It's okay to feel

Feeling is scary.

Even if you are feeling good feelings, it can be scary to allow yourself the moment of bliss to experience something so ecstatic.

And then, there are those moments of bad feelings.  Feelings of pain, anxiety, fear...memories of rejection, heartbreak, loss.  And sometimes, it can seem as if you have no control over how much you allow yourself to feel these things.  They come in waves, sometimes just flowing gently upon the shores of your thoughts and then ebbing away slowly.  Other times, they overtake you like a tsunami and you are lost, dazzled and confused under the tide.

It's scary.

And because it's so scary, I think people have gotten really good at stuffing those bad feelings deep down inside, away from the surface.  But this isn't healthy.  And the reason why is simple.

Because feelings that are buried alive never die.

A lot of people believe that "to deeply feel things" means that you are overly sensitive.  Or that you can be easily offended, or misinterpret things said to or about you.  But I tend to disagree with this.  Why?  Because I deem myself as a sensitive person.  And it's not because I fit those descriptions, but merely because I feel very deeply.  It took a long time for me to understand what that meant, but once I did, my heart and my mind kind of clicked.

You see, I have discovered myself being sensitive to feelings in the fact that I can find significance in the smallest things.  I find beauty in the details.  I feel happy over little pleasures.  Warm beds in cold rooms, shiny crystals, tiny plants, a stack of books, a baby's smile, the way the sunlight fills a space, a delicious smelling cup of coffee. These are all things that a lot of people could see a million times in a day, but perceptive and emotional people will truly notice them, and feel something based on what they behold.

Also, my emotional state can shift based on the feelings of the people around me.  I am very empathetic and can sense emotions and energies very easily.  Honestly, it's hard to handle sometimes because I don't want to pretend everything is okay when I am aware that it very clearly is not.  I can't just listen to someone tell me about the pain they are experiencing or the trauma they are going through, without having a sense of urgency to help or support them in some way.
I can also walk into a room and feel my emotions being drawn to different energies around me - whether they be fear, sadness, pride, anxiety, happiness, excitement - and I internalize everything (which isn't always a good thing).  And sometimes I, unknowingly, burden myself with weight that isn't even mine to bear.

It took certain mentors and counselors to help me see and understand this part of me.  And it was a while before I could embrace it - as part of my identity.  I say "identity" because being emotionally sensitive isn't just a personality trait.  It is part of who I am as an individual.  I don't place my identity in being a person who feels deeply, but rather, I am a strong person who feels deeply and passionately because I choose to.  It's scary sometimes.  I've found myself sitting on my bed, crying, because of all the emotions I was feeling at one time and I didn't even know why.  (And no, this wasn't during my time of the month.  Trust me.  I can tell the difference.)  It tends to happen when I have been around a lot of people, and when I am decompressing, it's as if I am letting go of all the emotions I had been receiving and feeling from everyone I had been around.  This is why I don't like big crowds.  I don't like being around a ton of people all at once.  I don't like loud or chaotic places.  "But you love going to concerts, Raquel" you might be thinking.  And yes, I do.  But concerts are different because I am going to feel the music I am familiar with.  And most likely, everyone else who enjoys that type of music is going to have similar energy to what I do when I listen to it.  Also, when I can focus on one thing in a situation (in the instance of a concert, it would be the artist and their music), then I can tend to block out - or at least minimize - the affect of everyone's emotions and feelings around me.  Crazy, right?  It's insane to me how God made our bodies and minds to be so interconnected.  When one part of us is feeling a certain way, the rest of our self is affected.

And this is important to realize!!  Because allowing yourself to feel is necessary for any valuable growth in your life.  You need to face things directly, no matter how scary they can be, in order to learn from them.  You can't be blind to whatever it is that is causing you to feel certain ways.  You need to openly acknowledge them.

I can always tell when I have been pushing feelings aside and ignoring them.  And if I allow them to stay buried alive, I know that eventually, they are going to burst out at the worst moment and affect me negatively (and most likely those around me, as well).

So a practice I have taught myself is to schedule times throughout my day or week to simply allow myself to meet my feelings.  I always prepare myself, mentally and emotionally, with prayer.  I ask God to meet them with me, and I acknowledge the peace He has given my spirit.
And then, depending on the volume of feelings I need to address, I usually situate myself comfortably in my bedroom or living room, turn on some soft music (ambient or meditation music are my go-tos for these moments) and then I simply meditate, slowly allowing these feelings to surface and for me to deal with them.
Other times, if the feelings are deeper and more intense, I like to go outside (preferably during a rainstorm) and allow myself to feel the physical cold around me, as I call to mind whatever feelings I have been holding inside.  The rain is a beautiful way of helping me physically wash myself of the feelings and free my heart from having them pent up inside.

In either of these scenarios though, I am in control.  I am the one allowing myself to feel.  I am pausing in my busy schedule and giving myself permission to release any emotional burdens that I was carrying around and that were affecting my wellbeing.

This is good.  This is cleansing.  This is healthy.

I would encourage you to do the same with any feelings you have been withholding.  Taking care of your mental and emotional energy is just as important as your physical.  I know that it can be scary sometimes, though.  Especially when you are first getting started in cleaning out the closets and digging up graves.  This is why I strongly suggest people to see counselors and therapists who are trained in helping individuals face their demons.  Seeking help doesn't make you weak.  It's a sign of honest vulnerability, and that, my friend, is strength.

You are strong.  You are the most powerful substance you know on this earth.  Feelings can come and go.  But you have the power to control them.

This is the season of healing

We talk a lot about traumas in life.  Depression, anxiety, heartbreak, loneliness... just to name a few.  It's good to be real and bring these things to light, instead of trying to hide them and "just deal with it".  But we can't stop there.  That can't be where our conversations leave off.

We need to introduce people to healing.

And lately, I have felt a very strange heaviness to write on this topic.  Maybe because it's not as common of a subject as I think it should be.  Or maybe because I need to be real with myself and remind my own heart of everything that I am about to write.  So I apologize in advance for switching back and forth between writing to "you" or writing to "us".  I'm just being raw here.

This is the season of healing.

This is the time and space,
the place to begin.

Acknowledging that you're hurting, acknowledging the pain, acknowledging that you need to be healed - this can take some time because very often, our initial instinct is to think "I'm fine.  I'm okay.", and stuff our pain deep down in that bottomless mental cave called "denial".  But the thing is: feelings buried alive never die.  They need to be faced head on, dealt with, let go, and only then can you truly begin move on.  It's not an easy task.  I don't think it ever will be.  It's downright scary.  No amount of encouragement or support can lessen the blow you will experience when you take on this feat.  But at the same time, no amount of therapy or counseling sessions or medication will stop our struggle if we don't first give ourselves permission to stop seeing ourselves as damaged goods, as a broken heart, or a worthless human shell.  So instead we must acknowledge the strength it took to survive the abuse and trauma we've experienced, and once we remind ourselves of this fact, we are building a solid foundation to healing and growing into an even stronger individual.

We are the only ones responsible for our thoughts, words, actions, and yes, our healing.  Healing is a time consuming process, and it's also a responsibility.  You can't heal unless you want to.  You can't expect your heart to mend overnight just because "you don't want to hurt anymore".  It's going to take a lot of time and a lot of effort.  It will be a daily mindset, an area of focus.  And it's going to take responsibility.  You are the only person who knows yourself.  You know what you are capable of.  You know what is best for yourself.  You know how you feel when your mind and heart is healthy.  And you know the familiar red flags and warning signals when you are in a situation that is toxic.  So there's no better person to stay accountable to than yourself.  Oftentimes we think that we are helpless, that we don't have control, that we "just can't".  But you have the power to heal yourself.  Claim it and consciously use it to heal your heart and mind.  And don't let whatever is causing you pain continue to control you.  It is not your owner.  Breakthrough begins when you realize this.  Your faith will make you well.

One of the greatest steps in the healing process is the art and practice of forgiveness.  This is imperative to your healing because without it, bitterness will fester.  And hey, let me be the first to tell you that it's okay if the one you need to forgive is yourself.  Sometimes it's easier to forgive others, but then we hold this subconscious anger against ourselves because we "allowed" ourselves to be hurt by another individual.  This is a very wrong mindset to have, though, because by thinking that way, we're taking responsibility for another person's actions when the truth is, this is never in our control.  They made their choices and they will have to live with those choices.  You don't have to let it affect you, though.  You can move on.  You can forgive.  You can heal.  It takes being a warrior and fighting for your own self, battling against your deepest fears, defending your soul in the process.  Just remember to still be gentle with yourself.  Give yourself grace.  Grant yourself forgiveness.

There is no deadline for healing.  No secret recipe with ingredients on "how to not be in pain anymore".  Your body is designed to heal itself, though.  Whenever you have gotten a cut or bruise, your body feels the pain (acknowledgement), recognizes it as a problem (responsibility), decides not to let it to affect the rest of the body (forgiveness), and over time, the bleeding stops, the bruise disappears, the wound heals.  This doesn't mean that there won't be a scar.  This doesn't mean that years down the road, something won't trigger a memory of the time you felt the pain.  This doesn't mean that you were never damaged.  But what is true is that it doesn't have authority over your life.  Remember that wounds don't always heal the way you want them to.  They heal the way they need to.  Give yourself time and much, much grace to allow yourself to heal.  And guard your heart during this time.  Set boundaries.  Whatever you need to silence the anxiety, to distance yourself from anything that reminds you of your pain, don't hesitate to make drastic changes in order to care for yourself.  Healing is messy.  It involves detachment, moments of darkness, days where it's hard to get out of bed, and sometimes it's difficult just to breathe.  This is okay.  You aren't alone in feeling these ways.  Just remember not to stay there.

People blossom when they feel loved.  When they surround themselves with humans and things that are beautiful and make them happy, they grow and thrive.  Words are powerful.  And what we say and think about ourselves determines our outlook on life, and has the power to kill or encourage new life within us.  Loving yourself is not wrong.  Self-care should never be looked at as a bad thing.  Without watering our own garden, we can't be expected to tend someone else's.  But let me ask you this.  Would you be friends with someone who talked to you the way you talk to yourself?  If your answer is "no", then I strongly suggest you rethink your self-talk and recognize areas of your life that can drastically change based on how you view yourself.  Another big step in learning to love yourself and your life is by choosing to listen to your heart.  Listen to what it's feeling, instead of begging for it to not.  It's not a curse to feel.  It's merely something you need to gently train yourself in.  Listen, acknowledge, and process.  Bit by bit.  Don't let it consume you.  Don't let your thoughts control you.  You are the greatest and most powerful living substance you know.  You breathe air, you speak words, you have feet to take you on adventures, you have eyes to capture polaroids of memories.  You are beautiful.  You are fascinating.  Feelings and thoughts are fleeting.  They appear randomly (sometimes without you even consenting them to), and can change your whole mood - if you allow it.  There's nothing wrong with nodding a greeting in their direction, letting them know they are seen, but you have the choice whether or not to let them affect you.  Do what is best for your heart and mind.  Love your heart.  Be gentle with yourself.  Feed your soul whatever it needs to heal from the pain of whatever was hating it before.  I know for me, personally, the greatest comfort and love I have felt is through spending time in my Father's presence.  He is the ultimate Healer.  And His love does radical things to broken hearts.

This is the season of healing.

It's a good place to be, although not always comfortable.  Just remember that the pain you are experiencing is only going to make you stronger.  A wildfire may be scary, but in the aftermath of its burnt path is fertile soil for a beautiful future.  Embrace this time.  Don't let it consume you, but let it do its work.  Breathe through the panic attacks.  Linger in the moments of happiness.  Treat yourself in ways that make you feel loved and safe.  Take care of your heart.  You are not alone.  You are a warrior amidst a battle that is being fought by millions of others just like you.

You got this.


P.S. This is my first blog post as a 24-year old.  I find it kind of fitting because I know God has a lot of healing prepared for me in 2019.  Let's do this.