I’ve been consciously on my own spiritual path for around 24 years now, and I’ve gone through a whole host of experiences, attachments, struggles, awakenings, and resistance too. One thing I have learned is that we are not at all responsible for validating another person’s emotional journey. Neither are we responsible for making emotional experiences invalid for another human being, but let’s face it, we’ve all been there and bought the t-shirt from both sides of the equation.
In the early stages of my spiritual unravelling, I put spiritual teachers on pedestals. I would attack or condemn them if they dared show any emotions like anger, bitterness, resentment, etc. For me, there were good emotions and bad emotions, and spiritual people didn’t have bad emotions because they were supposed to have dealt with it all, or so I believed.
Being on my own since Michael passed away has meant I have an awful lot of time to be with my own feelings. In the first 6 months after he passed, every emotion either felt like a tidal wave of never-ending water or a raging volcano of anger and distress. I acknowledged that tidal waves of water were okay, and the anger was okay for a prescribed amount of time; in other words, you are given free reign to feel these things when you are grieving a big loss.
And yes, as time went on, I started to realise that, being alone with myself, if I were to honestly love, accept, and honour my own life journey, I was to allow and embrace all of my feelings, all of the time, not just when I was experiencing them during a life crisis. I come from an ancestoral line of angry females programmed to be angry, yet not programmed to acknowledge anger as healthy or needing befriending or self-validating. We had anger sewn up; we were very good at anger, but without the loving, compassionate validation of the emotion, it tended to get out of hand most of the time. We would fling our toys out of the pram at a tiny trigger or rage like a tiger or a bear when the trigger was bigger. There wasn’t a steady point within that allowed anger to just ride itself out; it never got the chance to just be there and organically change into a more harmonious emotion. Anger was always there, simmering like a never-ending boiling pot.
I realised after some healing sessions locally that the anger I was overwhelmed with consistently in my life meant I gave away my power over and over again. I didn’t hold my power; I allowed it to overwhelm me. So I am busy learning how to have a reaction and then breathe into it without melting down, which was always my modus operandi.
Validating the Hard Feelings
Most of us have been taught to validate good feelings like joy, contentment, peace, and love, but most of us have not been taught to validate fear, hate, anger, hurt, resentment, and other feelings that bring us pain.
I read on a page in a Teal Swan book recently that beneath many surface emotions are deeper emotions. For example, underneath HATE is HURT, and I find personally that beneath anger is often sadness, which is why people who suffer with depression often find that they feel some relief if they can get to an angry place, but essentially we all need to go to the root core emotion to find our own peace within; otherwise, we suffer for longer.
When you are tenderly beginning the journey of self-love, it can feel like you are a fawn wobbling on your legs, learning how to reprogramme yourself towards love and kindness when your most dominant emotion is what some perceive to be darker emotions.
I’ve never been able to face myself so deeply before as I have since Michael passed away, and so in his death lay a big gift for me. It was time to validate my entire self.
And as with any gift or learning from life, we are often also gifted life experiences that trigger us to go deeper into our own new ways of being. For me, it was a quick and shocking ending to a dear friendship. I had absolutely no idea that a friend was holding onto some rather unkind emotions and opinions about me. So when the friendship abruptly ended and I was informed I was pretty much an un-spiritual person for experiencing anger, rage, or wishing to let go of someone in my life (another friend) that I no longer felt I wanted to be around, I then realised it was actually a gift to turn towards myself.
My initial reaction was one of shame because I was guilt-tripped by my ex-friend, but I later started to talk to myself in a whole new way. I gave myself permission to feel that anger, that need to let go of the other person I was talking about; I honoured my own journey with that person; I accepted the feeling of repulsion, feeling trapped; and I validated the feelings as being perfectly reasonable considering my experience on that day, because even before the other friendship abruptly ended, I had gone into a meditation and done some deep shadow work about why I was feeling all those feelings in the first place.
What I discovered was that my friend I wished to let go of was triggering a part of me I was not comfortable with anymore, a part of me I wanted to ‘get rid of’ and so I leaned into the part of me I had felt repulsed by and held the part of me I viewed as repulsive and repelling, clingy and needy, co-dependent and manipulative. I held those parts of me in my arms and felt love for these parts I had been resisting embracing. These parts were all part of me. Yes, many of them were who I used to be, not who I am now, but they were still parts of me who used these coping methods to feel safe and protected.
Did knowing all of this suddenly stop me from wanting to let go of my friend? No.
I am acutely aware that I cannot and never will be able to meet their needs, for they have needs that a professional needs to support them with, not me. After 4 years of managing their needs and giving to the point of over-giving, I know long-term we will need to organically drift apart. The anger lifted, and I am now able to understand we will part company when it is time.
After the guilt trip, the next morning I was freed from the guilt and shame because I honestly looked at the whole emotional experience I was being shamed about and accepted and validated myself for feeling what I did. I also acknowledged hypocrisy on the part of the friend who ended the friendship abruptly.
It has felt like a very painful experience. I felt hurt, and at one point, I felt hate. And beneath the hate was the hurt.
Every single person is entitled to feel what they feel, but it isn’t our job to validate their emotions or feelings. We are responsible for validating what we feel, and until we do this, we will always be at the mercy of outside influences judging our emotional world.
My biggest lesson in 2023 was to release and let go of being responsible for other people. I had this responsibility my entire childhood and previous adult years. My mother guilt-tripped me a lot to manipulate me into doing something she wanted me to do or wanted me not to do. I am grateful for this painful lesson in owning and validating my own sh*t about the perceived light and the perceived dark. We can’t love ourselves unless we know ourselves, and we can’t know or genuinely trust ourselves before we have accepted and befriended each feeling that arises.
Loving Yourself Regardless
So last night, as I lay in bed, feeling quite traumatised by the day’s events and how they unfolded, I tried to feel the feelings. I was confused about what I was feeling because it was a mixture of sadness, grief, disappointment, hurt, and anger. And I cried out for support to love all this pain that was coming up. I felt a strong voice inside me rise up.
LOVE YOURSELF REGARDLESS, KELLY!
LOVE YOURSELF REGARDLESS.
In other words, no matter how other people view me, what expectations they have of my behaviour, whether other people have opinions about me that are negative or incorrect, I’m to love myself regardless.
After 2 years of loss, pain, and struggle, I wasn’t prepared to let anyone else disturb the progress I was finally starting to make in embracing myself as my own best friend. And so I keep going, learning to love myself regardless.
Do I feel sad that a good friend has left my life? Of course, we spoke every day for around 9 months, but I can accept what is, what needs to be, and what needs to be revealed in the process of this ending.
Shadow work can bring endings, even those we didn’t expect were coming, but we keep going.
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