Emotion Stuffing – Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow

by Sherry Riter in Motivation,PTSD

rain windshield road gray sky


Everything that happened yesterday tries to shower our minds with unhappiness and insecurities. If you have coped with your experiences by moving through the regrets, guilt, trauma and unhappiness, then yesterday won’t have any power over you.

PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) develops after a person experiences an extremely traumatic event where they feel out of control. It becomes an event in their past that takes over their present and obliterates the future. To make it even worse, if they have unresolved regrets, guilt, trauma and/or unhappiness, the PTSD will be even worse.

In order to heal from PTSD, the traumatic event AND the past unresolved regrets, guilt, trauma and/or unhappiness has to be dissected. It is bad enough that a horrible traumatic event takes over a person’s life, but then to have all the sad yesterdays join the battle against them also just seems like too much.

***the sound of loud cymbals right beside your ears***


Let me repeat myself.

In order to heal from PTSD, the traumatic event AND the past unresolved regrets and/or guilt has to be dissected. It is bad enough that a horrible traumatic event takes over a person’s life, but then to have all the sad yesterdays join the battle against them too just seems like too much.

It is overwhelming.

I can say that because I’ve been there.

I’m an emotion stuffer. I stuff the most hurtful emotions down and pretend like they are “all better now” in order to cope. Well, when the stuff hit the fan and PTSD walked into my life like it owned me, all my yesterdays arrived at the party too. I slowly started to lose control of my mind.

That was yesterday, so we should just move on, right?

If you have PTSD you can’t just move on because FIRST you have to deal with what happened in the past. You have to deal with EVERYTHING that happened in the past. You have to mingle with all the yesterdays that are at the party.

Dealing with yesterday is a daunting task if the person is an emotion stuffer. Men who have been taught that it isn’t manly to show weakness and emotion are also emotion stuffers. You know, it is the whole, “Big boys don’t cry” thing. That saying is so stupid.

So if you know an emotion stuffer or someone with PTSD, never tell them to “Get over it!” because what they have to cope with in order to heal is in the past. The whole reason they have PTSD is BECAUSE of their past and the ONLY way to heal is to:

  • Acknowledge the past
  • Accept the past
  • Become angry with the past
  • Grieve the past
  • Understand the past
  • Forgive the past
  • Let go of the past

In The Carpenters’ song, “Yesterday,” Karen Carpenter sings:

“Lookin’ back on how it was
In years gone by
And the good times that I had
Makes today seem rather sad
So much has changed”

No truer words have ever been spoken…so much has changed.

after rain road green trees

Last Night

The darkest hour of all is the hour before day or in other words, it is always the darkest before the dawn. Those two sayings mean that a person hits the lowest ebb before it gets better.

Let’s face it, some people have an easier life than other people, however, I don’t believe anyone is exempt in experiencing pain, sorrow, unhappiness and disappointment. People handle experiences, opportunities and trials differently. Attitude distinguishes us from each other. It boils down to whether we have the attitude that the glass is half empty or half full and how we approach the condition of the glass.

Attitude distinguishes us from each other.

I try hard to see the glass half full, but fear usually takes over and instead I see the glass half empty. I don’t like that aspect of me, but I cry, complain and whine through the whole experience. What I have learned is that all those people I keep comparing myself to are really not any stronger than me and some are NOT stronger than me. The difference is that I’m more vocal about my pain, but I keep pushing through the hardship.

I am not a quitter.

I do not settle.

I believe that there is some kind of a pot at the end of a rainbow for each one of us. It might not be the pot we have dreamed about, but it is a pot full of something good.

In the dark of night when everything is quiet and most people are sleeping, my mind tries to solve all my problems without me. It starts churning and I’ve learned to just let it go on that 50k run while I remain focused on other things. My brain does fine with all those thoughts without me intruding. We all need to give our subconscious time to sort through all the different possibilities for solving our problems.

Since I learned the importance of dreaming and how my brain is trying to heal from PTSD by throwing out the garbage, I have gained a new appreciation for the human body and most especially my mind. Having PTSD is a whole body experience. What happens in the brain affects the body and what happens in the body affects the brain.

Think about it…PTSD = Post (after) Traumatic (horrible experience) Stress (emotional upheaval) Disorder (it happens and we don’t ask for it). The body and mind trauma of PTSD is overwhelming and extremely complicated.

PTSD exhibited itself in my body by making me very, very, very sick and took my mind on a terrible adventure. I can call it an adventure now because I actually understand what happened to me. From my point of view, the way my brain handled this whole experience is absolutely fascinating. The things that my brain did in order to preserve my sanity and save my life has let me know that I’m smarter than I give myself credit. The key component of my continued healing of PTSD is that I haven’t given up yet.

I may be alone in so many senses of that word, but I haven’t quit.

Many people stuff the PTSD emotions down because there is social shame in being mentally ill regardless of the type of sickness. With all the other emotion stuffing that I have done, it was impossible to hide my PTSD. I was already stuffed full by the time it all started. My brain and heart refused to hide even one more thing.

I have to admit that when I see “that look” cross over the face of someone when they find out I have PTSD, I feel strong emotions. I know that most people feel shame, but I feel immediate anger that verges on rage. PTSD is a sickness to the mind like cancer is to the body. PTSD begins without our permission just like cancer. PTSD takes over and destroys your body and life while making you completely sick. A huge difference between saying I have PTSD instead of cancer is that no one could relate with my affliction. Before you say that cancer kills, let me interject that PTSD also kills.

So during the dark before morning, I was alone and trapped with a mind that couldn’t cope with the trauma and all the emotional stuffing I had mastered during the earlier part of my life. I almost didn’t make it through the night, but as they say, “almost” only counts in horseshoes. For once, I’m glad that’s true.

sunshine blue sky mountain green trees

Today And Tomorrow

I’ve made it past the major part of my healing recovery of PTSD. The part I have left is entwined with all the emotional stuffing from the other parts of my life. At times I feel as if I will die as I release the pain from the padlocked trunks buried deep in my heart.

At this stage of healing, I would like to just ignore the past and move the heck onto the future. However, healing ALL OF ME is the ONLY way I will boot PTSD out of my brain. The unwanted guest moved in thinking it was going to remain forever, but it had no idea that I would prove to be a very determined landlord.

Today I prefer to say that I have unresolved issues, but the truth is that I still have PTSD because of the unresolved issues and the lingering trauma. The person that has emerged from this war, and it has been a battle of survival, is someone that I don’t fully know, understand or even like all the time. There are only two choices for me – give up and remain filled with the pain and insecurities or keep pushing through to a happiness I’ve never known.

The goal is peace.

It sounds simple, but I’ve had a lot of casualties in this war and sometimes I want to cut my losses by quitting. That thinking usually only lasts a day and then I fall asleep to the terrifying and healing nightmares. When I awake the world is different, the people are different and I am different.

The healing takes place while I sleep and I am released one more small step away from PTSD prison.

I have also accepted that people do care and/or love me, but have been ignorant in knowing how to help. Could they have made more of an effort? I think so, but it is irrelevant now. PTSD has been so overwhelming that I was unable to tell them how to help me and that’s exactly why I am writing a book. If it will help one family know how to reach out and help their family member, friend, co-worker or acquaintance, it will be worth the time and effort it takes to write it.

There are experiences and feelings that have been stuffed so deeply into the cells of my being that as I revisit and heal them, I become a little bit different. All the change is uncomfortable. It also causes me to spontaneously act in ways that I don’t want to act and say things that I really rather not be quite so blunt in saying. My likes and dislikes have also dramatically changed. I often feel like I am inhabiting a stranger’s body.

I think many key components of my personality remain intact. For instance, I still wish I was born in the 1950’s as June Cleaver. I think motherhood is the greatest job, opportunity and experience. Blue and white are still my favorite colors. Food is fabulous.

Other aspects of my personality have been heightened and expanded. I love sunrises and sunsets more and especially as they happen on the ocean. I love deeper. I appreciate the differences in people and their opinions more. I forgive even faster. I insist on being treated non-abusively. In all relationships I want to be heard and respected even if I’m not understood. Those people who reach out and try to understand are appreciated far more than the person who doesn’t want to make the effort. My attitude is if you don’t have time to understand the devastating effects of PTSD, then don’t bother me with your sickness either because although I may understand your physical ailment, but my compassion level for you is dramatically reduced. If you don’t have time for me, well, I don’t have time for you either.

There is much less emotion stuffing going on in my life today because it has been replaced with digging up and healing the emotions that have been so expertly buried during the last fifty years. Maybe you don’t emotion stuff. That’s great and I congratulate you. I do know, however, that many people do stuff emotions. Those are the people that I want to address right now with one thought…

It hurts to heal, but it hurts more to keep all those emotions stuffed down.

I have not only healed much of my mind and heart, but my body has healed. There is definitely a mind-body connection. Will I continue on the path of healing? Yes, I sure am going to keep on pushing through today. Can you heal? Yes, but only if you choose to do so. You aren’t alone in the pain. There are many others suffering right there with you. Admit it to yourself and then start on the journey of wellness, peace and happiness.

Yesterday has passed and the casualties have been mourned.

Today is here to fight the battle and avenge the losses.

Tomorrow I will win the war.

I’ve come too far to give up now. I see the light of happiness glowing ahead just waiting for me to bask in the warmth. Corny, but true.

This post was written by...

Sherry Riter is also known as The Redhead Riter. Sherry is witty, intelligent and addictive as she writes about cooking, family, marriage, failures, blogging tips, art, humor, inspiration, travel, PTSD and aging. Her goal is to inspire, motivate, educate and to make her audience laugh. Sherry embraces being a redhead and helps others to see the redhead point of view…"In some eras redheads were worshipped while others thought us witches. Personally, I like the former and think every day is 'Love a redhead day!'" She can also be found on Facebook, Google+, Pinterest, StumbleUpon, Linkedin, tweeting as @TheRedheadRiter and you can subscribe to her free blog feed.

{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

1 elaine pinkerton coleman July 21, 2013 at 8:37 am

Thanks for writing this! It reminds me that we are prisoners of our pasts only by allowing it to keep us jailed. The nuances of this syndrome (emotions rather than reason being in our psychological driving seat) are captured very well by you. We do have a choice, and you explain how…most eloquently.
Your wisdom and compassion are a gift!


2 Sherry Riter July 21, 2013 at 11:50 am

Thank you so much, Elaine, for your thoughts and sweet words. {{{hugsss}}}


3 Dusty Cress July 21, 2013 at 5:24 pm

I love your words, I wish I could read them more ofton.I too have PTSD. What can I say? What can you say?. I read your words and found comfort and kinship in them. A rare experience in my life time .Dreaming is wonderful, but writing poetry works for me. Except when I have to turn around and accept what I’ve written. Ouch! Some times.Some are where I am, some are where I long to be with all my soul. Those are the toughest ones.May I share them with you? Not quite begging, but dam close, I guess. Rest gently please. Dusty


4 Sherry Riter July 22, 2013 at 8:06 am

I would love to read your poetry. I’m so sorry you suffer too, but I’m glad that you have found some comfort in my words.



5 Joan July 21, 2013 at 2:07 pm

I have always said, and will continue to say, that when your book on PTSD comes out it is going to help a lot of people understand exactly what it is like to have PTSD. Having gone through the trauma of PTSD yourself, I cannot think of anyone better qualified to write about it, or who could write more knowledgeably about it than you! 🙂


6 Sherry Riter July 22, 2013 at 8:07 am

Thank you Joan. 😀


7 Joan July 21, 2013 at 2:12 pm

Or who could write more eloquently about PTSD than you. This post was certainly written from your heart! 🙂


8 Sherry Riter July 22, 2013 at 8:07 am

Yes, it was written from the heart and it wasn’t all that easy to write either. Sometimes it is hard to put my soul to words.


9 Sandy July 22, 2013 at 11:12 am

This was probably the most well written, insightful, informative, truths of PTSD that I have ever read. I am the master of emotional stuffing. It’s like dissociative behavior. Put the issue in a box and tuck it away on a shelf never to be revisited. After four years of counseling I never made the connection of unresolved past issues with my PTSD. Today I am watching my mother slowly lose her battle with cancer. She is the only one who never looked at me with the “those eyes” you spoke of. My journey of trying to cope with the imminent loss of my mother has forced me to face issues from my past. With that said I am hitting them head on, knocking down walls and finding a peace that I didn’t allow myself to have. There has been true healing, but it’s only a beginning. The brain is a unique and genius mystery, as well as our bodies reaction. Our brains are equipped with coping mechanisms yet they can branch out in positive ways or destructive ways. We “can” choose whether to give up or press on. I still have days that are so dark I want to give up, but my will to fight and win the battle live on. Just as you so eloquently describe Sherry, I too have a heightened sense of awareness. I notice and appreciate the small things, love deeply and am quick to wrap my arms around anyone who is suffering. If I have an opportunity to offer a word of encouragement, I do so. I have a complete lack of tolerance to any form of abuse and/or bullying as well as to people who choose to judge me as “damaged” goods. I still have my moments when I do not like myself, but I can now quickly put it away and say to all that I know I am a nice, compassionate person. As many times as I’ve been called crazy I can now say that I know I am not. I now have a partner that is going through my journey with me and wants to learn what lives in my mind and body. I am thankful. I am thankful for you Sherry for sharing your adventure and wisdom. I am not giving up. I anxiously await your book! ~A very warm HUG to you~


10 Sherry Riter July 22, 2013 at 7:40 pm

Oh Sandy!!! Thank you SO MUCH for your comment. I feel so alone sometimes, but by your writing I can tell you have suffered like me. Don’t give up! It is worth all the pain you have to suffer through in order to heal. It hurts so badly to heal and I often want to run away from myself, but when the pain quits, a peace like I’ve never known arrives like dew on the lawn in the early morning. Thank you so very much for your comment. {{{{HUGE HUGSSSS}}}} for you!!!


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