Talk About Your Feelings Or Just Suck It Up – Finding Balance

by Sherry Riter in Attitude,Communication,Family,Health,PTSD,Self-Development  ,Sherry,The Redhead Riter

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It was a few years ago when I was at work that my friend was listening to his wife talk and cry on the phone. When the conversation was over he said, “My wife is crying and I didn’t know what to say. I feel so uncomfortable when she cries because I don’t know how to fix the problem and make her stop crying.”

Then just the other day I heard two men talking about the same subject.

“I can’t stand it when she cries. I don’t know what to say,” the first man said.

Nodding his head, the second man immediately agreed, “I know what you mean. It’s rough.”

Men being uncomfortable when a woman cries is a common thing. In general, men don’t want to “talk” about their feelings. Men express their feelings, but usually it is in the things they do like take out the trash, open the car door, lean down and kiss you when he walks past, fills the car with gas, scrapes the snow off the car, fixes the leaking toilet, and the list is endless.

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What Are Feelings?

Feelings are the way your body reacts to a situation. Those responses are based on your past experiences, the thoughts you are having now and the physical data being sent to your brain. Simply put, feelings are an emotional state or reaction.

Feelings are your friends although sometimes they feel like the enemy. For instance, the “fight or flight” feelings that I constantly experienced when I had PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) can actually save your life in dangerous situations. The overwhelming feeling of fear because of possible danger can actually help you better understand yourself and prepare you for future dangerous or traumatic moments.

Feelings can be very helpful as long as you don’t let them ruin your life by running your life.

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Say It Or Suck It Up?

When something painful happens, the majority of people hide their emotions and say they are “okay” even though they are hurting. Think about a time in your life that you suffered great pain and had to go to work or to the grocery store. Chances are when people asked, “How are you?” the response from you was, “Fine” even though you were far from being fine. You sucked it up.

Going to a job everyday means that you suck it up for at least eight hours a day, five days a week, fifty weeks a year. You’re stuffing down your emotions, putting on a smile, while telling everyone that you’re “Great!” or “Fine.” There is a time and place to share your emotions, but there HAS to be a time and place when you DO share your emotions.

Stuffing emotions comes with a high cost if you never release them. Building walls around your emotional heart keeps you quite alone in this world. Alone.

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Crying does not make you a drama mama. Feeling sad and crying is a natural human emotion. Opening up the tender part of you and saying how you feel about all the different aspects of your life, will not only help you have strong relationships, but it is also very therapeutic to release and share those emotions.

I used to be ashamed of my emotions, but that pretty much ended as I crawled through my PTSD healing journey. I have intense and deep feelings. When I hurt, I REALLY hurt. When I’m sad, I am DEEPLY saddened. If depression hits, I’m at the DEPTHS OF SORROW and find it hard to cast the feelings aside. Being laid off caused me to feel EXTREMELY rejected and I have yet to shake off all those pain filled emotions.

Being ashamed because I’m open enough to feel deeply is just not part of my life anymore. I am who I am and closed up, unemotional people who find my openness and heartfelt expressions uncomfortable can always find someone else to be with or chat with instead of me. I’m real like the Velveteen Rabbit. I laugh. I cry. I feel. Thankfully, I CAN feel and I’m able to express exactly how I feel most of the time.

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Often we have several feelings at the same time and we tend to classify them as negative or positive emotions. There are so many emotions that humans can feel and do feel on a daily basis such as:

    Aggravated
    Angry
    Annoyed
    Anxious
    Appreciative
    Ashamed
    Cautious
    Clueless
    Confused
    Contentment
    Crazy
    Depressed
    Determined
    Devastated
    Disgruntled
    Empowered
    Envy
    Excited
    Faith
    Fear
    Frustrated
    Grumpy
    Guilt
    Happy
    Hate
    Hope
    Horrified
    Hurt
    Jealous
    Love
    Lust
    Numb
    Nervous
    Overwhelmed
    Paranoid
    Pride
    Respectful
    Sad
    Satisfaction
    Selfish
    Serene
    Tearful
    Tranquil
    Traumatized
    Vibrant

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Humans are complicated creatures and have a very full range of emotions.

Feelings can be felt any time, but not all feelings should be acted upon.

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Learn From Your Experience And Feelings

You may not want to acknowledge your “feelings,” but throughout the day, you have experiences and feelings about the experiences. So the golden ticket question is, “How can you learn from your feelings?”

  1. Acknowledge your feelings – As with anything else, you must first acknowledge and admit that you have the thing. In this case, the “thing” is your feelings. I’ve already stated that there is no shame in having feelings, so acknowledging really isn’t that hard if you’ll drop your pride a bit.
  2. Identify your feelings – Once you acknowledge that you are experiencing a feeling, identify it. This may take some heavy duty soul searching and humility, but put a name on the feeling.
  3. Understand your feelings – Now that you’ve identified and named the feeling, the next step is to understand your feeling. This is a toughie. Feelings are very complex and if you are having more than one feeling at the same time, understanding the dynamics of the effect they have on your current actions may be quite difficult. This is when you might have to step back, meditate, pray, seek advice from others, read, attend group meetings or seminars, etc. Do whatever it takes to understand the relationship that your feelings have with your experience.
  4. Keep an open mind – If you clam up to every new idea or explanation of your feelings and experience, you aren’t going to learn a single thing. The whole lesson of the experience will be lost. Remain open to new ideas or methods of accomplishing a task or goal. Be willing to explore the possibility of something outside your comfort zone.
  5. Live your feelings – If you’ve gone through the effort to acknowledge, identify, and understand your feelings, keeping an open mind about how to cope with the emotions will be futile if you are unwilling to let your feelings continue until they are finished or until you put an end to them the right way. Changing a character trait or healing take a long time, so have patience with yourself.

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Feelings Are Also Very Physical

Have you ever ended a loving relationship where you were totally invested or were betrayed by the person you loved? As the other person walked away or you became aware of the betrayal, did you experience a pit in your stomach like someone slugged you with their fist, rapid heartbeat that pounded in your ears so loudly that you couldn’t hear anything else, sweaty palms, and overflowing tears from your eyes? Yeah? Those were physical reactions to your emotional feelings.

When you held your child for the first time did you cry with happiness and gratitude? Were you so euphoric that you couldn’t stop smiling and it felt like it spread all over your body? Yes? Well, those smiling feelings and tears were physical reactions to your emotions.

Feelings greatly influence your physical state. That’s why it is very important to learn to control your negative feelings. All the unpleasant emotions can actually make you very sick or die if you do not cope with them adequately. Let me give you a few examples.

If the person in the car behind you is talking on the phone, reading a magazine and driving too close, it probably makes you a bit angry and nervous. When you don’t control your emotions and you let your emotions control you, the anger will build and build if the person remains on your bumper while paying very little attention to their driving. Your whole body will become tight and stressed because of the anger you feel. It could even lead to overwhelming rage and actions that are completely irrational. When you get so angry that you start gritting your teeth and have a metallic taste in your mouth, your feelings have obviously affected your physical body.

Having PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) causes your emotions to be completely jumbled up. You not only feel things more deeply, but you have more of a physical response. That’s why some of the symptoms of PTSD include flashbacks accompanied by a racing heart, sweaty palms, overwhelming fear, getting startled easily, being super tense, excessive crying, or having angry outbursts.

At the beginning of my PTSD journey, I experienced flashbacks everyday, all day, and my body was exhausted from feeling so many constant emotions. There were several times I felt that I was probably going to have a heart attack and die because my heart raced so much. I heard it in my ears, saw it beat in the veins on my temples, and felt it all over my body. I couldn’t touch anything without feeling the constant pounding of my heartbeat in my fingertips. I didn’t even have an escape in sleep because for a year and a half I only slept two hours per night. My emotions were so raw that I couldn’t sleep.

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My Feelings

Part of the reason I kept writing this blog when I became a victim of PTSD was because it provided me a way to express my feelings. Night after night when I typed my post, my feelings became easier to identify. The task of writing all about how I felt kept my racing mind a bit calmer and it relaxed my body. It also helped me to break down the walls of pain surrounding all the experiences and emotions I had stuffed down into the dark recesses of my heart.

I would not be here today if I had not continued to write.

Expressing my pain and fear saved me. It helped me to not only understand each aspect of PTSD, but it allowed me the opportunity to open up enough to heal. I would have preferred having a person sitting face-to-face to listen to my repeated ramblings, but at the time it wasn’t possible. Instead I wrote to smiling avatar people who left me comments on my blog, Facebook, Twitter and too many forums to list.

Feelings are not bad. We can express them badly, but no feeling is wrong. It is your feeling. You need to enjoy the good feelings to their fullest, heal from the painful feelings, and learn to control our negative feelings. It’s all about balance.

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.

{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Kenny Sellards March 5, 2015 at 10:25 am

I’m lucky enough to have a couple people I can say ANYTHING too without fear of judgement or rejection. Loved the post, though I’m not quite as open as you with my feelings you are so very correct about the necessity to be able to share your feelings. If try to bottle em all up, they will consume you. Thank you so much for sharing! 🙂 <3

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2 Sherry Riter March 5, 2015 at 10:44 am

“If try to bottle em all up, they will consume you.” That’s sooooooo true!

I’m so glad you have people that you can talk to frankly. It makes all the difference in the world!

Thank you for reading and commenting! 🙂

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3 Joan March 5, 2015 at 12:08 pm

I think you covered the gamut of feelings from A to Z. In fact, I know that you covered the gamut of feelings from A to Z! How were you able to figure out all those emotions and then alphabetize them too? As I was reading the list of emotions I said to myself, “Only Sherry would come up with this list!” 🙂 But what I loved most about this post was the pictures of you expressing different feelings. My favorite one of you was when you were expressing anger. Really? Is that how you look when you are angry? If so, we should all run for the hills! 🙂

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4 Sherry Riter March 5, 2015 at 12:41 pm

LOLOLOLOL I bet I have looked like that angry picture before with the glowing red eyes and all! LOLOLOLOL 😛

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5 Sandy Rawlinson March 5, 2015 at 12:27 pm

Sherry, I just have to respond to this blog because of the sheer importance of it. It’s been a while since I’ve posted to your blog but I have never stopped reading! It’s been 12 yrs since my daughter was almost killed at age 16. I’ve suffered from PTSD and the “feelings” that go with it ever since. With the help of 4 yrs of therapy I learned tools how to control my extreme feelings of fear, frustration, anger, bitterness and hopelessness. Like you, I love deeply and I “feel” deeply. Since that horrific time of my life I’ve gone through a divorce from a verbally abusive man I was married to for 27 years, and one year ago this month I lost my best friend to lung cancer, my beautiful mother. It was during my mother’s hospice stay I learned my daughter who had survived the unimaginable and went on to finish college, married, had my first grandson and a great job….was a full fledged drug addict. Someone called The Department of Family Services (Child Protective Services) and my grandson was taken away from her. While I was working hard to help my son in law with my grandson, my husband who has Heart Disease and Diabetes had a mild heart attack. In the hospital his kidneys started to fail. That was one of the darkest moments of my life. I was brought to my knees. I prayed, I cried, etc. What I was keenly aware of was feeling “completely alone”. Thankfully my husband recovered. My daughter finished a 30 day rehab program and we began to see her personality return. She got her son back and moved back home with her husband. It sounds like things were working out, right?

I could not shake the “feelings” of impending doom. Daily I had the old familiar “feelings” that stem from PTSD; panic, fear, anxiety, insomnia and extreme moodiness. It was only six weeks before my daughter relapsed. She not only relapsed she went from abusing prescription meds to Methamphetamine.

I recently looked into my daughter’s eyes and she’s not there anymore. The drugs have completely taken over. She has lost my grandson again and my son in law has filed for a divorce. The irony is my son in law heads a program for addicts at our county jail. He holds them accountable as well as reentering society. He tries to spare my “feelings” without sharing the gory details. My daughter is very sick. She has chosen drugs over and above everything else in her life, including her beautiful 4 yr old son. I am waiting for the phone call that she has either been arrested (best scenario) or that she’s OD’d. My son in law has gently told me that my daughter will not last much longer. I am also mourning the loss of my son in law.

Sherry, you made a very true statement in your blog: “Feelings greatly influence your physical state. That’s why it is very important to learn to control your negative feelings. All the unpleasant emotions can actually make you very sick or die if you do not cope with them adequately.

The only chance of survival my daughter has is to go far away for intensive, in house rehab and therapy no less than 90 days, preferably one year. My ex husband will not help me financially. It seems only the wealthy can afford rehab. The average cost is $2,000/mth.

I am trying to cope and understand why, unless God is merciful and answers my prayers, I may lose my daughter, again. I am trying everything I can think of to keep my feelings in check but I’m losing the battle. I am now physically ill. My system has gone haywire. I am having abdominal and digestive problems, achy joints, migraines, unexplainable rashes, hot flashes, insomnia, and shaking.

I know I’m not alone and everyone has something negative going on in their lives. I just want to stress the importance of doing whatever is necessary to keep “feelings” in check. Worry, fear and any kind of negative “feelings” and thoughts are destructive.

Thank you for Sherry. You always manage to reach right into my heart. xo

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6 Sherry Riter March 5, 2015 at 2:39 pm

Oh Sandy, my heart aches for you. I have always found when the consequences are based on my own choices and actions, I can handle it much better than when I am suffering pain because of the choices of others or because of an unknown reason. I can hear your fear, frustration, anger, sadness and depression. I don’t know how it all will work out for you or your family, but I do know that as awful as it is right now with all the pain and hopelessness, THIS TOO SHALL PASS. Tomorrow will be another day and one after that and one after that one.

PTSD is a WICKED disorder. I have noticed that the effects of trauma build up in me a whole lot faster than they used to, but it scares me enough that I stop and practice self-care because I never want to have full blown PTSD again.

As you know, my sweet daughter has moved far away and I think she took most of my will to live with her. I’m struggling to find a place for me in life. I have to keep reminding myself that she has to live her own life, make her own choices and either reap the rewards of those good choices or if she doesn’t choose well, suffer the consequences. My “sheltering” her days are over. She’s an adult and so far, Alyssa’s doing great.

I’m not an expert, as you well know, but somehow you have to find a piece of yourself to hold onto through the pain. You MUST practice better self-care and self-talk. Throw things out of your mind all the time. It is the ONLY way to combat the effects of your PTSD. Your body is suffering because your mind is suffering because your heart is breaking.

When all else fails, I remind myself that Alyssa is God’s daughter before she was ever mine. He loves Alyssa too and watches her always. It is the same with your daughter. He loves her and will do all he can to save her just as you have and will. When you have done all you can do, you must let go and let God do the rest.

Turn off the TV. Turn off the radio. Sit on the porch or close to a window in the silence. Cry. Scream. Cry some more. Connect with your heart – the love, the pain, the disappointment, the fear, the sadness. Talk to yourself. Talk to God. Don’t let the PTSD win. If I did it, you can do it. I know you can overcome. The results may not be what you wanted or planned, but you can come out of this horrible nightmare stronger and without the devastating effects of PTSD taking over your mind and body. Silence will be your best friend and will heal your mind and God will heal your heart.

Sending you all the love and prayers I can send to you and your family.

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7 Sandy March 8, 2015 at 8:52 pm

Sherry I am so happy that Alyssa is doing well. I know you’ve had a difficult, long and winding road in your own life. I’ve read about your highs and lows. I know PTSD is an ongoing battle. I remember how devastated you were over the loss of the job. I understand that feeling of rejection having lost a job I had for years. I have two daughters. My oldest went to college and made a career at my place of employment. I had formed friendships and helped her get her foot in the door. She eventually became one of my supervisors. I was so very proud of my daughter. But, I began to notice she didn’t want to be around me. I think on some level she was embarrassed of me because I had what some people would consider a “lowly” job. The day came when some jobs were being either eliminated or placed on an “on call” basis. I was one of them. My daughter wasn’t sad, disappointed or…anything. I recently found out the business has approached my daughter twice since to see if I would come back. My daughter told them there was no way I would ever come back. What a blow! This last year has been very difficult with her as well. The feelings were stacking up.

I have two grown daughters. There were no Mother’s day or Birthday greetings. My dad planned a birthday dinner for me but my oldest cancelled because she forgot she had tickets for a hockey game. The last time I talked to her was about a month ago. I was trying my hardest to come up with a plan to help my younger daughter. My oldest wants nothing to do with her sister or the drug problem. I asked her why she was so cold and she hung up on me. For the first time I can ever remember in my life I do not want to talk to my own child.

I am taking your advice. Thank you for sharing your wisdom with me. Every single word you said spoke to me. My girls belong to God. He chose me to raise them, love them and be their mom. I did that. Since reading your post I can say I know I was a good mom and I did the best I could under very difficult circumstances with their dad. They never knew what I was going through. The choices they’ve made have been their own.

I’m practicing some relaxation techniques I learned years ago in therapy. I’m still hurting terribly, but I have got to keep moving forward.

I turned everything off and I cried. I sobbed over the loss of the past year. I have placed my girls in God’s hands. I am still having negative feelings and fear, but I’m working to reign them in. It’s very difficult to see mothers and daughters shopping or having lunch together.

I am open with my feelings as you are sherry. I don’t plan on changing. God made me who I am. He made you who you are.

I noticed how long my post was and I’m a bit embarrassed, but the wisdom I’ve gained through sharing and getting some of that off my chest helped so much. Thank you and I pray God’s richest blessings be poured out before you for continuing to share your journey with regular folks like me. ~Sandy

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8 Sherry Riter March 17, 2015 at 5:47 am

I’m so glad I could help, but it’s because I’m a regular folk like you who has lost, hurt and suffered. Keep up the good thoughts and practices. I promise they will help you get through this painful mountain that you are climbing. {{{hugsss}}}

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9 Teresa Custor March 5, 2015 at 3:10 pm

Oh my the post was great but the comment from Sandy broke my heart. It is not easy living life. It was never meant to be. We are here to learn to be an individual, to have a self with God and be able to let go of the things we cannot control. It is hard, so hard and life has taught me this. I do not know if Sandy will read this, but she needs to look ahead. She is not alone! Never are we alone. We just cannot see the Christ who is with us always. We are to suffer all those emotions to be able to overcome them. We cannot do it alone. We have to have that sweet spirit of Jesus to help us and He will. It takes a lifetime to do this and growing old does not change that either. Of course, I do not feel old. I am 71 and my trials are different, but they keep coming, lol. No such thing as sitting on the porch and rock your old age away, lol.

Our choices cause us unhappiness. Sandy’s daughter made an awful choice and it is costing her and everyone around her. I will say one thing for Sandy…divorce does not mean you lose your son in law, he is the same. I have a “son” – in law and I love him the same and we never let the divorce change our feelings or our lives. I am as close to him as I ever was and we have a relationship outside of my daughter and it is wonderful. They are friends still and not too long ago he came for a visit and we all had a big family dinner together. I am friends with his wife and she has no problems with me.

We have purpose, each of us. We have to struggle and find it everyday. Today my purpose is to just enjoy the snow falling outside. Like a child, I get so excited. We have to find small things for ourself to love and enjoy. My advice as a mom is to look inside of yourself, Sandy, and find the things you let go in order to serve your child, your husband and all you have in your life. You have forgotten who you are and what you love about you. Our lives cannot be just our children. They are our joy, but not our life. We lose this as we become mothers and wives. We end up on the end of all lists and then we find we lost ourself somewhere in all that service of love.

Sherry I am proud of you and the comfort you bring others, life will shine again for you, I promise, and you know mom does not lie to you.

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10 Sherry Riter March 5, 2015 at 4:18 pm

Thank you Mom for your words of wisdom and love. {{{hugsss)))

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11 Sandy March 8, 2015 at 9:10 pm

Thank you so much Sherry’s mom! She is blessed with a wonderful mother like I had.

I needed to hear your words. I “have” lost myself. I “can’t” control what other people do. I can’t control the future. I know in my heart Jesus is near, yet my negative feelings took control and I had myself convinced he was hiding His face from me. Since your post I have hope. I have hope that my son in law will always be my son in law. I love him. He’s the father of my only grandchild that I adore. I know the love is there. He has already told me his job/career is here. He’s hoping his mother will move here. I hope she does too. She’s a lovely woman who worked the same lowly job I did. She’s just a bit older and she’s worn out. The love of God shines in, through and about her. She harbors no anger towards my daughter. She simply told my son in law that she’s very sick and we must pray for her.

I know where Sherry gets her wisdom and way with words. The Lord shines in, through and about you as well. Thank you for taking the time to write and share with me. I believe even though challenges continue to come, you are already in that peaceful rocking chair on the porch. Spring is on its way and you’ve given me hope. God bless you and your family. ~Sandy

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12 Sherry Riter March 17, 2015 at 5:48 am

Thank you Sandy. Mom has suffered in many ways over the year and she is one strong woman!

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13 Sandy March 18, 2015 at 2:20 pm

Strong and wise. Like mother, like daughter. 🙂

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14 Sherry Riter March 22, 2015 at 1:59 pm

{{{hugsss}}}

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15 malcolm March 5, 2015 at 3:33 pm

I can so relate to writing to get your thoughts feeling & emotions in order. I do the same but just never publish what I write. Still find it therapeutic & I could not agree more with people needing to open up more about how they feel not always easy but worth it in the end. I was lucky enough to find a wonderful councillor who help me learn to cope with depression & other things. Thanks for a wonderful blog & to find not alone as we sometime feel & think we are

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16 Sherry Riter March 5, 2015 at 4:19 pm

{{{hugssss}}} You’re never alone Malcolm. Thank you for sharing.

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