Reinforcements

Sometimes I let my emotions get the better of me. I can’t be alone in this one, right? I mean, do I just chalk it up to being female? Is that just a cop out? Do other people feel this way sometimes too? Or is this a sign of depression.

I’ve been depressed before. And I’ve felt the effects of prescription drugs acting like a snuggie around my heart. Protecting it from going too far…and yet preventing me from feeling much of anything at all.

No, I don’t think I’m depressed right now. But last night I had a moment. I just felt like crying. So many things bubbled to the surface. Things related to my girls, and being a mom, and being a birth mom, and how those things all intersect. Or not.

I’m not sure what triggered it, which is odd because over the years I’ve become pretty adept at identifying triggers. Movies, books, TV shows, songs, places, people. These triggers are like time machines that transport me not only mentally but emotionally to another state. But nothing like that happened yesterday. At least not that I can recall.

No, yesterday something was different.

I told my husband how I was feeling and he instantly diagnosed it as a sign of depression. And maybe it is. But as we talked and he asked questions and I cried a bit and he talked some more and I talked, something lifted.

I started to feel a bit better.

My husband is not any kind of a medical professional, but I often wonder if he’s missed his calling.

He’s the one who encouraged me so many years ago to just FEEL WHAT YOU’RE FEELING. But I was often too afraid. I’ve worked really hard on this and I’ve gotten better. But I often seep back into the comfort of just dealing with it on my own. Although it’s rarely of any comfort. I think it’s just been comfortable – and quite frankly, too easy to do.

Last night was one of those nights where I almost just shoved whatever it was I feeling deeper down inside. But with some poking and prodding from my “safe place to fall” husband, I feel like I’m OK again.

A Favorite Poem

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Hope by Emily Dickinson

“Hope” is the thing with feathers—
That perches in the soul—
And sings the tune without the words—
And never stops—at all—

And sweetest—in the Gale—is heard—
And sore must be the storm—
That could abash the little Bird
That kept so many warm—

I’ve heard it in the chillest land—
And on the strangest Sea—
Yet, never, in Extremity,
It asked a crumb—of Me.

Shivering

Today I’m feeling unappreciated and a bit defeated. At work. At home. As a mom. As a wife. I’m feeling a combination of emotions that are so overwhelming. But I won’t let them get the best of me because for the first time in my life I’m allowing myself to FEEL them. I know these feelings are temporary. I know that I’m not a bad mom or wife. I know that I’m not a bad employee. It’s just been one of those days. Fortunately, I’m dealing with it better than I used to.

For years I would sweep my emotions under the rug in hopes that they would just disappear. Then I could put on a happy face like everything is OK. And no one would think that I couldn’t handle it. Or that I wasn’t good enough. Or that things aren’t perfect.

And then I reached out to a blogger that I follow.

I had read a post of hers and it resonated with me. So I emailed her and told her what I was feeling and how her words had touched a nerve within me. To my great surprise, she responded. I told her what I was struggling with and how I questioned if what I was doing was right or wrong. I shared my guilt and my mixed feelings.

Her words were sincere and kind.

She told me that feelings aren’t moral. They just – ARE. So it’s best not to deny them. Here’s an excerpt of her reply to me:

“When you’re cold, you shiver — you don’t sit and lecture yourself for shivering, ask yourself why the hell are you shivering just because it’s cold? We accept physical reactions better than we do mental reactions. You feel sad because you’re receiving an emotional trigger. Not right, not wrong, just there. Allow yourself to shiver when you’re cold, you know? Don’t beat yourself up.”

This exchange occurred about a year ago. And a lot has happened in my life since then. My family has changed dramatically with the addition of my beautiful little girl. My marriage has been to hell and back, but is now thriving. My walls have gradually come down. My inhibitions are slowly melting away. Maybe it’s because I hit forty, I’m not sure. But I do believe it’s partly because I’ve finally convinced myself to deal with my emotions. To feel them as they occur. And let them move like a wave over my body, through my heart, and across my mind. Really feel them so that I can process them, deal with them, and let them pass on through.

I guess I’m finally learning to shiver when I’m cold. And it feels OK.