Big Feelings

Big Feelings

I have most of a post written that I’m just not sure about posting, because… it doesn’t exactly put Tim in a shining light.

It will probably come as no surprise to anyone in his family, but he could throw a bit of a tantrum. As someone with a pretty damn quick temper myself, I would often try to hold space and patience for that. But at the same time, I would wonder … how does a grown-ass man throw such a toddler temper tantrum and at this age not have a functional way to deal with his anger?

I’m not saying that I’m perfect (I did scream my voice raw yesterday at Peppa for (a) making eye contact with me and peeing on the carpet and (b) slipping out through the gate and running almost to the neighbor’s house before I could catch her). But as Julia Cameron says in The Artist’s Way, anger doesn’t just point the finger; anger points the way. I’ve always tried to figure out where my anger is coming from, what I’m really mad about, and just breathe with it for a minute. Marmie tells Jo in Little Women about closing your lips and counting to ten, and that was great advice for me as a child. I mean, who wouldn’t listen to Marmie, right? And who doesn’t relate to Jo?

As I grew up I realized it was more than just counting to ten. You’re not just putting a pause, a break in the sentence, between the breath in and the breath out of the same anger. It’s not even really counting to ten. It’s centering yourself, asking why you feel this way, asking what made you feel this way, asking if that’s really what made you feel this way, asking what the anger feels like and if the level of anger is really appropriate to what’s happening, and if it’s not, what more is going on. And then figuring out how to redirect that energy. Anger is pretty energetic, and we all know that energy can neither be created nor destroyed, just converted. So what can I convert that energy into? A more constructive anger? Or a more constructive anything?

I gather from stories of Tim growing up that he would deal with his tempers by chopping wood. No, that’s not a euphemism. And it’s probably why I have a lifetime supply of cut and dried wood for the fireplace right outside the house. He would just… make himself tired. Swing that axe and cut that wood until the temper burned itself out. And yeah, that’s great that he had AN outlet, but only ONE outlet? What if you can’t get to the woodpile? What if you’re not home? What if … meh, I could spiral off into “what if”s forever.

So, anyway, I’m writing this other post about watching Jeff deal with something stressful and wondering how he can just be so … normal about it. I’m not saying he didn’t get mad – he for sure did. But he dealt with it. He’s not yelling. He’s not throwing things. He’s not getting annoyed at me or the dog for simply breathing near him. And at the same time that I’m thinking “wow, I did not know I needed to have the life lesson of watching a man NOT lose his shit in a situation” I’m also thinking… “how desperately sad for me that I didn’t realize how I would shrink myself to make space for Tim’s Big Feelings.” Which gives me a lot of Big Feelings.

I’ve been really on edge the last couple of days. The dog is acting up, I’m trying not to think about Big Feelings, I’m on so much albuterol for recovering from that asthma attack, I feel like I could punch a hole in the sky, with how edgy and jittery I am. Seriously, y’all, I knocked something over in the studio with my butt the other day, trying to squeeze through some boxes (my studio is really a mess right now) and when the thing hit the ground behind me, I was like one of those cartoon cats that just embeds itself, upside down, in the ceiling by it’s claws. I’m ready to scream or cry at the littlest thing. Honestly my studio being such a mess is probably putting me on edge, too. If I were smart, I’d take a couple days off from trying to work and clean up my work space!

Anyway, blah blah blah, I don’t really have anywhere else to go with this post. I’m writing it so I don’t keep writing my other post, because I didn’t like where that post was bringing me. So… something something blah blah wrap this up something something.

Look! Over there! *points behind you* Is that Superman? *runs off while you’re looking behind you, so I don’t have to finish the post*


4 thoughts on “0

  1. Your Uncle Joe is calm like Jeff; no temper tantrums ever. Your dad, though, could throw big ones. And I have a memory of you one day suddenly not being angry so easily. You told me you’d thought it through and realized that you could control it better. I think you were still a teenager. I was and am so impressed. Love, Aunt Gay

  2. Love you! Dogs can be so frustrating. I found that not chasing, instead sitting down and ignoring them makes them come see what you are doing. Once ther is pee on the floor, the think it is a pee spot. That enzymatic stuff you can get online or at the vet or walmart really works. I had to crawl around sniffing the rug to be sure I hit all the spots. Anyhow I hope to see you one of these days.

  3. Seems like I read your posts as I need them – exploding big feelings have been a problem for me lately, with nothing to muffle the explosion as it leaves my mouth. As a child, I learned from my mom to make myself small to allow my dad to explode and then for years I was too scared of upsetting the apple cart to express big feelings until I couldn’t contain them anymore and I would yell and scream. Now I am comfortable and assured of my relationship and feel the freedom to express myself, but I still have not learned how to use my brain to figure out what is really wrong and my mouth to articulate that idea. Well, even at 65, we are never done learning!

  4. Humans do human things. Sometimes we are given (or seize!) the space and time to truly see our big feelings. Sometimes we can logic our way onto the path of of who we want to be. I am grateful to you for being honest with yourself and for taking the time to work on being the person you want to be. I was just thinking of a reason outside of myself to aim higher in my own life… But you have reminded me that knowing yourself (being honest about your feelings) is reason enough to aim higher. Keep your eyes on your joy!

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