Do you ever feel like the words tumbling out of your mouth are making chaos and you’re kind of in the backseat behind your frontal lobe, watching the other person’s face knit at the brows or go placatingly blank?
Knowing none of the words matter anyway, wanting to internally shut up shop and implode – never mind the other person.
Knowing you’ll regret it later.
So you apologise. “I’m not with it today.”
I’m distraught because I don’t live with my mum and grandmother anymore and I’m not sure what I’m doing is right.
The other person is French.
“It’s a figure of speech,” I explain. “It means, I’m kind of out of it.”
Shoot. That didn’t help.
After such an instance, I’d once have punished myself for social awkwardness, which I attributed to some essential personal defect. I thought something was wrong with me.
Living in various parts of Australia in the last few years has given me a different perspective on that. Notably, my first housemate taught me a thing or two about suppressed emotion.
I was 19, and I’d just moved from the Gold Coast to Melbourne. I was dancing on eggshells around my housemate and my voice was a few pitches higher than normal. I was breaking things all over the place. She told me I was driving her nuts.
What I needed to do, she explained, was attend to what was actually going on inside me.
The idea is that we’re not autopilot robots, defined by our roles. We have wounds and loves, and fears; rich worlds of emotion that demand expression. When anger and sadness demand expression, life gets messy. Obviously, it’s going to be difficult to function when we’re melting pots inside, and it’s preferable to release emotion in private rather than let it impact others.
Feeling is Healing
When I was 18 a book jumped out at me from my Nan’s bookshelf. In The Journey, by Brandon Bays, I read about how Brandon would feel, deeply, emotions like anger, frustration, or sadness, until they gave way to the emotions lying underneath. Brandon describes how she devoted herself to feeling through those layers of emotion, emerging lighter and clearer afterwards. She also explores finding the childhood source of present hang-ups, and honouring the emotions around them.
Ways to ‘Fheal’
I’ve come across this wisdom from various sources since The Journey and my housemate. At first I found it hard to just sit and feel the way Brandon does. The following methods all help with releasing emotion:
- Throw a tantrum: Punching a pillow, yelling and screaming; throwing yourself around like a kid in a shopping centre… but not in a shopping centre!
- Write and burn: Write it all out, even if you’re not sure what it is. Then burn it (safely). I love this one.
- Exercise: work it out!
- Be of service: for some reason, cleaning things, picking up litter, and being of service to others is a great way to release anger constructively.