Have you ever been having a great time and all of a sudden a thought comes to you, one that seems to permeate your psyche and then suddenly the good time has morphed into something else? Happens to me a lot.
I think I have always been at war with my emotions on some level. Always wanting to feel something different than I am currently feeling. Alcohol was super good for that. Changing the way I felt. Instant mood alteration.
While it was hard to quit drinking, it has been way harder to learn to accept my emotions and their sometimes leveling affect. I am not sure where I picked up the idea that I could and should be happy all the time, but that belief has plagued me for the entirety of my life.
Any emotion that takes me down seems like some sort of prison sentence. However, I will say that while I have done better recently of accepting my emotions as they come, I am doing an even better job of what I do with them.
It kind of came as a shock that I could be angry but not lash out. I could be sad and cry instead of be a bitch. I could be hurt and not wound others. I could be bored and not create drama. I could be depressed and still function. Contrary action. I could actually choose how I was going to respond to emotions over which I have no control.
So after a lifetime of being the bitch of my own emotional nature, I feel like recently I have made some subtle progress on making better choices about what I do with my emotions. What I have found is that they need a lot of space. They need fresh air. They need time in quiet so that I don’t mistake them for something else. They are not an inconvenience or something just to get over. Emotions are there to tell us how we are doing and why...if we will allow it.
I spent many years running from myself and all the things that I felt. I just didn’t want to deal with it. I wanted something else. I wanted to just be happy. And in the constant and relentless pursuit of that, made myself and many others totally miserable.
Allowing whatever emotion that is occurring to land and then just be expressed within myself grants me time to decide what happens next. I see the benefit of this with my son most often. He is capable of pissing off The Pope...maybe even the Dali Lama. It has taken me a long time to see that this constant need to needle and agitate is a desperate cry for love. I didn’t see it for a long time and instead allowed the surface expression of his emotions to rule how I viewed them. Embarrassingly recently, I have been able to stop the compulsive and habitual response and do something different which gave way for me to see him differently and then respond to him differently.
I still feel somewhat at war with myself and my emotions. Perhaps it will always be this way. Perhaps I will make more progress. For now, I am grateful for the pause. The ability to do anything differently than I did the day before and to have any moment at all where I do not feel invaded. Progress not perfection...