Shake it Out

Well, here we are. The last week of October. I thought I’d be OK. In control. But I’m not as much as I’d like to be. I thought it was Mercury Retrograde weighing on me because I really felt it. Uncomfortable in my own skin. Pulled, contorted, strained, weighed down. But here we are. My own personal D-Day. I can feel my anxiety rising daily. I’m struggling just to keep it together when what I really want to do is burrow under the covers and stay there. House a mess? Check. No cooking? Check. Clothes unfolded? Check. Child late to school? Check. Oversleeping? Check. Irritation? Check. Sensitive? Check. Crying? Check.

And my thoughts are so jumbled and muddled. My therapist told me a few weeks ago that I intellectualize emotions and feelings instead of letting myself experience them. I try to explain what I am feeling instead of letting myself indulge in them. But I do feel them; I find it difficult let myself to be an emotional person. To be seen as someone who has feelings.

You know who I envy? People who don’t give a fuck what other people think. I’ve always cared too much. It has improved, but I still care too much. I had a conversation on Friday night about my feelings, and I’m not completely certain it went well (not the fault of the conversation, but talking about feelings can be difficult). But I know that I cried – like ugly cried – afterwards. The kind of crying that left my eyes extra puffy Saturday and experiencing an emotional hangover.

We all have history and formative experiences and god knows I have thought a lot about mine. Probably too much. Analysis is my forte. Feeling is not. I’m not going to subject any of you to my TED Talk on why I am this way. I guess I should get to the point. I think my thoughts are jumbled around vulnerability and shame (yes, yes, off to read Brene Brown). After that conversation on Friday – or frankly, any conversation in which I let loose like that – my first reaction is embarrassment. I’ve revealed too much of myself. All the ugly parts. The parts that indicate that no, I very much do not have my shit together. You know, the parts that reveal me as a flesh and blood human who is not perfect. And the fear about whether people will still like me or respect me if I reveal that I do have feelings. But I AM human! I DO have feelings! Why is vulnerability such a difficult state for us to occupy? How did we get here?

I think of this verse Rizzo sings in “There are Worse Things I Could Do” from Grease:

I could hurt someone like me
Out of spite or jealousy
I don’t steal and I don’t lie
But I can feel and I can cry
A fact I’ll bet you never knew

But to cry in front of you
That’s the worst thing I could do

And to finally, finally get to the point. I have a lot of thoughts about this week. Can I express those emotions? Should I express those emotions? Can I be that vulnerable? Is it allowed? And yes, I know it is technically. But am I allowed to feel and express these things truly? Or should I keep a stiff upper lip? What is the statute of limitations on grieving in our society these days?

It is funny to be writing this after last week’s somewhat “rah rah” “Entropy” post. Well. I feel what I feel when I feel it. THAT I have definitely learned in the last year. And I grapple with that dichotomy. I have good days and bad days. Last week was not a great week, and I have a feeling that this week may not be either. And I have to be OK with that. I have to accept that and understand that. More importantly, I have to give myself permission to feel. To let those emotions flow through.

This week is worthy of my feelings. If I feel dread, uneasiness, and anxiety every day, it’s OK. If I need to take a day and just be, that’s OK. From what I have seen, there is no manual for any of this (but if there is other than Kubler-Ross, message me?).

I’ll do what I need to get through it. Cry when I need to. And then “Shake it out” as Florence + the Machine recommend and prepare for Halloween. I have three pumpkins to gut (ugh) and carve (good luck?) and a child to make happy.

One step backwards. One step forwards. Every day.

It’s always darkest before the dawn.

3 comments

  1. Your therapist sounds wise. I think it’s OK to feel lots of different all things as humans, especially after a trauma. Sometimes we feel emotions, sometimes we struggle to feel emotions, and sometimes we feel like we can do lots of things. The key is to try to progress, and that means sometimes it’s a step back and sometimes it’s a step forward. FWIW from an internet friend, I think you’re doing amazing.

  2. Know that I am reading and sitting with you in this hardest of weeks.

    I am a “think about my feelings instead of feeling them” kind of person too. It’s hard to let them out. I don’t know if you’ve read Sheryl Sandberg’s Option B (and I am a bit hesitant to recommend it given how awful her company is), but it helped me when I was struggling with everything that happened in my annus horribilis. So did Joyce Maynard’s The Best of Us, although looking at my records, I didn’t read either of these until well over a year after everything happened. I was also going to mention Joan Didion’s Year of Magical Thinking, but now I can’t find when I read it (which must mean it was pre-2015 which was when I started tracking). But it stuck with me. I found it helpful to read memoirs of people who had survived trauma, even if their trauma was different from mine. Their view of the universe made sense.

  3. There WILL be a dawn. And grief will be in the dawning but you will have changed and the rawness will change. You will feel your feelings and deal with the emotions your way and that will be your right way. Other people and their emotions are not you. YOU DO YOU. You have more support than you know. I wish it was enough.

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