This week I had a major epiphany related to some emotions that I’ve been repressing for many, many years. I set an intention that I really wanted to dig deeply into the emotional components of some pain that I’ve been experiencing and woah: Be careful what you wish for! Within days of setting the intention, things really began to move and shake.

We hold our unexpressed emotions in our bodies and so when we repress them over time, they can eventually manifest as illness or chronic pain. We can release the patterns, but if we don’t take care of the underlying emotional cause of the discomfort, the pattern will return or it will show up in a different way. Emotions are our ultimate truth-tellers and at the simplest level what they really want is to be acknowledged and heard.

Sometimes this can take years of unraveling. For some time now, I have been aware that I hold anger in my wrists and hands, and I’ve done a lot of work to release it (it has manifested as carpal tunnel syndrome). I’ve journaled, screamed, punched pillows, cried and done tons of energy work. I’ve uncovered some of the patterns and changed the way that I use my hands and wrists, honoring them by no longer engaging in the physical actions that compound the pain. And while they have improved dramatically, there are still a few layers of constriction and resistance in them that are calling out to be heard.

Spirit has a really great way of presenting things to us in a manner that allows for them to unfold organically if we allow for it. And so a situation arose for me that forced me to take a look below the surface of my reaction to an opportunity that had arisen for me. Thanks to a wonderful accountability partner who helped me to follow the clues back to their origin, I was able to understand some things on a very deep level. I was able to see how I’ve had a pattern of simultaneously feeling out of control while attempting to maintain or wrestle control with respect to the way I interact in the world.

The short of it is that I felt compelled to overachieve and compete and be the “best of” everything that I did growing up (and if I wasn’t really damn good at something, I just wouldn’t do it). And I remember all the way back to my childhood waking up with my fists clenched in tight balls. I walked away from the competitive lifestyle many years ago because it became too much for me: I was injured and in pain mentally, emotionally, and physically, and I knew that I just couldn’t do it anymore. It’s taken years to fully step away and I still notice old habits of thinking that pop up now and then, though I can usually step through them pretty quickly. I still hadn’t really felt the emotions that I needed to feel, though, going all the way back to my childhood.

Post-epiphany, I had really intense dreams and I woke up with my right fist tightly clenched. Immediately I set about taking some steps to surrender. I unclenched it and began to breathe. I journaled and I prayed and I turned it over to Spirit. I have a lot to dig through with this still. I can feel the discomfort even now now beginning to rise. But I am aware that being uncomfortable is a blessing. If I can just move through it, I can get to the other side where there is relief and a softening that feels really, really sublime.

Right now I’m working on being the best me that I can be and that is enough. I am enough, even and especially as-is, and I am empowering myself every day to be just a little stronger, wiser, and compassionate than I was the day before.

When we can become aware of what is beneath the surface and work with it in a kind and honorable manner, we are able to release not just our pain, but we are also able to create a stronger foundation of understanding upon which we can thrive.