Tuesday, February 15, 2011

A Love Letter: Part II

Let me summarize today's post.  It's about hating being sappy or emotional, feeling cranky and irritable, and telling people how grateful you are to have them in your life.  It was a roller-coaster of a day.

If I count weekends, it's Day 11 of being on sabbatical.  It's Tuesday of the second week and, already, I've had some great revelations and been doing enough emotional exploration to go through a box of kleenex.  Now, let me talk about this crying thing for a minute.  I'm sort of someone who sees crying and emotions as a waste of energy.  And, I will admit that I've been known to quietly and internally mock someone who shows them.  Depression (and manic depression) runs in my family, so I'm always thinking "oh, wait, I cried.  Am I depressed?"  (don't worry...I'm not). I can, at times, be a hypochondriac for mental defects.  But I'm uncovering that this is particularly my issue right now and I have to stop being so afraid of them.  Because it turns out we all have emotions.  Fears.  Wounds.  Anger.  If you don't, you're a cyborg (which is sort of cool, but isn't helping me make my point).  And here's something you and I should remember...showing emotions, including sadness, anger, or other jacked-up stuff, does not have to mean we're unhappy with our lives.  Or our spouses.  Or our jobs.  Or that we're depressed.  It's just emotion.  And that's a good word, not a dirty one.

I will put my ability to bury emotions up against the best of them.  Now I'm trying to explore them, notice them (but not dwell in them), and process them.  Which sort of sucks.  Because it's not really that easy.  And, frankly, it's totally painful because it requires doing I would cut my arm off to avoid.  Trudging through the past.  Uncovering all these old wounds and hidden crap I thought I'd "let go" (hint: in my language "letting go" apparently means burying somewhere deep causing something akin to a hazardous waste leak into your system).  But I'm getting up every day and trying to do it.  Because I think it will make me a better person.  And if I want to have successful relationships in my life, this sort of feels like something I need to do.

Bottom line...today was shitty.  So far my posts have been relatively encouraging.  I've been feeling good.  Smiling.  Doing the things I should be doing.  And today I think it may have caught up with me.  The morning didn't start off particularly bad.  I woke up with energy, though it quickly turned to frantic energy.  Do you know what I'm talking about?  It's like a state of irritation and agitation.  You feel off, but nothing in particular seems to be pissing you off.  Yesterday the idea of "silent breakfast" (there's no talking, hence the "silent" part) seemed enlightened.  Today it seems boring.  I went back to my room and was just sort of feeling blah.  The sun is shining for the first time in weeks, and I just wanted to get back in bed and pull the covers over my head.  So I did.  Until my 11:00 massage.  The whole time she's doing the massage, I'm focused on everything I'd rather have her do.  More pressure here.  Less stretching.  I mean, really?  I can't even enjoy a freaking massage? 

So, I'm aware that this is all happening but I'm struggling with what to do about it.  I even know why it's happening. My brain is literally fighting me trying to work through all these emotions. Something about my frontal cortex not being strong enough to battle my reptilian brain.  Apparently there's an old neuroscientist joke says that the Reptile Brain is responsible for the “4 F’s”—Feeding, Fighting, Fleeing…..and well, you know.  Seriously, google it.  So the reptile brain is screwing me (pun intended).  But here's what I came up with...

Emotions don't have to all be negative ones.  There's happy kick-ass emotion too.  Like, how I felt when I got the love letter I blogged about.  I decided that if I could send a little love into the world, maybe some of it would come back to me and get me out of this funk.  So, I made a list of people I'm grateful for.  At the top of the list were family members on my dad's side.  I have a complex relationship on that side of my family since I'm incredibly close with my grandparents and aunts and uncle...but don't actually speak to my father.  I've probably seen him five times since I was eight years old and haven't spoken more than a few words to him since then (remember that buried emotion I was talking about?  I started young ;) 

Back to the grateful list.  I wasn't comfortable doing something that would require me telling them in person, so I wrote each of them a "love letter" telling them why I was grateful for having them in my life.  Five in total.  I decided to mail them, rather than e-mail.  So they're saved to my computer for printing and mailing this weekend.  And it really did feel good.  To tell someone how much they mean to you.  How they've shaped who I am. 

What about you?  Who are you grateful for?  And when was the last time you told them?  You'll be amazed at how good it feels.  Hasta, sabbaticaljo


  1. Jo - I'm sorry it was a crappy day, and I hope tomorrow is better. But more than that, I want you to know how much I admire your courage in taking this journey and sharing it through this blog.

  2. I'm enormously grateful for my daughter. She makes me want to be a better person, she's allowed me to reflect and experience life like I haven't in years, and I generally feel happier because of her existence. I try to tell her every day but your blog reminds me that's something to focus on as she grows. Thank you!

  3. Thanks for the comments! What a great thing to make sure your daughter knows how grateful you are for her. I need to remember to do it more often, not just in intentional ways!