With the vacation becoming a memory and things getting back to normal, stress levels are up again. Not steadily rising, but surging out of seemingly nowhere. I feel a strong resistance to get back to my life again, anger and sadness for being pushed back into a format that feels restrictive. Although this resistance feels highly uncomfortable, I watch with curiosity what is unfolding within me. I understand I am not reacting to this situation, I am merely triggered by it.
My body feels heavy and dense, compressed by something enormous that is weighing me down. I have difficulty breathing, I feel smothered. It hurts. I can’t be who I am. I have to adapt constantly to the needs of others. If I don’t I will die. A constant fear of not being loved, of dying. Pockets of pain deep inside me. They need to be voiced. The anger of not being allowed to be me, needs to come out, finally. They’re bursting to the surface, like old WWII bombs that still linger on dutch moorlands. All my life, I have accommodated and adapted to the needs of others. It is a survival tactic. It is a behavior pattern, an automatism. I am so good at it, that I will accommodate to the needs of others, and then adapt my own needs, within seconds, without noticing, believing I am actually making a conscious choice. Now that all the other stuff is gone, healed, this survival tactic has become redundant and is finally allowed to come to the surface. At first, it showed itself as feeling instantly drained, but being so used to being deflated I couldn’t pinpoint the cause. Now it comes as instant rage, which is not something I relate to easily and which feels extremely awkward and highly uncomfortable.
With all my accommodating and adapting, I very rarely ask for what I need, let alone for what I actually want. I never learned to. When I do, it means I’m feeling suffocated, gasping for oxygen. My husband on the other hand is very good at asking. While in my mind when someone asks for something they must really need it, my husband (and most likely every other soul on the planet) feels there’s no harm in asking. I just learned recently that he doesn’t need or expect a yes to every request. Apparently, nothing ventured, nothing gained.
Some days ago, my husband had a request. He wanted to do a three-day seminar in a weekend in the busiest month of the year. I was actually considering this, when I realized that he was already out one weekend that month doing half a marathon and another Sunday running a !5K. I BLEW A FUSE. Understanding that, again, my reaction was triggered by a series of events, not caused by it, that my pain was not tied to my husband, or any of his undertakings, I waited until I got myself together again and told him that his plan wouldn’t suit me. I had expected this would lower my stress, but it didn’t. There was all this anger coming up, deep-seated roaring rage. Phrases immersed with “he should”, “he can’t”, “always” and “everybody” were racing through my head. I tried to let it go through breathing and other techniques, but it wasn’t until I had a conversation with my husband about what was happening on the inside that this pocket of unresolved anger burst to the surface. It wanted out, it literally needed to be given a voice. The fact that it needs to be spoken out loud is new to me. I was amazed at the outpouring of anger about being restricted in my being, about not being allowed to say and do all that I am, about constantly needing to bow to someone else’s being, someone else’s needs. I didn’t know I had this bottled up somewhere. Getting it out was a relief. Apparently there are things that cannot be processed silently, or even alone, things that cannot be left unspoken, that need to be said out loud, that need to be heard.
By giving this anger and sadness a voice, the little girl inside of me is learning to speak up for herself. What is beautiful, is that this anger isn’t directed toward anyone in particular. And although it is very clear where this anger comes from, I don’t feel blame. There is no one to blame; everyone did the best they could. It may not feel optimal, from where I am standing now, but I know all is well. With this little girl’s anger as my guide, I will heal the pain that was inflicted unintentionally, I will learn to discern what I need and want from life and learn to communicate so effectively that the little girl inside feels heard.
I don’t envy my daughter or my husband at the moment, because the anger is present in every cell of my body and palpable from a distance. I am angered easily, and although I do my best to let it out in a controlled environment, that doesn’t always go as planned. I have explained to my daughter as best as I can what is happening to me. And to her, as she confuses my anger for her anger, and feels angry most of the time too. I am hoping this process will make her feel as heard as the little girl inside of me is asking to be heard. That together we will learn to genuinely understand both the needs of ourselves and others, to effectively communicate our needs, and to freely ask for what we want. Because nothing ventured is nothing gained.
photo: I found this picture on a page in language I didn’t understand, don’t know who to credit for it, but loved it so much that I decided to use it anyway.