I recall very distinctly the time in my life when I began stuffing my emotions. I was 7 years old and my parents were going through a divorce. I had no idea then that I was an empath or that my level of sensitivity to human emotion was off the charts in comparison to the average person. What I did know however was that life as I knew or at least perceived it to be was over. I was devastated. From then on expressing anything openly and honestly felt incredibly unsafe. I remember holding my sorrow in so firmly that I became almost comfortable with the lump in my throat. My body was screaming with all kinds of feelings but my stoic facade was growing stronger and more familiar.
When I entered my teens I quickly discovered alcohol. With the first sip I took I thought had I died and gone to heaven. The lump in my throat went away taking my anguish along with it. Numbness became my new high and along with this new emotional suppression also came significant courage. Every uncomfortable feeling that came my way got washed away as quickly as it arose. I remember thinking; Why on earth would anyone want to feel pain when with just a few swallows of a liquid substance all of the negative feelings just magically disappear?
As I entered my 20’s I began to wonder where all of these negative feelings were going. Realistically I knew they couldn’t have vanished permanently because that would be too easy. Was I just stuffing my negative feelings into some colossal storage bin that would one day hit maximum capacity and explode all over me and everyone in my life causing irreparable damage? That thought seemed more likely and I knew I was on to something.
In my 30’s sobriety was inevitable for me as I always felt it to be a path calling me home from the time I took my very first drink. Because of its fate in my life the act of giving up alcohol was actually quite easy and anti-climactic. It was as if the karma with that lesson had just bled dry and was no more. What didn’t come easily for me though was life after alcohol. Not because I had cravings and wanted to drink, I was actually quite lucky in that department. The difficulty was in discovering what or rather who was waiting for me on that path of sobriety.
There she was. That little 7 year old girl with that lump still in her throat and no idea how she was going to get through feeling all the emotions she spent the past 20 years running away from. It was like seeing a part of myself that had just stopped growing while the rest of me went on through life and the aging process. I had segregated pieces of myself and the only way to unite them again was to do what I set out to avoid doing in the first place. I needed to set all that emotional energy free and feel all the feelings that I was so afraid to feel.
Not everyone stuffs their emotions in the same way that I did, but after learning how to express myself more openly and honestly I’ve come to realize that many people are uncomfortable with the level of vulnerability that comes along with expressing or communicating emotions truthfully. While not everyone is turning to alcohol to avoid feeling their emotions openly there are certainly many other distractions that can keep us away from the road to emotional freedom. Everything in this day and age is moving at such a rapid pace. We have technology to hide behind and constant electronic bombardment to keep us from sitting quietly with ourselves and listening to what is going on in our emotional body. I know for me I have to be careful because when I feel something uncomfortable rising to the surface or calling out for attention my first inclination is to avoid or ignore it by checking texts, emails, or Facebook messages. There are a million ways to avoid our feelings but there is only one way to get rid of them. Feelings are meant to be felt.
When we deny or suppress our feelings it’s like we are dancing around the emotional body. This would be similar to moving continuously around the outside of a hurricane looking for the eye. The only way to get to the eye of a storm is to go directly through it. The only way to become self-realized is to actually REALIZE the self. That includes the emotional body. On the road to self-realization we discover who we truly are by first discovering who we are not. We must go through these emotional storms one by one and come to terms with the fact that we are actually none of them. We are not our thoughts, we are not our feelings, and we are not our physical body. What we are is something that remains infinitely untouched and unharmed from all of these physical limitations and obstacles that we perceive on a daily basis. We are soul, and soul not only exists within the eye of the hurricane but it actually is the eye of hurricane.
It doesn’t matter how many distractions we busy ourselves with on a daily basis. If our emotions aren’t felt and acknowledged as they come up they will take a raincheck and quietly retreat to our emotional storage bins. Wouldn’t life be easier if we just gave these emotions the respect and admiration they needed as they arose and then sent them on their merry way? I know for me it’s best if I keep that storage bin empty which means facing things as soon as they come up. It doesn’t always stay empty but at least now I’m aware of what’s inside that bin that needs to be dealt with.
Each emotion that arises within us is like a small storm brewing. Don’t dance around it. Avoidance will only make the storm grow stronger making the journey through it much more arduous. Just as there are storms that nourish and replenish the earth there are emotional storms that nourish and replenish us. If we dive into the emotional body head first we can discover the beauty that can only exist in the eye of our own hurricane. At the end of the day it’s not really about the the emotional storm. The emotional body is just a passage way to get to the heart of our beingness. We are here to discover who we are and everything else is just a tool to be used on our path of self-discovery. Storms are temporal but what they can teach us is eternal.
Rev. Marcy Ellen is the author of The Soul Truth; Reflections for the Waking Soul, a life coach for Sigma Your Life, and the Media Director for Simple Love Advice. She is a spiritual teacher, writer, speaker, and a radio host with a Master of Divinity Degree from The University of Metaphysical Sciences. www.sigmayourlife.com ;