We had not seen each other in months. After a lovely breakfast and engaged “catching up” on life, coffee was refilled and empty plates swept away by attending servers. She looked me in the eye and asked a simply question, “Where is the peaceful Andrea I usually see?” Sigh. Busted. So much for being able to cover up the insanely busy season that is life right now.
We each teach what we need to learn.
Seasons come and go. Some are quiet, peaceful, and calm. Others are hectic, full and sometimes chaotic. Perhaps this is true for you – when I am busy, I rush past the emotions that feel heavy and dark. I have good intentions to deal with them “later” when I have “time,” but in the moment I bash right through them and search for the happy in life. Part, I get from my optimistic Dutch heritage. (Thank you dad.) I have kept the trait because it often works for me: seeing the good feels better than the feeling I may be swallowed by the dark. The thing is, it isn’t as easy as that.
In our dualistic way of thinking, we get caught in the either/or of life. Either we are happy or sad. Empowered or a victim. Peaceful or hectic. Dark emotions, or light. The truth is we are all of that, sometimes all at once. When we think it can be either one way or the other, we leave part of our selves behind, which increases stress. My attempt to rush through heavy emotions leaves those emotions sitting in my body.
Imagine we have a reservoir in our body for dark and uncomfortable emotions. Someone cuts in front of us in traffic and we place aggravation in the reservoir. Our colleague is unyielding with a work issue and frustration goes in the reservoir. An email bearing news of more work, a text from a friend, the commute traffic, the unexpected bill in the mail box and by the end of one day the reservoir is overflowing. Imagine days, weeks or months with little or no release of the very full and stressed reservoir…
Our reservoir is meant to hold those emotions that simply cannot be expressed in the moment. However, if not emptied on a regular basis, it leaks out because it has nowhere else to go. It leaks in snarky comments, complaints, sarcasm and sometimes leaks develop into full blown explosions. It is in acknowledging, honoring and tending to the emotions that are uncomfortable that they can be allowed to move out of our body instead of getting stuck causing distress and often dis-ease. This week, consider what emotions tend to get trapped within your body. How do they feel? Tight? Pain? Numbness? Next, think about the reason they might get stuck instead of moving through. Perhaps there is a hidden perceived “benefit” to your very full reservoir. I know there is to mine. Take some time to journal ideas around what you notice. Take a deep breath.
We are in this together.