I was talking to my 15 year old son the other day. I learn a lot from him - he has autism and he teaches me a lot about myself. So he was being super belligerent. Nothing I said was right. I’d ask a question and he’d ignore it and pick something he didn’t like about me or life or even music, and throw it back at me as an accusation. He was pacing, his voice was getting louder. His hands were fists and his body was becoming rigid and he was starting to threaten me.
A lot of days I fire back in anger, but for some reason this time, I got past his behavior and figured out that he was showing me anger because he was having feelings he couldn’t name. He was presenting me with anger about all sorts of topics, when really, I guessed, he was sad that one of his favorite support staff was leaving and taking a position at a different location.
So I looked at my son and I said, “OHHHHHH! I think you are not mad.” I put my hand on his heart. “I think you are sad that your staff is leaving!”
He looked at me like I had just rescued him from drowning. Like I had thrown him a lifeline. His face and his body changed. We went and sat on the couch and he sobbed and sobbed - finally connecting with the static and building emotions that had been exploding inside him.
Somewhere along the line, someone told us, or we just picked up that everyone likes it more when we only have happy feelings.
But if we ignore the facts of our hearts (we have multiple feelings simultaneously and they are often mixed) the result is anger. Frustration. Explosions.
Crazy though - we ACT out in anger, but that’s just a cover up for what we are not able or willing to feel.
Some feelings are quite uncomfortable - especially if we grew up being told that we ought to always be happy and thankful and nice.
Happy. Glad. Blissful. Confident.
But what about sad. Angry. Mad. Insecure. Unsure. Confused.
We run to the good feelings, and we run from the “bad” feelings or pretend they are not there - using food, drugs, wine, money, busy-ness, distractions, etc., to cover over those negative feelings.
I think the bad feelings are a bit like food left in our kids lunch kits over spring break. You can ignore them, forget about them, pretend they aren’t there, but they don’t go away. Annnd the longer we leave them, the grosser, stinkier, and more difficult to deal with, they get.
I struggle with feelings ALL. THE. TIME. Like right now. I am having a HUGE tired, combined with overwhelmed feelings - kind of an evening. First I want to eat some white chocolate chips. Then I want to yell at someone. And then I think I need to become a hermit but I’d miss my family too much so it is all a mix inside there. There is this little voice inside my heart screaming “IT WASN’T SUPPOSED TO BE THIS HARD SO I MUST BE DOING IT ALL WRONG BECAUSE THIS ISN’T VERY FUN and I SEEM TO BE TERRIBLE AT LIFE!!!” So then I'm mad at myself for being a failure. I just spent 20 minutes hiding in my room reading a book, but someone found me and asked me to dye their hair. I thought I was going to die. But I survived. And now I’m here, back to you, writing about hope.
As long as we push the uncomfortable feelings down, I think our hopes are false.. Or we hope for false things like - an escape. But when we spend a bit of time noticing what we are actually feeling, I think we grow.
I’ve been trying to make super positive playlists with songs that are literally called “HAPPY” and “I want you to be HAPPIER” - because I’ve been trying to boost my mood and escape my so many layers of complicated, sad, discouraged, and overwhelmed feelings.
But what if I stopped trying to escape? What if I stopped believing they were BAD or that I could DIE from feeling such big, strong, negative, powerful, feelings??
What happens when you look past mad and angry? Are you . . . afraid? Nervous? Feel insignificant? Insecure? What are you actually feeling?
I’m going to throw “BIG FEELINGS” - one of my songs from youtube on here, CLICK ON IT! It will help you stop and take time to FEEEEEL.
Take heart,. Be filled with hope. Having BAD feelings doesn't mean you are doing anything wrong. Just keep going. One step at a time, right where you are, ups and downs, goods and bads. You’re doing exactly what you’re supposed to be doing. Just don’t quit.
Here’s to us, and all of our ups AND downs, ALL of our feelings,