Bearing the Storm Several years ago my family went to the Gulf of Mexico for a weekend at the beach. As soon as we arrived we began to hear rumors of a hurricane heading in our direction. It was still a few days away, and there wasn’t a cloud in the sky, but when we got in the water we could feel the storm brewing. What was normally a relatively laid back ocean with an occasional lazy wave here and there had turned into an angry foam. Its waves stood up twice as high as normal before they crashed back down into the water below. Then without hesitation they would raise right back up again in preparation for their next thunderous break. As a general rule, I am a pretty laid back, easy going kind of girl. You may get an occasional wave out of me, but even then they tend to be pretty harmless. Almost three years ago that was not the case. As I began sensing the storm that was building up momentum and heading toward me (the discovery of my husband’s infidelity), I became more and more upset. Had anyone been watching me, they would have seen a “bright, sun-shiny day” simply because that was the only way I knew how to act. I had lived a relatively happy and easy life up until that point, so all these stormy negative emotions felt foreign and somehow wrong. So I tried to ignore them, hoping they would go away. This may seem strange to you. It certainly seems strange to me now when I look back on it. The only way I can explain my odd reaction to negative emotion is that I had long believed the lie that positive emotion is “good” and negative emotion is “bad.” Being the ‘good’ girl that I am I had developed an unnatural ability to stuff down negative emotion. This proved to be a debilitating habit for me when the storm finally hit. It turns out stuffing down negative emotion doesn’t do anything but create a bigger problem later. While drowning in the pain of the secrets I had just uncovered, all the unhealed wounds that had been stuffed down and ignored for so long popped back up to the surface. What I had needed for the coming storm was a heart fully healed and fully alive. If I could go back in time I would tell myself to feel. There are times when it is perfectly necessary and appropriate to feel negative emotion. Thankfully, I went to a very good counselor (Rick Reynolds at Affair Recovery) who was able to help me navigate my way through the choppy waves that were stirred up by the fresh pain of betrayal. While it would have been easier to grieve and heal the wounds as soon as they happened, all was not lost. We tackled each wave of painful memories as they came and eventually found healing for all of them. Perhaps that is part of the beauty that can be seen after a big storm. We have a lot of hard work cleaning up the mess, but in the end we are made clean and new. With hearts fully restored and fully alive.