If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.
These are my guiding principles these days and yet they seem to be guiding me in the wrong direction. Instead of allowing me to be a good mother through this difficult time when we are all still living under the same roof, this permutation of the Stepford wife mentality has caused me to bury my feelings. Pushing my feelings deep underground isn’t new to me and so living this way feels oddly comfortable at times, albeit disquieting.
Sometimes it’s easier to just go through the motions than allow myself to actually feel what is happening inside. That’s not always a bad thing, mind you. You don’t want to be in touch with your super angry feelings when you are supposed to be focused on caring for patients and although it has happened rarely in the past, crying in the exam room (I mean me, not the patient) is not a cool thing to do.
Lately, I have been a disconnected and I am sure it is not a completely bad thing. There’s a lot going on in my life. The problem is that when I am in this state, I can’t pick and choose who I let my guard down with and therefore it is always up. I just keep smiling and when I feel a knot in my throat or the swell of anger or even a ripple of joy, I shut it off. Today my brother Chuck poked me and called me to the carpet on this topic. He noticed that I am present but not engaged and is worried about me. In the past, when I have been present but not accounted for, it has meant that something is really brewing in the background and I suspect he’s right.
This disconnect has served me well in the past. It has helped me through many difficult times since childhood and has allowed me to plow forward even when things have been more than rough but now it seems that unplugging isn’t as good for me. I need to be connected to my kids, my friends, and my family now more than ever and yet I can’t seem to get there. Sure I love my kids and know what is happening in their lives and still play games with them or go to fencing or riding or whatever but I am not all there and I can feel that difference and I suspect at times they can feel that difference too. It is for them that I am writing this as a way to access some of the feelings that I am tamping down.
Writing for me is a way to open up in a controlled and ‘safe’ way. Perhaps by writing about this log jam of feelings I’ll be able to break through, connect and live in the moment instead of protecting myself from this sea of apparently frightening emotions like anger or joy. By continuing to pretend that all is well when it is not works great at the office, but in the rest of life it is a hindrance. Learning to let my guard down doesn’t have to be all or none (or so I’ve been told) but finding a way to be connected with the kids but not let all of that emotion spill into the workplace seems a tough balance and for some reason feels ‘risky’.
I’ve gotta try though….living this emotionally protected life isn’t bringing me peace anymore. I have to trust that I won’t fall apart or spin out of control (given my experiences in life I know in my head that isn’t gonna happen) and yet it is this potential lack of control that is keeping me closed off. I welcome thoughts or suggestions….I’m having a hard time coming up with a strategy on my own.