Many parents or other family caregivers will tell me that they feel badly because they feel frustration, bitterness, resentment and sometimes anger along with the massive sadness, fear, worry and compassion for their loved one with an eating disorder. It can be tricky to find ways to allow all of those to be true at the same time without beating ourselves up or feeling a bit out of whack.

Turns out, dismantling one’s entire life to hit the road for 2 years brings up a lot of opposing emotions and is a daunting task. I knew it would be a lot and am still confident that the juicing will be worth the juice so to speak. And although it feels good to be letting go of things that have just been taking up space and aren’t used, it’s a lot of work and some of it is rather sad. I knew it would be a lot of work. And I still said yes to it because I want more adventure, fun, lightness, ease and beauty. While it’s painful to be letting go of a house we just love and releasing things that have been important to us, it’s also true that I’m excited about the adventures.

The rubber is hitting the proverbial road…packers are coming Monday (I’m writing this on Saturday), movers Tuesday and be out by Thursday. Fortunately we found a furnished apartment…and we can go there to sleep when our beds are gone, which will be today and tomorrow.

The ‘both/and’ concept is one I first learned of in my professional coaching training. It was nice to finally have a fun way to express what in clinical terms is often called having ‘bivariate’ emotions when there are some mixed emotions. Sadness and joy can both exist at the same time for example and you might say you have both sadness and joy….

It was a lightbulb moment in that training to realize that when we notice that we have conflicting emotions, we allow both opposing thoughts or emotions to be present and we honor each emotion – we can suffer less. What a concept.

Thankfully now there are children’s books that address this concept so hopefully now kids can learn that early on and not have to wait until their 40’s to learn this sanity saving tool.

All of these conflicting or opposing emotions has me thinking daily about all of the family caregivers who tell me that it’s too hard to do fun or fulfilling things because they’re so sad and fearful about their loved one with an eating disorder. Many will tell me that it feels like they would be betraying their loved one if they were to have a fun time while their loved one is suffering so much.

So my bit of insight for family caregivers and those of you who are treating their children, spouses, siblings, friends…yes, it’s hard. And we can do it. Honoring both emotions is going to help. Often we feel more empowered when we have permission so feel free to take this as your permission to go have fun and notice what else you are feeling in addition to the enjoyment. It’s okay to be still also feeling that sadness or grief or guilt. These different  emotions can live alongside one another.

My tips for living as well as possible with conflicting emotions:

  1. Give yourself permission to feel whatever shows up.
  2. Allow those feelings with permission.
  3. Honor all the feelings.
  4. Breathe through each of them (this one is a bit more concrete than the 1st three).
  5. Ask yourself, “Which is going to serve me and my loved one most?”
  6. Choose which you’d like to focus on.
  7. Be gentle with yourself as you notice that even when you’re focusing on the feeling you chose a few minutes ago, the other feelings will still be present.

Big hugs to you all.

Now, if my sore muscles will carry me…back to sorting and keeping what brings me joy and releasing to someone else what no longer serves me. 🙂