Last weekend we had a house full of guests – people I love dearly and was so glad to have here. I’m an introvert, though, so by the end of the weekend, I was drained.
I also spend about a week of every menstrual cycle oscillating between irritable, vulnerable, and ready to cry. It’s almost laughably predictable. And of course last weekend I was smack in the middle of it.
So when my husband and I sat down for a quick check-in Sunday night before watching a movie and ended up launching into a difficult conversation…and then again, on a different topic, once the movie was through, I was a total basket case. One thousand cases of basket.
At one point the shame of crying at an odd conversational moment took me over and I held a kleenex over my face, trying to collect myself. “Good thing I have NO IDEA what’s going on back there,” my husband said. We had a good laugh, which of course sent me back into tears.
And it occurs to me that isn’t this just how life is sometimes? Impervious to “good timing”? We don’t always have a choice about when hard conversations happen. We can’t push pause on injury, disaster, or disease. We can’t predict when the bumps in life’s road are gonna throw us and then adequately prepare in advance for them.
We’re simply reacting a lot of the time. And, often, without the luxury of adequate sleep, an hour spent meditating that morning, the absence of other life stressors, and a green drink just consumed.
In many ways I’ve grown more trust than the average bear, and have collected a nice array of tools for understanding my own psychology and navigating interpersonal things. But damned if I wasn’t about age three on Sunday night, spouting tears and fears like this isn’t my website at all. Like I’ve never heard of such a place. I was humiliated. And ashamed of feeling that, too!
I’m not feeling that way tonight (thank God!), and with the benefit of both distance AND proximity to that kind of shame, I wonder whether it might nourish trust for me and anyone in the midst of or trying to recover from similar feelings to say some things that I know.
So here goes:
- I know that it’s okay to be triggered into old feelings and childlike personas. Such triggers are part of the human experience. Which means ALL of us have them.
- I know that our egos really want to paint and project a unified image of who we are (e.g. mature, trusting, having access to higher functions of reason…), and that when we act outside the range of that image, our egos freak out. They scold us or scoff us or wilt in dismay – anything to try to get us back on track with the image.
- We are not images. And more importantly, we are not unified beings. We have many sides to us. Many feelings. Many parts with not-always-synchronized wishes.
(There, there, now, ego. I must tell you it’s true.)
- Week-before-period-starts personas don’t cancel out the rest-of-the-month ones. And vice versa. We’re all (all our personas) in this together. (God bless all our souls.)
- Scrappy, jungle-ball conversations or entire life seasons are just what have to happen sometimes. They aren’t pretty. They aren’t elegant. They beg no photographic record.
But there they are.
- And wow, do you have any idea the potential for love in the midst of them? – love that shines like the radiant outline of sun behind the darkest, crappiest cloud. Love that isn’t pity or about performing to some standard, but about taking a person as they are, being taken as the person that you are, and finding softness in response. Warmth. Kindness.
- Sometimes the love and shining linings happen way later. In the moment, and sometimes for days or weeks or years at a time, there’s only scrap.
- And I know, deep in my heart of hearts, that all of that’s okay.
- And that this letter always applies.
What do you know that might grow trust in the times when life catches you at your worst? Wanna help make this list longer?