get bad grades if we don’t find it?!” I again replied, “Get in the shower, and get ready for school.”

When he came out, I told him to get in the car so we could go to the main High School and look for the binder. He replied, “It won’t be there! Someone probably took it! The band room won’t be unlocked! I don’t even know where the office is!” I remained silent and drove. Again, David asked, “Dad, don’t you even care?!”

We pulled up to the school and sure enough, the band room was locked. David came out in a panic, “I told you! We’ll never find it!” Then I asked a student where the office was located. He told us and David went to the office. They told him the band room would open at 7:30am when the band director came in. We drove back over to the band room, and David went inside and he came out carrying the binder. He got in the car in silence looking straight ahead. He looked at me and said, “It was the first thing I saw when I walked in.” We laughed and I proceeded with the teachable moment.

The night before, we had watched the movie GRAVITY with Sandra Bullock and George Clooney. I said, “Do you know what I noticed last night in the movie? When she panicked, she couldn’t function. She couldn’t focus or do anything at all! Then, she’d calm down, breathe in and out, focus, and get herself out of the situation.” He answered, “Dad, that’s a movie!” I then told him, “Most people die in life threatening situations because they panic – they worry about what might happen before it happens. Survivors find ground and center, breath in a controlled manner, and then respond to the situation by doing what they can do now.”

When we worry, we often live out the worst possible scenario. I’ve found in life that the worst possible scenario rarely happens. If you worry about it, you’re guaranteed to live that scenario in your mind anyway! What a waste! Mark Twain said, “I’ve had a lot of worries in my life, most of which never happened.” Luke 12:25-26 says, “Can all your worries add a single moment to your life? And if worry can’t accomplish a little thing like that, what’s the use of worrying over bigger things?” (NLT)

As a man in the airport once said to me when I was in a panic, “STOP! You are scaring yourself!” So I tell you, do what you can do in the moment. Worry accomplishes nothing. Figure out what you can control, and do that.

I then told David, “I told you to get in the shower and get ready for school because there wasn’t anything we could do until we got there. When we got there, if we couldn’t find the binder, then we’d cross that bridge. And look, that bridge didn’t even have to exist – except for your worry creating it in your mind.”

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