My women’s book club group is reading and discussing “Learning to Walk in the Dark” by Barbara Brown Taylor. A chapter we discussed last light was about our “Dark Emotions.” We started the evening drawing a representation of our feelings on an outline of a person.
My drawing showed a very full heart, a half-hearted smile and tears spilling from my eyes. All day (and again this morning), I felt on the edge of a precipice that could launch a wave of tears. Yet I can’t think of a reason to feel that way – I just do.
Feeling fragile again this morning (maybe even more so) reminded me of a blog post I wrote several years ago:
A bull in the china shop – and I feel shattered
May 11, 2010
It seems like so much of what I write about these days has to do with feelings. But when you try to suppress your feelings for as long as I had, that tends to be the overwhelming day-to-day experience as you come out of it.
Most of the time, I feel like I’m doing better, feeling stronger. I set goals, I work toward them, I achieve them. I can roll with things. I focus on the positive. I am changing.
But every once in a while, still – STILL – someone can say something unexpected to me, or in a wrong tone, and just that fast, it’s like I’m a fragile china place setting from under which the tablecloth has been yanked. Just that quickly, my emotions turn on me, drowning me.
Sometimes the trigger is a new landmine in the divorced parent tango. Sometimes it’s intergenerational conflict on the homefront, age-old clashes about respect, responsibility, trust and boundaries. Sometimes it’s normal (?) teenage drama, or grade-school whininess. And sometimes it’s just an aching loneliness in a house – a life – full of people.
How do people walk around every day with all of these raw feelings inside? It’s exhausting.
And some days, it just seems to come at you from all sides. Those days are the hardest.
I am the bull in the china shop. I am clumsy and don’t know how to act or react. Sometimes I just smash around within these feelings, lost.
Barbara Brown Taylor poses a question in the book: “What if I could learn to trust my feelings instead of asking to be delivered from them? What if I could follow one of my great fears all the way to the edge of the abyss, take a breath, and keep going? … What if I could learn how to stay in the present instead of letting my anxieties run on fast-forward?”
I need to let myself feel it, not escape it. Sadness, anger, despair aren’t bad or wrong. They just ARE – like hope, love, happiness ARE.