Friday Feels: October

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I don't know about you guys, but this post series has become one of my favorite things about sitting down to write a blog post. It's funny how a little random list of feelings can help me connect more deeply to myself and what's going on in my life, and I really love when something pops up that I'm like, "Yes! That's what's been messing with me!" It's something that gives me a greater understanding of myself and who I am - and I believe that's always a good thing, because it's in truly knowing yourself and who you are that helps you learn where to start and how to keep getting better.

As fall rolls into East Tennessee, what I think I've been feeling the most of lately is cold (anyone got a spare tiny space heater for feet??), but as the holidays grow closer and certain pressures in my personal life are coming to a head, I've been feeling lots of other things too - so when's better than now to sit down and straighten myself out, amIright? (You can follow along - just click here to get your own random list of feelings! Or, you can feel free to use mine, too. Either way, if you decide to write your own Friday Feels, make sure to drop your link in the comments - I'd love to see what other people are feeling!)

1. Calm:
Honestly, the most calming thing in my life lately has been making sure I keep attending weekly therapy sessions. My therapist is a sweet woman who really hears me out, and because she's a human who has experienced a very human life, she has enough personal life experience to be able to relate to me and my experiences. It makes a huge difference for me and really gives me the strength and security to be able to explore my memories and feelings in a setting that's totally non-judgmental - and since I haven't had a lot of that in my life, it really means a lot to me to have it now. Whether it's the *CBT strategies for anxiety or depression, or it's just having someone to talk to that hears me out, I know it makes a difference. Even the kids have noticed.

2. Contented:
Contentment is a funny thing - it's the word we use to describe the state of being "alright" even if you aren't entirely "happy" - and while PTSD and PMDD team up to make sure I struggle with my search for happiness all the time, I do sometimes find a sense of contentment in the moment I'm in. Watching my kids play at the park with their cousins or friends, catching them when they do something kind for each other without knowing anyone is watching, a well-written blog post that I'm especially proud of. Happiness may not always be easy to reach, but I have learned to find contentment in the warmth of a cup of coffee, the scratchy, bristly whiskers of my cuddly dog, or the emotional solidarity of a song that understands me. Sometimes I have people (who know what the deepest, darkest corners of my personal life really look like) ask me how I can be okay with the harder parts of life, or how I can walk around with my head high even when everything around me is a mess - and I believe that it's the ability to find contentment that gives me my strength. I firmly believe that if I weren't able to enjoy the good moments as they come, the plethora of unenjoyable moments I face everyday would simply be too much to bear.

3. Heartbroken:
This year I lost a friend who was very important to me. This was a person who was always there to talk to, a person who always seemed to understand what I had going on, and who always seemed to be able to understand - even when they couldn't truly relate. This person enriched the way I thought of myself, reinforced beliefs I desperately needed to be able to embrace, and stepped in for me several times when life got the best of me and I needed help. It was one of those kinds of friendships you really look forward to - with rich conversation and common interests and what I thought was a healthy and mutual respect. However, this particular friend (and others I've had in the past) eventually became a stark reminder to me of why I generally stay away from politics and religion in conversations with people (and in my writing life as well, for the most part), and why I struggle to trust people who tell me I can count on them. I did count on this person - which made it all the more painful when they completely dropped out of my life with very little warning simply because we voted differently in the last American election. A very close and very meaningful friendship completely imploded because this person was unable to accept or respect that I held differing views (although I was accepting and unbothered by theirs). The loss of that friendship still leaves a very lonely place of quiet in my daily life, and despite what was a very painful reminder of why political voting in America is intended to be completed in such a private way  ... I miss the depth of that friendship so much sometimes that it makes my heart ache and my eyes water.

4. Hostile:
Sometimes in life, you end up sharing your circle of influence with people who you wish would - for lack of a better term - drop dead. When I was a young girl, one of the things I was most proud of about myself was my anger, and the way it combined with my eloquence to help me protect myself. Even if I wasn't big enough or strong enough to be physically intimidating, I was proud to have developed the ability to open my mouth and unleash a weapon very few people could match. The old saying says, "The Pen Is Mightier Than The Sword," but I like to think it's not the pen which holds the power, it's the words themselves - and writing them down isn't necessary in order to make them hurtful. A few well-chosen words can trigger, de-escalate, or even outdo a strong punch in the right situation, and I was very proud of the way I could set someone in their place with a sharp tone and an acid tongue. Eventually though, as I started to realize how truly long-lasting words can be, I started reigning it in, taking time to think before I spoke, to make sure that I at least meant what I said before I said it. After that, I learned to better filter what I said - not in an effort to be less honest or less blunt (because I'm still proud of having so much of both of those qualities), but in an effort to tender my words more carefully so as not to cut others down with them. Mind you, I haven't lost the ability - I just choose not to use it so much anymore.

But that's not to say I'm not constantly faced with people and situations that make my blood boil and my palms itch and my mouth wish I was still the old me. There is one particular person that is a major part of my daily life ... and I can't even express how much I wish I could take that person down to size.

I guess there are some people that just bring out the worst in us.

5. Humble:
In my current phase of life, most things humble me. Driving my nineteen-year-old, on-the-verge-of-breaking-down, almost at 150-thousand-miles van. Pulling into our wish-I-didn't-live-here-but-can't-do-much-about-it-yet driveway. Too much time spent with my blunt and abrasive teenager (gosh, wonder where she got that blunt abrasiveness from, huh?). Dropping the ball on all the doctor's appointments I juggle on the daily. Checking my bank account.

There are a lot of things in my life that keep my ego small and my sense of self very carefully caged - a lot of things (and even a few people) that remind me daily of where my failures and insufficiencies are. These things, though? They give me gratitude for the beauty in my life - especially because some days that beauty is harder to find. They give me compassion for others, and a slowly growing freedom from my own judgmentalism - they help me understand that no matter how the people around me carry themselves or what they have or how they treat others, they're dealing with issues too, just like me. And those issues don't have to be visible to be real.

6. Peaceful:
Honestly, I wish I had more peace in my life right now. And I know a lot of people tend to say things like that even when they have pretty peaceful lives ... but I don't. I truly do live with a lot of stress on the daily, whether it's from outside influence, the pressures of other peoples' expectations of me, my own expectations, my struggles with perfectionism and mental wellness, single mom life with two kids, etc. I feel a lot of pressure in my daily life, and not always a lot of peace. But when I'm driving, that's peaceful for me. Other than worrying about whether I'll break down or not, driving is one of the few times when Eden will stop chattering (usually), Joey will stop being a snippy teen (because she's listening to music on her phone), and in those moments, it's just me and the road. Sometimes I listen to an audiobook, sometimes I listen to my daily self-improvement podcast, sometimes I listen to music of my own. Either way, those moments are some of the few that truly belong to me, and I treasure them.

7. Puzzled:
Without getting too into subjects I'd rather not bring to my writing platform, the thing that has me most puzzled these days (and it's been this way for a while now) is the level of sheer unadulterated hypocrisy that lies buried in the human race. Not that I've never been guilty of it myself, or that I couldn't ever be caught up in it, but seriously - it's insane right now. I'm so confused by the way people justify wrong behavior - not because the behavior is wrong, but because they think it's only wrong when someone else does it. Like, "I can do whatever I want; I can break laws or stifle expression or be rude or exclusive or demanding or controlling or judgmental - but you can't, because then you're too-loud/too-demanding/too-selfish, too-messy/too-opinionated/too-"dramatic." The double standard some people live by is just ... astonishing.

8. Relaxed:
One thing that never fails to relax me is listening to music. Maybe it's because there's a song for just about every mood and situation you can possibly find yourself in. Maybe it's because of the way the beat works to calm the heart or inspire the mind. Maybe it's because of the words and the way they flow over a heated spirit like the cool wash of a lapping wave. Whatever it is, it always works.

Another thing that's been relaxing me lately has been reading. I've recently finished reading Max Lucado's *You'll Get Through This and let me tell you, I was incredibly inspired by this book. I felt soothed and spoken to on a personal level, and the words in that book are sticking with me still. I happened to find it at just the right time, and I am still totally thankful for the way it speaks directly against those who seek to be sources of discouragement in my life. Now I'm into something lighter - but only in the sense that it's fiction. I read through the first book in Shannon Messenger's *Keeper of the Lost Cities Series in about three days (which is why this blog post was almost late), and then immediately jumped into the second book. This series is perfect for anyone who loved Harry Potter, Septimus Heap, or any similar series, and while I haven't seen any language or sexual content that I feel is inappropriate for my kids yet, I did see things that some younger children might find frightening. But if you're picking it up as an adult looking for a light read ... it's so. worth. it.

9. Threatened:
This feeling crosses my emotional path far more often than I think anyone would be comfortable with - I feel threatened by one thing or another almost all the time. That sense of impending threat, the lingering anxious watchfulness is, after all, the very root of what causes PTSD in survivors of domestic abuse. I don't back down from conflict in general, but I also don't seek it out ... and yet, it seems to find me. The way my personal life is set up right now, conflict lurks around every corner and there aren't many places in my life that are safe from it. And wishing I could change it isn't enough, and making constant daily effort isn't enough either. Slow and steady may win the race, but it's also exhausting and anxiety-inducing and depressing and sometimes outright suck-ish. But knowing you have what it takes to defeat the lion running at you across the plain doesn't mean watching a lion run at you across the plain doesn't scare the shit out of you.

10. Upset:
Some days, the most upsetting thing I deal with is the range of my own emotions. I have days where I feel everything - not in cycles, but all at once. Like an overload, a wash of emotions flooding over a struggling dam. And it's the whole range, the whole extended spectrum of emotional depth - anger and frustration sit right next to joy and amusement, and surrounding them are fear and worry and love and tenderness, and abundant energy wars with exhaustion. It's overwhelming. Other days, I feel things in a very muted way, like someone has taken the photograph of my emotional ability and turned it down until it's almost ... black and white. Like the feelings are there, but they're ghosts, just a little bit see-through. Then I'll have days where someone will crack a joke and I'll smile because I  know I should be amused right then - and yet, if I pause for just a second to examine myself ... I realize that I don't feel amusement at all. Or offense or frustration, or even boredom. On those days the only real emotion I feel is a horrified fear of my own numbness. Those days sort of come and go, pushed in circles by the way PTSD and PMDD work together. To call it upsetting is to put it mildly.

It's funny sometimes, isn't it? The range of emotions humans can be filled with? Sometimes they're the kind of screaming emotions that set up residence in our hearts and refuse to be ignored, and other times they're the tiny little voice behind the things we didn't even know we meant until we said them. Either way, owning up to them and facing them head-on is the only way to find and deal with the things in our lives that bring these emotions on. So tell me, what are you feeling lately - and why?

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