Of the four pillars supporting the platform of our lives, the emotional seems to be the most difficult to bring into balance. As children, we are taught to deny so much of the emotional experience that we grow up believing that strength is being able to suppress any emotion that makes others uncomfortable. Instead of accepting our selves with all our moods and feelings, we learn to suppress anger, fear, sadness, pain ……….and put a brave face on for the world to see.
We deny ourselves the tears that heal our pain in favor of denying that we feel it at all. We deny our natural fears until they become so large that we fear anything new and cannot communicate it. We deny our anger until it becomes turned inward on ourselves, causing real physical damage to our bodies. We deny our pain until it becomes the central force of our lives and we deny our sadness to the point that we can no longer feel joy.
As bad as it is for women, it is even harder for men. From the time they are small boys, they are taught to “suck it up” and take it like a man. With no acceptable outlet for fear and sadness and even anger, many men become so conflicted that they actually become violent, which was more acceptable in our society than tears or sadness. Then when they enter into an adult relationship with a woman, they are unable to express the tender feelings they have almost forgotten to even recognize. They are left with rage and violence as their only acceptable outlet. Not a very satisfactory relationship for either the man or the woman, who is at least partly in touch with her feelings. Isn’t it ironic that we as mothers, raise sons to be such conflicted partners!
It is also far too easy to blame others or life in general for our woes. It is a thing I have observed with some “self help” groups. They take things to the point of identifying the probable cause of some emotional problem, then stop there, blaming their current problems on past experiences and absolving themselves of any responsibility for their lives or the events in them. This stops emotional growth in its tracks and robs one of the chance to deal with the fears and the pain and work through it to become a more complete and happier human being.
Many years ago, I learned that the best way for me to deal with a heart break was to find a quiet, private place, preferably near running water and let the tears flow. If I allowed myself to experience the whole spectrum of emotions that come with loss, loss of a loved one, loss of a freedom, loss of health, in short, any traumatic loss, the tears would flow freely, bathing my heart and soul with their healing power.
Afterward, I would be emotionally exhausted, wrung out to the point that there were no more tears to shed. However, I would no longer be caught unaware and have to shove the pain and tears down inside where they would grow and become even more unbearable. I would be able to go on with the daily process of living while healing began. Sometimes healing took a long time and sometimes not so long at all, but without the release of the grief of loss, the healing could not begin. Alternatively, if I forced the pain back inside and hid it even from myself, it would grow and fester and come to the surface in unbearable waves, each one worse than the last and always at the most importune moment.
Recently, I have had occasion to deal with others who are going through terrible times in their lives. They tried to get by with denying any release of the emotions, forcing the pain and tears down deep inside and pretending there is nothing wrong. Any time they have found it unbearable, and tears spilled out, they would work so hard to deny the pain and tears that they became numb inside, unable to feel either pain or pleasure in their lives.
We are taught that crying is a weakness and is to be avoided at all cost. This denies the release and healing that comes with allowing ourselves to work through our feelings and shed the tears that heal. It is all a part of the process of claiming our lives and our selves, being responsible for our own actions and the results of them. It is a way to allow ourselves to heal emotionally and bring the emotional pillar more into line with the other three.