It has taken me several years of hard work to be able to identify my emotions. I had emotions, and I expressed emotions (usually, the ones that got expressed were what I thought I was SUPPOSED to be feeling)... but I had become so focused on figuring out the emotional needs of the people around me that I actually lost track of my own.

Anger was one of the hardest emotions. To recognize that a behavior or situation made me angry was to put my own needs first, and I loved the people I was with too much to do that. It took a lot of hard work for me to realize that I HAVE to put myself first-- I MUST respect myself and my needs-- because if I don't, NOBODY ELSE WILL EITHER. It was a painful lesson, and a long time coming.

Often now, I take an hour or so at the end of a conversation to re-evaluate what was said, and really check in with how I feel about it, and about what was or was not done before and after the conversation. Conversations become a two-part process, wherein I check back with the person I was talking to, and clarify any reactions that I've had since we talked.

I know now that I cannot actually control my emotions-- and that suppressing them is bad for my health and for my relationships. I know that what I CAN control is how I act in a given situation, or as a result of how I feel. I don't have to act out every emotion I have-- and I can find healthy respectful ways to share how I'm feeling-- or to release the emotions privately.

I'm getting better at admitting it when something does make me mad. I realize that usually, there's a very good reason for me to feel that way. And out of respect for and love of myself, I deserve better than that. It's not that I ignore or discount the needs and feelings of the people around me--far from it. Instead, I recognize that life is about change, and about working with others as a community-- for the greatest good. For the good of the whole-- including me.

Life energy-- Goddess Energy-- flows through us all. To disrespect or disregard ourselves is to dis Her. Take responsibility for yourself-- your actions, your reactions, how you interact with other people and with the Earth, AND take responsibility for your needs. It is up to you to satisfy them.

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