Finding the courage to properly mourn

January 6, 2009

Oprah revealed the fascinating story behind her recent weight gain yesterday.  It seems she may know now what a midlife crisis is after all.

That’s part of the problem with us human beings.  We find it far too easy to deny we have a problem, especially an emotional one.

What usually ends up happening when we deny our emotional problems for too long?  They turn into physical problems which are much more difficult to ignore or deny.  We then may turn our focus to solving the physical manifestation of our emotional problem, and still deny the anger, frustration or depression underneath.  Aren’t we amazing beings!

One of the most enduring lessons I learned from the excellent counselor I saw for  a few years in my thirties, was how important it is to allow time and space to have our feelings; truly grieve our losses and feel the many joys life offers.

But, I can hear you  saying: “I don’t have time for that! I have a million things to do today.”

Well guess what?  It all catches up with you sooner or later.  Denial does not get rid of any of your problems.  It just delays and intensifies them over time.  And in the meantime it eats away at your physical health in very serious ways like heart disease, GERD, and cancers.

When you deny your true feelings about yourself and the life you are choosing to live right now, you are like a ticking time bomb, just waiting for some overwhelming, inciting disturbance to blow your fuse and lead to true chaos in your life.

These overwhelming occurences seem to crop up in our middle years, things like serious injury or illness, divorce, job loss, empty nest, etc.  This is our body telling us:  “OK, cut it out now!  Quit trying to deny you are human and have feelings and needs just like everybody else!”

That is why courage is essential in this stage of life.  We must have the courage to face our feelings, feel them at the deepest levels, and listen to their lessons.

When I am dealing with personal grief, I take days off from work to allow myself to feel everything that’s going on with me.  My ability to fake being a happy, well-adjusted human being is gone.  It is time to be honest with myself and others.

That is why I sometimes think those of us who finally breakdown and have a crisis are the lucky ones.  We cannot go on denying.  We are forced by circumstances to stop our life for a while and fix the problem.