Well of course I forgot to use a dryer sheet again! T-shirts, socks, and underwear cling together. At least I am doing the laundry! Now getting the clothes to the right bedrooms in a house full of girls is a crapshoot.
Socks and panties inevitably end up in the wrong rooms. The only safe person is my husband! Although, Alan did find a panty stuck to his workout shirt one day! Wouldn’t that be a sight to see in the locker room?
He was not nearly as amused as I was! All I could do was laugh as he told me what happened!! (I still do when I think about it!)
I find that emotions can be like static-filled clothes fresh from the dryer! Someone else’s anger, hurt, or sadness somehow attaches its self to me. I continually work on separating my emotions from those of family members.
For example, let’s say Alan is upset with Riely because we were all going to the movie together and she backed out at the last minute. That is his anger or frustration, not mine. If I am not self-aware, his anger or frustration can easily stick on me. Before long I am feeling and acting out his frustration. (Like I need to borrow someone else’s!)
In a family where someone lives with depression the clinging of emotions can be magnified. It is easy to pick up their sadness, anxiety, or distress. Depression toys with family dynamics—no one left unaffected.
I repeatedly ask myself clarifying questions:
Am I anxious or mad because someone else is anxious or mad? (Insert any emotion)
Am I anticipating reactions and responses, therefore creating more angst within me?
Am I feeling responsible for how someone else will respond or feel?
Am I trying to carry someone else’s anger or hurt or…?
What am I feeling that is really mine?
It is surely painful when our children have been hurt by others and are upset and sad. But that is different then taking on their sadness or hurt. Being with them in their pain is important, but I do not have to absorb it, carry it, and act on it.
Alan and Lynn: Alan tells me that Lynn has put off doing her homework. He was counting on her to help with a yard tonight. He wants the lawn done before our weekend guests arrive. Lynn wants his help with the homework she “didn’t put off” rather “things just got in the way” of getting it done! (Notice I am not asked to help with homework!)
Me: I have a meeting tonight, so I won’t be around. I go to my meeting physically, but my mind is at home. I find myself anxious about what may be going on at home.
I do have options: I can carry it and worry about it all evening. I can be bothered that Alan is upset and frustrated. I can wonder what Lynn will do. I can go over it in my head thinking maybe I could have stayed and helped with something…on and on with that kind of thinking.
I can release those thoughts and let the two people affected in this situation deal with their own stuff! With the help of the book, Energetic Boundaries by Cyndi Dale, I found a way that helps me give people back their emotions that I find stuck on me. It is a compassionate way of caring for both my-self and others.
Cyndi Dale uses the term “healing streams of grace.” The imagery this provides is helpful to me. It is a gentle way of creating healthy boundaries. I suppose it is a form of prayer. For me, it has become a spiritual exercise.
Using the example stated above, it goes something like this:
First I recognize that I am not the one frustrated with Lynn, Alan is. I can then “give back” the clinging emotions to him. I can give them back to Lynn also.
I acknowledge the God who loves and created us both. We are both children of God, deeply loved. We both have feelings and emotions given to us by God as a way to fully live into each moment.
I acknowledge that God, the Spirit, lives within me and within Alan. In my mind I gently hand Alan back the frustration of his I am holding. I care that he is frustrated and am empathetic.
I don’t throw it back at him, but in my mind gently let it float back to him.
I then will offer “healing streams of grace.” I have a vision of soft green streams (cloud-like) sent his way, surrounding him. They represent the love and grace of God. They are waiting to be received by him when he is ready. I envision the Spirit is always present to us.
This does not mean all will go well. Alan may hold on to his frustration for a long time or act on it ways that cause hurt emotions. But it reminds and assures me that he is not alone in this and neither am I. God is present and active.
Other imagery may come to your mind and be helpful to you. You may send streams of strength, or courage, hope, etc….
I use this method when I get a call from Lynn at college. It’s hard being far away when your child is having a rough time. I use it when I know a friend is suffering the loss of a loved one. This way of prayer sends my love and God’s love to surround that person.
When the heaviness of their pain returns to me, I send steams of love again. The more I do this the easier it has become to discern my emotions from others. It is important not to ignore my true feelings. If I am grieving or angry, I need to acknowledge my emotions and take time to grieve or be angry.
When I hurt for a friend, it is crucial to accept it is my pain. God is present with me in my own tears, as well as my celebrations.
Healing Streams reassures me of the Love that is with us in difficult times, as well as joyful times. It reminds me I can let go of the control that I never had!