Hidden emotions

Wow! This last few weeks of the Coronavirus pandemic have been my toughest emotionally.

This seems bizarre, given that we dealt with a family bereavement in the first couple of weeks, quickly adjusted (as best we could) to the challenges of working from home, while home schooling two children (one with additional needs) and coped reasonably well with being confined to our four walls the majority of the time.

Or am I remembering how I felt through rose tinted glasses?

I do have a tendency to remember things to have been easier than they actually were. Like those sleepless nights of early motherhood. I recall they were tough – but as the memory has faded – were they really that bad?! I’m sure a mother of a newborn right now would confirm they were.

But this week, I’ve found myself in floods of tears on more than one occasion – it’s happened to my kids too. We’ve been left wondering where on earth the tears came from. That was until I heard some really useful information from our HR department at work this week.

They talked about naming the emotional language of this season. One of the phrases they used really resonated with me – ‘hidden emotions’. They talked about how in a crisis we can push emotions down in order to deal with the immediacy of the situation, but over time those emotions will come to the surface.

For me that was a lightbulb moment. A huge relief to hear I’m not the only one to be feeling this way. I’m not going crazy – I’m processing my emotions (some of them quite delayed!).

I’m processing the grief of losing out on the plans we’d made for spring 2020.

I’m processing the fact that as tough as it’s been, the safety of this little family bubble we formed over the last 12 weeks, is slowly being extended. I’m uneasy about what that transition will look like.

I’m processing uncertainty for the future, how will my children (and I) adjust as they go back to school?

But as much as it was a relief, it was also super helpful to sit down and name the ‘hidden emotions’ which were coming to the surface. Grief, worry, uncertainty. It’s also been amazing to help my children to name their emotions and for them to realise we’re all feeling different things right now and that’s OK. I googled a lot of great emotion activities for kids and we particularly like the ‘Which emotion am I?’ game here . Some of the activities have helped me too!

We’ve also talked about how God tells us to share our emotions with him. We’ve read Philippians 4:6-7 and Psalm 34:4-5 (especially helpful in The Message translation). We’ve learnt that as we tell God all our concerns, worries and disappointments, he really does come and settle us down. He is interested to know how we’re feeling.

We’ve even made an emotion jar, which is a bit like a prayer jar. We’ve written different emotions on slips of paper and when we’re feeling a certain way, we can grab the emotion from the jar and use it to tell God how we are feeling. And if we haven’t got the words, we can just sit quietly holding the emotion until we feel God’s peace.

My encouragement to us all as parents is this – we’ve never been this way before. We’ve never transitioned out of lockdown and as we do so we’ll all be feeling all sorts of different emotions. But we can be sure of one thing – our amazing Father is taking hold of our hands right now and reminding us that he is here to help us (Isaiah 41:13).

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