Society sends some very mixed messages when it comes to feelings. You hear them discussed and mentioned a lot. But expressing them: well, that’s another story. Especially the intense and negative ones.
Yet, if something traumatic has happened to you then you’re going to experience some powerful emotions. And those feelings will be with you for a very long time. They will also show up at some inconvenient times.
For example, say you are having a pretty normal day. You’ve just dropped the kids off with their grandparents and are now stopping to pick up some coffee and bagels from the mall. Then, all of a sudden, you see or hear something that reminds you of the betrayal. (For example, you pass a shop selling lingerie or you hear a song that reminds you of your partner.)
Immediately, you are transformed from a relaxed, calm, and in control person into a panicky, rageful, hysterical mess. In a single moment, life has turned around and powerful emotions are hitting you in waves.
What do you do when this happens to you?
1. First, and most importantly: You give yourself permission to experience the pain. You don’t just suppress all the anger, hurt and grief.
2. Sometimes this might mean quickly exiting a place or situation. For example, you may need to quietly excuse yourself, and then head to the privacy of the washroom, or your car.
3. Whatever you decide to do at this time, it’s crucial that you stay with, and feel, the painful emotions. You need to experience them. You need to express them. You need to honour them.
4. Once you are alone, and in a safe place, try to expressing the emotions you are feeling in a way that is helpful and appropriate (given the situation you are in at the time.)
If you’re totally alone and there’s no-one around, perhaps you will be able to bawl, scream and shout.
Or it may be more effective and appropriate to write furiously in a journal you keep specifically for expressing your thoughts and your feelings.
Or perhaps you can call or text a friend.
Or perhaps you can meditate or pray.
Or perhaps you are able to go for a walk.
Or perhaps you have time to go for a run.
The important thing is finding a means of expression what works for you right now.
It is giving yourself whatever you need to safely release the intense emotions.
This is self-kindness and self-love in action.
This is essential, and is healthy self-care.