I get overwhelmed.
Not so much by events. I am pretty good in a crisis, able to function and push through it to the other side with a level head and making good decisions. Likewise, when I am in one of those places in life were there is just too much going on, too many deadlines, work, things to do, I am pretty good at juggling my way through it. I am good at dealing.
I am not so good with intense emotions.
Sadness. Anger. Even happiness When I am flooded with emotion, I get overwhelmed. I struggle to process them. I can even shut down when it gets to be too much.
I don’t like this about myself. Even now, after years of therapy have helped me understand where this comes from, and what’s going on in the brain that causes it, I still don’t like it.
It’s not fair to the people who care about me. When dealing with strong emotions, either those that I feel, or those that are being thrown at me, I have to have time to process them. And that’s not the best thing. People deserve to see where I am in the moment. And people want us to be able to talk through things in the moment of emotion. That’s the ideal and a lot of the world evidently, do this just fine. There is a danger in this trait, that people will think I don’t care, or I am non-responsive to things that are intensely important to them in the moment. Some have even told me that they didn’t believe me when I told them a day later how I was feeling. There was a belief that somehow I had “made up” or modified my feelings because they were not in the moment. Some have gotten horribly angry at my temporary shutting down and plied me with their anger, only making it worse.
No, it’s not fair. People deserve communication, that give and take of heart truths.
I have come to the place where I have to accept it about myself however. I’m not going to fix this. I am not going to change it. I can (and do) learn to process a little better, but it’s never going to be the way I would like it to be. It’s too thoroughly and deeply imprinted on my brain. Like at the primal level.
What I can do, is warn people about it. Tell them when I am there and ask for the grace to process and come back and share where I am when my brain and heart have caught up with events.
Fortunately, most people give me some grace, for which I am crazy grateful. A few don’t and fire back with constant anger and frustration and often, disbelief, which of course, makes the processing slower and harder. But that’s OK. The problem is mine to deal with. I have to take what I get.
And that is where I am right now. I am coming off a really good week. My son graduated from high school Friday, taking a time and set of events that could have been crushing and turning them into victory. My daughter had come up the week before for Father’s Day and for the graduation. It was the first time I have had both of my kids with me for Father’s Day for nearly a decade, and it was, for me, a celebration of joy like Father’s Day has never been before, a celebration of a family that was broken, and came back together like few do. Total joy. For the graduation, the woman I love came up to be part of the weekend, and to have the three people I love the most together for the first time was overwhelmingly wonderful. I also had a chance to visit with my friend Jon and a group of creatives from all over the country in an open house at his farm. These are people I interact with over the internet every day, and getting to be with them in person was a total joy.
It’s not that the week was perfect. At the gathering of creatives there were some people missing that I love dearly, people who are no longer a part and who I missed deeply. I had two parishioners go into the hospital and so I was bouncing between Rutland and Bennington a lot this weekend checking in with them. (one is fine and back home. One is not fine still.). I got a rash of Hate Friday night.
But none of that marred the joy. The joy was just too great. Love is just too strong.
And too overwhelming. I am just getting to the point where it’s settling in, where the full glow of it is washing over me.
So, maybe my slow processing is not all bad. I had the initial joy, but here I am, days later, still having that joy wash over me, a fat smile on my face.
Sometimes, our flaws have value.
Be well. Travel Wisely.
PS – the picture was done by a friend, artist and caligrapher, Kathy Cary. It currently sits on my desk