As I go through the emotional roller coaster that is my life and slowly dip my toes into experiencing my emotions rather than fighting them, I learn more about who I am. I’ve been on a mission my whole life to learn about who I am. I attacked books throughout my teens to learn about myself, to build a framework to describe myself and the way I see the world and find my place in it. But, as is evident from this blog, I was terrified of all my own experiences. They are so intense – too intense.
Part of me wonders why I’ve been so afraid of emotions. But then I remember just how powerful emotions are and I stop wondering. Over the last month I have trialled processing emotions – just experiencing them and waiting to see what they turn into.
Sadness. Fear. Pride. Guilt. More sadness. More guilt. More fear. Worry. A bit more pride when I remembered I was given a massive compliment. Shame because I allowed myself to feel pride. Excitement. Purpose. Anger. Fulfilment. Despair. Sorrow. Tiny glimpses of joy. I had some time off work and I did lots of quiet things that I enjoy. I watched tennis, sat in the garden, listened to an audiobook, knitted and baked. While I did these things I allowed myself to feel all these emotions. At first I wondered if I was slipping back into distraction habits that I have historically used to keep emotions at bay, but they were there with me all the time.
When I feel sadness I am swallowed by sadness. When I feel guilt I am swallowed by guilt. When I feel fear I am swallowed by fear. Fear is the worst. Anxiety pushes me towards suicide far more than depression ever does. It’s like being covered in wasps and I can’t get them all off me. I’m screaming and swatting and clawing but I’m still smothered. Every emotion I feel smothers me like that.
I waited to see what would happen to them. They shifted constantly and as the days passed I found new emotions and new ways of seeing the old emotions. In my sunlit bubble at home I accepted the worry and the guilt. I had the nightmares. I turned my eyes toward the emotions. I watched the sadness, fear, guilt, pride, shame. They are all part of me. They can momentarily swallow me but I’m slowly, sloooooooowly learning that the trick is to take a deep breath and wait for the emotion to free me and turn into one of the many baubles that surround me. They are all different colours, different shades. I can watch them shift and merge, catch the sunlight here and dip into shadow there.
The process never ends. I managed it, for the first time I think, this month. I came out the other side, looked back and could see the trails of burning emotions that were now settled into shimmering, glittering baubles around me. Just as I breathed a sigh of relief I was assaulted by another one. I didn’t handle it very well – I burst into tears in front of my boss and a little bit of crossness showed … and I felt ashamed for days. Then paranoia struck and I spent the last two days feeling the old familiar panic, awake for hours in the night.
It will never end. Emotions assault me and I treat them like my enemy. They are things to fight or to endure with gritted teeth. They are things to be got rid of. But they are not my enemy. Emotions are part of who I am. I feel them all. They allow me to help people when I tap into them instead of batting them away in a panic. The flip side is that they hurt me. They take my breath away and swarm on me like wasps. As one set of emotions transforms into shimmering baubles around me, another swarm of wasps covers me. In a few days my current wasps may be baubles once more.
I wish I could paint! I have such vivid pictures in my mind. My words will have to do. *Polishes pen*