with Defne Dinler
I have been with my partner for a few years and have grown to feel comfortable and welcome within the family. Until one morning that is, when I saw they had made plans for a family outing without including me in the decision-making process. No one asked for my opinion, my insights, my thoughts, nothing. I felt ignored, shut out, rejected. I felt like an outcast.
These feelings, based on how I interpreted their actions, shocked my system. I doubted myself and how I experienced my relationships with these individuals. I tried to figure out why. I wondered, was I enough as a person to deserve feeling accepted by them in the past or was I wrong assuming they liked me and that I was accepted by them. Due to circumstances beyond my control, I didn’t have a chance to fully process my experience in the moment. I had to pause to deal with other interactions happening around me. I managed to push the feelings of rejection down to look at later. Still in a bit of shock, I directed my attention to other things.
Then, as life happens, I got distracted. I went about my day wondering why I felt cranky. There was no cheering myself up nor figuring out why I felt out of sorts; the reasons escaped me though the feelings entrapped me. I had pushed that painful moment down so far, I forgot about my pain. Yet I was cranky enough that even though my mind had dismissed the precipitating event, my body clung to the results. I wanted to be cheerful but there was no way to free myself from this cranky fog.
When I had a moment to myself, I decided to stop trying to figure it out and just be with the cranky sensation. Tears rolled down my face. I felt a deep-set pain in my heart. I sat with it. As I gave space to the pain, I remembered. I remembered the shock, the confusion, the self-doubt, the sadness, the pain of rejection, of not being a part of. More tears came. As this wave of emotions calmed down, I connected with my partner. I shared my experience with him since the poor guy had just endured a cranky partner for an hour of working out together. It turned out what I had perceived as rejection was an act of protection and great care. My partner was trying to keep me out of extra work. I appreciated this act of care and kindness deeply. And I continued to cry because, while my reality had changed, I was still feeling my pain.
Taking care of our wounds is a lifelong practice of self-love and self-care. I allowed myself to feel into my old wound of rejection to allow the time and space to mourn it. The more we give space to our wounds to feel them and allow the emotions they’re holding for us to be felt, the less we get hijacked by them. Our fear of feeling the pain can be so big that we use up our life force to get away from it as opposed to feel the pain and be able to move on. It’s like when we get a physical pain and our body wants to react whether it is with an “ouch!”, or some tears, or a swear word, or a sharp breath; there’s an expression that wants to come out as a result of feeling the pain. When it is our emotional pain, we try our best to ignore it.
The story of my feeling rejected that morning didn’t really matter. What mattered was the feeling— the pain and my being with my pain. We all have pain however deep we push it down. By allowing myself to feel my pain I released a big wave of emotions.
It was one less thing to hold on to that day. The reality was not of me being rejected. Even if it was, it wouldn’t matter. I was able to feel my pain and be with it. I mourned that pain and let it go. The more we allow ourselves to feel, which is usually what we dread, the more we can let go.
Instinctively, I think we need to understand our feelings, our reactions; often we define, label, categorize them so we can put them away.
The amount of energy it takes to push down an emotion is practically superhuman. If you do not have to use your energy to not feel, the amount of life energy you free for yourself to live a different kind of life can be richly satisfying.
What if you felt into your pain?
This is often the scariest part for my clients, too. It feels like if we feel that pain or feel that fear, we might die or simply dissipate. What if you practice and learn to be with these feelings, with support, such that you can get to a point where you can do it on your own and then go about your day with your extra freed up energy?
I had a wonderful rest of my day that day because there was nothing left to keep me cranky. What are you willing to do for your wellbeing?
We offer our gratitude for the use of and the credits for the artwork:
Feature image: The Distinct Dot: Outsiders, retrieved from https://thedistinctdot.com/2016/05/10/outsiders/
image of woman crying: Wiki How: How to Handle Rejection, retrieved from https://www.wikihow.com/Handle-Rejection
woman in cranky fog: Livehappy, 5 Tactics for Coping with Cranky People, retrieved from https://www.livehappy.com/relationships/5-tactics-coping-cranky-people
wave of emotions: retrieved from Lakes Mail article discussing the Explore, Dream, Discover art show at Toronto Private Hospital. The artwork was the 2015 co-winner, entitled Wave of Emotion by Anita Morris. David Stewart is credited for the article’s photograph. Retrieved from https://www.lakesmail.com.au/story/4149136/art-of-repressed-emotions-entries-now-open/