For a lot of people, when tragedy strikes they feel completely vulnerable and emotional. They are able to cry, get angry, feel scared and all the other things that go along with it. I am not one of those people. Sure, I cry a little but for the most part I just spring into action thinking I will deal with the tidal wave of emotions later. Maybe.
When Tragedy Strikes
I have lost people who were very important in my life. When my grandfather died I was married to my first husband. He got upset with me because I “moped” around for days. My grandfather was the first person I’d lost that I was super close to. I didn’t realize there was a time limit for grief (I know there isn’t but at the time I was young and naive) so when we argued about it, I shut my feelings down. I’ve been doing that ever since.
A few years after my grandfather passed away we lost my grandmother. By this time I was divorced from my first husband and dating the man who would later become my second husband. My mother, knowing how close I was to my grandmother was concerned and didn’t want me to be alone so she tried to contact my boyfriend to have him come stay with me. He was nowhere to be found. That didn’t go over very well with me so rather than dealing with my grief I pushed it aside because I was angry with him.
Then, several years later I watched the man I adored, my dad, pass away in front of me. By this time I was divorced from my second husband but I had a wonderful, supportive man in my life so what was the problem? Work. I was the only person who knew my job and there was a crisis that I just HAD to deal with. Once again there was no time to grieve.
What’s a Person to do?
Some would seek counseling but I had already been through that when I was dealing with my second divorce and was too ashamed to admit at the time that I was STILL having issues even though we thought I was better. Once again, I ignored my feelings thinking it would get better in time. It didn’t.
What it Means to “Feel Empty Inside”
I felt nothing. Don’t misunderstand me, I felt love for my kids, grand kids and my family and friends, but I didn’t feel happy, I didn’t feel sad. I felt nothing. Then the anxiety and depression set in. I started having panic attacks that would send me to the emergency room because my symptoms were mimicking those of a heart attack. I started feeling like everyone would be better if I were dead. I had abandoned myself and I didn’t even care.
What the Experts Say
While doing my research on this topic, I found some information that said, “You might be abandoning yourself while searching for approval, or, focusing on your career.” “Abandoning ourselves can spark anxiety, depression, guilt, and shame.” There it was! Everything I’d been struggling with for a very long time.
Below is some advice that may help:
- Don’t beat yourself up, try to dismiss or change your feelings. Acknowledge them.
- Look within. Spend time with yourself and fight the urge to turn to the outside world for comfort. Try exercise, meditation or journaling to help yourself refocus.
- Explore your feelings. Have you:
- been judging or comparing yourself to others;
- been telling yourself positive things;
- do you tend to notice your failures more than your successes;
- do you refer to yourself negatively such as fat, ugly, stupid, etc.;
- are your feelings minimized by you or others;
- turned to behaviors or addictions to avoid your feelings;
- been focusing solely on the needs of others;
- blamed yourself or felt guilty for things that were beyond your control;
- allowed yourself the same compassion you show others;
- asserted yourself in your decisions and respected your personal opinions.
- Commend yourself. Take your time letting your feelings in. Feelings of emptiness can lead to distress and the feeling of hopelessness.
I personally recommend finding a good counselor or therapist. Will you heal overnight? Absolutely not! Will it be a painful process? Probably. Is it worth it? That depends on you and how badly you want to heal. In any event, I wish you the best of luck. Please feel free to drop me a line at LisaMHall@bigheartsofgold.com.