I have never been one to hide what I am feeling very well.
(I also have RBF* and sometimes that gets misconstrued as me being angry, when I am totally not, but that’s another story…).
As one person who knows me very well says, “I mean, Jules, your face, it’s about as subtle as Times Square.”
Go ahead. You can laugh.
Because it’s true. I have, what the school-age son of a dear friend of mine calls, Big Feelings.
Big. Feelings. And that means that on any given day, my heart breaks about a thousand times. And if you work with me, or are a regular part of my life in any way, man, I’m so sorry, because I’m sure it’s exhausting. Another person I know calls it being a “weeper,” and perhaps this is true. I express just about every emotion with tears: anger, sadness, joy, love, rage, frustration, heartache. Also if I am saying anything at all remotely important to me I’m likely to choke up.
I generally immediately apologize for the tears. I know they make a good number of folks uncomfortable. But trust me, they don’t need fixing. Or drying. You just have to roll with it, and get that I am having a Big Feeling and it must be expressed or I’ll likely explode.
There are times this really gets me in trouble (hence the sorry). Sometimes, the Big Feelings completely overtake me and I wind up trying to explain it. This is never a good idea. Because I sometimes say things that don’t need to be said. Or lose all perspective and wind up saying foolish and selfish things. Or make mountains out of molehills. Or basically just become irrational.
File those moments under #thingsJuliewishesshehadhandledbetter .
But here’s the thing I’m learning–or at least trying to. We’re all pretty jacked up. For all sorts of reasons, and generally the world asks us to set the jacked-up-ness aside, soldier up, and keep at it. And there’s some value in this–in being able to carry on with your life and work even though you feel like you might be dying inside.
Still, I think we often ask too much ourselves, and “bucking up buttercup” too often means being fake–both to ourselves and to the world around us. And I have to tell you, at age 43, I’ve had enough of fake. The moment we choose to be truer to our notion of what those around us want us to be than we are to ourselves, we become less of the person we were meant to be.
No matter how big they are, your feelings, they are yours. And you’re allowed.
I want to be clear that Big Feelings are no excuse for being an asshole. You don’t get to ruin everybody else’s day with your baggage and/or emotions. And you don’t get to treat others like crap just because you’re having a bad day. Have your feelings–but don’t force them on everyone around you. I’ve been guilty of this in my life–and always regret it.
You may be wondering why this matters enough to me to write about. I mean, come on, Jules–there’s a whole lot wrong with the world and you want to write about feelings?
Yea. I do. Because, yes, there is a whole lot wrong with the world. And we are all so very broken. And every day, it seems, we find a new reason to lash out at one another–the frequency with which we do that on social media, especially, is terrifying to me. It’s as if our Big Feelings give us license to attack and dehumanize anyone who doesn’t affirm or agree with us. And this is tearing at the fabric of our communities with deadly accuracy and consistency.
And sometimes the pendulum swings to the other side, and we find ourselves so afraid of offending someone and their feelings that we fail to even speak honestly or grapple with difficult situations with any integrity or courage. Also not helpful.
It’s such a fine balance–feeling what we feel and also recognizing that everyone else has baggage too and it might be real different than ours; feeling what we feel and also trying to pay attention to the feelings of those around us; feeling what we feel and trying to figure out what’s appropriate to share and act upon and what’s not.
For me, what it boils down to is this (and let me just say real quick I rarely get this right…still…I’m working on it):
- Be you. Fully you. With all your flaws and all your awesomeness. And realize that for some people YOU may be too much. Or too wrong. Or too…YOU. These people are not the ones you hold on to.
- Big Feelings are real. And feeling them is honest. But you gotta find a way to put it all in perspective.
- This world is friggin’ angry. Especially our corner of it. And I swear to you that simple human decency and kindness is our only way out. Don’t be a jerk. Just don’t. (And yes, I made a note to self, here!).
- You are not responsible for another person’s feelings. But that doesn’t mean actively seeking to hurt another is okay either. See #3 (don’t be a jerk).
- Sometimes you just gotta step back. Hit the pause button. Take a breath. And remember that you are HERE. You are YOU. You are ALIVE. And it will somehow be okay.
- Care for each other, y’all. Shelter each other. We’re all on edge. And raw. And jumpy. And the tension of both our personal lives and the general state of our country right now has us all uptight. So…love harder. Feel deeper. Remember that as long as we’re loving each other all is not lost.
Look, this has rambled, I know–maybe chalk it up to my own BF’s…but maybe also try to notice your own. And how they both help and maybe sometimes wreak havoc in your life. And as you do, remember…we’re so much more alike, feelings and all, than we will ever be different.
Breathe, friends. You’ve got this.
*Resting Bitch Face–it’s a thing, trust me.