For most of my life – up until just a couple of years ago, actually – I’ve had a very tight, controlled reign on my emotions. First of all, I’m from the Midwest. We don’t talk about stuff. We keep our feelings under wraps and if there’s something bothering us we just shove it way deep down into the pit of our ulcer-ridden stomachs. Our mantra is “I don’t need help, I can handle this myself” accompanied by a set jaw and sternly clenched lips. It’s very healthy.
Second of all, I had no idea what the hell I was doing when I got myself involved in my first major relationship. Or my second, for that matter. I was trained from a very young age that when a man says he wants something, you give it to him. I was also trained not to rock the boat. I figured it was easier to just let things slide and avoid an unnecessary confrontation. In fact, confrontation was probably my worst fear.
Now I have a different cocktail of circumstances to deal with. After years of therapy I finally, frighteningly, slowly began to speak my mind and stand up for myself. Just a little bit…I didn’t have the confidence to go all balls to the wall, but I tried. You know, there’s some analogy out there about ice cracking or something. I started lightly tapping on my icy emotional exterior, and when I found that some pieces broke away and fell off, I started pushing harder. Then kicking. Then I went all kung-fu on that shit and…I was FREE! Add to that the fact that I’ve recently coasted into my mid-thirties, and my hormones were all “ha ha, hey whassup bitches? We’re about to fuck…shit…UP!”
This is still new to me. I revert to my old ways pretty easily, but I’m a lot more aware of it now. Having more dramatic reactions to things I consider wrongdoings always catches me by surprise, because I’m so accustomed to nothing phasing me. But man – this female emotion hullabaloo is nuts!
Like when my boyfriend says a bunch of stupid shit after doing a really stupid thing, and I see red and then envision myself shouting Fuuuuuuuck Yooooouuuuuu!!!!! in his face and then becoming a crazy bitch-dragon and when I open my mouth again I heave a deep breath and then shoot fire at him, reducing him to a stick-figure of charred remains like in a cartoon, until he just blows away in the wind. It’s not very ladylike. I’d say it’s more Roadrunner and Coyote. Except substitute the Roadrunner in this scenario with me, as a fire-breathing dragon, and Coyote as the charred remains of my boyfriend.
This has actually only ever happened once. Usually I save visualization exercises like this one for another person in my life. Someone that has lots and lots of time on their hands to constantly fuck with me, and who I spent lots and lots of years not standing up to. So I’m making up for lost time now, in my head. It’s not particularly satisfying, but it’s better than nothing.
The ironic side to this new, improved, more emotionally mature me is that now there are times when I want to talk something through, to get it all out, splay it out on the table for both people to see and then slowly begin to pick away at it until we’ve had our fill of digesting it and are satisfied. And this doesn’t always happen when I want it to.
So instead of poking at the coals of the fire inside me in preparation to get them roaring again, I’m learning to sit back, relax, and re prioritize. Breathing fire at the first sign of dischord? No! Stepping back and giving space for organic evolution, resulting in more level-headed discussions, minus the fire? Yes.
‘Learning’ being the key word there.