Day 75 - Sadness, Anger & Steve the Bouncer
I will own the fact that I don’t do sad well. I do not enjoy being sad. It has only been recently that that sad was an emotion I could even experience. I just went straight to being angry. I liked that feeling better because it did not come with such a feeling of powerlessness. Anger gave me a spot to rest where I did not feel like the sand was slipping from underneath my feet. Anger was easier, more familiar and allowed me not to feel sad. Anger was like a 6’ 5” bouncer at the door of my life, continuously knocking sadness back into the street and allowing no admittance to the dive bar of my mind. No matter how much or often sadness tried to get in, Steve the angry bouncer, kept knocking it back.
It has only been recently that I have been able to feel sad. It started with Lane (seriously what didn’t!). When he left my first reaction was anger. I was pissed. I said some not very nice things to him. Then I raged. I was unhinged. Not at him. I talked to my family and friends and I was so mad. I realized recently that I have always allowed anger to shoulder the burden of other emotions. Anger disproportional to all others because all others could only be expressed through anger.
The night that Lane ended things with me came as a shock, I was not expecting it even though we had been circling the drain for months. I did see the end coming, I just didn’t want to. When he left for good that night, I could not bear the sad. I could not allow it to come because I had no sad receptor. Or rather the sad receptor in my life was so small and unused that it was not really functional. So anger had to step in and take over because there was emotional fall out happening all around me and someone had to clean up the emotional deluge.
This would be why I am so grateful Lane crushed my heart. It was the beginning of a new me. It was the place where I could no longer go on as I had before. I had to change. I was so hurt and broken that I had to find another way to live.
So it began there. Heart decimated. Ego in shreds. Cryking (crying + hiking = cryking) helped. That was a place I could be sad. The beauty and rawness of nature, a place that I felt was strong enough to hold my pain. A place where I could be weaker because I was in fact weaker than all that surrounded me. There was not a doubt in my mind that nature had me beat in the strength department, so I could allow the wild world to bear my pain. I could be sad there because nature could handle it. I am not sure that even makes sense but I know that it is true.
What I did not realize until this week was that my over-functioning sad bouncer (we will continue to call him Steve) was operative even when the proverbial bar was closed. The other day as I cried about my son moving away, I was able to be sad. I was able to own it. I cried through writing, mediation and yoga but then somehow I decided I was done and began to move on into my day. Sad expressed, checked off and now in check...except it wasn’t. I was still sad but I was unaware. Unaware until anger showed up a little later with its sidekick irritation (we are going to call him Scott). Those two are quite the fucking pair. Each taking turns ruining my present moment. I rained down first irritation then anger on my children all because I was still fucking sad but couldn’t assimilate that, I could not own it.
It was later that day that I realized what I had done. the feelings of sadness too much to bear and so like a person with multipersonality disorder, the protector personality stepped in and took over to protect the smaller and weaker personalities. Anger (Steve) stepping into the ring in order to spare the weaker selves. And just like that I could see it. I could see that this is what I do. I could see that this was my life. Anger over functioning because the other parts of myself were so under developed and stunted. The whole of my life replete with opportunities to be sad but not being able to feel it or experience it because anger always rushes in to take control and keep me feeling safe. This worked for a very long time. But it no longer serves me so I am sad to report that I am going to have to retire Steve the angry bouncer and his asshole sidekick, irritation (Scott). They can no longer stand in the doorway of my life and keep all the other feelings out. The other feelings have to have a full access pass to my life...dive bar that it is. I am not sure why these other feelings are dying to get in or why they didn’t give up years ago, I am just grateful that they didn’t. I am terrified but also excited to be different. To feel different.
Anger/irritation and I are breaking up. I am not saying that I will never be angry or irritated again, not possible. I am human. But I am done allowing anger and irritation to shoulder all the blame and take the heat. I am sending “Steve” and "Scott" on a prolonged and long overdue vacation to some desert island where they can get a little R&R. They fucking need it - they are both wound way too tightly. I am going to focus on feeling other things. Sadness being one of them. These last few days before my son leaves, I am going to allow sadness full entrance to my life. I am not even going to worry about sadness inviting depression over. Depression can come too but is not allowed to move in. I think this is what I have been afraid of all these years...if I let them in, I have no control over when they leave.
Today I know that this is not true. I can change my mind any time and do all the time. If it appears that sadness and its best friend depression are over staying their welcome, I have other friends that can escort them to the door: humor, levity, equanimity, joy, happiness and others that are more than happy to enter and crowd them out.
“Steve” and "Scott" are still allowed to make some cameo appearances. They are not banned for life. The have roles, overacted “B”movie roles, but roles nonetheless. But “Steve” and "Scott" will no longer be allowed to keep the others out or bear the brunt of them rushing the door to my life. It is terrifying, but I am getting rid of the angry emotional bouncer in my life and his strange little sidekick irritation. Flinging open all the doors and windows and saying bring it on. I am tired of being afraid and living a half lived life. I am tired of being angry instead of sad all so that I can avoid feeling powerless and scared. I am powerless and I am scared. I am also not alone. It is in our nature as humans to feel this. I am not sure why I thought I was above this or the exception to the rule...but I did.
So if you see me sadder and crying more, pat me on the back. Congratulate me because I am fucking working hard over here. I am doing my best to be a whole human being. It is a lot of work. It takes quite a bit of strength. It takes some courage too. But I have had always had courage and strength...they are really why I am still here. I will beat on, attempting yet again to live more authentically while letting you see that. It takes bravery but I have that today. Because I am more scared today of not being real than I am of being anything else. I would also like to make a formal introduction of my new friend sadness or "Emma Greenway Horton" as I like to call her. Come on, is there a sadder person in the history of all film than Deborah Winger in Terms of Endearment??? I think not.