I recently spoke with a parent whose son is struggling with alcohol and drug use. “We are good parents,” she said, “no drug use, no child abuse; he’s got a nice, stable life. This whole thing has made me anxious and angry. I yell at everyone. I can’t sleep well. I've lost it."
We spoke for over an hour before she said, “I’m disappointed in him. I don’t like him. He’s not who I want to be parenting. He embarrasses me and I’m angry at him for it.”
Then she started LAUGHING!
“Why are you laughing?” I asked
“Because I’ve never said that and it feels so good. It’s not politically correct to not like your son, but I don’t like him right now and that’s just the truth.”
When we hold in the feelings that we really feel because they “shouldn’t” be said, they come out in other ways. Anger can come out as depression. Shame can look like anxiety. We try to treat our depression and anxiety with every yoga class and medication available and it won’t go away because it’s not the real issue.
Real issues are often what is not said. It may be ”I’m not happy with my life choices.” “I don’t like my kid, my spouse, my job.” “Antarctica in winter sounds better than another meeting with my book club, Parent Association, Church….insert whatever works for you. Real feelings don’t always need a solution. And they are often temporary. But they don’t go away if we are afraid to acknowledge them.
So put your arms around yourself. Close your eyes and take a breath. Tell yourself what you really feel. Say it out loud and release yourself from judgement. The heart feels as naturally as it beats and the feelings can’t be stopped. Remind yourself that feelings are just feelings. They don’t necessarily demand action. They aren’t necessarily “truth.” They may seem bigger today then they will next week. But they do demand respect or they will pop up in other ways. Then take another breath and tell yourself that you can get through this. The feelings will dissipate or the situation will change and either way you can handle it.
What “shouldn’t” be said is often what we most need to say.
Need a safe place to talk or think it through? Book an appointment today in my no-judgement zone. Counseling, medication, or both from one person with one stop.
Debbie Granick is a Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner and a Therapist in Raleigh providing both counseling and medication to reduce anxiety and depression and improve mental health. She is available to speak about wellness to groups of all sizes.