My feelings are leaking out everywhere. And not just the difficult ones. When I feel gratitude, or joy, or contentment, or accomplishment, or appreciation… my eyes water. I can’t hold back the smile. My skin tingles with excitement. And when I feel anxiety, or pain, or shame, or disgust, or fear, or anger… the eye watering volume increases so far that the watering takes shape into little droplets that run down my cheeks. My jaw clenches. My stomach rumbles and constricts. My shoulders creep up to my ears.
I guess this is what it is to feel.
It’s been a rough couple of days with a few key high points.
- I realized… after a day of suffering through feeling my feelings that THIS (the erratic, unmanageable feelings state from the last post) is part of the detox too. When my joints were aching and I was breaking out into cold sweats on day two I didn’t assume that I suddenly had arthritis or that I was coming down with a fever. Nope. I knew that it was temporary. It was par for the course. It would pass and I would be better for it. Yet, when the big nasty ugly feelings come up I immediately decide there is something wrong. With me. Or at least with my life. Right? And clearly these feelings will last forever. I mean, who would feel this way if they weren’t a complete disaster doomed to eternal damnation on earth via constant discontent? Yeah… no. Feelings are also coming out from the cells where they have been stored for so long and being shed. They rise up like bubbles to the surface where they explode in little cracks that shake me up and then they are gone. Magic
- I found my place as an advocate today. Some of you who know me may find this funny not believing that I didn’t already think of myself as a strong advocate. BUT… I didn’t. I identify as a complete chicken shit. With enough of my performance enhancing drug (SUGAR!) in my, I can do anything… or at least pretend to be doing anything and I am a very good at “fake it ’til you make it.” So much so that sometimes I forget to stop faking and start making. Without the drug, when it’s just me and my leaky feelings, I am mostly just afraid. I’m afraid that what I have to say doesn’t matter and won’t make a difference. I’m afraid that someone won’t like me. I’m afraid I’ll be talked about or judged. I’m afraid that I’ll be wrong and look foolish. And I need a lot of outside support to encourage me to take a deep breath and do what I knew was right. The story below.
Earlier this week my son (The Boy) learned about the Civil Rights Movement in school. And immediately after he went up to children of color on the playground and said “you’re under arrest because you’re black.” He was told to stop (by a teacher) and then he did it again. And these are things he does (after the school was shut down for a day because of a terrorist threat he told other students he planned to join ISIS)… a lot. He has this beautifully neuroatypical brain that has been described by psychologists to land on the Autism Spectrum and function with ADHD. Which means, 1. his social skills are crap and 2. he is constantly seeking stimulation. He’s managed to weave those two things together in the cocktail of “say stuff that will get a rise out of people as often as humanly possible.” I don’t think he’s done this consciously, but it happens enough that it’s clearly become a habit.
But because race was an issue in this particular incident, the usual discussion about inability to perceive other’s feelings as important and lack of following directions wasn’t at the forefront of the conversation. Instead words like discriminate and intention were used.
ACK! My leaky feeling self flipped out (inside and maybe a bit on the out too). Level one reaction: defensiveness and protectiveness (this is how I always feel, and it is followed closely by…) Level two reaction: realization that this is life, and despite his intentions he caused harm and there were consequences. That used to be where I stopped, but then came… Level three reaction: become convinced that everyone is trying to vilify son. Level four reaction: become convinced that everyone thinks it’s my fault that he’s some kind of racist criminal mastermind. Level five reaction: despair, ready to give up, crying all the time.
Then I realized I had gotten way past level two and started talking to others. And realized that I wasn’t actually under attack. And that my responsibility, besides role modeling effective repair behavior, and protecting the interest of vulnerable children who were hurt by his actions, was to advocate for my son. And I was able to do so. Without being defensive. While being vulnerable and self reflective. While balancing, as much as it is possible, the need for life to teach meaningful lessons and to request compassion for the boy with autism who really had NO idea why everyone is making such a big deal about what he did.
And I felt like I had landed. I left my head where all the crazy thoughts fueling the rapid escalation through the levels was resourced… and I went back to my heart. Where I am a mother (and a damn good one), a person, and someone who feels her feelings.
Because thinking about feelings never got anyone anywhere ever.
Bring it on, feelings, I’m ready for you (actually I wouldn’t mind taking a little break if that’s alright by you).