Send Your Replies about Feelings to Lynn W.


Dear Friends (all of you)

Your comments have been helpful to me (& I'm sure others) in sorting out my "feelings about feelings". I hope you'll continue to comment on this difficult topic. But my personal decision (which applies only to ME, not to anyone else) is that I have no wish to discuss my personal trauma history with this cancer family counselor, who is supposed to be working with me on grief, cancer etc. So I've decided I'll talk to her about how I feel re: my various cancer & medical health difficulties (which have been a roller-coaster ride), Ray's death, & ongoing efforts to maintain MV's viability. But discussions about my trauma are not supposed to be her focus and I told her so. No more troubles writing in my journal about my 'feelings' - because they're focused on what I'm dealing with in the present, not the past. For me, right now, that's best, IMO.

Love to all

Lynn W.


Dear Lynn,

You seem to have been able to feel because you were able to call Ray "your beloved Ray". So, again I wonder, do you have other feelings, or just rationalizations of what behavior would be best? I just ordered a feelings poster with maybe 30 faces on it, each one depicting an emotion, with the name of the corresponding emotion underneath it. The poster I like best seems to longer exist, so I got the next best one. I prefer the ones that are just faces in circles and I can't find them anywhere. If anyone knows where I can get one, please let me know.

If you're not sure about feelings, these posters can be really helpful-in noticing what you're feeling and naming it. And maybe that's enough for you now. I'm going to be moving into hard therapy work soon, and I know I need to be prepared. Could you first compromise with your therapist and let yourself feel a might-upset-the-apple-cart feeling, and circle it, label it? In your journal? If you just trust yourself, you could analyse first to yourself, using these feeling posters, just what it is you do feel. After a while of doing this once a day might make the next step easier, to feel and put that in your journal.

I hope this helps,


Hi Lynn,

Therapists should not try to “get at” feelings that you are not taking the initiative to share, or investigating privately on your own. As for being a klutz about expressing your feelings, it is perfectly fine to keep feelings private. Too many people have become much too consumed with the sharing of feelings.

Since you state that you have a grief counselor I’ll read into that that you initiated this relationship. Seeking counsel, however, doesn’t mean acquiescing to doing something that seems unsafe to you for whatever reason.

You wrote that you had a loss and you were affected by it. It sounds like this loss was extremely significant. If it was a major loss to you it is only reasonable that your lifestyle would be impacted. We need time to grieve, reflect, and make decisions on new paths to take. We need to step out of the manic pace that has become so ‘normal’ in the world around us and heal.

Everyone puts feelings, and their energy, in places that allow us to function safely and productively day in and day out, whether or not a person is dissociative. For an individual who has experienced the consistent trauma that creates dissociation, deep, powerful, and profound emotions almost certainly exist. If someone is consistent and healthy in their behaviors and has developed a thoughtful method of handling all that life throws their way what possible good could be gained by digging down and searching for seemingly bottomless fears, or insatiable rage, or any other consuming emotion that would threaten to override established, productive, life-affirming ways?

Years ago, after a very long time of refusing to give in to well-intentioned but seriously misguided demands made by my counselors, I acquiesced. I went against my instincts, and my thoughts, several of which are echoed in your letter. The results were profoundly detrimental.

No one, not a counselor, associate, family member, no one, should insist that you do anything that you perceive may present a threat to your physical, psychological or spiritual safety. Why would anyone want to explore any emotion that would disable them? Why on earth would a counselor recommend any course of action that would threaten a person’s stability? You must not do anything that your own instincts and intellect are warning you against.

It’s not what we’ve got that’s important, whether it’s a physical attribute, an emotion, anything. It’s what we do with what we’ve got that is important. You support yourself as a writer. You created Many Voices and the community outreach that continues to grow from MV. Your post states that you have many interests. It sounds like you have a full life.

I know someone who is not dissociative but crippled herself, wounded herself, emotionally, because she refused to let go of deep grief. Many people, safe people, loved her, and still do but she couldn’t experience the embrace of their love because she wanted only the embrace of the one who had passed on. This person missed out on decades of all of the beautiful things it is possible to experience with others. She sure was in touch with at least one strong emotion though.

We should not be yanked around by our emotions. We should acknowledge them and then do something decent with what we have. It is also possible to feel disparate emotions at the same time. That only makes sense. There’s so much to be sad, to despair about in this world and so much beauty and wondrous things that give joy.

If your mind and your instincts are telling you to guard the areas in you where your emotions live, then that is exactly what you should do, well-intentioned counselors not-withstanding.

Kind regards,

Anna Lee


Dear Lynn,

"What can be gained by having feelings?"
Believe it or requires a great deal of energy to NOT feel emotions. In order to 'stuff it' all the time there is so much energy used that could be spent on other things. For a lot of us it's just not safe to 'feel' so we 'stuff it' or put it off 'til later and then later never seems to come. It becomes a new way of being safe.
"If I get in touch with my feelings I will be overwhelmed and fall apart."

I created 'others' to prevent that from happening. But, that was before I learned other new skills for coping. Now that I am better I can feel things without falling apart or creating 'others'. Emotions can NOT kill or harm me even though they are scary and uncomfortable.

"If I start crying I'll never stop."
I just knew that there was so much pain that if I allowed myself to feel it all, it would come gushing out and I would never be able to stop. One time after a traumatic emotional event, I went into my safe place and cried and cried and cried. I cried for three days straight except for sleeping. My logic told me that it was just residual emotions that I had never really felt before, for everything that had happened through my whole life. My logic told me that I could go to a doctor and try to explain why I was crying but it probably would not have been helpful to be hospitalized. I figured that some of it could be a chemical imbalance in my body so I continued to eat right and tried to exercise and do all those things they tell us to do. I rode it out and woke up one morning and didn't feel like crying anymore. I was tired but I felt better. I even felt empowered because I finally had lived through all of what had happened in my life. Nothing left behind. The three days of crying was after I finished all my therapy.

My suggestions on how to (start feeling).

I made a safe place. Some place where I could be physically safe, having things around that helped me feel comfortable. Comfort foods in moderation (or not), blankets, favorite comfy clothing, soft music, a warm bath maybe, things that helped me take care of myself. Pillows, stuffed animals etc. I treated myself kindly like a wounded child should have been treated. It was okay to cry or be angry. Anger is a normal response when someone 'stomps on your toes'. The bigger the violation the more anger there is. Emotions aren't good or bad, they just are. It's all about how emotions are expressed that counts. Punching pillows is preferable to self destructive behavior or violence toward another. Writing down what I wanted to do to someone from my past was a good way to get it out too. I gave myself permission to feel hurt, angry, scared, funny or whatever feeling was there. Feelings just are what they are. Sometimes after watching a tear jerker movie I would be able to go to my safe place and cry. No explanations needed, no need to connect the dots back to know why I was crying.

In the past other people expressed their feelings onto us so we learned to be afraid of emotions, we learned that there were repercussions if we got mad at the abuser. We learned that any emotional display could lead to more abuse so we stopped, It wasn't safe to have emotions then, but we made a safe place and have better coping skills now so it's okay to feel the emotions and express them in an appropriate manner.

The on and off switch?

It doesn't seem to work to just say "okay I'm gonna sit down and cry now, this is a convenient time". That doesn't work, at least it never did for me. Emotions just come when the come. Soo.... I may be crying about a movie but it ends up being a whole lot more than the movie warranted. I may be angry at someone for one thing but over react way too much. That would be emotions coming to the surface. Whenever I was tired it would become too difficult to keep the emotions in. Remember it takes a lot of energy to keep them 'stuffed'. Being tired can be controlled so I guess it would be possible to set myself up to fall apart but I never tried it, consiously at least.

Hope this helps.



Hi Lynn,

Journaling has helped me discover, and process, the "experience" of feelings. Maybe journaling can help you to uncover, process and successfully experience your feelings of grief. It has been within the past year or so that we internally have really learned what feelings are. We have started to recognize a variety of feelings and have started to learn to process them instead of run from them. I am 44 years old - and young. I am single without kids and no support system regarding dissociation. Now that I am not consumed 24/7, after 40 years, by numb panic in running from my feelings - the feelings are intense at minimum. I thought I was going to emotionally collaspe - and I did for a short while - but only my therapist and I knew it. I functioned in the outside world through it all.

I am left brain dominant no doubt - so I do spend time daily explicitly learning what it is I am feeling and how in present day I want to react to the world with present day feelings. The act of putting the pen to paper helps me stay focused. Training myself to sit with my feelings and be connected to present day as I react to the world with feelings that are based in today is my current challenging adventure. I never knew in my pursuit of getting better that it would mean I would have to experience and process feelings - a year ago I was unable to comprehend this sentence. Writing about feelings has done me a lot of good. Expressing my feelings is starting to give me more of a sense of control over myself in present day.

Thanks for Many Voices.



Hi Lynn,

I prefer to share what I do or did rather than how I felt/feel about stuff. I journal what I do not what I feel. You really got me thinking with this question. I'm doing the same thing you describe. Thanks for asking.


Hi Lynn,

We have to work really hard to be able to express our feelings but we are getting better at it. Writing (not necessaryily journaling) has helped us to get our feelings outside of us-they are on paper or computer screen. We can also see then where some of us don't know the same things as the others inside or if some inside or feeling differently about the situation. Sometimes we see that our thoughts are not swirling and unclear and then we can work to clarify. We don't have a support system either so we send our writings to our therapist and he is really good at helping us clarify what we are feeling. I have found that writing helps me become aware of what I am feeling and when I don't know my therapist helps me figure it out. After years of writing and having him help me know what I am feeling I can now identify it for myself and work through it.



Hi Lynn,
This is very be sending a Sharing Section response to someone I feel to have far more answers to this whole trauma/dissociation thing than I could ever have. Truly Lynn, you are a role model to me and to hundreds of other MV readers as well, I'm sure. Actually, the first thing I did when I saw your Sharing Question was check to see what your response was ....I love how you if you knew the rest of us would be looking to see what your words of wisdom might be. That said, feelings and emotions are an area I have much experience with and even more so, much passion about, so, keeping all of this in mind, here are some of my thoughts regarding emotions and how expressing them fully can help with healing.....

E = Energy. M = Motion.
Many authors and researchers describe our emotions as our "energy motions"....waves of energy created within our body/mind/spirit which, like most forms of energy, are related to some sort of movement. More specifically, our emotions are waves of energy intended to "move" us in some move us through our grief, anger, fear, even our joy and elation. This is something I wasn't aware of for most of my life. In fact, I can remember a day during my first marriage when I thought to myself, "Wow, I haven't cried for like 3 or 4 years. I must be so healthy!" So naive! Fast forward a few years and, still holding my emotions in check, I experienced an intense crisis or "breakdown" of my energy-holding system and, in time, admitted myself to a psychiatric hospital. During this crisis, I was terrified that, even in that chaotic state and having to leave my sons to go to the hospital, I still wasn't expressing any of my emotions and saw this as a sign that I was seriously ill. It was while reading one of my journal entries to my hospital therapist one afternoon that finally, I began to cry and in that moment realized that it was through emotional releases such as that one that I would ultimately heal. After leaving the hospital, I found an excellent mind/body therapy center where emotional release work soon became the mainstay of my healing, emotional releases which sprang mostly from dreams and emotions that I would record each day in my journal.

Although I first began keeping a journal in 1996, it wasn't until I began reading my journal entries to my therapist during my crisis in 2005 that I was able to start "moving" my "energy motions" from where they had been stuck in my mind/body/spirit for decades. This wasn't a process the therapist or I had to work to was a process that arose naturally whenever a particularly strong emotion would be tucked away in a dream or journal entry. Many times, these emotional releases would involve not only crying, but intense trembling and teeth chattering. Exhausting? Yes, but much less exhausting than trying to hold the emotions inside. After a few sessions, I discovered that each time I experienced one of these emotional releases I would leave my therapist's office feeling much more grounded and sane. It took time for me to trust this trust that it would not tear me to shreds....but from how terrified I had become during my crisis, I knew I had no choice but to learn to trust learn to trust the wisdom of my emotions. Somehow, I have always been able to continue functioning during this process...sometimes well, sometimes minimally but I think that sometimes we need to let go of some of our high-level functioning in order to allow ourselves the time we need to break-open and heal.

When I first began keeping a journal back in 1996, I did so based on a book by Julia Cameron titled, The Artist's Way. In this book, Cameron suggests 3 pages of journaling each morning, as soon as you wake up, even if you don't feel you have anything to write. I learned later in my hypnosis training that the first few moments after waking are moments when material from the subconscious are able to flow most easily into our conscious awareness. Recording any dreams I had during the night just seemed to fit naturally into this journal writing process. What I think is most important, especially for trauma survivors and dissociators, is to keep showing up to the page ....every day....keep showing up. It is in this way that we are able to convince the deeper aspects of ourselves that we are truly committed to this process of self-discovery and healing. I have also found it to be extremely valuable to be able to read some of our more significant journal entries/dreams to a trusted therapist, counselor or friend. There seems to be a sense of empowerment and trust established between the conscious and subconscious when we are able to speak our truths in the presence of a "witness"....something most sexual abuse survivors didn't have when the trauma was occurring.

Coming to a place where we are able to experience and release our emotions is not an easy process for most trauma survivors...we have learned all too well to deny our feelings and, as a result, to deny ourselves. For me, discovering my long-held emotions has been much like a homecoming, allowing me the opportunity to know and trust myself in a much more deep and intimate way. Whatever route you decide to take regarding exploring your emotions through journal writing, Lynn, I send you my wishes for your own inner homecoming...a homecoming that brings you a deeply felt sense of self-awareness, self-love and inner peace.
Lynda Wisdo


Obviously, if I could answer my own question, I wouldn't ask it. Please send your comments.

Lynn W.