(a chapter from Telling Ed No! by Cheryl Kerrigan©)
When I was struggling with Ed, I was often numb to my emotions. But as I moved forward in recovery, I learned the importance of experiencing all my feelings—the good, the bad, and the ugly—and dealing with them appropriately rather than running to Ed.
Many times I would find myself filled with a jumble of conflicting emotions not knowing what to do with them. And then I discovered that writing down the names of the emotions lessened their power. Whether it was anger, frustration,or disgust, I would write those words down on paper and feel better. Sometimes I would write a letter to Ed expressing how I hated him. Other times I just wrote random words or scribbles that conveyed how I felt. Most important was getting these feelings out of my system by accepting and expressing them in a safe way.
Taking that one step further, I came up with another way to release my emotions so they wouldn’t harm me, or my progress. One Saturday I went to my local craft store and purchased a small, wooden box along with paint, glitter, stickers, and stencils. Returning home with my goodies, I put some music on and decorated the box. The finished product had a bright, cheerful look, which was important to me because it was going to hold my deepest, most intense feelings.
After I had written my feelings down—whether in the form of a letter, a word, or a doodle—I tore the paper into small pieces or crumpled it up in my hands while exhaling slowly. Combining deep breathing with the physical act of “tearing through” my pent-up feelings, or crumpling the paper, added to the release. I then placed the pieces in the box, closed the cover, said, “See ya,” and walked away. By acknowledging, feeling, accepting and releasing these emotions, I knew the negativity could no longer hold me back, and I would feel free.
Do you have a healthy way to rid your body of pent-up emotion that could be holding back your recovery? Try making a Feelings Box. Find a place for it to live and visit it each time you have a negative emotion you want to let go. Feel, accept, and express the emotion as you place it in the box to say good-bye. After you walk away, check in with yourself and write down five words that describe how you are now feeling.
With health, hope and strength,