Emotional Revelation – Friendship

It is December and this always leads to the ALL important hunt for Great Christmas Light displays. I remember a house a group of us went to over 10 years ago, but I haven’t been back to it in years, so I asked a friend if she remembered WHERE it was. After a series of back and forth texts, she sent me the location, I saved it in my phone and in my mind this was complete. And then she sent me this text, “We also took Josh there.” And without a blink of an eye I fell off an emotional cliff into a pile of grief.

I have discussed Josh’s suicide with the friends who knew him, I have privately written  about how much I miss him, and I have processed his death in counseling; so I truly believed I was DONE with feeling the HARD feelings. Then I have an instance like this one, that comes out of no where and leaves me emotionally raw. This time it sparked instant anger. I have been doing food delivery for the last 5 months and I have had an AMAZING amount of time to process other things emotionally while driving. Since I am in this journey of feeling the feelings I had to spend some time between deliveries asking the hard questions.

What’s going on? Why is this feeling so intense? Why did this surprise me? Why am I angry? What am I feeling? What is the connection?

In the grief class, they talk about honoring the person’s memory, but accepting that things will never go back to how they were before the loss. So I started to think about my friendship with Josh. How we became friends, what we talked about, what we did together.

Then I began to think about the last time I saw him. And that brought the tears because I had a genuine care for him that was deeper than most. I wasn’t aware enough to recognize the difference between romantic love and a deep intimate friendship love. So when I saw him for the first time in 4 weeks (I had been on a work trip), my heart swelled, my face lit up, and I desperately wanted a hug. In that embrace I said, “I missed you…” but in that moment I felt a deep revealing vulnerability that embarrassed me. So I quickly attached the word “guys”. I have been protecting myself from being really vulnerable with someone ANYONE for years and it is a habit that dies a hard slow death. So instead of telling Josh I missed him and venturing down the road of what that meant, I made it shallow and superficial. This is one of the only things I Truly regret about my relationship with Josh.

In my continued reflection on my relationship with Josh, I began to wonder if there are other relationships in my life like it. I have found if I can detect patterns it helps me make connections to feelings and potential hang ups. Determining whether there are beliefs or attitudes in my life that need adjusting.

Although I quickly realized I didn’t actually find a pattern, but rather the lack of pattern that caught my attention. I realized there wasn’t a single male friend I had been close to since Josh. No one I was truly myself with, no one I trusted, no one I felt free to talk with about anything, no one I had shared my hurts and struggles with. At least not in the way that I did with Josh and not in a way that made me feel safe and cared for.

As I arrived at this emotional realization, it became clear to me that I had done this on purpose. I had made an internal vow to never trust someone with my heart again. That I would strive to intentionally distance myself from any guy that seemed to care about me unless I knew FOR SURE that they meant it.

As a result of this internal vow, anytime I would detect ANY caring or loving feelings I would back away in fear. I would find some reason not to trust them, not to REALLY open up, not to be vulnerable around them for fear I would be hurt again. It wasn’t hurt by rejection (with which I am very experienced), but this catastrophic fear that some how I had allowed myself to care about and care for me would leave me. WOW… What an insight! What an irrational fear! What a way to live my life so separated from people who care.

I haven’t arrived at a place of knowing what to do about this revelation yet. But I know it is coming up because I have a new guy friend in my life. And I find myself constantly fighting with the want to share and the fear of the consequences of developing a deep friendship again. There is such a normal and natural comfort I have with him that I have not experienced since my friendship with Josh. So stumbling upon this realization was quite unsettling and unnerving. So much so that I needed to write it as best I could.  Now to ride the emotional roller coaster that follows, including the occasional emotional hangover

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Is Emotionally Hungover a Thing?

If the answer is yes, then Monday morning I was totally and COMPLETELY hungover.  Now granted it was a Monday work day, so sometimes I wonder if I am just being a rebellious teenager. My brain is trying to deny the realities of adult life by pulling my covers up over my head and screaming, “NO I DON’T WANT TO ADULT TODAY.” Meanwhile, my physical body as it attempts to move out into the cold screams, “HERE HERE WE CONCUR. NO ADULTING TODAY.”

However, today felt different.  I was going through the normal process of shaking the cobwebs out of my head.  Reminding myself of the goodness of life and that his is just part of the hard things.  Also attempting to motivate myself with gentle coaching, “IT will feel better with coffee.  You have things you do want to accomplish today.  It is always better once you get going.”  Now whether or not these are really lies just to keep myself from never leaving my cozy, comfortable, perfectly peaceful bed I do not know.

However, after coffee and breakfast and a little time had passed; my brain would still not engage.  Whenever something doesn’t work the way I want it to I start to ask WHY, WHY, WHY questions.  I have been accused of over analyzing things on a regular basis; and there is no point in denying it because that would take up an entire blog post all by itself. During my analysis I am realizing that the emotional revelation (still trying to decide if I can actually write about said revelation yet) I had last night has come at a cost.  I have been very fortunate in the last 2 years of blog silence to have been coached on feeling the feelings (another fabulous tangent for another day).  In short let’s say I have spent almost my ENTIRE LIFE, managing my feelings (which is code for hiding them, muting them, shaming them, and attempting to NOT feeling them).

So I spent my evening holding this emotional revelation in my mind.  It’s like holding a giant crystal with all the facets and edges and turning it around in your hand examining what it does in the light.  Turning it over and over looking at it from all sides and all positions to see what it is made of and attempt to see how it works.  So I did this with the emotional revelation: asking all the why does this matter, how do I feel, what do I think this means.  Then attempting to answer what am I supposed to do with this NOW question.  Which, just for the record, I do not have the answer for yet.  But this examination of the feelings and attempting to describe my connection to it is a new process for me.

My usual MO is to avoid, distract, run, hide, deflect, minimize, or explain away the fact that this is in my past no need to dwell.  As I examined this, I cried, I breathed deeply, I felt a pain deep in my body, which I have learned is where grief lives. It was taking me to a place that hurt, that was sad, that left a mark, that has shaped how I build relationships with people (even though I didn’t know it).  I stepped into the swamp of that grief and let myself feel it.  I let it seep into my thoughts, my emotions, and all the way into my heart.  Even now while I am writing I can feel that tense pressure on my chest, right in the center of my breast bone; which I now know is a sign for me that I am experiencing something deeply painful.  This didn’t take forever but I felt I gave it a significant amount of time to reveal all its “sides”.  And I know I have more to process on it until it is not so magnified.  I was also determined to not let this detract from the amazing weekend I had already experienced: Girls Coffee, Friends Dinner, Christmas Lights, New Church Visit, and Deep Talk Dinner.

But this experience has left me wrung out, mentally tired, dehydrated, physically drained, emotionally spent, spiritually wanting, and searching for a really good breakfast — That’s the same way a hangover feels, Right?

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PS – I am struggling with my perfectionistic nature (MUST DO THINGS THE RIGHT WAY OR NOT AT ALL) and my belief in linear story telling (IF THEY DON’T KNOW WHAT HAPPENED BEFORE THEY WON’T KNOW WHY THIS MATTERS) with writing this blog again (And yes I used all caps because I feel these statements YELLING at me).  I FEEL there is so much to tell, there is so much to catch up on, there is so many behind the scenes pieces I HAVE TO SHARE; so please bare with me as I try to sort out what to say and how to say it and what to share later and what to save for a private space.  I appreciate knowing I have an audience: people I know and people I don’t who care about what I am sharing; so thank you for helping me share my story.  Even if it feels like I am not doing it right. 😀

It’s time to do hard things

I have forgotten the purpose of blogging.  It is to express a point of view, more specifically MY point of view.  A place where I can share my thoughts, my stories, my impressions, my life experiences, and my opinions.  But I have spent a couple of years trying to come back here and write my thoughts.  Find a thread of an idea that would make a good blog story.  Try to determine what would be “appropriate” for a blog entry. Trying to craft that perfect opening statement, determine what topic would be of interest to the people who follow me, or display my latest vulnerability about my emotional struggles or spiritual breakthroughs.  Try to put to paper something ANYTHING that resembled a blog post.  Many times the conversation in my head would then devolve into finding a purpose to my blog, or establishing a theme; at which point I would get lost in a maze of “SHOULDS” that would inevitably end in “NEVER MIND” this is too hard.

I, also, ran into the thought over and over again: What about the comments?  What if what I write is perceived as weird or out there or inappropriate by someone somewhere sometime.  And that is when I stop thinking of trying to write.  For fear of the comments.  I filter myself on Facebook because there are things I believe you just don’t put online in social media because of the comments.  Or because of the audience of people who are watching and witnessing your life.  Especially because I feel like I have an eclectic group of friends on my Facebook from various points of views, opinions and such; that I want to maintain relationships with.  But even cruising around the internet reading certain articles and stories and recipes, I accidentally scroll too far and I begin to read the comments and it doesn’t take even an entire computer screen for me to be outrage at the rudeness and inappropriate words posted in the comments section.  Which I believe has contributed to my fear of the comments on my own blog if I were to share my experiences.  Yes, I am the type of person who is influenced by comments.  Comments on my Facebook, comments at work, comments on my personal life, comments on my health (that is code for being over weight), comments on my attitude, comments on singleness, comments on my faith, comments on my choices.  There are comments I hear from people I care about and TOTAL STRANGERS that stick in my mind and run on replay and roll around making a regular appearance over and over again.  This has happened so much in life I have tried various methods of managing the comments so I do not get overwhelmed and choose to hide away from ALL human contact altogether. (This doesn’t work so well for an extreme extrovert who LOVES being social).

In that amazingly thoughtful place my brain likes to analyze things as I am waking up, I decided I SHOULD BLOG THIS VERY IDEA.  I have blogged about emotional struggles, and social frustrations before; THIS could be exactly a good starting point.  I thought it could be something I could craft and write and begin the process of being vulnerable again in written form.  One thing I have been challenging myself to do these days; has been to look whatever fear or anxiety is plaguing me right in the FACE and attempt to figure it out.  Where did this fear come from, when did it start, why does it have power, what does it make me feel, and analyze its purpose and mission.  Sometimes just identifying this fear will lessen its power and control, but it still remains; while other times it will disappear completely.  But in those moments sometimes it is hard to admit I have struggled, sometimes its hard to write the words that match the feelings. Sometimes I am not certain that people will believe me or like what I share, and for whatever reason (probably because that is how I am wired) that is important to me.

So I am starting again to write. I do not promise consistent thought or theme (my life is an interwoven tapestry of cooking, driving, dating or wanting to date, conversations with God, friendship experiences, and striving to improve myself).  I do not promise a regular schedule of posting.  I do not promise a logical expression of thought.  I do not promise to be concise or use few words.  I do not promise to use correct language, grammar, or sentence structure (Grammar Nazi’s please show me grace).  However, I do promise that what I write will be genuine and authentic.  I promise to write the words to match my experiences as best as I know how.  I promise to try to express as much of my life as I can muster. I promise there will be my quirky brand of humor. I can also promise to insert random life stories about my life experiences that strike me as “A GOOD STORY” from time to time without warning.  But writing again is the mission and as a wise person recently has told me to say when I face fear and anxiety despite my default posture to retreat, hide, or play dead: “You can do hard things.  You have done MUCH harder things.  You will overcome hard things.  You can do this hard thing.”  So for today, the hard thing is hitting the Publish button, with a few deep breaths, trusting I CAN continue to do this hard thing.