As many are aware by now, on Friday March 15, 2019, my home city of Christchurch, New Zealand came under attack. On the morning after that attack, I posted my thoughts about what had happened, trying to make some sort of sense to the insanity. While that post was well received, there were other things going on in the background that highlighted a few others things to me about myself and how people react to stress in general.
As a country as a whole, this is going to be a long road back to any sense of normalcy. This event will change our perceptions of our home forever, and in ways that none of us can predict right now. A friend said to me that this event, in a way, is our 9/11. She’s right.
But we will heal. How do I know this? Because I refuse to go into a shell and hide like a turtle. And I refuse to let others do the same.
I do apologize to my followers if I seem like I’m rambling at the moment, but writing is a healing process for me. It always has been and that will never change. Even in my youth, I would do the best I could to write out my emotions, to try to make sense of them with words. As you can probably imagine, so much is going through this brain of mine that I’m struggling in a big way to process it all.
I have a process.
Yesterday, when I wrote that blog post about Friday’s events, I followed my normal blog writing process. I wrote the post. I read it and edited it. I read it again. I added all the SEO, images and social media crap. Then I read it aloud.
Normally, when I’m writing my blog posts, I’m home alone or the family is fast asleep. Basically, when I come to the read aloud part of the process, it’s normally just me, myself and I. But my husband was up and had joined me in the lounge where my computer is hiding in the corner. So, when I was reading that post aloud, I was reading it to him.
When I finished, he started giving his feedback. “Aren’t you going to mention the 49 people who died? Aren’t you going to express your sympathy for their families?”
It was a valid statement, but at that moment, it made me angry. The way I saw it at the time, he was trying to add words to my mouth, and he was belittling everything that I was feeling.
Of course, that’s NOT what he was doing at all, but in the fragile emotional state that I was in, that’s where my brain leaped.
And, back into the analysis mode I went, spending nearly the entire day trying to figure out why his comments made me so angry.
I had lunch out with my husband, trying to make something of our 19th wedding anniversary (yep, we were married on March 16, 2000), and I had to try to explain something to him, something that I had recognized within myself.
There is a certain mode that suppresses all emotions, except anger.
On Friday afternoon, when I realized that something serious was going down (not really knowing what), I went into my scientist mode. That mode is all about facts and figures. There is zero room for emotions, except for anger and frustration. It’s an odd mode to try to explain, but I become so focused on a particular task that anything that deviates me from that task irritates me and has the potential of making me aggressive.
Since having kids, I have learned how to manage this mode to be tolerant of anything that those around me might do, so I don’t explode in their faces. I keep the mother hat on long enough to help my children through whatever stress they might be suffering too, but any comments that question my own reasonings and thought processes will be met with extreme challenge.
This is why I got angry with my husband with his comments about my blog post. I had recognized that I was still in scientist mode. Sympathy and compassion do not exist when I’m in that mode.
Then something else happened that I never expected. Later in the day, when I was at the grocery store, the scientist mode had crumbled away completely and I had a full-on anxiety attack. I managed to keep it together long enough to get home, but only just. The moment I walked in the door, I grabbed my husband, hugged him and broke down completely.
All of the emotions that I had been repressing came to the surface at once. There was no more holding them back. Fear. Sadness. Anger. Frustration. Confusion. Questioning my own sanity for the idiotic thoughts that went through my mind. It hit HARD!
My daughter came home from her ballet lessons, and she crashed too. She was tired, upset, scared, frustrated, hungry, and a whole other range of feelings that she couldn’t put into words.
The scientist mode has not completely left me. Right now, it has created a wall, trying to understand everything. I’m still analyzing, but the scientist mode has allowed me to recognize something so important about human behavior and depression.
We bottle it all up inside.
It’s human nature to bottle everything up inside, to only show the happy to the world at large. Society frequently insists that we hide what we’re really feeling, at the same time of sending the contradictory messages that it’s okay to feel sad. We, as adults, are forced to learn coping mechanisms to get through a particularly bad day, because that’s what society expects us to do.
For me, the main coping mechanism is to channel all the negativity into my writing. My writing buddies have jokingly called me the Queen of Violence, because so much of my writing is filled with dead bodies, maimed in ways that can be fairly spectacular. The fight scenes often ends in explosive deaths. The more violent, the better the emotional release.
Yes, this says something about me, but in the last 48 hours, I’ve come to realize that my form of release is healthy.
By sharing my emotions and insecurities with the world, even if it is only seen through my fictional narratives, I’m actually giving myself permission to feel all the negative things in life. I’m not holding it inside where it can lead to other issues. On particularly bad days, like yesterday, I reach out to those around me, borrowing from their strength, at the same time, lending them some of my own.
My daughter and I sat together on the couch last night, cuddled in each other’s arms crying together. It was okay to just break down. The house is our safe place. The walls of the house will protect us when the metaphorical walls can’t.
I won’t hide the confusion I feel about this insanity. I won’t hide the depression that I’ve been suffering from for over a year. It is real, because I am real. I share it with those around me, because it helps me to remember that it’s okay to feel this way. If by sharing this confusion with the world at large helps just one person recognize within themselves their own feelings, understanding that they’re not alone, then I have achieved the goal that I have set out to do.
Please. Do not hide your emotions from those around you. It’s okay to feel the negativity. You’re allowed to feel anger, hate, frustration, annoyance. You’re allowed to be afraid. Let others know that this is what you feel. Let them help you try to make the connections that you need to, so you can understand why you feel the way you do. You may not make any sense to the insanity, but just the simple act of accepting your emotions as part of who you are is a huge step on the road to healing.
In this, we are all one! We are NOT alone!
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© Copyright, Judy L Mohr 2019