Can we Talk about Women and Emotional Baggage?
When was the last time you went to the doctor to get a physical? Do you remember? When was the last time you went to the dentist? Is it in your records? When was the last time you went to get your eyes checked? Was it within the previous 12 months?
Now let me ask you this when was the last time I went to get your hair done was? When was the last time you got a manicure or pedicure? When was the last time you got your oil changed? You probably have a sticker in the window of your car with that date.
Emotional Life Support
Alright, let’s move on. When was the last time you got an emotional check-up? Yes, that’s right. When was the last time you read an emotional self-help book, joined a support group, or went to see a counselor or therapist? I know, this post doesn’t apply to you, it only applies to others, because you’re perfectly fine.
Only people who have significant problems in life seek emotional help, but you’re okay, right? Just pause for a second and let’s talk. Some women eat healthily, exercise, get plenty of rest, and are physically fit and attractive on the outside, but they’re on emotional life support.
Childhood and Adult Trauma
Many women have experienced years of trauma during their childhood or as adults. They may be suffering as a result of un-forgiveness, broken relationships, abuse, and grief that they have carried for years.
They spend considerable time fixing up the outside while neglecting the inside. Many are living in a house that has plenty of curb appeal but is falling apart on the inside.
Women go year after year, pushing down and aside from the deep pains of the past. They bury the emotions deeper and deeper, blocking the memories further and further out of their minds thinking that they are gone forever, but they’re not.
The negative emotional feelings get suppressed, carefully hidden away while slipping out here and there through physical symptoms such as depression, lack of sleep, bad habits, and addictions.
These are not the habits like alcoholism but the good ones (so they think) of working hard (workaholism) extreme exercise, computer, phone, and Christian work addiction.
They pride themselves in the joy of knowing they are not like the alcoholic or drug addict. But these hidden emotions sometimes surface in volcanic eruptions of anger, rage, depression, and mental or emotional health problems.
It has gotten to the point where many adults who function in day to day life have matured chronologically and physically but not emotionally or spiritually.
You cannot be spiritually mature and emotionally unhealthy. Many spiritual people are merely adult children or teenagers. When many ignore emotional problems, they think they are not allowing it to interfere with their life. But when you grow up with or experience any form of trauma or abuse, you adapt to it, and it becomes routine.
You get used to it, and it feels like home. If you are a child, when it happens, you begin to look for what was familiar in childhood in your adult relationships. Your responsibility now is to get help. The past is not your responsibility, but you are entirely responsible for the present.
Where to Find Help
Where can you go to get help? What do you do with all the emotional baggage you are carrying? For many women who don’t have insurance or an excellent behavioral health plan, there seem to be limited options left of where to get help. Here are some resources for coping with emotional baggage. Here is support for those who may have limited options for paid counseling:
Learn to Cry
I went through a period in life where so many things were happening emotionally that I learned to hold it all together and keep functioning in life. I went into survival mode and just dealt with the avalanches of living like a strong woman except, it didn’t make me strong.
I learned to hold things together, but it was unhealthy for me. I had to learn to get in tune with that emotion in many of the ways I will share, so keep reading.
I started writing. If you are not in tune with your feelings, you may have to get some journal prompts. I bought workbooks and worked through them. Writing is a free therapy session. Instead of holding in your feelings, jot them down.
Buy a journal or spiral-bound notebook and start writing in it. Don’t hold back; express all of your hurts, pain, and feelings. Do this often. Some make this a daily routine.
If you are afraid that someone will find your book, try writing in an online journal such as penzu.com. There are also free online journals you can try. Penzu is a program I used. There is a free version, and there are two upgraded versions you have to pay to use. I used the free option.
Some pastors who will counsel without charge and some will refer you to another resource. Generally, if they refer you to someone else, you will have to pay a fee. If your Pastor has partnered with a counseling group, they may offer discount sessions. Sometimes you need to get things out, and as you start processing stuff with your Pastor, you may begin figuring things out for yourself. Finding a safe place to unload is helpful. You will see over time as you start using other resources as well as counsel, that you will begin healing faster because you are not dependent on just one source.
Some counselors offer sliding scale payments based on how much money you make. Whatever the case may be, if you need it, get it. It may be a licensed counselor, family therapist, Psychologist, or Psychiatrist, but get help. Just know that not everyone offers a sliding scale.
Join a 12 Step Group
I highly recommend 12 Step groups. I also encourage you not only to join but participate in a “Step Study.” In these groups, you will have an intense study of the 12 steps and accountability as you go through them.
This site has a list of 12 step programs. This website is an excellent resource.
Wikipedia has a list that also includes other programs patterned after the 12 steps.
CR is a Christian based 12 step program. Check their website for a location near you.
S-anon is a 12 step program for those who have a family member (many times a spouse) that has a sex addiction. Unfortunately, this has become an epidemic due to the ease of access to pornography on the internet. It is sweeping rampantly across all social and economic groups, cultures, and religions. If you have a spouse or loved one suffering from an addiction, find help here. Go to the “Newcomers” tab and find available groups. There are also online groups.
Listen to Music
Music is terrific therapy. At times when I listen to the same song over and over for weeks or months at a time. Why? Music gets me through challenging times in my life. It ministers to me.
Morning Quiet Time
Quiet time may mean different things for different people depending on your beliefs, but for me, it’s morning devotion time in prayer and Bible study.
This is a good treatment for pent-up emotions. It’s free, and you don’t need a membership fee. Physical activity helps you take a load off…literally.
Community Support Groups
You can find these groups by researching “support groups” in your city on the internet. If you are grieving, you can go to GriefShare and find churches nearby who offer grief classes.
Develop a new Hobby
Quiet time can be great therapy. I learned to paint. I never believed I could paint but thought the idea of painting was fascinating. I started watching painting tutorials on YouTube and now have some beautiful pictures. It is very relaxing, therapeutic, and I feel a sense of accomplishment when I finish a piece.
I also sometimes like to tinker around with fixing things around the house. Some things you must leave the experts, but I have completed some small projects myself after looking at a tutorial on YouTube.
Make Yourself A Promise
It is never too late to start the healing process; the tragedy would never be beginning it. Emotional baggage takes a toll on the body and mental states. Make yourself a promise that the cycle of dysfunction, addiction, anger, depression, and un-forgiveness will end with you. From this day forward, you can begin again.
I want to share a song my son wrote when he was in high-school. I think it would be fitting to end this post with it.
“It’s OK to Hurt