For some men and women in recovery from sexual addiction, learning that they have to become better at identifying, experiencing, and expressing their feelings in order to overcome the addiction is enough of a reason to begin trying to become better. This is a good reason. Trust the many who have gone before you. As awkward or odd as it may seem to you, this is a part of the process. And it is worth it.
But what does expressing the emotion do?
First, experiencing and expressing the emotion reconnects us with ourselves. Think of the place within you that is in pain as a part of your heart that is wounded. Cutting yourself off from the pain cuts you off from that part of yourself. Feeling the pain and expressing it means reconnecting with that part of yourself. When you experience and express the feelings that are there, you are in essence affirming the wounded parts—that they are a part of you and that that part matters to the whole. And this is true whether the wound came five minutes ago or five decades ago.
Some people have lived much of their lives cut off from parts of themselves—windows shut and doors locked from important places within—because there are wounds present that cause pain. It’s time to open the doors and windows and to live as whole men and women again.
Second, experiencing and expressing the emotion reconnects us with others—including God. Telling others that the emotion is there is one step. Expressing it is a whole other step, and a much more helpful one. Just as we shut windows and doors to keep others out and away from those sources of pain in our lives, so now we must open the windows and doors to allow others in. Likewise with God. He is not an intruder who will knock doors down or break through windows without our permission.
As we allow God and others in to those places through expressing our emotions to them, they too serve to affirm that those wounded places are a part of you that matters—not just to you, but to the larger community.
As those who hear or see others expressing emotions in our presence, we sometimes believe we have to do something significant in response, when really one of the most significant responses we can give is simply to be present without rejecting the person, including the wounded places within.
Next week, we will look at how experiencing and expressing emotions in the presence of others can lead to personal comfort, connection, and healing.
Question for you: are there any emotions or feelings that you need to bring to the light and share with others? Are you willing to?