For so many years, I silenced my inner voice and numbed the pain. Instead of acknowledging how I felt, and feeling the pain, I put a band-aid over my feelings. Can you relate? With tears in my eyes, I struggle to confront my feelings. Because making sense of my feelings means that I have to feel the pain.
From a very young age, I class clowned and ate my feelings. After my mom died, I turned to self-destructive behavior. Now in my 30’s, I internalize my feelings until they make me sick. In my last post, Letting Go of Negative Thoughts, I spoke about my gnats (unwanted thoughts) and journey to self-healing. While I hate to admit it, the journey has just begun.
I try to only use social media for work, but sometimes I get sucked in too. I’m on Facebook and a couple of wine glasses in, when I see a picture one of my family members posted. Now I’m surfing through comments from other family members. When did they all reconnect? I feel anger in my body. It’s easier to feel anger than hurt.
My aunt and I had a falling-out years ago, and when that happened, my closest family stopped talking to her too. My aunt, who was my godmother, legal guardian after my mom passed, and the woman I loved like a mother, really hurt me. Suddenly, my gnats take over and I’m reliving the past in my mind.
“Tia (aunt), I still remember the day your ex husband hit you. I tried to save you like I did for my mom so many times. You convinced me to leave my boyfriend and high school sweetheart. You tried to have me baker acted when I hit rock bottom. You let greed get the best of you and took what belonged to my younger brother and me. I know I messed up by dating your colleague and friend, who also happened to be a married man, but you didn’t have to take his side and tag team against me, I was young and naïve. You tried to have me arrested when I fought for custody of my brother; I was just doing it out of love. You took advantage of my kindness and you played a huge role in breaking my heart.”
My hubby jumps in to stop me from spiraling out of control. I don’t want his comfort, I’m angry. I start to delete and block all of these family members from social media. As immature as it may sound, I just want to stop seeing this, because it still destroys me. Once the anger hangover is over, I identify and analyze my feelings. I want to understand my core pain, because this is the root of anger and how we work through our feelings.
- I feel betrayed by my aunt and now, my immediate family.
- I feel left out by my family.
- I don’t feel loved.
- Why did I give up so much of my life for some of my family?
Anger can be a cover up for pain, guilt and shame. We are human, and anger is a normal emotion; we all feel it. Anger is our survival mechanism. We either blow up or keep things bottled up. Can you relate? This is unhealthy anger. Healthy anger, on the other hand, gives us momentum for change. I identify my feelings of anger and start making progress.
I feel pain, guilt and shame…
- For telling my father that my mother was having an affair (or least that is what I thought).
- For forgiving my father for healing.
- For turning to self-destructive behavior.
- For unleashing my anger on the people I love the most.
- For disconnecting from my family.
Shame feelings are a threat to our integrity. Our feelings of shame can be humiliating, while feelings of guilt can be embarrassing. We feel anger to avoid the more painful feelings of embarrassment and humiliation. We shut down the feelings of vulnerability and helplessness, because anger is a more comfortable feeling to feel.
This is my fight, not my families. My aunt hurt me, not my family. I’m human, and it’s okay to feel feelings of anger. I don’t have to ignore my feelings or accept my family’s actions towards me (it's called boundaries). But I do have the power to change how I react to these feelings.
Thank you for joining me on this co-healing journey. What are your thoughts and suggestions? Let’s open the dialogue by sharing comments below. As one of my favorite wine quotes reads, “Wine a little…you’ll feel better.”