Own Your Emotions
By: Stacy Dorsey, MA, PsyT, CHt
Providence Recovery Centers
ah came to us a few years ago, she was 55 years old and struggling with an alcohol addiction that went back to her late teens. Trauma from her past made her feel alone and resentful. Her father was emotionally unavailable when she was growing up. Her mother struggled with mental illness and so her childhood was filled with high highs and low lows. Sarah was filled with fear, sadness, and abandonment from as far back as she could remember.
When she was 13, she met a boy who was 16. He said all the right words. He made her feel important, loved, pretty and safe. It was a whole new feeling for her, and it felt so good. Without an example of what a respectful, attentive, loving man looked like Sarah fell hard for this smooth talker. It wasn’t long before Sarah found herself pregnant. Prince Charming told her if she didn’t get rid of the baby, he would leave her. She did as he asked. She couldn’t stand the idea of being left alone.
Six months later she found herself at the same clinic for her second abortion. It was then Prince Charming decided to move on to another willing victim, leaving Sarah humiliated and alone. This became a vicious cycle for Sarah. While Sarah didn’t get pregnant again, due to birth control, she found herself falling for one man after another. With each whirlwind romance Sarah found herself using alcohol to forget the pain of the abuse and eventual breakup. The resentments grew stronger and deeper with each relationship. Forty-two years later Sarah found herself in front of a judge sporting an orange jail jumpsuit. Sarah was driving frunk and she crossed the center divider of the freeway. She side swiped an oncoming car and seriously injured the driver. She was charged with drunk driving and reckless driving. She was given probation, she lost her license and the judge mandated her to a long term, addiction recovery program. She came to Providence for 6 months.
During one of my group sessions we were talking about resentments. I asked each lady in the class to write down the people they held resentments towards. Then I asked each one to answer this question, “When you think about this person, what feelings does it invoke?” They were given a paper with several negative emotions printed on it. Sarah chose words like abandoned, belittled, abused, rejected, etc. The next question was, “What part did you play in this story?” Sarah wrote, “None” on her paper.
So many times, in our lives we give away our emotional happiness to those who have hurt us in the past and yet we put ourselves in the same situations over and over again, expecting different results each time. I call it betting on the reply it is also the definition of insanity. Everyone watching sees the same drama, hears the same excuses, and knows what the end result will be “jail, institutions or death.”
Sarah blames everyone for making her feel this way. The world is against her and she plays no part in the hand she has been delt. The alcohol addiction has taken it’s toll on her mind and body after 42 years of abuse.
Do you see yourself in Sarah’s story? Do you give your emotions away to others who make you feel ugly inside? Is it time to take back your life and own your own emotions? Can you imagine what it would feel like to live a life full of joy and contentment.
The first step is to acknowledge your part in the situation. That does not mean blame, it means you understand that you played a part either consciously or unconsciously. Once you own your part you change the story to play out differently from there on.
Second forgive and release the people from the past who have hurt you. They say unforgiveness is like drinking poison hoping the other person dies. The only one who suffers in your unforgiveness is you. Forgive them and release the bond anger has over you. We will talk more about forgiveness at another time.
Now it is time to start healing the pains of the past. Start by reading the words of Christ. Discover how he feels about you. Why he allowed the things in your life happen the way they did. Learn about free will. Pray he will reveal these things to you. Open your heart to the idea of emotional freedom. I promise you will discover a peace you never thought possible. God has already forgiven you, now forgive yourself and others.
“10 he does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities. 11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; 12 as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us. Psalm 103:10-13
If you find yourself or someone you love living a story like Sarah’s, we are here to help. Providence has the tools to help you build a life full of joy while building a firm foundation in Jesus Christ. Call us today tomorrow may be too late.
· I have tried to recreate events, locales, and conversations from my memories of them. To maintain their anonymity in some instances I have changed the names of individuals and places, I may have changed some identifying characteristics and details such as physical properties, occupations and places of residence.