Last night, even though I was feeling quite happy – I love snow, a blizzard was coming, etc., I decided to go over to Friends In Deed for a Tuesday night meeting which is led by Cy O’Neal. I always feel that I am in the presence of a very wise woman when I listen to Cy. But I was feeling pretty good and was just listening, and then…my dear friend shared something that was painful and it moved me…so I suddenly got in touch with my own sadness. There were only a few minutes left in the hour and a half session, but I was able to raise my hand, quickly talk about what was bothering me, Cy said, “Oh, I would so much rather be you, feeling my feelings, working through the grief, being a human being….” I don’t even remember what else she said, but it felt so good just to get out the tears. It almost didn’t matter what she said at that point, it just mattered that I got in touch with the feelings.
So then this morning, in my readings, of course I found something that related. In the Language of Letting Go, by Melody Beattie, this was today’s reading. (EVERYTHING IN CAPS ARE MY COMMENTS – PLEASE FORGIVE ME MELODY)
“Letting Go of Sadness
A block to joy and love can be unresolved sadness from the past.
In the past, we told ourselves many things to deny the pain: It doesn’t hurt that much…Maybe if I just wait, things will change…It’s no big deal. I can get through this…Maybe if I try to change the other person, I won’t have to change myself. (I LOVE THIS ONE.)
We denied that it hurt because we didn’t want to feel the pain.
Unfinished business doesn’t go away. It keeps repeating itself, until it gets our attention, until we feel it, deal with it, and heal. That’s one lesson we are learning in recovery from codependency and adult children issues.
Many of us didn’t have the tools, support, or safety we needed to acknowledge and accept pain in our past. It’s okay. We’re safe now. Slowly, carefully, we can being to open ourselves up to our feelings. We can begin the process of feeling what we have denied for so long – not to blame, not to shame, but to heal ourselves in preparation for a better life.
(YES!! A BETTER LIFE! IT’S COMING!)
It’s okay to cry when we need to cry and feel the sadness many of us have stored within for so long. We can feel and release these feelings.
Grief is a cleansing process. It’s an acceptance process. It moves us from our past, into today, and into a better future – a future free of sabotaging behaviors, a future that holds more options than our past.
God, as I move through this day, let me be open to my feelings. Today, help me know that I don’t have to either force or repress the healing available to me in recovery. Help me trust that if I am open and available, the healing will happen naturally, in a manageable way.”
You don’t have to believe in any kind of God to buy this. You maybe have to believe in something, love, friendships, ice cream – whatever works. Something bigger than you. At least that helps me. I love thinking about babies who just have their feelings all day long. One minute they’re happy, they’re laughing, they’re joyful and the next minute something pisses them off and they’re wailing their heads off. Somewhere along the way we were taught to stuff all those feelings, through some method, for me it was food, shopping, TV, driving, anger, any kind of diversion to avoid feeling. Once your heart cracks open though – through whatever reason – the willingness to actually feel seems to make it much less scary and stuffing the feelings doesn’t work. Many years ago, in my twenties, I had anxiety attacks because I was so afraid of my feelings. When I was a kid, if I was crying about something and I went to my father, he would say to me, “I can’t talk to you when you’re crying. Go to your room and when you’re finished, we’ll talk.” I loved my father, but what a schmuck. Another friend told me recently her mother said, “Never let them see you cry. Never let them know that you aren’t strong.” Whoever “they are.” All the messages in our society is, feelings are ugly, messy, embarrassing, weak and inappropriate. I think they are healthy, healing, powerful and positive. I was numb for more years than I care to recall.
I loved that scene in Broadcast News when Holly Hunter unplugged the phone so she could have a good cry. To me at that time it seemed so bizarre, fascinating, but impossible for me to do. Remember (if you’re old enough) how strong we all thought Jackie Kennedy was at JFK’s funeral because she kept her emotions so under control? I guess having her two young children and all the world’s leaders surrounding her and the TV cameras made it difficult to really wail and carry on. But my guess is she was on many milligrams of Valium and hopefully came home and cried for months. At least I hope she did.