Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Learning and hard work...

Well, It has been a long week.

How can that be? It’s only Wednesday, and it’s a short week. At least, I am considering it a short week, as it is the 4th of July on Friday.

I suppose it is because it has been a long week emotionally already. With going to the funeral, and having a long drive yesterday, talking with my friend on Monday and getting the scoop on what will be happening with her this next week as she goes into surgery… I think I am drained.

During my drive I had some time to reflect and pray. As I did, God brought several things to mind. One of them was how to deal with overwhelming emotions, especially negative ones, and come back to a place where I feel ok again.

When I was talking with Tricia the last time, we talked about how we need to teach babies to “self-soothe.” In essence, when they are screaming and crying, we need to teach them how to use their thumbs or pacifiers to soothe themselves. As the kids get older, they learn when to control crying and when is appropriate to let it out. If they have good models to walk them through negative emotions, they can learn to come back to a place of joy and peace from any negative emotion, like sadness, fear, disgust, shame, anger, hopeless despair.

Well, I have learned to soothe myself through the negative emotions in various ways. Some are good things, like reading, or writing, or playing on the computer, or journaling. None of these are wrong… until they are taken to the excess. If I start going overboard in these things, to the exclusion of my family or other responsibilities, then it becomes destructive.
Then there are other things that I know are self-destructive, that I can get caught up in, that I would consider more of a way of anesthetizing the emotions in my heart. Which I suppose is what I used those other things for as well… trying to get my brain to go somewhere else, rather than deal with the hurt and emotions that were coming from my heart.

As I have slowly been learning to deal with these emotions in my heart, and work though them, I have noticed a pattern. I will discuss some things in a session with Tricia. Then during the week, as my emotions rise in dealing with the issue, I find myself really using other coping skills, or self-soothing techniques, that keep me from thinking about it. I end up fighting the emotions and not dealing with them, without even realizing it until nearly 5-7 days later. It’s then that I suddenly see the pattern of the past days, and figure out that I have been avoiding things.

Finally I am able to start working through things, but it takes such an effort.

I did a little bit of work after my last session with Tricia, but I then left everything on the back burner for the rest of last week and early this week. It’s understandable because of the memorial service I went to. But I realize now, that I was avoiding dealing with my emotions. Leaving things on the back burner and not thinking about them ALL the time is ok. That doesn’t bother me. It is nice to be able to walk away from something that is bothering you, and just focus on the today things.

What bothers me is when everyone else is in bed, and I am taking a chance to unwind and have some time to myself before bed, and realize that I am doing things that, instead of focusing myself on Christ, are causing me to drift further away.

At least I am to the point of recognizing it. That in itself is progress. So many times in my past, I have just run, and never realized that I was running. I have hidden my emotions or deadened them and never even tried to see what was really going on.

This is huge for me! God is working. God is teaching me. I am learning the truth, about Him and myself. Now I have to start acting on it. That, as always, is the hard part.

I guess the things that I was leaving on the back burner, all connected up in my head without realizing it. The emotions I was going through seeing my aunt reeling after her sister’s death… and hurting for the whole family… connected to something going in my life more directly.
I almost hesitate to write this, but I want to be honest…

So, ok, my friend is dealing with colon cancer and will be having surgery this coming Tuesday, the 8th. Our brains have such marvelous ways of connecting things. I love it, and hate it. My brain has been connecting the pain of my family, with the situation with my friend. And it is a possibility that something bad could happen in relation to my friend and her fight with cancer.

I am trusting her to God. I am trusting that He knows what He is doing. I am praying for a clean bill of health after the surgery. I am praying that He would do a miracle. However, my emotions fear other results. My brain, or emotions, or heart have connected Lori’s fight with cancer to my friend’s fight with cancer, and it has brought all these other emotions to the surface. And so I have been running, and hiding. and avoiding all week.

I think it is starting to catch up with me.

So, I wrote a list in my journal of HEALTHY ways of “self-soothing.” All of these could be taken over board, but the goal is to do them in moderation when I can tell that my emotions are starting to get the better of me. They can be used to just leave the emotions alone for a while, and relax myself so that I am in a better place to deal with them later.

work in garden
read a fictional book (not to excess, obviously)
cuddle with kids reading or watching a movie
take a bath or shower (preferably bubble bath)
nap with Peter (my son)
go to Beatitudes (coffee shop)
go for a drive
have a fire in our firepit

Maybe those things will help me to start dealing with and soothing my emotions during the up coming days here. I know they are bound to be difficult. I just want to walk through this time, and grow from it, rather than go backwards. I know I am going to have emotions. I know I am going to want to cry, and I know that those emotions can get overwhelming. But I also know that I am going to have to deal with or not deal with those emotions, and need to do it in a healthy way.

Lord, I pray You will help me do Your will. I pray that You would help me to focus on You and learn and grow through all this process. Help me to lean on and trust You in all things, and in everything bring You the praise and glory. Amen.

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