Permission to Feel (You Have It…)

Does feeling come naturally to you?  Can you experience your emotions as they happen?  If so, I envy you. My emotions are sometimes subject to bouts of severe censorship. It’s as though I have a built-in filter, which cleanses my brain of feeling. A defense against offense. Against being engulfed, overwhelmed, overtaken. It comes in handy when I am subject to flooding as a result of heightened sensitivity.  Of heightened emotional activity.  Of reactivity.

Ah, reactivity. The bane of the trauma survivor. Mine led (leads) me to rage. For much of my life, rage was the dominant emotion in my arsenal. My defense of choice. No…not so much a choice as a necessity. Rage protected me when nothing else could. Rage. My constant companion. My compadre. (Did you know that originally “compadre” meant “father” or “godfather?” How ironic. Rage/father. Rage at father. Rage from father. Rage of father. Rage inherited from father.)

Slowly, slowly, slowly, I began to ease my way out, away. Slowly, I began to have faith in myself. Began to question whether rage was the real feeling, or a defense. The feeling, or the feeling once removed. Beginning to have enough strength, I started feeling my way toward feeling. In the dark, hands up and in front of me, shielding me from dangers as yet unseen, unseeable.

Now, I try to give myself permission to feel what I’m feeling. Now, I try to give myself permission to know what I’m feeling. I’m not always successful…at least not on the first try. On the first iteration. Often, rage peeks through, grabbing center stage, ever the narcissist. Sometimes I catch it. Sometimes I don’t. But I can almost always put my old friend, my compadre, back in its place within minutes, or at most hours. It used to take days, or weeks, or months. That’s something, anyway.

The AbyssSo…give yourself permission. Feeling won’t kill you. It might even free you a little. It’s certainly helping me in my journey of healing. It eases my way, as I climb steadily out of the abyss. Sheds some light. Just a flicker, sometimes. Sometimes a steady beam. Either way, it overtakes the dark.

About armsakimbobook

I'm a mother, a lawyer, a feminist, a writer, a potter, and an inveterate and unapologetic New Yorker. My book, Arms Akimbo: A Journey of Healing, tells of my journey of healing over a number of years, learning to live a full life after I was molested by my father at a very young age. I live in Medford, MA, part time with my 11 year-old daughter and full time with our dog, Toast, and our cats, Samson and Hercules.
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