Numb feelings. That was my defense mechanism during the peak of my grief. I needed to shut down the emotional part of myself to survive the unspeakable grief that befell my family. I shut down the part of me that felt anger, sadness, fear, joy and perhaps, love. It was an unhealthy move.

It is okay to have and feel our feelings. All of Them.


During my rebellious teen-age years, the outspoken me often got a tongue-lashing from my parents for verbalizing my feelings. I lived in the old-fashioned parenting style where parents refused to tolerate my emotions. I got shamed or reprimanded for expressing feelings and I don’t blame them. Their own parents taught them to repress their own.

Times have changed. It is okay now to acknowledge and accept our emotions. I don’t allow my emotions to control me though, neither do I need to repress my feelings in a rigid fashion. My emotional center forms a valuable part of my physical wellness, my thinking and spirituality.

Last night, my husband rolled over to my side of the bed, hugged me and sighed “I’m sad”. I cuddled him in my arms and reassured him “it’s okay to be sad and it’s okay to let it go too”. I understand his sadness. I know that sweet memories of my beloved son always triggers grief. It is the grief pattern of most bereaved parents no matter how many years have elapsed. We know the these waves of profound sadness can just happen any time of the month no matter if years have passed.

It is not a sign of weakness nor deficiency for indulging in our feelings. It means we’re becoming healthy and whole. I know there will come a point when this temporary sadness will move on to reflect happy feelings. There will be days that I’ll be upset but then I know that I will allow myself to recognize and accept whatever feelings pass through me. Without shame, I allow myself to tune in to the emotional part of myself.

What about you? Don’t just say Mad, Sad or Glad,

Here are a list of feeling words and expressions that can be used to more accurately describe what is going on in your heart, mind and body

Words and phrases which reflect feeling upset:

Unhappy, disappointed, distressed, disappointed, disturbed, saddened, troubled, offended, displeased, mourning, grieving, mixed up, out of balance, disorganized, dismayed, wounded, troubled, weepy, letdown, confused, out of synch, inner turmoil, shook up, lonely, afraid, worried, concerned,

Words and phrases which reflect happy feelings:

Pleased, full of joy, giggly, pleasure, satisfied, contented, grateful, hopeful, enthusiastic, cheerful, optimistic, in high spirits, blissful, exultant, cheerful, on cloud nine, lucky, blessed, fortunate, delighted, thankful, relieved.

How are you feeling today?

I heard a voice so close to my ears “Are you tweeting??. I turn around to my husband and smiled, “Yes” then promptly closed my macbook.

What my husband really means is “I’m lonely here, give me some loving hugs”. You know, sometimes I can get really engrossed with my online activities that my husband has to remind me with these subtle hints. Being together for the past 35 years, I developed a fifth sense- the ability to be sensitive to his feelings and, to read his mind.

It took a lot of years for me to finally understand his “language”. My husband is the type to “beat around the bush” before getting to the crux of the matter. For example,

If Butch wants me to do the grocery, he doesn’t request me to do it. He asks “I didn’t finish the grocery today. Do you think you have time to do the grocery tomorrow?” which I know really means “Do it for me, please”.

If that were me, I’d be more direct. I’d actually request it: “I don’t have time to do the grocery, can you do it for me?”

My directness brought me a lot of marital rifts in the past maybe because I did not say it gently. With time, I learned to use his indirect language when I know it calls for “beating around the bush”. Perhaps his beating around the bush is his gentle truth. It really drives me crazy to beat around the bush but that’s how he works.

I grew up with a family that was very open with our communication. If we didn’t like something, we said what was on our mind. However, direct statements can hurt. I learned a technique that does not make my family members defensive whenever I utter an opinion. I start the sentence with “I feel _______” statements. With varied emotions, I can say…

I feel worried if you go home late at night, Lauren which is far better than “You should be home by midnight or else….you’re grounded”

I feel sad that you yelled at me” after an argument which works far better “You are such a loud-mouth! Shut up”.

Feelings are never wrong because you own it. It is okay to have and feel our feelings—all of them. Maybe in the past I shut down the emotional part of myself to survive certain situations. Sometimes we shut down the part of us that feels anger, sadness, fear, joy and love. Many of us lived in systems with people who refused to tolerate our emotions. In the past, I felt shamed or even reprimanded for expressing feelings, and these are by people who were taught to repress their own feelings.

Times have changed now. It is okay now for me to acknowledge and accept my emotions. I don’t allow emotions to control me and ruin my day, neither do I need to rigidly repress my feelings.

I feel safe around direct and honest people. They speak their minds and I know where I stand with them. Like I said, that was not the case in the early parts of my marriage as my husband beats around the bush in expressing his feelings. Indirect people, people who are afraid to say who they are, what they want and what they’re feeling is not a comfortable feeling. They will somehow act their truth even though they do not speak it. And it may catch everyone by surprise.

I do not need to be judgmental, tactless, blaming, or cruel when I speak my truths. I can say what we need to say. I can gently, but assertively, speak my mind.

Freedom is just a few words away.