I used to say that I don't like physical touch. But after I fell in love and married, I realized that I had to believe that. Because I was so affected by a loving touch that the sheer strength of it scared me to death. Since I didn't know what to do with those feelings, I suppressed them and just didn't touch people. It took me forever to be OK with hugging.
I know why I had to suppress my emotions growing up. Why people used to tell me that I was like a rock...was never affected or "wore my heart on my sleeve". Because, when I finally let my guard down, I realized just how passionate I am. And how deeply I DO feel things. Like I had to control and suppress every emotion every feeling, because I didn't know what to do with such strong forces as my own emotions. I was afraid of them. Sometime they'd come out in spite of me and I'd get told not to "let your emotions control you". So I'd suppress them again.
That and emotions were supposed to be unreliable, deceitful, and bad. Lead you into a world of sin and hurt. You were just better off without the inconvenience.
Really? How is that a healthy way to live your life? Emotions are like the barometer of your body. They help to gage your mental, physical, and spiritual health. They aren't inherently "bad" or "evil". To ignore your emotions is like ignoring the gage on a pressure-cooker. Something's gonna blow.
And often, as a young woman, something did.
I'm learning now. Learning how to listen to my own feelings. Learning how to feel, to just let those emotions be, without trying to suppress them, without fearing them. I know that I feel everything very deeply. And it's OK now because I've learned how to direct those feelings in a healthy way.
It's such a relief to allow myself to feel. I look back on my teenage years and I hurt for the girl I was; for the pain that girl needlessly went through and the scars I bear from it now. I read my journals and delight to see the awakening of a heart that was longing for passion and warmth.
It really began when I experienced the love of a man. When a good man chose to love me, regardless of everything. Isn't that the theme of so many movies? The girl nobody noticed, or everyone thought was ugly, suddenly blossoms into a beautiful woman under the influence of a man who sees her, truly sees her, and draws her heart out. Waters and showers love on her until she is becomes who she was always meant to be. If that's not a picture of Christ and His Bride, I don't know what is.
So many times, when my heart gets burned, I am tempted to go back....back into the place where there was no feeling. It seems safer there. Less painful. No one can hurt you in that place. But there, in the dark recesses of a heart that is hiding, you cannot feel love either. I remember that, and reach for love instead.
It hurts something awful sometimes, this being alive business. Giving my heart, even when it's been trampled on; will be trampled on again and again. Choosing to stay alive, to feel, to love, to be vulnerable. It's scary. But I know well the alternative. I've lived it. And I don't want to go back. I choose to feel everything deeply; to savor every thought, feeling, touch, and to let myself cry or laugh or get angry. It is who I am, and I am not ashamed.