Last week, I talked about this time of year and how it impacts me and my plan to help myself. I’m carrying out the plan and I’m doing ok, but it’s still hard and there are still so many emotions coming up.
So that got me thinking about how society tends to look at people having strong emotions.
When we are born, we are just present with our emotions. Hiding and burying emotions is learned from society. We are taught from a young age to suck it up. If we are upset, we are told to stop crying or told that there is nothing to be crying for. We are taught (and this isn’t anyone’s fault) that our emotions are something that a) can be controlled and b) are not valid or important. I say it’s nobody’s fault because if our parents did this, they were taught by their parents who were taught by their parents and so on and so on.
Then, as adults, since we don’t learn how to deal with these emotions appropriately, we turn to really negative ways of trying to make ourselves better. We bury them deep within, often lashing out at those that try to help us. We plod through life unhappy and depressed. We self medicate: with drugs, food, alcohol, shopping.
All of the above makes us really ill equipped to handle ourselves when something stressful or traumatic hits, like a loss or a global pandemic. We turn to our coping skills regardless of how negative a coping skill it is, because that is what we know. We live in a culture that is talking out both sides of its face:
The side that says it’s ok to not be ok, let’s do dry February
But then the other side, on social media says it’s ok to self medicate with wine, that it’s ok to curl up in a ball and eat your way through things.
It’s conflicting information and makes us feel like we should continue on the path of self destruction we are on.
I want us all to be ok with not being ok. I want us to deal with our emotions. I am a classic emotion burier. I have gaps in my memory from different periods in my life because it was easier to block shit out than deal with it. I have been there with the self medication. I started drinking too young and looking back, it was a way to deal with not quite fitting in, and just being unhappy in general.
For myself, I made a conscious effort recently to abstain from alcohol for the time being. I feel like there is still stuff I need to deal with mentally with the loss of Kayla and other important family members. I need to deal with my emotions in a healthy way and removing wine from the equation makes it difficult to bury them down like I know I’ve been doing. It’s not been easy -especially during this awful month. In the short term, it’s made me more sad and short tempered than normal but I know I need to do this in order to move forward on my journey to clarity and better mental health.
I use meditation as a form of therapy to just learn to sit and understand how I’m feeling and why.
I use physical exercise as a way to channel those emotions into something positive and believe it or not, it also brings them more to the surface. These positive coping mechanisms are helping me figure out my shit.
I am telling you now, that it really is ok to not be ok. I am telling you now that if you’re struggling emotionally, ask someone for help. If you’re struggling with self medication, do whatever you need to do to stop that.
I have faith in you. I have faith in me. We can move through this and come out better than we started.