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I can still remember it like it was yesterday. There I stood on the front porch staring out into the darkness. The tears came as they inevitably do and I wiped them away with a napkin plucked hastily from the kitchen counter.

I could just barely make out his silhouette in the darkness, as he stood by the open gate waiting for the car to pull around. I just stood there as I watched the gate close until the tail lights finally disappeared in the distance. And, just like that, my boy was gone again.

face painful emotions

He hugged me in the kitchen before he walked out the door and didn’t let go until I signaled it was ok. He allowed me to linger for just an extra squeeze because he knew I needed it.

I asked myself, “will it ever get better?” Will I ever get to the place where seeing my kids leave is easier to take? Of course, my heart knows the answer before I ask it…No.

The pain I felt was raw and real, but it is not one that I would ever trade. Simply put, my then 20 year-old was happy and well-adjusted with a world of possibilities on the horizon. He’s now 23 and preparing to marry.

Ah yes, seeing my kids go rips me up each and every time, but I cannot envision a scenario where their closeness could ever be best for them or for me in the end.

Here’s the thing…pain delayed is no less painful. Sometimes we find ourselves avoiding difficult situations because we fear the inevitable pain waiting around the corner….we don’t want to cry and we don’t want to lose control. However, if you stop to consider the alternatives, you instinctively know that painful emotions are just part of the right course.

Although I feel this same pain every time my kids leave, it doesn’t dampen the joy I feel at each reunion. I bask in each and every moment even though I know another separation is inevitable.

Just because a decision or step is painful, doesn’t mean it’s the wrong one.

facing painful emotions

Are you dreading or putting off a difficult situation because you fear the pain it will cause for you or others? Here are a few steps for facing painful emotions.

1.  Acknowledge The Pain

Denial only prolongs your grief. When you try to mask your pain, you can inadvertently give it room to grow and seep into other unrelated areas of your life.

In fact, the field of counseling largely works on the premise of allowing people to voice their pain. So, find a way to express your pain. Crying, talking and writing are all therapeutic.

 

2.  Don’t Let Your Fear Of The Future Rob You Of The Present

None of us know what tomorrow holds. Consequently, there’s no way to completely insulate yourself from what may happen or from something someone else may do.

Unfortunately, past pain can cause us to preempt all joyous occasions with unrealistic assumptions that the ball will drop at any moment. This impending feeling of doom can end up sapping the joy from every situation.

Instead, try to live each day for what it is. Take time to notice your blessings and express thankfulness.

3.  Consider The Alternatives

In my case, my son’s departure was natural and right. When I am tempted to pity myself, I remind myself how bad it would be if he was not emotionally prepared to live away from home.

What would things be like if you had not made that painful choice? Sometimes, we have to move through the pain before we can open ourselves to new possibilities.

4.  Hold On To The Good

Don’t allow painful experiences to rob you of all positive memories.

5.  Move On

Inevitably, you choose how you will live the rest of your days. Choose to let the pain go...choose to face painful emotions; knowing that God holds your future in His hands.

Jeremiah 29: 11

11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

Sometimes, pain is just a natural step in the progression of life. It is often through facing painful emotions that we find the strength and the impetus to tackle new challenges in the future.

But, we can be assured that God always has a plan and He always has our backs.

~ Shellie

 

9 Comments

  1. Elise L Ho says:

    Fear can hold us back from making difficult decisions that can really lead us to greatness and true happiness. I have shared this with someone dear to me who I believe can benefit from your sage advice.

  2. Thanks Shellie, your tips for dealing with painful situations are very helpful. Hard times can show us how strong and gracious God is, without going through these times, we would not experience that.
    We will feature your post on the next Blogger’s Pit Stop.
    Kathleen

  3. angie says:

    life is full of challenges and sometimes with these challenges comes pain Glad to have these steps now
    come see us at http://shopannies.blogspot.com

    • Shellie Bowdoin says:

      Absolutely, pain is inevitable, but we always have a choice how we deal with it.

  4. I have to wonder what my emotions with be the day when my children leave home. They’re 11 and 12 now.

    • Shellie Bowdoin says:

      I guess you never really know until you get there. But one thing I am sure of…God will give you the strength to deal with whatever comes!

  5. Barbara Hughes says:

    So well written, Shelly.
    Life’s pains make us stronger for all the next seasons of life.

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