Emotions SmileysIt is a common tactic of an abuser to judge our feelings. Some feelings, those that promote the interests of the abuser, are considered good. The others are bad. This is because there are emotions which empower us, that indicate when a boundary has been violated and spur to into action to prevent any further damage and to reassert the boundary. Anger, sadness, fear, and hurt are all feelings which an abuser wants to have repressed in the abused and so labels them as bad.  Good little girls and boys don’t feel them. Adults must be “confused” and be taught to feel shame when experiencing them. Other emotions are helpful to the abuser such as happiness, doubt, self-loathing, desire, acceptance and many others. So the abused learn over time which emotions to have and which to avoid, which can be admitted to in certain situations and others not, which can be expressed and which must be mislabeled and masked at all costs.

Unfortunately, even after the abuse is long gone, (although our culture still swamps us with abusive message of this nature to focus our attention on consumption) we have taken in the message and made it part of our identity so we continue this distorted relationship with our emotions long after we’re free to experience life in any way we choose. Most people cope by problem solving. Instead of feeling uncomfortable or “negative” feelings, they problem solve what is causing the “problem” and then work to resolve it outside themselves. This can cause people to drive themselves to desperation when attempt after attempt, method after method never solves the problem they seem to be facing and how they feel is never resolved, even while they refuse to acknowledge they are feeling something. This can cause flailing, dark nights of the soul, Hail Mary attempts that fail spectacularly, and all kinds of shenanigans which are not only not helpful, but usually make things worse and can lead to despair.

The root of the issue usually comes down to the judgment concerning our emotions. That there are good ones or bad ones and that somehow we need to learn to control what and how we feel. This is abusive. Our feelings are a part of us. They are essential. They are the language our soul uses to talk to us about ourselves and the world we live in. They are all necessary, healthy, amazing, and wondrous just like we are. Trying to excise one of them is like trying to remove a limb. Not only is it excruciatingly painful, but it leaves us incomplete and with reduced capacity to do in the world. The scary thing is that when we start admitting we have feelings, not just socially acceptable masks, then we have to admit what those feelings are and we will immediately know the wisdom they, we, are expressing. That is a bell that cannot be unrung. So it is understandable that we would be afraid to admit to let alone experience our fear, our anger, our passionate desires. These feelings demand that we stop ignoring who we truly are, that we let go of the false life we have created around a sanitized identity, and that we begin to live. But isn’t that what we’re here for?