Wednesday, January 9, 2013
The Very Definition
Just when I think I have a clue or a solution, I find that maybe I don't.
A few days ago I was thrilled to relate my process of exploring and eliminating my negative feelings. It seemed that with consistent action of that kind I could be free, maybe in control of my own emotional life, steady, serene. Maybe that's not how I'm made. Sometimes I do everything I know to do to make myself feel better and nothing works.
The investigative process I described did help that day. A few days later, near bedtime on Return to Work Eve, I had no such relief, and I began to wonder if there was ever going to be any mastery for me. I sat, I listened, I got truthful with myself, I could see the logic of ceasing to feel bad. No matter. I suffered the usual storm anyway. This has been part of the story of my life.
Ironically, tonight, back into the fray though I am and without trying, I'm happy.
That fits the pattern for me, too. I will always be most tortured by something that hasn't happened yet. Once the dreaded event arrives, I pull it off, face it bravely, or flat out triumph.
It's like that with flying, too, which also makes me terribly anxious. I'm most cool about it during take off and landing, when something is happening. Never mind that the something is the ground falling away or rushing up to meet me and that those two parts of any flight are the most dangerous. Hanging statistically safe in the air is when I'm battling my mind and jumping at every bump, checking to see if the flight attendants are showing panic yet because if they aren't then it's all OK, RIGHT?!!
I don't make sense. Or rather, anxiety doesn't make sense. Not a bit. Whatever anxious fear I feel is almost always over blown, groundless, or just plain stupid. Unfortunately, knowing that may or may not change the feeling.
All of the above has usually made me judge myself as unstable, an emotional wreck, and weak, when I want to feel steady, strong, and capable.
This latest round of dramatic down and up gave me a new thought about those judgments of mine. In amazed conversation with my sweet (read long suffering) husband the morning after the storm crested, I decided that I do have a strength, even if it isn't the kind I'm coveting. My strength is that I keep coming back. I keep trying no matter how scared I am, which is a lot. A ridiculous lot.
I've been feeling lowly for falling down--freaking out again, laying awake again worrying stupidly, unable to stop again, even though I know that there's no use, indeed I'm only torturing myself--when I could feel pretty buff about going on anyway, bouncing back, being resilient.
Another amazing truth that struck me during that conversation is that I've been scared part witless by almost every major thing I've ever done. And I've done them anyway. I am freakin' brave, the very definition. Feeling fear and acting anyway? I'm a champ by now.
And that circling thing I mentioned? I really should no longer feel shame about that either. I've been focusing on the failures without giving myself credit for starting over and over again despite failure if I believe that I should. I know many people who don't try at all, who won't face their fears, even though their denial is shunting their fear into harmful manifestations.
I would still rather be one of those unruffled, serene people who provide a radiating calm to the world, but the data say that I have never been so. And resisting what is can cause a lot of misery, too. What would happen if I embraced my roller-coaster self? What would the ride be like with my hands in the air, wringing though they may be?
I also felt better today when a woman I know and enjoy confessed that she has one minute crying jags in response to the vicissitudes of life, after which everything is better. Emotionality is not abnormal, and I am not alone.
Really, none of us are. I may have felt like a shameful freak for being so over wrought, but I believe that most of us get that way at least a little of the time. We just don't want others to know. At times lately, I think that the world is one long stage performance, with most people posturing to be who they think they should be instead of being who they really are. We're all wounded and scared and lonely and many other hurtful things, and nobody's talking about it.
Ok, I'll back down. I'm not suggesting that we should turn life into an unending therapy session. There's a lot to be said for cleaning up and soldiering on. I've learned that feelings are only gossamer strong: they die of neglect very easily. No need to let them win the war.
Yet sometimes they win the battles, and I don't know what to think about that. I just do my best to manage what I've got, which is often much froth and bother to endure and sometimes deep joy and gratitude and insight to cherish. I may feel like a weak freak, but there have been plenty of people who thought I was worth the trouble and told me so. I must not be any worse than anyone else.
Now I need to continue working to believe that and keep my eye on one other thing: if I can't give anything else to this world, I'd like to help a few other precious souls know that they're not alone on the waves either. Maybe that's a better clue than the cure I think I want.