As a new mother, I was unprepared for the windstorm that would arrive in the form of little sleep, breastfeeding challenges, hormonal changes and co-parenting disagreements. I felt like a Jack-in-the-box toy that could pop after simply being asked “How are you?” by a friend. I have spent most of my life coping with overwhelming emotions by pushing them away and holding them down, deep in my gut. It was not until my son arrived that I began to take an honest look at my emotional habits, and discovered that I was “bottling” my feelings.
“The best way out is always through.” ~ Robert Frost
I thought that I was bottling my feelings for the sake of my son. Babies are commonly compared to sponges, as their developing psyches soak up everything in their environment. I feared that if I let myself feel the anger, guilt and sadness that these stressful situations had triggered, that my son would experience suffering as a result of our close emotional bond. I was fearing my own emotions, and judging them as harmful to my son’s development.
In a session with a Somatic Experiencing therapist who works exclusively with mothers and babies to help facilitate breastfeeding, I was supported in a safe environment to let my feelings rise and release. While holding my newborn son, I cried and cried and cried. And the result was remarkable. He immediately stopped crying himself and nestled in my arms.
What I came to realize is it is my fear of my emotions that creates disharmony in my son’s environment, and not the emotions themselves. Uncomfortable feelings are a natural part of life when we experience stressful events, and it is how I treat my emotions that creates harmony or discord. By removing my judgement and negative thoughts about my feelings, I disempower their hold over me and allow the physical sensations to rise and fall more easily, gently and quickly.
Emotions are triggered for reasons that are sometimes unknown to me at the time. By embracing my experience, instead of pushing it away or holding it down, I am accepting all aspects of myself and able to observe it from the clearest lens. Emotions are powerful messengers that let me know to focus my attention on self-care. Through the practice of mindfulness, or being conscious in the moment, I often remember that the nature of emotions is to be in movement (as the word implies), and therefore the present discomfort I feel will pass, a thought that brings comfort in itself.
MLL Teacher and PR Consultant