Hitting milestones in a journey of healing are so many things; they are scary, they feel victorious, but they also hurt my heart.
Communicating my feelings, particularly negative ones (i.e., pain, anger, sadness) have never been easy for me, especially when they have the potential to impact how someone else feels. One such person I haven been extra careful with is my Mom. I have had a paralyzing fear my whole life of saying something that will make her feel sad. So, I have protected her feelings at the expense of mine.
Fast forward a couple decades and I find myself unable to communicate completely openly with anyone, always burying my feelings if there is a possibility it makes them feel sad or hurt. Needless to say, that has not served me well. I have found myself not even know myself in a lot of ways, not seeing myself the way others see me because all I can do is feel those feelings that I never had a chance to express. Its like having a container that is full and bursting at the seems, Its almost like those negative thoughts / feelings consume me and overshadow me seeing the good in myself. The only thing I can do is take the top off and pour the feelings out. If I don’t I wont have room for God and everything else will suffer (thanks Pastor G for that in your message two weeks ago; hit the nail on the head). Isn’t God amazing?! Always meeting us right where we are at.
So, rather than opening the lid and dumping the entirety of the contents out, I need to test it out. Pour out a little at a time. that way as I continue to empty myself of the negativity, it will be easier and more naturally to keep the vessel empty going forward; getting rid of the negativity as it comes and before it can build up. I had to have a conversation today that created a good amount of anxiety for me. I had to be open with my feelings in a way that might make someone else upset. Normally I would have ignored it, gone with the flow, and ultimately placed myself in the shadows, adding to that container.
The Big Show
I had actually set a goal to have the conversation because I would have procrastinated until it was out of sight, out of mind. I felt calm in knowing that I am valid in my feelings and should feel empowered to communicate them. But I put it off because I was upset, hurt, mad and confused and didn’t want to let the enemy take advantage of that. I prayed about it, prayed with friends about it and went in with faith that the Spirit would lead me, give me the right words and prepare both parties fort he conversation to be planted in fertile ground. I also was very conscious to communicate with love at the foundation. I reminded myself that my heart was at peace with it, that I cannot control how others receive the message and gave it to our Father because the battle is His.
I reminded myself that I should treat myself like someone I am responsible for 9thanks again Pastor G!); if this was someone else I loved, wouldn’t I stick up for them? Wouldn’t I urge them to communicate their feelings? isn’t that was relationships are built on? I love and mutual respect for hte other person, in bood and bad? isn’t that what makes relationships stronger?
When I dialed the phone, I thought my heart was going to be right out of my chest! When it was time, I took a break and lead with facts, with love and with my feelings. I felt good about how I handled the situation. I remained calm, followed where the spirit lead and didn’t let myself go down any rabbit holes. I remembered to reiterate my love but also what I needed in this time of my life. I could tell this wasn’t how the other party wanted to the conversation to go and were upset.
Ephesians 4:15 “Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ.”
I broke down in tears right when I ended the call. Why?? My natural instinct is to feel guilty. So I have to repeat a mantra to myself that my feelings are valid, my needs are valid and I communicated in a loving and respectful way. My heart literally ached; physically I could feel it. Was it the guilt? Was it a release of pain that I didn’t even know I was holding onto? I am still processing and not sure how this will make future conversations; easier or harder. I do know that I am proud of myself for not putting it off. If I am being honest, I was probably pretty gentle in how I spoke about my feelings, but it was my second time so ya know, giving myself some grace.
What is next? I don’t honestly know. I asked for patience as I learn to heal from the damage that container full of negative thoughts caused. Time so I could make myself right and be whole and present for my relationships. Space to find my true self , who can be healthy enough to pick up where this relationship is and learn how to navigate forward. Probably the most honest I’ve been so I am sure it will take some time to process on the other end of the conversation as well. All I can do is leave it at our Lord’s feet and let him lead me forward.
What is next?
I do know myself too well though. If I just leave it hear, trademarks this left on my heart will start to whisper lies. They will make me question myself, what I said, whether I should have said anything, etc. etc.; same old story. I will need to lean into the relationships I am building and keeping giving my feeling oxygen until I can let them go. I told someone the other day that my negative feelings are like an overgrown forest. Strangling out the fresh, new and good; taking all the water and sunlight. By giving life to my feelings is like giving oxygen to a fire, I can let the overgrown and dead burn away and make room for new life, new growth and beauty.
I will continue to treat myself like someone I am responsible for; making room for God to mold me and shape me so I can serve his Kingdom how he designed me to.