If you spend much time around me at all you will quickly discover that I like to avoid negative feelings like the plague. The thought of having conversations that might make someone sad, angry, or frustrated send my anxiety through the roof. I don’t like it. I don’t know how to act in serious situations. I feel awkward and when I feel awkward I smile. You try being the one smiling at a funeral.
Here is how it typically goes: Bad thing happens that causes negative emotions. I start to feel sad/angry/scared/frustrated. My brain panics because it doesn’t want to feel those things. I go into self-preservation mode and pretend everything is fine. This usually leads to random, uncontrolled emotional breakdowns and unhealthy coping mechanisms.
It is time for me to be a better example to my kids and the people around me for how to deal with my emotions. I am giving myself permission to sit in the awkwardness and difficulty of negative emotions.
The last few months have been hard, and there have been some big emotions that accompanied those things. This has been especially present for me as my Grandma Gladys nears then end of her journey with Alzheimer’s and consequentially her time on Earth. At almost 90 years old, we knew that her time would be coming, but it doesn’t make it any easier. After I got the call that Hospice thought she maybe had a week left, I cleared my schedule and took the kids to see her. It ripped my heart out leaving her house. She could barely speak, but when I left she managed to squeak out “bye!” and it about broke me.
All of a sudden that emotion of sadness felt so much more complex, like it was the biggest thing in the world.
When we got in the car I cried. A lot. My 3 year old said “Mommy, why are you crying?” I told him that I was crying because I was sad. To which he asked the question that every little kid is obligated to ask: “Why?”. All of a sudden that emotion of sadness felt so much more complex, like it was the biggest thing in the world. So I decided to sit with it. I was going to sit in my sadness and just let it be. I wanted to understand it.
The next day I told someone I was sad. I told them that if I seemed distant this week it was because of that sadness. I wasn’t going to push it down or hold it back. I want to let it be here now so I can deal with it head on. I know that I will feel true grief soon, but for now it is simply sadness. The sadness of knowing that I said goodbye and that I probably won’t see my grandma again. The sadness that my daughter probably won’t remember her at all, though I have pictures of them together. The sadness for my grandpa, my dad, and my aunt who I know are hurting. All of the things.
I have given the feeling a name. I’ve talked about it. I’m letting it live in my heart for now. Soon I’ll start healing, but not yet.
So here I sit. Writing this. Feeling sad. And that is okay.