Feeling my feelings

BCR_2002_050At the beginning of 2014, at the tail end of a period of reflection, I was beginning to have a vision for my future. It was a defining moment. After my marriage collapse I had spent quite some time mourning the past, yet fearing the future. To come to the place of a bright vision for my future was a fantastic place to be. The downside was I was still trapped in the mud of the financial process of my marital settlement. I could not move on to the vision that I had. From that point, I was no longer trapped in the past, I was trapped in the quagmire of an unpleasant present.

That was frightening and demoralizing. Two mini-epiphanies pulled me out of my dark hole. The first was a suggestion from a friend to re-frame the processes of the marital settlement as steps towards my bright envisioned future. Clunk! An obvious self-esteem boosting solution once I could see that. The second was sage advice from my mother. She told me I needed to face what had to be done, write down the tasks to get it done, get started on the first, keep going, get through it, then – and only then – when all done – begin living that life I was dreaming.

Facing all that had to be done was extremely painful and overwhelming, but I did face it. I wrote it all down into a horrifying long-list, subdivided into categories, tasks, and sub-tasks. Slowly, task by task, I moved through the list and got the job done. When I wrote the list, I had no idea at the time that it would take another fifteen months to complete, all the time dragging myself through mud. The going was tough and slow.

Sadly, I also did not know at the time that I would lose my dear mother along the way.

I did not know for ten of those fifteen months, I would be flitting between the two worlds of the marital settlement process, and caring for my mother in her last phase of life. Two entirely different and emotionally intense worlds, yet both were worlds where I had to put my emotions aside in order to cope. In order to survive and get through that last fifteen months of the marital settlement, which required my logical thinking brain, I had to put aside my feelings of grief at the loss of my marriage, and feelings of anger and resentment at being stuck in the process of settlement. In order to care for my mother and provide for her an environment to live her last days in peace and happiness, I had to put aside my own distress that I was losing her. I had to put aside my own grief, for her well-being.

Four huge changes have taken place in my life over the past few months: the selling of the business, the end of the marital settlement process, the final separation from my husband, and the death of my mother. Friends and loved ones were concerned that with all that, when I found myself alone, I would emotionally collapse. What would I do with myself? How would I cope?

I must admit, I too had moments of concern. Over the past fifteen months, when emotions surfaced, I would actively blunt them or push them aside. I would tell them to go away until I had time to deal with them. I was afraid that when things became quiet they would return and would overwhelm me. I was also afraid the opposite may happen, that I was so used to burying my emotions, I would become a frozen wasteland devoid of feeling.

I have not collapsed. I have not become overwhelmed. I am coping. In fact, at times I have been bubbling with excitement and anticipation at approaching blue skies and exciting adventures ahead. However …

I am feeling my feelings – all of them. Instead of pushing them aside I am embracing them and I am at peace that I am at last able to allow myself that space to feel them. ___________________________________________________________________

This is the first post in a series of posts I am writing on feeling my feelings.

22 thoughts on “Feeling my feelings

  1. One little snippet of consolation might be that not many get spared the hardships of life. My mother used to warn me and say; wait till you grow up and face real life. They did not have an easy life. Not many do. We do the best and face the challenges, overcome and surpass; a day at a time!
    You are doing well. I have no experienceof a bitter divorce. Both my daughters did but only one survived and she is still struggling, but getting through it.

    • It is true that so many go through hardships. I am sorry to hear your daughters have been through trauma and I do hope that in time your daughter who is struggling gets to find either peace or some type of resolution.

    • Last night I happened to stay at the same hotel we stayed as a family for my 40th birthday. I had a flash-back to the feelings I had at the time. Interestingly I felt more confidant and comfortable with myself now. I don’t know whether it was the extra 20 years life experience, or the last four years ‘soul-searching’ but I definitely felt in a better spot compared to my 40-year-old self.

  2. I believe that suffering builds your character if you are wise enough to embrace the feelings long enough to learn from them. But you do have to know when to let them go. I think you are on the right track, Elizabeth. ❤

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  5. I really related to this thoughtful post. I too went through a divorce, and it was a time filled with painful emotion and uncertainty. What helped me through was to finally realize – in the middle of the night, while laying awake again! – that my resistance to those feelings was my biggest barrier to getting through them. My big breakthrough was finally realizing that “this is not supposed to be comfortable.” Big “Ahhha” moment for me. I thought “It’s not comfortable, but that probably means I’m doing it right.” In other words, I was feeling my feelings.

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