When I was growing up, we never discussed our feelings. I remember being yelled at and then going to my room to cry–I also remember being told that they would give me something to cry about. Even as a child and teenager, I dimly knew that there was something wrong with this situation, but I had no idea what I could do about it.
The result was that I learned to stuff my feelings rather than allowing myself to feel them. I got very good at running away from anything and everything–emotions, people, problems, etc.
And then I started going to Al-anon. The next thing I knew, I was crying all the time and sometimes it seemed for no reason. Another member told me that I was just finally feeling everything that I had been repressing, and that I just had to be patient–that it would take time to feel it all. When I was going through it, it was one of the last things I had wanted to hear. At the time, I had no idea what happiness was beyond isolated moments, but he was right. I don’t remember how long it took before the crying finally stopped, but slowly but surely, things started to get better. And now, eleven years later (as of the first week of April), things are very different. Now I have moments of misery in the midst of happiness.
No one ever said this was an easy program or for the faint of heart. It takes a lot of courage to face ourselves and to run headlong into the pain that we have been avoiding. Sometimes, the only thing we can do is just hold on to our Higher Power and just cry, but know that it gets better. It takes as long as it takes, and seeing as I had spent the first twenty or so years of my life getting to where I was, it took a long time for me to untangle everything, but I don’t regret it. I finally have a life, and happiness is no longer something I am chasing. I have set boundaries with the unhealthy people in my life or have cut them out entirely. I am working toward relationships with healthy people. I have a good job, my own apartment in one of the more expensive cities in the US, and I have a car. I have three beautiful parakeets that are my family far more than my family of origin every was. I am a writer and social activist, and most of all–I am happy.
There is still more work to do, and there always will be. Life is a journey, and part of that is continuing to go inside ourselves to learn more and more about who we are and what we want. There are things that I still want, but I am happy with where I am in the journey, and I’m not afraid anymore. I don’t cry at the drop of the hat, and I feel at peace. What I have was worth fighting for–it was worth all the tears, and I don’t regret a minute of it.
(Inspired by reading in Hope for Today, pp 73).