Have you ever set aside time to simply express emotion?
Not like actually saying “on Tuesday night at 5 o’clock, I will plan to be mad for 30 minutes,” but more like recognizing the need when it arises and just making time instead of ‘pushing through’.
It doesn’t feel authentic to just push through, yet we all do it…all the time.
And, to me, that’s a bomb waiting to go off or a lifetime of suppressing true, authentic emotions. Neither of which are healthy.
Whelp, in the spirit of attempting to live more authentically and sinking into the work I need to do around noticing, naming and navigating my emotions, I tried it.
It was Wednesday afternoon, June 3, and everything was coming to a fever pitch; conflicting information about the pandemic, thousands of people being infected and dying each day, feelings of helplessness about our lack of leadership and the political climate in the US, heartbroken that it took George Floyd’s murder to get people to finally acknowledge and stand up for racial justice – on a smaller scale; remote learning, ending the school year, contentious school budget conversations, parenting in times of great unrest, feeling stuck in my work…it was all building.
I. Just. Wanted. To. Cry.
I envisioned climbing into bed, pulling the covers over my head and sobbing – (the uncontrollably part would be a game-time decision).
I was overwhelmed and needed to sink into the pain of the moment.
Now, this was all bubbling up when I typically transition my 15-year-old son and 13-year-old daughter to their father’s house. I explained that I wanted to leave a little earlier so I could come home, climb into bed and cry. You know, that I just needed to spend the night feeling all the feels.
Interestingly, my son got it right away. “I understand and I support you. Do what you need to do. I’ll check in on you tomorrow,” he said, enveloping me in a big, comforting bear hug.
My daughter, on the other hand, said, “That sounds awful. Why are you all depressed? Where is my fun, happy mom?”
I did my best to convince her that this was perfectly fine and that there is absolutely nothing wrong with being sad, upset or even depressed. (In fact, I’d be really worried if the events of the moment aren’t depressing more people than just me), but I followed that up with, “I’ll be back to my fun, happy self before you know it” to give her some reassurance that I wasn’t planning for this to become my ‘new normal’.
In stepping up to the plate and noticing what I was feeling, naming it out loud and expressing how I planned to navigate it, gave me so much power – and allowed me to model healthy emotional behavior for my teenagers.
I have shared this story with a few friends and the feedback has been as powerful as the actual experience.
My friend Aron reflected that “sharing an awareness with teenagers that we can accept brokenness and flaws will help break down white women’s positions of power in a white supremacy culture.” Wow!
I want to teach my daughter:
We don’t have to be everything to everyone – nor should we be.
We don’t have to be perfect. We are flawed and that makes us beautifully human.
We don’t need to be people-pleasers. The only person we need to please is ourselves.
We don’t need permission…from anyone but us.
So, that Wednesday night, deep under my covers of protection, I gave myself permission to cry…and it felt cathartic!