In recovery, I learn that I am the one who is responsible for my feelings. This used to sound like bad news, but I’m starting to see it’s not. On the contrary, it’s empowering and freeing because it detaches the shame which has disabled me from taking responsibility for my feelings because shame freezes me and restricts growth and healing.
Taking ownership of my feelings becomes non-threatening when I can detach blame from it because blame does not fly solo, it has a co-pilot named Shame. Shame is silent, not violent so is easily undetected, but it’s life-threatening to recovery because it distorts my self-image and my self-image guides my thoughts, feelings and behaviors.
I believe my true-self is inherently good, per the God of my understanding. I can say this while also acknowledging the presence of brokenness and loss due to injuries I’ve sustained and inflicted upon others. I can acknowledge that I am inherently good AND acknowledge that I am both a giver and receiver of real pain and loss.
Taking up responsibility for my feelings is not tantamount to taking the blame for my feelings. Articulating this is vital for my own healing and growth from having enmeshed boundaries with others when it comes to feelings. The enmeshed boundaries stem from enmeshment between blame and responsibility. When it comes to taking responsibility for my feelings, I first need to remove blame from having the feelings.
Blame entails assigning responsibility for wrong or fault. Feelings are not on trial, they can be examined without trying to find fault. Feelings are neutral. They are neither “right” nor “wrong”. In my recovery, I learn through practicing with others how to unmask and identify my feelings that are often disguised through anger or judgment due to lack of self-awareness. The feelings I feel inside get revealed when I do not feel like I am on trial for having the feelings. When I sense that the validity of my feelings will be put on trial by others, my feelings will put on their masks. Their favorite masks seem to be rage and judgmentalism to deflect the shame onto others.
My most intense feelings are like emissaries sent on behalf of my subconscious-self (the parts of my inner life that get tucked away from consciousness in order to cope, not to heal). In holding into the conscious belief (faith) that my true-self is inherently good, I hold onto another belief (through faith) that intentionally envisions my mind, body and spirit working together in their own unique ways to move me towards health, wholeness and harmony, and preserving that state.
For this reason, feelings serve an extremely vital role: achieving and preserving homeostasis within an environment of motion.
When I do not allow my feelings to serve in that vital role, I will become at high-risk for tolerating and even seeking out interactions with others and myself, where I am mistreated and exploited, often with my cooperation.
Maintaining self-care includes feeling my feelings and paying attention to the messages they bring from deep within. The messages about my own self-image which my feelings bring to my awareness can be corrected and assessed, but feeling the feelings cannot be bypassed in this process no more than exhaling can be bypassed in order to remove carbon dioxide from within my lungs.
The messages feelings bring are often felt through sensations within my body. It isn’t just information in the form of words that need to be processed for me to feel my feelings – that is bypassing feeling my feelings and thinking my feelings, it’s skipping over a natural process that needs to take place – feeling my feelings. That is what my experience is teaching me. I’m learning when I feel the feelings, I am not needing to only talk or think about the feelings, but to feel them IN MY BODY.
This is a new and welcomed practice to me. I believe it is divinely inspired, God is healing me up within a loving community of others who are trusting Him with the process for themselves as well.