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Processing Tough Emotions

Last night and this morning I was filled with thoughts that wouldn’t leave me alone and I could feel myself on edge. The nagging feelings of needing to be alone, to not be touched or talked to, to have space, to go be free were like wild horses all raging and jerking about.

I went for a run this morning and when I was almost done with 3 miles and almost home, I could feel something trying to come up and out of me, some long lost emotion, something big and wild, something that was bucking to escape. I turned around at the big cypress that usually marks the end of a run and decided (needed) to do another loop around the small lake in the neighborhood near us. All of a sudden, I was heaving and crying in the pouring rain. Thank goodness there was no one around or I know I would have held back. There may have been some concerned passersby in their cars, but I don’t recall.

What spurred this on is I have been doing some guided meditations in the morning focusing on allowing oneself to feel and acknowledge all emotions, even thanking our darkness and dark emotions. Searching for and calling the pain to the surface. Examining it and letting the thoughts around this pain to come without judgement. I have been taking the time to honor and reach inward into these dark fissures. I have been welcoming despair to unfold its pockets and shake loose any un-processed thoughts, feelings, and emotions. That, coupled with my husband being gone for 4 days on my own with the kids, it was all coming to a head.

I felt I was too deep in the monotony of daily life. I was adrift and feeling hopeless about having satisfaction or lasting happiness in my future. I get like this sometimes. Unruly and dissatisfied with everything. Spirit weakness or emptiness fits the description for me. A run is usually enough to get me through. I was grateful it was pouring rain in the morning, which is my favorite time to run. Thankfully there was no lightning. I have always loved being in the rain, something that most people seem to avoid. To me it is cleansing and grounding. It reminds me that I am a part of nature, not separate from it. I love the coolness of the run and the ability to make pretty good time. I am in the midst of drama from my mama, and I am also having some identity/independence/interpersonal stuff coming up in my roles and relationship. The thought that really stopped me in my tracks this morning and wrenched the soul-deep sob was “I just want a mother I can call and who tells me, ‘It’s all going to be okay baby, I love you no matter what, we’ll figure it out together, what can I do?’” You know, the tender, southern, sweet mother. The kind of mom who sends care packages at camp. I stood there on the sidewalk in the pelting rain with my head in my hands. I haven’t cried that hard in a long time. I have felt so isolated and alone. I felt the loss of not just moving away from my mother and father for the past 8 years but also my cousins and aunt and uncle who are very loving and live close to each other in Texas. I felt the loss of who I was when I met my husband. We have a wonderful business and wonderful kids and I hate to be ungrateful, but it was all too much.

I have always wanted to be in a partnership. From the time I was in High School, and the ideas of coupledom were deeply in place by culture and media. I wanted “it.” I wasn’t exactly choosing the right candidates, but the idea was there. I wanted a partner whom I could trust. A best friend to share my life with.

I tended toward people who would recreate my trauma, emotionally unavailable workaholics. I chose people who I could say “I told you so,” to myself when they would disappoint. I wanted a partner, but I was afraid to be all-in.

The idea of finding “the one” was a constant companion. Every group I joined and every place I went I was always open to the idea of meeting a guy. It dominated my thoughts. It was a strong driver for me in life. I thought more about meeting a soulmate than I did about developing a life for myself…

My ambitions for myself were still there, just playing second-fiddle. I can remember I wanted to be something important. I thought that finding my path or calling was very valuable, and rightly so. I believe we each come to this earth with innate gifts and if we use them well, we can help fit into the right place for us in this big puzzle.

I have always loved working with my hands. I loved art, music and science as a kid, but instead of pursuing something along those lines I ended up in school for Social Work after I got sober. The idea of talking people through their problems appealed to me for a profession. I thought “I need to help people. I want to make my entire life about service to others.” I did not account for the high occurrence of people being in acute crisis and having to develop the tools for this. Having come from such a volatile home growing up, I began to burn out very quickly. The career I had worked on for a decade began slipping from my grasp. My dreams of being a saint were being supplanted with very dark thoughts when I would go to work. You do not want your therapist to not give a darn about your problems. You do not want your therapist to not be concerned with your negative and potentially life-altering behaviors. Yet there I found myself. In pursuit of trying to be “good” I would up being pretty “bad” at what I set out to do. I had been trying to be the person I thought The Universe/God/Higher Power would want me to be…But what I ended up was a Martyr, and a terrible one to boot. Just like the fantasies I had about a romantic partner “saving me” from myself when I was a teen, I thought a career as a giver would be pleasing to God. And then the walls started to go up, and as hard as I tried to keep giving, my well ran totally dry, filled with weeds, and was capped for good. I quit when I got pregnant with my second baby. I physically was feeling sick when I had to go to work, and it wasn’t’ all morning sickness. I had burnt out to a crisp. I wish burning out was more dignified. I wish I had recognized it sooner. But alas, I just sort of puttered out. I was once good (or at least decent) at my job and I became, slowly, bad at my job. I had been denying myself of myself for so long and my spirit finally decided to intervene.

I discovered back in grad school that I loved Urban Farming, but it was too late, I’d already worked hard and paid too much in student loans to not follow through with Social Work (so I told myself). I was never more at home or in love with what I was doing however, than when I had my hands in the dirt. It was art, music and science all rolled into one (well at least art and science.)

Now, I am not saying that farming is the end-all-be-all, I don’t know. I’m in the midst of it right now. There will always be more to discover about myself and my motives as life goes on. I do know that it is right for me right now. The hard part is not apologizing for it. The hard part is not bullying myself into something more lucrative or “normal.” I am also dabbling in pottery and crafts, anything getting my hands moving and my mind peaceful and present.

I have found that when I deny my needs chronically as I have been doing, I become that sour-therapist version of myself. My thoughts center around judgment and negative thinking. I get anxious. I start to lose compassion for those around me. My spirit weakens. I start looking outside of myself for validation of my existence. I become codependent, or violent, or mean. I do not function at my highest level. I think I become a little depressed. I don’t find myself laughing or very joyful at all.

On that note, I am going to venture out into the garden. The weather is still turning cooler and though the garden is mostly at capacity, I need to pick some tomatoes and green beans and plant some flowers before I head back to relieve the sitter. For all of my raging and bucking I am still working toward gratitude and balance for it all. For all of the “lost time.” It all got me to this moment right now with you. So, for that, I will forever be grateful…

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