Thursday, January 10, 2013

Emotional Healing

I'm going to be very honest and admit upfront that dealing with my emotions has been one of the more difficult aspects of my spiritual life. As a matter of fact, maybe the most difficult thus far. Those who were raised in dysfunctional households as children may be able to relate to this post more so than those whose emotions are well integrated into their "personhood".

I spent years living as an emotional "train wreck". Of course, I wasn't aware I was an emotional "train wreck", I barely acknowledged my emotions at all. This left me feeling very fake - almost as if I was a robot in some ways. I don't know how many times in my life I've plastered fake smiles on my face for others so that all would look well on the surface. This is what I was trained to do, to keep up appearances at all costs. This is not my parents' fault - they were taught to do the same. Plus, society also sends us the message that only certain emotions are "acceptable" and the less acceptable ones should be shut down before they cause trouble for ourselves or others.

Do you suffer from a lack of peace? Do you sometimes feel as if the joy that's supposed to anchor a Christian's life passed you by? As in:

 God, I think you might just have forgotten to put the joy gene in me.

I believed this for a good portion of my life.

It's a lie.

If we suppress our emotions our entire lives the joy that lies beneath them gets buried under the avalanche of this emotional junk.

And I had a heavy-duty avalanche on top of me that left me feeling crushed and excessively burdened.
I had trouble believing Jesus' words,  "For my yoke is easy and my burden light."

Every time I'd read this I'd think, "Oh no, your yoke weighs a ton, Lord."

Then I realized that it wasn't the Lord's yoke I was carrying (which I'll speak of further in another post).

A large portion of my "double" yoke (lol) was from the weight of years of emotional turmoil that had not been dealt with. It was so darn heavy that I felt like I was trudging through water most of the time!

 And it still does sometimes... but it's getting better. It's funny, but I thought my load would get heavier as I grew in Christ but the opposite seems to be happening. Though I deal with similar circumstances, its impact is lessening.

So how do we know if we are under an excessive emotional burden? (You all know how I love lists so here comes another While this may not be true for everyone here are certain "signs" that may point to it (you may have a number of these symptoms or just a few):

~ You sometimes feel like you are wearing a mask. You feel a bit "unreal" or "fake".
~ There's a lack of steady peace and joy in your life
~ You feel numb ( Your body may even go numb, as in panic attacks, because your body is giving you
  clues as to your emotional state.)
~ You are confused or spacey
~ You lack energy (because suppressing emotion uses up A LOT of energy, so does pretending)
~ You get sick often ( The body expresses what you cannot. There has to be an outlet. We are body,
    soul, spirit and one reflects on the other. When they are in conflict with each other there are always
    symptoms of some sort whether it be illness or other bodily manifestations of the turmoil within
 ~ You were taught that certain emotions were unacceptable.
~ You have a lot of "triggers". Someone will accidentally touch one of these hot spots and you over-
~ You have difficulty naming your emotions for what they are. Grief, sadness, anger, etc.. - you aren't
    quite sure which one you are experiencing. (For me, I've often found that when I dig beneath my
     anger I find grief. This surprised me at first.)
~ A troubled thought life. (Things bubble up as the avalanche of "stuff" dislodges. This is not a bad
   thing if handled in the right way. Once you get over the shock of what comes up, that is. Some of
   the stuff is unpleasant so our first reaction is to deny it access but this just further exasperates the
~ You have difficulty making choices (Those leftover emotions are exerting their influence even when
   you are unaware of that influence so you become confused at which choice is best.)

I am in no way suggesting that we should give in to our emotions and let them fly all over the place. What I am suggesting is this:

Your cannot master your emotions if you are unable/unwilling to express them -they will always master you. Whether subtly or overtly, if ignored, they will exert  an influence on you. In other words:

You will be a slave to them. A prison is a prison regardless of whether the prisoner is behind the walls of a pretty mansion or an iron fortress.

 There is no such thing as a part-time slave.



  1. A very convicting post...I see something of myself in here. Happy New Year to you and yours and all of God's blessings be upon you.

  2. For the most part, this is me. I'm making progress,and feeling a sense of peace. But it has been slow in coming. I still have a thought in my mind that is ever present, but it is slowly losing its hold on me. It no longer makes me angry. I am thankful for finally surrendering to Jesus the Healer. So glad you are sharing what's inside.

  3. Oiy...this one hit me like a ton of bricks.

    I love the quote (and yes I think this ALL the time): "God, I think you might just have forgotten to put the joy gene in me." I am actually working on a post related to joy.

    I don't have all those symptoms, but a good many...too many. I, too, was thinking "your burden is light???" Thankfully my spiritual director is working with me to identify those underlying emotions.
    It's a long process.

    Thanks for a great post!!

  4. Yet another marvellous post with plenty to think about.

    Since you came back to Blogging your writings have been excellent. Inspired, one would say.

    Thank you for this.

    God bless you.

  5. When I began the annulment process, the priest who was helping me suggested I go for some counseling. I was blessed with a wonderful Catholic counselor who helped me to see the emotions I was not dealing with. In my case it is primarily anger. Growing up in a house where arguing and anger were the conversations of the day, in my mind anger equaled abandonment~someone leaves. I carried this unhealthy attitude into my marriage which also did not last.
    While not dealing with emotions may seem to make them go away for awhile, they are like that beach ball you try to push under the water, it always pops up somewhere.
    Thanks Mary for another insightful post and thanks for the list :)
    Last thing~I promise. Theresa brings up a good point about Spiritual Direction. This too can help us get in touch with where we are not only spiritually, but emotionally too.
    OK, I'm done :)

  6. Mary,

    Feelings are good. It's just the way we express them that's the problem. Like you, I used to suppress mine. I was too frightened to show how I was feeling. Eventually though, feelings will burst through, usually in an inappropriate way. I can see all that in my own life.

    Have you read Conrad Baars book "Feeling and Healing Your Emotions"? It is Catholic and very good. After reading it, I understood myself so much better.

    Thank you for your honest and open post.

    God bless!

  7. Mary, direct and real. Thank you dear one for sharing.

  8. Hi Lisa Maria,
    Thank you :) A happy and blessed New Year to you and yours too!

  9. Hi Monica,
    It's taking years for me - I guess it's all in God's timing, not mine. Still, the healing is coming much more quickly and I'm thankful for that!

    I am praying for you and all my blogging friends. God bless!

  10. Satan has deceived the whole world until the woman of Rev 12 delivers the true word of God Rev 12:5. She is not a church, she is not Israel, and she is not Mary. She is the prophet like unto Moses and Elijah Matt 17:3, Acts 3:21-23, Luke 1:17 delivering the true word John 1:1 from the wilderness Rev 12:6 to prepare a people for the Lord’s return. God our Father will not put any child of his into a hell fire no matter what their sins. It never entered the heart or mind of God to ever do such a thing Jer7:31, Jer 19:5. Turn your heart to the children of God. A gift is now delivered and proven to the whole world as a witness Matt 24:14. A righteous judge gathers ALL evidence before making a judgment. If you are called to know the true word- Prove all things. God chose a woman.

  11. Great articles on inner healing.
    As you know, I can relate to a lot of this.
    I have to practice naming my feelings. Every once in awhile, I just try to figure our how or what I am feeling so I can keep in touch with my feelings.
    Support group and Spiritual direction did more to help me than anything else. Thanks be to God.

  12. Hi Theresa,
    You know that you already have me curious (about your post), don't you?

    I apologize for chuckling a bit when I read that your thoughts on the "light burden" were similar to mine :) Bless you for being honest - it made me feel

    Yes, it's a long process for most of us I suspect. (But isn't it nice to know you are not alone?)

  13. Hi Victor,
    Thank you for your kind words. This is the post I thought I'd put up on the community site but I think I'd have to put up the couple that follow too. Do you think it would be too much? (I could space them out and simply link them to each other. The post would be too long if I put them all together.)

    God bless you too :)

  14. Hi Karin,
    You and I have had to work through some similar issues I think. What's interesting is that underlying my anger was a deep grief - this caught me off guard as I didn't suspect that this was the case.

    I like the beach ball analogy - it's perfect :)

  15. Hi Sue,
    They do come through unexpectedly or inappropriately, don't they? This has happened to me too.

    No, I haven't read the book you mention yet but I'm curious about it. Thanks for the recommendation!

  16. Hi Grace :) I have missed you! Thanks for coming by. I suspect you know a whole lot more than I do on this subject. I've learned a lot from your posts over the years. Thanks and God bless!

  17. Hi Val,
    Say what? Are you sure you are on the right blog?
    I think we'll just have to agree to disagree on this one. I'm not sure where you are going with this but I definitely disagree with most of your comment.

  18. Hi Colleen,
    Yes, I figured you would be able to relate. I've had to learn to name my feelings too. It took quite a bit of time to even recognize them for what they were!

    Thanks for commenting :)

  19. Hi Mary...another thought-filled post. May I remind you that what you feel you lack in the emotion category you make up in other areas? You are sensitive, compassionate, loving, kind, gentle...and Godly. These traits make you very special in His eyes & to alll your blogger friends.

  20. Hi Mary,

    Since returning to Blogging your posts have been very relevant and pertinant to today's problems in society. I understand your concerns about having separate posts on the Community site, perhaps interspersed with other contributors' posts in between. This would make it somewhat untidy, even if your posts are linked, as readers may miss some of them.

    Personally, I'd prefer one post, shortened perhaps, dealing with all the issues you raise.

    The world needs a lot of healing right now. A lot of it personal healing as each one carries his or her own baggage of trash accumulated over the years. Your writings I feel can help people struggling with their emotions and not admitting them to themselves.

    Please e-mail me if you wish to discuss further offline.

    Thank you and God bless.

  21. Hi Nanette,
    Thank you, my friend :)

    I hope you are enjoying your new home! You couldn't have had a better

  22. Hi Victor,
    Thanks for your input. I think I'll do as you suggest since the post would be far too long otherwise! I'll try to put it all together, coherently I hope, and get it up next week.

    God bless!

  23. So much of what you've written about here applies to me in the past. I got lucky in my late 20s and got into therapy where I learned to name, claim, and let go of my emotions so they didn't cripple me. It's something I still have to work on today. The question I ask myself when I'm getting up tight is, "In the light of eternity, does this really matter?" God is the only one who never disappoints and who always loves us but still I find myself expecting from family members things they cannot give. It's always a reminder to swivel around and face God, but I can't say it's easy. Sometimes I'd rather throw a temper fit.

  24. Hi Barb,
    This is a good question to ask - it certainly makes a difference when we look at things from the perspective of eternity. I was in counseling for a short time too and this helped a bit but I found the spiritual aspects of the human person were mostly overlooked.
    Yeah, sometimes I'd rather throw a fit :)

    I hope the flu cleared out of your household! And I'm hoping it passes my house completely by this year...