Trying to deal with emotions – it’s tough. Old saying – “When the going gets tough…” MY way of completing it: “the tough shut down.” For decades that’s what I did to cope. A scary emotion threatens to loom on the horizon… QUICK! Go into denial mode. That way you can keep functioning. Don’t let it raise its ugly head and you won’t have to deal with it. Ignore it and move on.
NEWS FLASH: It doesn’t work forever. Somehow I forgot the trick to make it keep going.
NOW – the emotions are boiling around inside but I don’t know what to do with them. Hell, I don’t even know what they are. It’s all just a big pot of scalding hot soup – lots of ingredients - but difficult to identify any of them on the surface. I know it is “emotions,” but I have a hard time identifying any individual one that pops up at any given time. Someone asks me how I’m feeling and I don’t know – just emotional – just SOUP! I dip in a spoon and bring up a chunk of something. What is it? A slice of carrot, a cube of potato, a bite of meat? Looks like - smells like - maybe even tastes like - emotional alternative A, B, or C. But I have to analyze it and consider it and make a decision about it before I know what emotion it is. NOT that I FEEL it or KNOW intuitively or automatically what it is. Before I get around to name it, it’s just part of the boiling soup.
And sometimes recently I get my wires crossed. Like a couple days ago when I started laughing about some silly thing I read - and suddenly I’m sobbing – and not because it was that funny. Just because I pulled a cork out and more than one ingredient of the soup came spilling out. That never used to happen. I had too much control. Am I losing it? Am I having a breakdown? Am I going nuts?
Sometimes in the past couple weeks I can feel the pressure start to build in my head or gut. My heart starts pounding and my face gets red and my scalp tingles and my stomach knots up and I know there’s something more than these physical sensations that I SHOULD be feeling. Some EMOTION. But it’s like a firecracker that’s been lit and fizzles out – or a tea kettle that is simmering but won’t boil enough to whistle – or getting a really hard erection but not being able to ejaculate!!! SO FRUSTRATING!!!!!!!! Afraid to keep holding it in and afraid of letting go…. Hey, FEAR is an emotion, isn’t it? And so is FRUSTRATION! Maybe I AM feeling something after all… What I am mostly feeling is very, very TIRED. But I know that is not an emotion.
We are often troubled, but not crushed;
sometimes in doubt, but never in despair;
there are many enemies, but we are never without a friend;
and though badly hurt at times, we are not destroyed.
- Paul, II Cor 4:8-9