Strange Feelings   8 comments

Last night as I prepped for bed, I said to myself, “This has been a good day.”  In the last twenty years I must have felt that at times, but I can’t recall any… partly because they have been rare, partly because a depressed mind easily forgets the ups.  “Why was it good?” Kimberly asked.  Nothing exceptional.  I enjoyed my walk with the dogs… and some other incidental positives I couldn’t remember.  Incidentals don’t usually change the feel of a day for me.

The things that encourage others don’t sink deep enough to change the life experience of the depressed.  We see a beautiful waterfall, earn a compliment at work, or find a love note in our lunch, but like a cold sip on a blistering day, it tantalizes without refreshing.  It is the surface waves that leave the depths unmoved.   For all of us, emotional responses are spontaneous, unchosen.  We can tweak the flow of our feelings–calm a fear or encourage gratitude to some extent–but our influence on them is limited.

It’s the unwanted emotions I’d really like to avoid, but I can’t.  We melancholics are highly sensitive to our deeper selves, so we can’t work or play or friend away our feelings.  And even if I could snub them, I wouldn’t.  I need to hear what they have to say.  Emotions are dispatches from our psyche, so killing the messenger simply cuts that line of communication to a huge, vital source of personal insight.  In fact, it is to this core place alone that real healing must come.  Good feelings are yard sticks, not hammers: you use them to measure your soul, not to fix your soul.  Like your spouse, feelings are better listened to than controlled, understood than manipulated.  Insisting on positive feelings can be a form of self abuse.

The mundane events of Saturday felt good to me, and that’s a hopeful sign.  It suggests that a much deeper good is awakening in some part of my soul.


Posted October 20, 2014 by janathangrace in Personal

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8 responses to “Strange Feelings

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  1. I love how you stated how important it is to listen to emotions. “Dispatches from our psyche” and “vital source of personal insight”. Using them to measure your soul, and not fix it…. and like a spouse, better to listen to than control, understand rather than manipulate. Such amazing metaphors and helpful illustrations about the terrible misunderstanding we all have about dealing with feelings. These illustrations could be a wonderful published pocket book that would help countless people!

  2. This has moved me…….stirred me………will affect my thoughts for days. I think I numb down pain with adventure……movies…….etc.

    • Joel, I’m grateful that you shared. At times we all need to soften the pain, so don’t judge yourself… sometimes that is the best we can do when the pain is too much. So only open to the pain as you are emotionally able to do it. Be gentle with yourself. And loving: genuine self-care should be the motivation to sit with our pain and listen to it, to be compassionate to our souls as they suffer, to listen as to a hurting friend, with grace and patience and acceptance. Feelings that are accepted are much more accessible in bringing insight and healing. Thanks again for sharing.

  3. very blessed by that!!! It is very difficult for me not to want to kill my emotions as you said. sometimes the pain is intolerable and all you want is to feel better. Needed to be reminded of that today. thanks

    • Thanks for sharing! Yes, the longing to feel better is often intense. I would be much more inclined to take those escapes if they worked for me, but they don’t. That is, I can distract myself for some time, but when the distraction is over, that deep unease is still there, waiting to claim me again. Real relief, even if it is partial, comes for me when I compassionately embrace my feelings, try to understand them and be gracious to myself. But sometimes we need that superficial, immediate relief just so we can get a bit of breathing room to face our emotions from a safer place. May you find some self-compassion in your pain and some compassion from others around you. You are always deserving of compassion, because if God loves us passionately despite any poor choices we may make, then we have no right to disagree with him!

  4. thanks for the encouragement. Yes I agree, distractions prolong the pain and often make it worse in the end. Allowing myself to believe and trust the Lord’s compassion daily is a continuous battle for me. trying to better understand what clinging to His grace daily looks like

  5. I’ve been having the same thought as Kimberly! You have some truly amazing analogies! If they were collected and organized by topic they would be very helpful for many people to consult. Maybe Kimberly can help you collect and organize them. (A database works best for this, but even a Word document with a Table of Contents will do.) Even pastors could use your analogies in sermons.

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