I could see our story on the Six O’Clock News. Woman arrested for beating husband with a plastic food cover. While police dragged wife from the scene, she screamed over and over, “Spaghetti sauce stains.” Police are looking for clues into the crime.
And maybe you understand if you live with someone who
- Has a propensity to downplay every issue,
- Is afraid to confront the smallest problem because it might get bigger (and it does because of being ignored),
- And who insists on having head conversations instead of talking about feelings, even if they’re only about spaghetti sauce stains.
This scene played out in my thoughts while I stood at the sink washing the plastic cover you put over food to keep it from splattering in the microwave. It was newly purchased the day before we heated leftover spaghetti.
“I just bought this cover. I hate that it’s already discolored,” I said.
“Well, it’s better than having sauce all over the microwave, right?” said my husband John.
Thankfully, I was turned away from him. If looks could kill, but come to think of it, instead of acknowledging my glare, he’d probably comment on the radiance of my eyes.
Which brings to mind how we “suffer from feelings,” a phrase I mentioned in The Cure (depression, part 4 of 5).
I wanted to screech, “Let me whine and have my frustrated feelings without you turning into Johnnyanna.”
He would’ve snapped back, “Why do you have to make such a big deal over a stain?”
We’ve had hurtful arguments over even less, and that’s because we’re not fighting about spaghetti sauce stains.
We’re fighting to have our feelings heard and to be okay.
We’re fighting about whether we matter to each other.
We’re fighting about wanting respect and cherishment.
What I’m trying to say, minus the sarcasm, is, “I want to whine, and I want you to care I’m upset.”
What he’s saying, minus the mean tone, is, “I’m the one who warmed the spaghetti and messed up the cover. I hate when I disappoint you.”
My husband and I grew up in homes where pouting, sarcasm and screaming were acceptable, but talking about feelings was not.
So, when he was afraid, angry or frustrated, he climbed a tree and numbed out by smoking cigarettes as early as age 12, then climbed down and acted out by shooting out streetlights with his BB gun.
When I was afraid, angry or frustrated, I cried. Or, rather, I did until the day Mom told me if I kept being weepy and looking miserable, she’d send me away to boarding school where maybe I’d be happier. Instead of acting out, I acted happy, all the while feeling hopeless.
What’s crazy is, we identified these patterns years ago, but knowledge alone can’t stop self-deprecating ways like smoking and depression. Maybe that’s why it was a bad idea in the Garden of Eden to eat from the Tree of Knowledge (Genesis 2:17).
We can’t “smart” our way out of our messes. We have to “heart” our way out. In other words, we have to feel to heal.
These days, because I’m blogging through this series on depression, and because my husband is my editor, and he’s weeping while reading my posts, I’d like to think we’ll suffer less as a result of slowing down to feel more.
And suffer less because we’re talking about our feelings instead of trying to talk each other and ourselves out of them.
As we feel our way out, we may determine our feelings, as well as the feelings of others, to be acceptable, possibly inspirational, maybe even downright delightful.
However, to arrive there, we’ll likely have to also feel the feelings that are not acceptable (to us or them), not inspirational, maybe even downright dreadful.
Here’s a charge for us all to find the freedom to feel.
- Get comfortable with our feelings. It takes practice.
- Give others permission to feel by listening, not fighting or fixing.
- Feel good even when we feel bad because we’re feeling at all.
What feelings do you need to let out?
WRite wHere I’m supposed to be – Feel. Do it again. Never, ever stop, any more than you’d stop breathing. It’s that necessary.
On the side: The story about Harriet Dieson, a 65-year-old pastor’s wife, mom and grandmother who killed herself four days after Christmas 2012, kept me awake for nights. Although I don’t know Harriet’s story, I think this sort of thing happens when we are a witness to the feelings of others, but no one witnesses ours. May we learn from others’ pain to get in touch with our own and to find someone who will listen.
Click here to read a blog post about suicide by Donna Pyle.
Visit Bob Doster’s Backstreet Studio Facebook page to see more of his metal sculpting.
What’s Your Secret? (depression, part 1)
Stopping For Help (depression, part 2)
Depression: A Waste of Time? Or Worth the Time? (depression, part 3)
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Thank you Kim. Informative and touching as always.
Rick, as always, I appreciate your support and your comment. I love the word \”touching\” … I hope that means readers are feeling the love and hope.
Holy junk, the stuff you\’re writing is amazing. Amazing and spot on. Thank you for sharing yourself. You may never know the difference your pain and struggles make in the lives of others. Love you.
Awwww, my dear writer friend, you\’re amazing. Thanks for being on the other side of the screen so I know it\’s safe to share myself. Love you more!
Kim, that was a great post. Thank you for writing it. I love the phrase \”you have to feel to heal\”. How very true. I think it is a courageous and responsible thing to write the truth. Not to mention difficult! Your words reached me on a day that I needed them very much. You have a lot of listeners out here and I am sure I speak for all of them when I say that we are all very grateful for you (and your husband too for coming down from the tree tops and being a brave and supportive editor.)
Kathleen, your comment made me smile. Yep, he\’s climbed down from the tree tops. 🙂
I\’m so grateful you and I met. When I\’m writing, I often think about your humor and story dialogue. You\’re a glowing example for lightening up my work and a wonderful encourager as well.
What a powerful, brutally honest piece of writing. I\’m in awe of the courage and the pain that it took to write it. I would say you are well on the road to healing. I can\’t wait to go back and read the entire series, start to finish.
Cynthia, I can\’t thank you enough for today. It\’s readers like you who give me the courage to keep writing what\’s real, which keeps the healing coming. I appreciate your encouragement. I plan to check out Joyce Meyer. Love ~
feeling alone is not NOT a good feeling or life. you do not have a choice at times for this ,it just happened. Others do not understand what you are going thru and goes on living their own lives. your blood families always says things but never comes thru. I always believe that words are CHEAP, but ACTIONS are true… One thing is true your christian friend are real true to you what ever happens good or bad. The lord will always watch over you whatever happens.
Thank you for commenting, Barbara. You\’re so right, actions are true. A friend once told me, \”Don\’t listen to what they say, watch what they do.\” I live by this slogan more everyday.
Have a wonderful Sunday. Shine for God.
Awesome. Moving. Thank you!
Thank you, Heather. I bet you can share a thing or two about numbing out and feeling hopeless, and even more about the hope now that you\’re feeling to heal. I so appreciate you and your comments, my friend.
Kim – this series on depression has been truthful and \”touching\” as another reader describes. THANK YOU for talking about depression in a way all can relate – especially those of us who grew up in dysfunctional (challenging) families. Hugs, Cindy
thank YOU, Cindy. You\’ve heard more than anyone should have to listen to. 🙂
Writing through this has been healing. I\’m recognizing more and more how much we all benefit from being honest and from sharing our experiences. I\’ve received emails, private messages, and even a phone call from a reader. I\’m relieved to be sharing and grateful to have others doing the same.
Love and hugs to you and David.
Great stuff! I appreciate how open you are in your writing and you don\’t even know us 🙂
Blessings on what you do!
Julie, I love that you stopped by and your kind comment. My husband used to tell me I shared too much. I told him honesty was one of my gifts. We\’ve compromised since then. I\’m learning not to share it all and he\’s coming to appreciate my truth-telling. 🙂 Hope you\’ll visit again.
so actually you are saying I\’m not upset that my husband couldn\’t put on the shower curtain hooks in order…It\’s just his way of expressing himself…
I hope you can take my humor… Actually this was very enlightening!
Marilyn, I\’m saying there\’s a MUCH deeper meaning to those shower hooks. 🙂 Just kidding. Sometimes I read back and wonder \”What was I saying?\” But it all makes sense at the time.
Thanks for taking the time to read and for your funny comment. You\’ll fit in great around here.
I am happy you ended the depression series for a time. For me, dwelling on a subject gives it too much space in my life.
I must always remember that most feelings come and go depending on my decision to act on them or not to act. While I can manage feelings, action (or inaction) arising from them must follow depending on my life’s goals.
Others may be my concern but they are not my responsibilities, nor can I make them like me. By the way, I choose to avoid “Facebook” groups etc. To have someone “like me” is just not that important to my happiness. All I ask these days is a smile or recognition. How can people really understand me? It is a full time job for me to understand myself.
Just posted my commentary on my day (yesterday).
As always, Bob, thanks for stopping by to comment. I appreciate your wise words.