Marianne Williamson said, “Allopathic doctors used to laugh condescendingly at those who posited that psychological, emotional and spiritual factors were important contributors to the sickness as well as healing of the body.”
After I got married, I developed stomach issues. My stomach would burn after I ate anything with tomato sauce, onions, or garlic. So, pizza was killing me!
The problem got worse and worse, so I decided to see a doctor. He told me to take Prevacid for two months then stop.
I was like, “Yeah, then what? I can’t just take antacids whenever this happens, is there a cure?”
He said, “Well, for some reason, after taking it for two months, the body adjusts and no longer has the problem.”
I was completely skeptical, but I decided to try it anyway.
I took it for two months and the problem disappeared! I was shocked because I simply didn’t have the issue anymore. I could eat what I wanted once again.
Then… a few months later it came back. It was nice while it lasted.
This was a serious problem for me. My breath was bad and I couldn’t eat the food I loved anymore. I was thinking that I’d have to eat antacids for the rest of my life!
I decided to take control of my life and figure out why it was coming back. I became a micro-manager of both my diet and my daily habits, just to figure out exactly when the acid appeared.
After a few weeks, I noticed a trend. I noticed that when I swallowed anger, my stomach would hurt.
At the time, I thought it was silly to think that emotions led to physical ailments. But I made a connection that indeed, when I got angry, and I didn’t express that anger, my stomach hurt!
So I had to make a serious decision to do something about my stomach issues. Do I take more antacids and just live with the problem, or do I start expressing my anger even though it could lead to some unpleasant conversations?
I already knew where most of the anger derived: I had a problem with my wife eating junk food.
At the time, I was emotionally triggered by her junk food addiction so whenever she reached for it, I took it personally. I took it as if she relied on food to fulfill her emotional needs instead of me.
This dysfunction in me stemmed from living with an alcoholic stepfather for almost 20 years. Whenever he reached for a drink, I “knew” he didn’t love me. After all, ‘if he loved me, he wouldn’t drink’.
I didn’t say those exact words at the time, but looking back, that’s how I felt. When he drank, I felt like he didn’t love me.
I took my childhood beliefs into my marriage and didn’t understand how she could really love me if every time she was stressed she ate junk food. I felt like she would rather be with food than me.
This activated old triggers in me where I felt unloved and neglected. And because I also felt like I couldn’t speak up and express myself (out of fear of retaliation), I held in my true thoughts and emotions.
And soon, I had more acid in my stomach than I could handle.
So I made the choice to start expressing no matter what the consequences.
I chose to share with my wife what I was feeling and whatever emotions came up in me. This was one of the most difficult steps I’ve ever taken in a relationship because I always believed it was better to avoid confrontation.
There is no benefit to avoiding confrontation unless you fear getting physically injured.
But, I avoided confrontation all my life. I “knew” that it was dangerous to express myself because doing so would incite my drunk stepfather’s aggression. At least, that was my childhood belief kicking in.
So the first time I expressed my true thoughts and emotions to my wife, I immediately felt relief in my stomach.
Yes, the acid reduced and I felt better.
And the second time I expressed myself, it happened again. There was a pattern here!
So I continued, knowing that she wasn’t going to like everything I had to say. But I also knew that if I kept it in, it would only fester and get worse inside of me. The more I expressed, the better I felt.
And soon, the pain and acidity were nearly gone. I still have a problem with tomato sauce, but most of my stomach and digestive issues are now gone. All because I chose to accept whatever consequences there were to express myself.
It was scary, but it led to more honest communication with my wife. I no longer feared expressing the hard stuff because I had a bigger mission in mind now: Me.
I chose to make me a priority and made honoring myself most important above all, even if it meant that what I expressed would make the other person leave me.
When you honor yourself, even at the cost that someone might leave you, it is the path of healing and growth instead of pain and hurt.
Sure, there’ll be painful moments, but they pass. Swallowing upset does not pass, it festers. And the results could lead to physical symptoms.
I’m not a doctor, and your situation may be completely different than mine, so always seek the advice of a medical professional when it comes to your health.
I just know what worked for me. Mental health does affect physical health, so do what you can to keep both well maintained.
My marriage didn’t last because of my emotional triggers and my attitude about her eating behaviors. After all, who wants to be consistently judged for the food they put into their mouth?
I learned a lot from that period in my life. I learned to focus on my own healing and growth, not my partner’s (unless they wanted my input). And I learned that if I really had a problem with her behavior, I should have followed a different path instead of continuing to bludgeon her with my dysfunction.
I know that now, and the cost of that knowledge was my marriage. But, the lesson will never leave me.
Learn to express often. Don’t swallow your upset. Know that there will be consequences and learn to accept that whatever happens needs to happen for your learning, healing, and growth.
If you’re in a physically abusive situation, then don’t express yourself to the abusive person – get out of that situation instead! A loving, supportive relationship means that you honor the other person and want them to be happy no matter what. Abusive people don’t want your happiness, they are trying to fulfill their own needs by abusing you.
If someone doesn’t want you to be happy, or they keep putting you down when you’re feeling good, maybe it’s time to express your truth and see what happens or move on and start creating a better life for yourself.
Empowerment will come when you follow your true path.
Click on the PLAY button above the image for today’s episode where I talk about the physical symptoms of emotional repression, a woman who can’t let go of the pain of her husband’s affair, and a perspective on emotions through voice and body language.