The Currency of Love

This week in our home we’ve been managing and trying to make space for intense feelings and hard emotional conversations. Dennis Shriver and I can agree that parenting five teens all at once might be the hardest thing we’ve ever done together.

As parents we admit that we sometimes screw up when teen hormones and emotions are flying every direction. Often, self-regulation is hard for children, but even as adults in our 40’s we struggle just the same. It’s intense and sometimes flat out defeating. Still, we try to operate in love, circle back around, hug, have family meetings, and say, “I love you.”

A few weeks ago I opted to take a speciality course on Trauma counseling. The professor said the most profound statement. (Get a pen and paper ‘cause you’re gonna want to write this down). He quoted the famous therapist, Diane Fusia, who said, “all emotion experience alone is traumatic.”

When he said that I sat there thinking for a few minutes. I totally tuned out of the lecture. I thought of times in my life when I experienced deep emotions, happy or sad, but I was all alone to deal with it.  I thought about how I had longed for someone to hug, sit with, or express too during that time. It’s like when you go to a really cool place but your spouse stayed at home with the kids ... and you see this breathtaking sunset and you wish he was there with you to experience the emotions running through your body ... so you immediately call him but he doesn’t pick up the phone because he’s knee deep in dirty diapers ... and you long for him to be right next to you, holding your hand because it’s meaningful and you love him, and he’s your person. -or- When you were hurt and broken from toxic high school relationships as a teen, and your parents tried to comfort you but because you’re stubborn and mad... you push them away by slamming the door in their face, even though deep inside you really just want to be held and soothed.

In these delicate moments, when we are hurting, if we can learn to sooth one another, hold one another, and sit with one another through the pain, we will become more emotionally secured individual humans as we grow and mature. On the other hand, when we abandon one another, choose to ignore each other’s pain, promote a “suck it up buttercup” attitude, and stuff down the true feelings, we create individual humans who are rigid, insecure with emotional expression, and unable to sooth themselves in times of stress.

It’s profound, but it’s true. Maybe this holiday season as we encounter messy family relationships and broken people, we can try to remember that love, compassion, empathy, and togetherness truly  does conquer all.