Jul of Wisdom #1

It’s okay to be a wreck sometimes.

That’s a pretty surprising statement from a recovering perfectionist; someone who grew up believing that emotions showed weakness, weakness was a sign of imperfection, and therefore, emotions were not to be shown. They were to be stuffed down and buried.

This has been my biggest area of personal growth in my 46 years on this planet: realizing that being able to feel and acknowledge my emotions is actually a sign of strength, not weakness. That being imperfect is actually my biggest gift, because it allows me to connect with others and to experience the true power of love when I open up and am vulnerable in front of others.

That doesn’t mean I don’t still struggle with feeling or showing my emotions. I’ve got twenty years of disordered eating and an extra forty pounds as proof of that. The difference is, I’m getting better at it all the time.

This week has been a rough one. I had an endoscopy on Monday to find out why my GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease) has been so much worse lately. I’m used to these scopes – I’ve had more than I care to count – but there’s always some low-level anxiety that comes with them. Are they going to find another ulcer? Evidence of pre-cancerous changes? Cancer? Are they going to tell me they didn’t find anything to explain my increasingly severe symptoms?

Leading up to the scope, I used all of my positive thinking tricks to keep the anxiety at bay. Gratitude. Positive affirmations. Prayer. Meditation. I prayed that they would find something to explain my symptoms and that they would be able to fix it.

And guess what? That is exactly what happened. They found the problem and they can fix it. It involves a pretty major surgery, but it’s not cancer. It’s not pre-cancerous changes. It’s a fixable problem that might actually fix the problem for good!

So, why have I been a wreck for the last three days?! I’ve been depressed, cranky, crying at everything, exhausted, unable to concentrate or focus. . . . WTH?! Logically, I know the findings are a good thing, but my emotions are all over the place. I’ve been trying to figure out why I am feeling like this because, if I can just reason it out, I can “get over it.”

But maybe that’s the problem. I’ve spent my life “getting over” my emotions rather than just feeling them. And it hasn’t helped me feel any better. In fact, it usually ends with a pint of ice cream, a box of Hot Tamales, and a belly ache to go with my heartache.

So, this time, I tried a different approach. Tuesday, I texted my two best friends and admitted that I needed some love and support. They, of course, responded immediately and offered me whatever support I needed. That immediately helped – just knowing they were there and that I wasn’t as alone as I felt.

And yet, yesterday, I was still feeling depressed, upset, and exhausted. So, I laid down – in the middle of the day! I listened to music and fell asleep. When I woke up, I still felt depressed and out of sorts. So, I cried. My hubby came upstairs and found me lying on the bed crying (an unusual sight) and he laid down next to me and we talked. That helped too.

But honestly, I still felt like crap. So, I took the rest of the day off. I didn’t try to cheer myself up or get out of my funk. I just felt it. I’m not going to lie – it sucked. Feeling bad obviously never feels good. But there was some relief in not fighting it anymore – in not trying to “get over it” or force myself to act other than how I was feeling.

I woke up with eyes sore from crying, but you know what? I feel exponentially better today. I’m still not sure what the last three days were all about, but it really doesn’t matter. Knowing exactly why I was so upset is not important. What is important is that, for whatever reason, my body and mind needed to release a bevy of emotions. And for once, I let it happen. And I’m still here. The world didn’t fall apart. I didn’t fall apart.

Sometimes, you just need to be a wreck. What I’m learning is that, if you surrender to it in the moment, you’ll wash ashore a lot sooner and stronger because of it.

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