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Feelings, Nothing More Than Feelings

Posted Feb 03 2009 12:07am

Abuse & Trauma Header

About seven years ago I started going to counseling, after having suicidal thoughts.  I didn't think I could go on living.  I did the best I could to be a good mother and wife, but I always seemed to disappoint my husband.  I am sure he felt the same way...that he could never please me.  

I was totally stressed out.  I had spent about sixteen hours shopping on the Friday after Thanksgiving.  Our income was tight, so over and over I questioned every single purchase I made.  I got up at four o'clock that morning to get the door buster specials, but by six o'clock that afternoon I could barely remember what I was doing and had horrible heart burn.  When I finally arrived in the back door of my home at eight that night, I felt somewhat pleased with myself.  I had bought all the gifts while staying close to my budget. 

Woodfeeling-1-1-1My dear husband had one question as I crossed the threshold, "Did you put anything on the credit card?"  My heart sank.  The very last purchase I put on the credit card because I couldn't remember exactly how much I had spent and I didn't want to overdraw our checking account.  I felt like someone had shot me.  I went upstairs and cried and cried.  I didn't know how I could continue living under such pressure and constant failure.

After a few months of counseling, the therapist was uncovering the fact that I really had no feelings.  I was numb.  We talked about a situation in my childhood and he asked me how I felt.  I was stumped, "Felt?...happy?...sad?  What about feelings?  Feelings?  Hmm, I have never thought about feelings."  No one had ever asked me, "How do you feel?" 

"Can you give me a suggestion of what you mean by feelings?  I can't think of any?" I asked the therapist.  I will never forget that he handed me a picture chart with twenty-four different cartoon-like faces and under each face was the name of a feeling.  I was really glad to see the faces above the words because it helped me in the following months to identify what my feelings were in any given situation or memory.

Since so many people who have been abused or traumatized learn to Th_rose-1 ignore or deny their feelings, I am going to list the feelings.  The next time something happens that makes you feel....first, allow yourself the permission to feel, and then second, ask yourself a simple question, "How do I feel?"

To live is to feel.  God gave you feelings, because he wanted you to be connected to life.  It is OK to feel; as a matter of fact it is good to feel, even if the feelings are what you would call 'good'.  Yes, some feelings can be painful, but there are also a lot of wonderful feelings in this world.  If you accept the rose, you must take care to watch for the thorns.

Here are the feelings in no special order:

Bored                      Surprised               Anxious                 Shocked              Shy

Overwhelmed          Hopeful                  Lonely                   Lovestruck         Jealous

Angry                     Hysterical              Frustrated               Sad                    Confident

Exhausted               Confused               Ecstatic                  Guilty                 Suspicious

Embarrassed           Happy                   Mischievous            Disgusted            Frightened

Enraged                  Ashamed               Cautious                 Smug                  Depressed

Now, by no means are these all the feelings you can experience.  The list would be endless, but this is a good start. 

When you allow yourself to feel and you identify how you feel, be still and see if you have a body sensation.  Do you have a pain somewhere?  Is a muscle tense?  Does your stomach feel upset?  Is your hand tingling or numb?  Is your breathing shallow or heavy?

It may help you to write about it in a journal.  If you are seeing a counselor, make a note so that you can talk about it at your next session.  Accepting your feelings is a big first step to being aware of yourself.  Feelings help you know more about who you are as a person and what areas you need assistance to feel healthy and healed.  Don't live life by following your feelings, because we know we must follow God and His Word, not how we feel.  But don't deny yourself feelings, acknowledge them and allow God to help you to feel again.

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