To this day, I can see my mom on her death bed — her frail, ill body and her turbaned head, sitting next to me as we chatted. And it was the memory that still stands out of that one vulnerable moment when I courageously told her, “I don’t want you to die.” In which she answered back very angrily, “Don’t say that. You’re upsetting me,” and the talking stopped. I never did get to discuss those feelings with her, which looking back, would have probably really eased my grief process that lasted a very long time, but she wasn’t able to. Instead, I felt shame that day for bringing up my feelings.
where do they come from?
Whether it’s childhood beliefs, religious upbringing or acquired thoughts the “don’t feel thats” aren’t about you. You’ve hit a nerve with your expression of pain, that someone else doesn’t want to see or maybe isn’t ready to see.
Many “new age” beliefs tout only feeling positive thoughts to attract positive experiences, but where then, do the negative thoughts go? I know where they go.
I had learned the “don’t feel thats” early on in my life way before that day with my mom. It was safer not to feel, so a stomach or a head ache would have to express it for me instead. I was the queen of repression until I was fourteen years old and the wave of tears couldn’t be held back, erupting, when I saw my beagle dog brother collapse on the floor from kidney disease. But don’t worry, after that, I neatly put all those emotional ducks back in a row inside of me again and it wasn’t until early adulthood they reemerged as panic attacks. Those waves of ducks turned into full-blown hurricanes at that point who wanted freedom.
what you need now
Now, I am not an advocate for getting stuck in emotional states and living there. My beloved grandmother loved to live in resentment. If you slighted her, you were crossed off her list for most of eternity. But from my own experience lately, I’ve noticed that traumatic experiences do have leftover symptoms. Those stubborn feelings can’t be neatly packed away, and they reemerge at odd times like a bad case of hiccups. Thought you were over that big loss but here you are standing in Aisle 3 in Walmart crying over the frozen pancakes because they remind you of family morning breakfasts that are now gone. These wounds are still in there like little annoying paper cuts that poke and prod and they hold messages of what you need now.
I’ll be honest, I still hate emotions. I’d rather hang out in my analytic brain where there’s set order. But if I want to feel good and balanced, I need to “FEEL THAT.” Those emotions and expression may come out as petty, selfish, messy, or socially incorrect, but that’s not my problem to solve, as long as I’m not hurting anyone else. They are MINE to experience and to get to know so I CAN get to the other side. The alternative is that panic attack or the stomach ache that grows into something much, much louder, which is very possible, what my mom experienced.