Friday, February 25, 2011

March Happiness Project: Emotional Rescue

...has always been my favorite Rolling Stones song. And just like my favorite David Bowie song, Ashes to Ashes, it is never played on the radio. Freaky, haunting - that is exactly why I embrace these songs. How can David Bowie capture the chilling inner creepiness of being high (no that I know so much about this state-of-mind) in a microbeat? He is a muther-effing genius, that's all. This is precisely why if I ever met him I would suck in my breath until I passed out cold. Why, I wonder, is something so artistically raw and so powerful at evoking a naked emotion not given airplay?

Is emotion just too uncomfortable to handle - from ourselves and from others?

My mom was an incredibly emotional person. So much so that in the last few years before her death I started to avoid her - to avoid the conflict that could easily erupt from absolutely nothing. For her, every high was the highest high and every low was devastating. Eager to miscontrue a statement to it's worst possible meaning, she would resond to even the most benign of statements with her defenses up. Tim marvels that I came out of it as even and level as I comparatively am. While I'm over the stage of blaming my parents for all my problems I do wish that she had possessed the tools to teach me how to master my emotions.

See, I have been told on many occasions that I am too emotional, that I wear my heart on my sleeve. There is a lot of truth to it, you know. I am an emotional girl. This can be a good thing. For example, I am able to show great empathy with my clients and often cry with them during a euthanasia or even in conversation about difficult decisions. My daughter gets covered in kisses, smothered in hugs, and hears, "I love you, Heart" hundreds of times a day every day. 


On the other hand, I am prone to wild extrapolations and over-interpretations. That, I think, is the message under the statement: I am often a victim of my own emotional hijacking. It's a real drag for the people around me. In the spaces between incredible goodness and blessings of my life, this is the area where my mind dwells lately. I know this theme keeps coming up and if you bothered to read and still come back, well bless you. No doubt it was a rough year or so there with a lot to work through and in the time since then the fog is slowly lifting. Events over the past few months have made it clear that some have reached the foot tapping, hip-jutting, watch-pointing phase of support that says, "Get your shit together already."

Mangroves in Florida. 

As such, my Happiness Project for March will orchestrate my own emotional rescue. With no further adieu:
  1. Seek counseling - Judy suggested this to me for years. Aside from one half-assed attempt about 5 years ago, I have pretty much refused. 
  2. Read The Feeling Good Handbook by David Burns - Jena told me long ago that she had read this and worked on it. She is one of the most level and even people I know. I'm sure I can learn from it.
  3. Free-form writing for at least 15 minutes daily - writing has always been the most effective coping tool for me. There is a limit to how much I can dump here. 
  4. Find a way to do some mirroring work especially focusing on fighting fair in intimacy and effective communication in conflict. 
  5. Take a deep breath. Always a good idea to pause before responding. I've never regretted what I didn't say nearly so much as what I did. 

Ada gets so excited about the bath that she sometimes tries to climb in fully clothed.

I promised too that I would hold myself accountable at the end of the months. How did February go? Well, my checklist got checked off for a total of three days. That part of it was much harder than I thought. Overall, the effect has been more one of awareness than perfection. That's OK too.

  1. Drink 36oz water - yes, I did manage to do this most days
  2. Exercise 4x/week - I was doing a freaking awesome job of this and loving it! Then I busted my ankle and I've been sidelined for the past 2 weeks. Still, I have a running group to go back to so that I won't get mugged in Golden Gate Park at 5:30 in the morning. Or if I do get mugged, someone at least knows to come back to search for my body. I'll get there as my mind is hungrier for this now than it's ever been. 
  3. Get enough sleep. Yeah, did pretty well. The only thing that keeps me from sleeping enough is if Ada has a rough night - there isn't much I can do to control that. 
  4. Food diary. Ummm, I filled out 1.5 days. 
  5. Genereal Health appointment - in fact, I did get this one scheduled. 
  6. Act Happy - I have even gone as far as wearing yellow. When I get frustrated at work I laugh really hard instead of whining. I'm saying "Good Morning" to everyone.

3 Lovies:

Serendipite said...

I need to follow your lead. I may copy this from you for an upcoming blog post xoxo

Keep it going! I love to read this!

jms said...

Yellow is good

Anonymous said...

Ahhhh yes, I relate to so much of would be no surprise. February was a rough emotional month for me and I have relied heavily upon my anonymous and impossible-to-search for blog that nobody who knows me will ever read. It's liberating but it's reached a point of saturation and other methodologies [counseling, ironically] have become necessary.

I'm never going to get tired of reading (hearing) what you're coping with. After all, we're all in this together (or at least in this together with those that really matter in the long view).

Miss you,