Tuesday, March 14, 2017

A GOOD STRONG CUPPA

Very little cups of very weak tea.....
I try not to talk specifically in public about my childhood.
Mostly I'm still trying to protect people 
but I'm also not sure how to speak of my experience 
in a way that will come out coherently.

Many things that I learned as a child 
needed to be unlearned.
But today I want to talk about something that I never ever GOT.
It's a big lesson
and a seemingly simple one.
It's somewhat embarrassing to realize
at my ripe old age
that I never learned
this gem:

YOU NEED TO FEEL

ALL 

THE FEELINGS


I learned to avoid feelings at an early age.
Feelings are uncomfortable-particularly the ones that are 'negative'
and so I learned to push the ones away that I didn't like.
This was a particularly useful strategy as a small person
who was overwhelmed with terrible struggles and choices.
If you push the emotion away, then you don't have to think 
about how sad, scared or alone you are.
You can focus on solving the puzzle,
getting through the next few minutes or hours
without all the stress of the emotion.
WIN-WIN right?

I thought so for a long time.


It took me a long time
and quite a bit of therapy
 to realize that I was giving away the emotions
all of them
so that I wouldn't have to feel them.



Brene Brown....So wise.

The unfortunate side effect of giving away the negative stuff
was that I was also giving away the beautiful stuff.
You can't hide the bad without also hiding the good.

Another side effect:
I was so excellent at giving away the emotions
(all of them)
that I was sh*t at holding on to them.  
Feeling them was next to impossible.
My emotional depth tolerance was too shallow....
I couldn't hold the beautiful stuff any better than I could hold the scary stuff.
I was very very wimpy.


Recently, my understanding of how to more appropriately 
be in relationship 
with emotions (and myself) 
has coalesced into an analogy that has been very helpful.
I'm southern.
I think best in metaphor.

I've come to think of feelings or my potential to hold onto feelings in the form of a cup.

My previous approach to life was to give away whatever emotion 
landed in that cup as fast as possible.
Really big emotions
whether they were JOY or TERROR
couldn't even be held within the cup.
They never even landed-they were too big.
I used to let them just wash over like a fire hydrant 
would wash over a plate.



Smaller emotions could be sorted
quickly and efficiently.
Right out of the very shallow basin
and onto someone else.
Since nothing too heavy would fit
my cup didn't stretch
or grow to expand emotions.
I think I realized that it 
*could* stretch to take in more
but I was very resistant to taking that step.
What if it never went back to 'normal' size?
What if I got lost?
How could I come back to me??




My only approach when dealing with emotions 
was to displace them
before they could expand or overload.
Get rid of them ASAP!
In really hard times, I would bail them out as quickly as possible
to relieve the discomfort.
If my baler wouldn't bail fast enough
then I would just go numb.
Stop noticing the emotions
until they had passed somewhat.
Once the majority of the feelings had passed
I could come back to this serving
and tell myself that I'd handled it like a PRO.
In reality, I had checked out to avoid the handling....

To further along this pathology
I had a specific attitude relating to blessings
or gifts that came my way.
I think most people can relate to giving away 
the terrible or awful feelings.
But how could I justify giving away the beauty?
Well...I couldn't hold it so I had to rationalize it.

My thought was that if wonderful, beautiful things landed in my cup
then it was my responsibility as someone who had been blessed
to give those things to someone else
who was less blessed than me.
I thought of myself as a GIVER
I wanted to be OF SERVICE.
Way more than I wanted to be WHOLE.

What I've come to understand though
is that I can't really be a GIVER
without having a full cup.
No one really can.




So I have changed my rules
changed my story
and my understanding of what is necessary.
I still want to be OF SERVICE.
I still love GIVING.
I just have to make sure there's enough in my own cup
 first.

This is really hard for me.
My immediate instinct 
is always
may always be
to give away whatever I have.
Good or bad
that emotion needs clearing out.


Instead, I have to stop
and ask myself....
Is my cup filled to OVERFLOWING?
In a little bit of an uncomfortable
can't quite hold this delightful ocean
but don't quite want to let it go either
kind of way?
Then by all means
let the love flow.
If my cup is not filled
and I'm just passing out crumbs
then I am not in any fit state to be giving.



My cup is still pretty shallow
it doesn't take much to fill it to overflowing.
But I am changing
and it is brutiful.
I've come to think and process differently.
Sometimes.
It's haaaaard work.
I'm not accustomed to being so
.....
Maybe...immature?
Inept?
Just plan....slow?
I know my goal has changed though.
If my cup is not full to overflowing
then I need to keep filling myself up.

The goal is to over-flow
and FEEL all the FEELINGS.
The ones that lift me up
and the ones that scare the crap out of me.
It all fits in there
and it is all meant for me.
I can't have the beautiful without the brutal.
So I'm taking it all.
One strong cuppa at a time.....





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