In my previous blog post, I shared about my recent struggles to allow the next emotions I need to work through and to not fall into addictions to control them, and about my lack of faith and also my fear. I was feeling progressively worse over the course of those few weeks, and finally, the day after I posted my last blog, the kettle boiled over.
I woke up that day, felt emotionally the worst I had up until that point, made myself do some “productive” things anyway (not very self-loving), and then realized it just wasn’t going to happen. I couldn’t make myself do anything that day even if I wanted to. So I finally though, Right. I’m not going to try to be productive in any way. I’m just going to stay in these emotions even if its for the whole day. This is what I should have done long before now; but I’m going to do it now. So I was back in bed by 11:00 a.m. and decided to give into how awful I felt. And as soon as I did, all the emotion I’d been avoiding came crashing through like a torrent river through a dam, and I cried for probably about 4-5 hours. The next day I felt a little better than the day before, but still bad. I stayed in bed for a good part of the day again, and I cried for about another 3 hours.
I’ve had many times over the years before where I’ve cried for 2 or 3 or 4+ hours. Not super often, but it has happened, and I’ve had the experience before of letting myself fall into the darkness of a feeling and then experiencing the error lift and receiving more faith and feeling God more after, and so I was willing to try it again. But what’s interesting is how even though I’ve had those experiences before, with the next layer of emotions that I’m scared to experience, I still sometimes get worried it won’t actually work out this time. This time, at first I felt like, This is it. This might be what does me in. I’m going to be in bed crying like this for the next 4 months. These feelings are so awful I feel like I’m never going to be happy again. What if I can’t do this, God? What if I can’t make it through these emotions?
But because of those previous experiences, and partly because I’d allowed the pain to build up quite a lot (not good), I did let go and started to feel. When I’m really emotional, my prayers to God are an emotional conversation rather than one that I’m really thinking, but the prayers were sort of like,
God, this feels so awful. I know You can’t save me from these feelings and I don’t want You to. I just want to feel You while I’m feeling it all. Please help me get to the core emotions; I don’t want to waste time in effect emotions. I want to release my grasp on my resistances and just surrender to the full emotional overwhelm. Please help me be sincere, please help me feel Your truth about this. Please let me feel Your love and all the other feelings You feel about me. Please show me how to love myself more because I don’t know how to. I can’t do this without You.
Many times, within a few seconds flat, a heat wave would swell up in my body, like my body was burning up and I’d get super sweaty, something I’ve experienced before when in emotional overwhelm, but I’m still always amazed when it happens again. The room was at its normal temperature and I had barely moved my body, and yet when I’m in a core emotion I absolutely burn up. It always blows me away that much heat is generated by my own body, and how fast I go from feeling totally normal and then within a few seconds I feel so hot. Also, there are typically lots of sensations that happen in my body when I allow myself to be overwhelmed emotionally–changes in my heartbeat, pressure in certain areas of my body, release in other areas, tingling, etc. I remember when I first started experimenting with allowing really painful emotions and feeling them in my body, I was afraid they would physically shut my body down–stop my heart, collapse my lungs, I didn’t really know, I just felt like my body wasn’t going to be able to weather them. Now, I have pretty much no fear related to how it feels in my body; now the fears tend to be more about how bad it will feel emotionally and whether the emotional pain will ever end.
In the process of feeling it, I got this image of streams of sparkling, life-giving water running through the cracks of a desperate, parched desert floor, like some warmth in my heart. By the end of the tears on the second day, I felt tender and tired, but also soft, and had more peace in my heart, more faith in God, and a new sense of being close to myself. I went to bed super early on the second night and slept like a log. The next morning, I woke up feeling fantastic. And since then, things have felt quite good and I feel more faith and trust. It was just another great experience to build my faith about how powerful and simple the process really is: feel all our emotions in their full intensity, pray to God. Keep feeling, keep praying. Keep feeling, keep praying.
“God, walk with me while I uncover those worthless, hurting parts of myself. Help me towards humility rather than façade and defence.
Let my grieving open me to the truth about myself and to the love that already surrounds me. Let me strive to embrace the suffering of the past so that I may open my heart to a hopeful future, full of freedom.
One of the reminders for me in the whole experience was how we have to create time and space to feel emotions. While it’s imperative we allow emotions at all times, anywhere and everywhere, it’s not going to be enough to only allow a few tears when we’re driving home from work. It’s not going to be enough to only allow ourselves to cry for 15 minutes and then pull ourselves out of it. Not that a few tears or 15 minutes is bad; I also have far more of those episodes than I do the long ones, and it’s naturally what will also happen when we’re allowing all our emotions. But looking back, any big core emotions I’ve ever worked through have required long periods of time dedicated to accessing them, and when I’ve finally gotten to them, they do take a lot of crying and feeling a lot of pain to get out.
These deep, old, festering wounds in our souls are not cleared with just a few tears. We have to have the self-love to make the space and time for ourselves to feel a lot more. I still have some emotions from my family and the world that cause me to forget that the most productive thing I can do with my day is to grow my relationship with God and feel my emotions. My two days of laying in bed and crying and doing little else were likely closer to God’s definition of productivity and a good use of time than avoiding that in favor of working and cleaning and whatever else I think is a more valid use of my time.
I’m starting to be a bit more ok with how I never have any clue before I start or during how long the emotional overwhelm is going to last, or how bad the feelings are going to get. We don’t know at the start of it if we might be crying for one hour or one week. We don’t know what will happen during or what will happen after. And that’s all part of the faith that we build each time we’re willing to go into emotional overwhelm and carry it through till it’s over. We may be afraid we’ll go crazy or lose control, afraid it will overtake us, afraid we won’t survive it. But we have to feel all of it anyway. We don’t get rid of those fears before we feel the emotions, those fears fall away when we feel it all and we see that we haven’t died or gone crazy, and afterwards, instead we feel so much better. We want a guarantee it’s going to be ok before we just do it, and that’s not how it’s going to go. From my experiences, I feel God isn’t going to take away the fears about emotional overwhelm in a way that helps us avoid them, but rather when sincerely feel our emotions even though we’re afraid, and also feel the fear itself, then God can share truth and love with us, which does shine light on our fears and they do fall away.
I can look back and see that when things have notably shifted in my life, it was when I went through total emotional overwhelm and felt some really big stuff. And far more so, when I allowed God to be with me and be part of the process. I know there will be many points in my future development where I again have to stretch to the next level of emotional overwhelm and face my fear and lack of faith in that next level of things, and I’ll have times that I put it off, avoid it, and am again tempted to revert to addictions and controlling the process. But I can feel that the more experiences we accumulate where we’ve allowed total emotional overwhelm to overtake us, involved God in the process and come through the other side seeing that yes, this is how our souls heal and it does work and we can do it, the more faith we’ll have in God’s design of our soul, and in God Herself.