“If you don’t feel, you don’t hurt. But if you don’t feel, you don’t experience love either.” London Angel Winters
Over the course of a 30 year marriage, we can hurt one another and my client Ruth’s marriage is no different.
- Abandoned when he would always place his work as the highest priority.
- Unimportant when he would postpone date nights, but never a workout.
- Unseen when she had a great success and it went uncelebrated.
- Unappreciated when she felt like she was taking care of everything in their lives and it felt more like obligation versus contribution.
- Unheard when she would express her frustration, but was shut down because negative emotion and difficult conversations were uncomfortable for him.
Each of those hurts individually wouldn’t have led her to blow up her marriage or even cause an argument.
So to deal with those hurts, she suppressed the emotions she didn’t want to feel.
That’s how she kept the peace between them.
When we’ve been hurt, we create lots of clever ways to avoid ever feeling that again.
We build walls to protect ourselves from being hurt and we shut down in order to avoid an argument.
We create emotional distance because hiding and running away feel easier than standing in the truth of our experience and sharing that with our partner.
In order to avoid feeling negative emotion, we protect our heart. Protecting our heart makes us feel safe. We get to hide behind that very high wall of protection, but here’s the thing:
It’s lonely back there.
Where there is no feeling, there is no hurt. But there also is no love.
Both hurt and love are emotions. And you don’t get to selectively numb or suppress your emotions.
You’re either all-in or all-out.
We don’t get to feel love and appreciation without being willing to feel despair and loneliness.
We don’t get the option of just feeling all the good stuff without being willing to feel some of the negative stuff.
So if you suppress emotion, my friend, you also shut down to the full expression of love.