“When you’re happy, you enjoy the music. But when you’re sad, you understand the lyrics.” Frank Ocean
My husband John and I rode for what seemed like a long time, even though probably only 15 minutes, in the opposite direction of Claire’s mom while Claire (our almost three-year-old granddaughter) cried, kicked the back of the driver’s seat, and begged us, “Go in that direction.”
She pointed back toward the park where we’d picked her up. She’d been with friends and missed her afternoon nap, on top of waiting to eat dinner with us. Between the two, being tired and hungry, she melted down when her mom drove away from our meeting spot halfway between our houses. We’d met to pick up Claire and keep her for a couple of days.
We finally pulled over. I hugged her and walked her around. By now, she gasped for breath and kept asking to go in that direction, while pointing the right way even though we’d made two turns. Nothing calmed her. Not talking to her mom on the phone. Not her favorite snack.
And especially not John telling her, “Stop it.”
She wore herself out, but not before she’d also worn out John. He’d become as frazzled as her.
At the house, Claire’s mood turned around after three bites of pizza. She talked about playing in the park and asked where we bought the fish that was new on our wall.
“I’m so happy you feel better,” I said.
She placed her hand on her chest, tilted her head, and said, “Oh, Mammy, I sorry, but I was so sad. I just missed my mommy so much.”
John and I laughed through our tears at her sweet voice and sincere apology. Both times she said “so,” she accentuated the word. I looked at John to see him calming down also.
“You can’t have the highs without the lows,” I said.
It wasn’t like he didn’t know that from experience. I’m a yo-yo, but he’s never appreciated it and neither have I. If I had tried to talk him into it, we both would have questioned, “What’s there to appreciate?”
Before we ever had kids, I was diagnosed with something, probably manic-depressive disorder. I was eligible for free counseling sessions through our health insurance if my therapist assigned a label. This was years prior to half our population being branded with diagnoses, so the therapist squirmed telling me I had to have one. He didn’t volunteer what it was and I never asked.
I’m not convinced my emotional overload needs to be labeled a disorder, but I do want to find order in it.
I, as well as everyone around me, tried to eliminate my emotions, bury my emotions, or ignore my emotions to the point that for years I’ve had trouble breathing, as well as living. I’d prefer John and I team up like we often talk about and accept, appreciate, and work together to understand my emotions, and his too.
My dad, who had the same overload, asked me anytime I’d run to my room, close the door, and cry uncontrollably, “Who do you think you are acting like that?”
Instead of asking about “acting like that,” I wish he’d asked about my feelings since they drove everyone a little crazy, including me.
After he asked, I wish Dad had cared about my answers. My responses may have helped us both.
I’m a little girl who’s scared you and Mom are going to divorce.
I’m a little girl who’s afraid you’re not okay, which means I’m not okay because we’re a lot alike.
I’m a little girl who loves you no matter what. I wish that’d make a difference in how angry you get and how scared you look.
If we are to get our own lives, we have to come to terms with all of who we are.
If we are to love the people in it, we have to do the same for them.
My high mood is when I shop for an hour at Target to find the swirly dress and collared shirts, the princess wand, and a Little Tike’s basketball goal.
It’s when my husband and I talk for hours about the house we’ve looked at to buy in “Mitchfield” (Litchfield Beach), as Claire calls it.
It’s when I can’t get enough of Claire and her little brother, and laugh loud on FaceTime because they’ve gotten down from eating dinner to dance to Fight Song … again.
The flipside, not synonymous with the bad side, is my low mood when I’m focused on what’s wrong with you and me. I cry over spilt milk, literally. I curl up in bed and stay there all day because a child is missing in Disney.
I’m not sure these are because of a diagnosis or if we’re all plagued at times with life. What I am sure of is it’s helping to accept the lows right along with my highs.
Everyone welcomes laughter, but Claire’s teaching me to embrace it all – her high-spirited personality, as well as her fits of emotion and her soggy face. And mine, and yours. I mean, I would never dismiss her feelings or label them, so why do it to myself?
What’s up with this blog post about emotions and what’s it got to do with getting our own lives? #GettingYourOwnLife
It’s inconvenient, frustrating, and sometimes scary to feel bad, but it’s as necessary as feeling good so we know what’s going on with ourselves and each other, and so we have direction (what to do and what not to do). One purpose of emotions (both the positive and the ones we consider to be negative) is guidance.
We label and try to eradicate or medicate our God-given emotions given to us to guide our next step towards #GettingYourOwnLife and our God-given emotions given to us so we’ll relate and have compassion #WhileLovingthePeopleinIt.
But, like I told John about Claire, we can’t have the highs without the lows.
While researching “the purpose of our emotions,” I found an article on PsychologyToday.com (see link below) where the author talks about having too much emotion and not enough outlets like when we lived in the wilderness and fled from tigers. She said, “Perhaps emotions get out of whack today because they bubble without an effective outlet.”
Let’s choose #GettingYourOwnLife #WhileLovingthePeopleinIt to be our effective outlet. What do you think? I think it’ll keep me on my own yo-yo string and maybe even appreciating it.
In This Together,
Click here to read “Why Do We Have Emotions?” by Ilana Simons Ph.D. @ PsychologyToday.com.