“You don’t have to be positive all the time. It’s perfectly okay to feel sad, angry, annoyed, frustrated, scared, or anxious. Having feelings doesn’t make you a ‘negative person.’ It makes you human.” ~Lori Deschene
In November, I was on an emotional roller coaster full of sudden unexplainable fits of anger, hysterically crying for no reason, barely sleeping, feeling urges to physically kick, hit, and scream.
One of the main triggers was when my partner would go out without me.
He’d go out with his friends to play pool and I would immediately shut down, shut him out, and turn inward.
Lying in bed, my thoughts would spiral out of control.
What if he gets hurt?
He’s a grown man playing pool; he’s not going to get hurt.
Is he picking up other women?
No. He loves me.
Why didn’t he invite me?
Having time to ourselves is something I value.
We’re in a loving, committed relationship, and have been together for four years, so why hasn’t he proposed?
Wait, do I actually want to get married? Or has society just told me I want to get married?
Why hasn’t he texted me?
He’s being present with his friends. That is a good thing.
What is wrong with me? Why am I being petulant, controlling, and jealous? Why can’t I support his time with friends like he does for me? On and on and on…
Then the physical sensations would take over my body.
I’d feel hot, my heart would beat quickly, and I wanted to escape my body. I’d have the urge to kick and scream and punch. I could not relax.
I tried to quell my emotions and rely on the quiet, calm part of me to remedy the situation with my go-to tactics of meditating, focusing on breathing, and reading, but all of those failed miserably.
I could not figure out why my usual calm, optimistic self, who is able to quickly pinpoint negative thoughts and change them, was not doing her job.
My inability to understand what the hell was happening made me feel even more angry, frustrated, and helpless.
So, through talk-therapy, coaching, and journaling, I turned to my inner child, who I know wants to be seen, heard, and loved, but who has erected walls to protect her heart.
Communing with my inner child offered me a giant release, and a few discoveries:
In my relationship (and in my new business), I had a deep fear of abandonment and fear of the unknown.
My fear of abandonment was being activated because my partner and I had just finished eighteen months of travel during which we were together most of the time. I grew comfortable in our little refuge, secluded from the rest of the world.
And now, we were back in the real world, hanging out with people, adjusting to a new city and new jobs.
I felt like we didn’t spend any time together anymore. I had expected him to propose during our year of travel, but he didn’t. I thought he was pulling away from me.
The truth is, all of these were made up stories in my head.
In reality, we still spent a lot of time together and we had gotten to know each other even more intimately and deeply during our year of travel. (And a proposal was right around the corner!) We were simply adjusting to a new way of living.
I also started to realize that I was desiring to express a part of me that I had never expressed.
The tears and physical discomfort were a sign that a part of me was being suppressed. Those parts that I was suppressing were the parts of me that I had been told were too much… too emotional, too loud, too big.
I was taught that being stoic and quiet is a virtue.
I was taught that showing emotions is a sign of weakness.
I was taught that women are meant to be seen not heard.
I started to realize that it is actually a strength to express emotions, and that I am worthy of taking up space.
And I realized that my anger, frustration, and sadness could not be quelled and calmed through breathing and meditation; rather, I needed to become fortified in these intense emotions and express them in a healthy way.
Three tactics I use to be fortified in the difficult emotions of anger, frustration, and sadness are:
1. Shake it out. I bring my whole body into this and shake and stomp. It offers an instant release of tension.
2. Yell it out. I go in my car, turn up some music, and yell until my vocal cords feel tired. Afterward, I always think “wow, that felt good.”
3. Run it out. I never feel worse after a run, especially a run in the rain.
Each of these tactics is of a physical nature, because sometimes, our emotions are simply energy that needs to be moved through the body. (I suggest pairing these three somatic practices with mindset work to understand and move through your beliefs, doubts, and fears. In other words, get into the body and the mind!)
So, if you’re feeling intense emotions that you are unable to quell and calm, I invite you to match that emotional intensity with a healthy physical release.
And please know that fear of abandonment in our relationships is totally normal (it’s a survival instinct, which might also be exacerbated by childhood trauma), so release the self-judgment and give yourself a little grace.
(Also, I am happy to report that, at the time of writing, my fiancé is at his bachelor party, and I am one hundred percent not freaking out. Which is a result of therapy, mindset work, and somatic practice!)
We get to explore what is going on, and transmute that fear into a deeper love, more pleasure, and expanded intimacy.
So here’s to getting to know and expressing your full, perfectly imperfect, self!