The Emotional Roller Coaster

The Emotional Roller Coaster- Cancer

What are your options when you know your emotions are running your life and you really need to find a center balance point to be there for your loved one?

How do you be the support person when your friend is upset and having difficulty dealing with loss or grief ?

I wish I could give you the right formula that would help you every time.

I can only share what I learned about accepting my emotions without letting them take over my life.

I now view my emotions as waves. Emotional waves can be large or small, expected or unexpected. You can learn to swim with your emotions by accepting them as just your feelings of the moment.

I hate crying, yet I have cried more the last 30 days than the last 30 years. I hate not having the answers, yet there are some questions that have no answers. I like having a plan and knowing what will happen next. Cancer of a loved one does not give you that option. Making plans is a waste of time and energy. Living on an emotional roller coaster is exhausting and unsustainable. So what do you do?

Most of us have tried two things, ignore your emotions or stuff them away to deal with some day. Some day never comes, so that is the same as ignoring them.

Ignoring emotions allow them to build up to a crisis where you are likely to explode over trivial things. Learning to accept and work with your emotions will allow you to accept them as an experience instead of a stress trigger.
Here are three ideas that have helped me stay steady and calm.

First: Accept the fact that you have emotions and they will show up unexpectedly.

Second: Recognize your feelings and acknowledge them. I do that my naming them.

Third: Ask yourself “what do I need right now?” as a way to focus on actions that support you in time of chaos.

Self-care will take many forms. I thrived on reading, exercising and focusing on small daily routines that brought me comfort. Judith Oeloffs’ book Emotional Freedom was useful for my handling this sudden change in my life. She describes emotional freedom as a chance to become better. “ To make this a reality, you must begin to see each event of your life, uplifting or hurtful, earthshaking or mundane as a chance to grow stronger, smarter, more light-bearing. “ My definition has been simpler. Emotional freedom means to flex your emotional muscles on a regular basis until you accept them as part of you. Do your current strategies work for handling emotions? Reach out and start stretching those emotional muscles by connecting with other people, a trusted friend, a coach.

 

Communication Dance

When I talk to my parents and inquire about how they are doing in general or in any specific area: the answer is always we are fine, just fine. What I observe when I am with them is the difference of how they move or operate now compared to previous years. I see a big difference. Is this fine because they really think everything is OK or because they have accepted the changes and I have not?
This is where our communication dance becomes complex. I think we are in a dance where I try to uncover issues and they cover or minimize any issues that come up. My big laugh comes because this is our family pattern in exact reverse. Growing up, my parents asked the questions and I covered up at every opportunity and minimized any issues I had.
I think every family has their practiced communication patterns. I have found they get mixed up or turned upside down as we all slide into different roles based on aging needs and changing abilities.
So, what do you do now? I have found listening and really listening is what gives me the best idea of how my parents are doing. I try to be curious about a topic and ask with interest instead of demanding to know why something happened. This practice has met my need for getting more depth of information from just phone conversations.
Try stepping back and looking at your current communication patterns with your family? Are they working? What would happen if you practiced just listening?

Personal Boundaries

Personal boundaries are those invisible limits that you set around your life to allow good things in and keep you out of harmful situations. I consider boundaries as landmarks that mark my comfort zone in many situations. For many years I was a yes person. I would agree to take on any project and fix any situation for others with no regard for how that affected my energy levels. Then I moved to the other extreme and became a no person to any request. I had to learn to say no to everything because I did not trust my own system for deciding what things were harmful or helpful to me.
What can strong boundaries do for you? Personal boundaries put you in charge of how you live your life and how you choose to interact with others. They demonstrate respect for your needs and how much you treasure yourself.
What happens when you have no limits or personal boundaries?
One example is that you invite people into your life before you know their trustworthiness. You open yourself up to victimization. You find yourself overcommitted and unable to keep promises with feeling overwhelmed with no end in sight. Very weak boundaries can lead to emotional upheavals and feeling that life is out of control.
What happens when you set up very strong or rigid boundaries?
Here safety and control are you key needs. The results are not being open to new ideas or shutting yourself off from interactions and personal growth.
How do you find a middle ground? You learn by paying attention to your current boundaries and how they are working for you? What things have you agreed to do that immediately created a sense of overwhelm for you? What people or requests made you uncomfortable? When have you wanted to change your mind and join in after you turned down an invitation?
The best idea I can give you is try treating yourself as you would your very best friend. Be considerate of your own time. Take actions that demonstrate your value in life. Make it a process to act as your own best friend.