Have you ever found yourself in a situation where you know you’re about to cry but you cannot? Or you feel anger rising in your chest but are unable to express it due to the current environment or situation you’re in? I lived most of my adult life swallowing many uncomfortable emotions – stuffing them inside me. I stuffed and swallowed and ignored them until my life became such that it was impossible to continue to do so. The following is an excerpt from my book, Fear to Flow about my stuffed emotions. Perhaps you can relate…?
If I wasn’t already a professional emotion-stuffer, I solidified that title during the time my dad was sick. It was never the right time to cry, shout, yell, or release any of the emotions that constantly bubbled up during those months. It got significantly worse when Swanny got sick. His illness was diagnosed and came to a head during the two months prior to my dad’s death, which, as I mentioned earlier, coincided with an overly busy time for my business. There wasn’t time to cry or fall apart. I had to keep going, and I did.
I remember I had to leave for a week-long business trip two days after Swanny had surgery. Matt was fully capable of taking care of him, but it was a trying time since Swanny had a 10-inch scar on his belly, couldn’t go up and down stairs, and had to take a variety of pain medications and antibiotics. Swanny was always an easy dog to give pills to – until he had this surgery. Suddenly he spat out everything we used to disguise pills and wouldn’t even go near his homemade chicken and rice meals because he knew the pills were hidden inside a piece of chicken. He was such a kind, gentle dog, which made all of this even more difficult. We didn’t want to ever scare him or force him to do anything, but there we were prying his mouth open, shoving pills down his throat, and then holding him and his snout with all our strength until he finally swallowed.
There he was shaking like a leaf under the kitchen table when my ride to the airport arrived as I was leaving for the trip. I was torn to pieces. I had committed to clients on the west coast, yet felt I needed to stay home. I didn’t want to leave Matt to deal with this all on his own. It was essential Swanny took his antibiotic. Matt wasn’t always the most patient with Swanny, which also scared our sweet dog. I literally had to pry myself out from lying under the kitchen table consoling Swanny and compose myself enough to get in a car and head to the airport.
My driver was overly chatty that morning. Of course; because I could barely speak. The lump in my throat was too big. If I opened my mouth, I’d fall apart. I arrived at the airport and still the lump remained. I boarded the plane and still the lump remained. I even got text messages from Matt assuring me Swanny had gotten all his medication and was doing fine. Still the lump remained. It was there most of the week I was in California. It got bigger and smaller depending on the information I received each day about how my dad was doing and how my dog was doing.
This was also an awful week for my dad – the beginning of his final demise. I called him several times, but he was never strong enough to come to the phone. He sent me a few emails and texts to tell me not to worry. I was beyond worried. The lump in my throat was enormous.
And yet I never cried. Not once did I break down or release any of those emotions. I swallowed that lump for an entire week, and by the time I got home it was gone. Where did it go? I don’t know. I don’t really want to know. What I do know is that those emotions don’t just disappear. They get stored somewhere in our body and eventually show up as an ailment, injury, chronic pain, or illness.
That is one example of countless times I experienced over those five months – heck, over many, many years – when I swallowed the lump in my throat, stuffed the emotions, and kept moving forward because that was how I rolled; but not anymore. I knew those emotions had to find their way out of me. This was part of moving through fear. They needed to be felt and released. Losing my dad and Swanny two weeks apart after watching them both suffer was exactly what I needed to allow the many swallowed lumps out of my throat. The pain was finally too much to swallow. I’d overstuffed myself full of emotions and there was no more room inside me. They needed to come out. It wasn’t pretty, but it was a necessary part of the process.
Are you stuffing your uncomfortable emotions, such as sadness, fear, or frustration? Emotions are energy in motion – they need to move or they get stuck in your body. Find time, space, and creative ways to express your emotions, or check out my blog post on InPower Coaching on ways to release negative emotions.
Fear to Flow will be available on amazon on July 11, 2016.