Thursday, January 1, 2009

Not a message in a bottle but feelings in a bottle

The first therapist I went to in my teens used to tell me, "Tiptoe, I imagine that all your feelings are stuffed in a bottle, sitting on a shelf way up high. They just stay there until one day, they just all explode."

This sort of happened a few weeks ago after a specific incident where I felt very angry over lack of communication with someone. At the time, it felt justified and others validated those feelings. However, several days later, guilt, doubt, and anger with myself set in. And then, I regretted the way I felt, that I just shouldn't have felt that way. So now, it leaves a sticky, uncomfortable feeling with the said person above where I don't know what to say or do, waiting for her to make the first move. Will she completely ignore what happened, acting like nothing ever happened or will it be held against me?

Over the years, I've tried to unleash those feelings in a variety of mediums--in therapy, through talking with family and friends, and through writing in various forms. It's never been an easy thing for me. Rather, it's something I have to work at, knowing how the repercussions can manifest. Yet, even after all these years, I'm still left feeling uncomfortable and uneasy. There continues to be a "judgment" of my own emotions. That somehow, they're really not allowed.

Every year, (not as a resolution--don't believe in them, but more to just work on) I tell myself I'm going to be less harsh with myself and simply recognize my emotions without judging them. I don't know why this is so difficult for me to do completely. I seem to do okay with some emotions like sadness but anger and frustration, you know all those "fire color" emotions just leave me feeling ill.. The truth of the matter is that somewhere, somehow I've learned those types of feelings were wrong, that I saw other people who had these emotions and became afraid of turning into them, and instead kept them all in a bottle. It's like I'm afraid of fully unleashing those emotions, like they are Pandora's Box. In essence, it's being afraid of the human nature of myself.

*I took many photos of this bottle and had quite a number of emotions in it. These emotions are ones that I don't necessarily allow myself to feel or feel like it is wrong to feel. I wanted the photos to show more emotions, but the little slips of paper were not cooperating.


Lola Snow said...

I love that image, it's very cool and very true. You know, it seems to me that very few people seem to be the master of how they deal with their own emotions. I don't know many people who deal with them "corectly" or "Healthily".

Emotions are the human condition, they are often bigger than us, and sometimes hoping to be the master of them is just as unrealistic as not dealing with them at all. To one person this bottling up would be restraint, and to another it would be repression.

If it is something you feel you want to work on, then good for you, but in the meanwhile, how about not beating yourself up for beating yourself up for not dealing with them?

It's not the answer, but maybe it is ok that you are tiptoe who bottles things up every so often. Take each situation on it's own merits, perhaps it is not possible to apply the same coping mechanism to every given situation.

Lola x

Kim said...

I totally relate to your post. Thank you for writing. My therapist tells me this all the time: "You have two problems. First, you feel a certain way. Then, you beat yourself up for feeling that way. How about just getting rid of that second one?" I have to work on that EVERY DAY. I feel like my emotions are always somehow "wrong." It's hard for me to just accept what I feel, as I feel it. Anyway, we shouldn't be so hard on ourselves. I always think of that song -- "try a little tenderness." haha.

MelissaS said...

it is amazing they we judge our FEELINGS. i do it all the time -- i wish i were an angel who only thought kind, gentle thoughts. when i have an "ugly" moment, i attack myself for not being an angel.

it's great that you recognize your doing this to yourself, especially, when it sounds like you WERE justified in that feeling. wouldn't it be weird to be okay with a hurtful miscommunication? we sure do make it hard for ourselves, don't we.

Kara said...

I really relate to bottling up emotions and then having them explode later. I've been working on letting them out as I go so I don't have these giant meltdowns at really inconvinent times. Good luck!

Tiptoe said...

Thanks for the feedback.

Lola, I think part of this goes back to black and white thinking--that somehow I should be able to handle my emotions no matter the situation. I guess it's just being idealistic, and I just need to take each as their own and realize that some situations will just be a lot harder and learn to be okay with that.

Kim and MelissaS, I think we all need to be less hard on ourselves. I'm glad I'm not the only one who struggles with this.

Kara, glad you are working on this and learning to release emotions.

Gaining Back My Life said...

I thought I left a comment here yesterday, but I guess I didn't get the scrambled word correct.


I love the fact that the top is a dropper. Makes me think it's k for the feelings to come out a little at a time, which isn't nearly as stressful as everything spilling out and you are left with a mess to clean up. A little at a time is manageable.

Tiptoe said...

GBML, so true. I hadn't really thought about the dropper since I was just trying to find a suitable bottle. But it's a great way to look at letting emotions out a little at a time.

Harriet said...

My therapist also says that feelings aren't right or wrong, they just "are". I also have black and white thinking, so therefore if I have a negative feeling I must be a bad person. And that is why I stuff all of the feelings in the bottle. It's a great image, thanks for the photos and your words.

Tiptoe said...

Harriet, thanks for sharing your comments. I'm lad you liked the images. Emotions can be hard not to be label right and wrong, but your T. is right in that feelings just are. Keep working on finding the gray areas/feelings in your life.

seeleelive (for the love of peanut butter) said...

great idea!

Tiptoe said...

Thanks Lee! Yeah, it was a bit cathartic.