As with most addicts I’ve struggled with a true sense of feeling most of my life. Growing up in a dysfunctional home environment where feelings are rarely if ever discussed, can cause great problems and confusion. You have feelings, but because your feelings are seemingly unimportant to anyone else, to have feelings must be bad, so you learn to stuff the feelings down until eventually you’re numb. For the feelings you can’t numb by stuffing there’s self medication, for me it was with drugs of all sorts, alcohol, and any sexual relationship I could find.
I lived the better part of 50 years unable to decipher within myself certain feelings. Until, October 2004 when Bill and I went to a couples seminar led by Dr. Doug Weiss, who was speaking on intimacy in marriage. During the seminar, the couples had to do a “Feelings” exercise, where we would look over a list of words that describe different feelings: sad, angry, disappointed, joyful, excited, etc… In the exercise we were to choose a feeling word, describe a time before the age of 18 when we felt that feeling, then describe a time after the age of 18 when we felt that same feeling. I can’t recall what feeling word I chose, all I remember was my mind freezing, my throat choking up and a panic coming over me as I was thinking how to describe this feeling. I couldn’t get words out of my mouth. What was this? It was such a simple exercise, but it had shut me down. Gradually, after a few minutes I was able to come up with an answer, but I was sweating when I was done. I was in pain, I wanted to run but I couldn’t.
Over the last 4 years, Bill and I continued to do this exercise; not on a regular basis anymore, but in the early months of my recovery it was very important. God has done a remarkable thing in healing my ability to feel. So much so, that now, my feelings are out in the other direction. I can be walking through a super market and be overcome with such a sense of God’s love for people that I want to cry. Other days, I will be overcome with a deep sadness for the darkness people are lost in that I don’t know what to do to help them . It appears to be a double edged sword this thing called feeling. We either try to run from them because they are too much for us to handle or they become overwhelming because we can now feel them so strongly.
There are days that I can be walking my dogs and I look around at God’s creation with such a sense of love and appreciation for His goodness to us. This beautiful world — the sun, the sky, the trees, the birds, the fish, rivers… How can we ever doubt His presence and His great love for us?
I praise God, for the gift to feel deeply now. It has made me a better person and certainly a stronger Christian. I believe when we accept Christ as our Savior and are filled with the Holy Spirit, we are given the ability to see the world and feel in some ways what God feels for us. I am so thankful for the Truth of His grace and mercy. I don’t ever want to be numb to that again. It’s truly a new dawn. It’s a new day. It’s a new life for me and I’m feeling good!