The Flats

There is a certain calm that the ocean provides for me. The breaking of the waves is hypnotic to watch. The way the water swirls and eddies around rocks and gracefully retreats back down the sand or catches you unaware as it flows in. Add to this the changing colours of the sea; the way the sun alternately causes the water to sparkle or sends a shaft of light down to the bottom, bouncing off a shiny rock or shell; the swish and splash of never stopping water, and it is all a recipe for calming my mind and soothing my soul.

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I think my mistake the last few weeks has not been making the time for a trip down to the beach. I have a new favourite spot by a tidal pool. The water is crystal clear and you can sit and study all the pebbles under the water. I got wet jeans last time by not seeing a rogue wave come curling in. It all added to the allure of the day. It reminded me that sometimes life doesn’t go according to plan and that there are things that happen that catch you off guard. But you still survive. You dry off and look forward to the next day you can make it down to have some restoration.

I have been feeling really flat for about 3 weeks now. There have been a number of events that have been at the root of this, but it is the reaction to the events that is the clincher. I realised today that when I feel flat, it is because I am literally pushing down emotions that I don’t want to acknowledge nor feel and it is like putting a nice flat, smooth slab of concrete on top of them all.

Obviously concrete cracks. Holes and gaps appear. And then all the stuff bubbling underneath starts trying to escape. The steam pushing up first and then the rest follows. The crack is huge and the consequences are varied. It can be a breakdown, depression, explosions of anger and rage, suicide, self-harming or lashing out at others. And so much more.

I have always considered myself to be slow to anger and to have an atrocious temper when I do get angry. In fact, what happened somewhere in my childhood was that it was told to me (indirectly or directly) that any emotion but happy, or whatever suited my parents on the day, was not acceptable. So I squashed down my emotions. Sadness, excitement, anger, irritation, love, grief and all the rest of them. And the result of that was infrequent bursts of rage due to all this suppressed emotion. This has carried on into my adult life. I find it very hard to discuss my emotions in the first person. It causes me extreme anxiety. I fidget. I can’t look the other person in the eye for more than a few seconds. I make jokes. I change the subject. If it is not calm or a gentle emotion that I am experiencing, I hide it. There are less than a handful of people that I ever tell my emotions to – I don’t trust myself with them and so it is very hard to trust anyone else with them.

Today I spoke about my emotions in the first person. I disliked it intensely. It was hard and uncomfortable. It was to a person with whom I discuss events and the emotions around that event. Never before about how I feel, right now. This person pointed out to me that emotions have no solutions, just need to be recognised and acknowledged and you need to sit with them in that space for a while. I have always known that I am stunted in this but I didn’t realise quite how much. I only felt the anxiety lessen when we started talking about practical steps to take to try and reduce the situations that caused me to feel like I was powerless and without a way forwards. Solutions to problems are much more my area of strength. I need to find ways to fix things. It settles my brain down because if you fix the problem, you don’t need to deal with the emotion, plus hopefully the next time that the same situation arises, you can just go straight to fixing and not feel the feelings.

I had an altercation with my ex last week. I did not rise to his provocation nor engage with him when he came past my home. I was taken aback by the hurt and rage and frustration that poured out of me, less than a minute after he left. I burst into very angry tears and started pacing around my home. I felt like I was caged so went out to get the freedom of driving and not being stuck. Driving is a favourite form of escape. My throat was aching in the car from all the things I did not say to my ex. I phoned a friend and poured it all out, but that didn’t quite do it. Nothing so far has quite done it. I am in the process of acceptance that there are things that are out of my jurisdiction and those things I cannot manage nor fix nor influence. I am not sure if acceptance is my way of filling the holes in the concrete or if it will ease me into a better way of handling issues as they arise.

There is a morass of unexplored feelings in the pit of my soul. I am afraid to delve in there. Perhaps it is best to let sleeping dogs lie. Perhaps a slow release of the feelings is better. I don’t know what the answers are. I just know that I feel mildly depressed. The result of not feeling my feelings. I just feel flat.

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