This is the sixth #notetoself letter, originally sent on March 13, 2012.
There is a great irony in my personality. I suppose it’s common amongst others that identify as writers, but knowing it’s not specific to me doesn’t make me any more comfortable with it than if it were only my problem.
I’m a horrible communicator.
However eloquently I may be able to string together written words, I’m much less gifted with the spoken word, especially when it comes to my most vulnerable relationships. Especially when I’m hurt. Especially when hurt and most other painful emotions are filtered through anger. The only thing I can communicate then is anger. The knives come out. They’re figurative, but the wounds from my words can be just as painful as a literal cut — and they can go deeper.
The result is frequent apologies. I’m sorry for days, but anything said too often begins to lose its power. The last thing you want to do is issue an impotent apology. I fear sincerity won’t be able to carry me for much longer.
In discussing this with my closest friend, she acknowledged her reluctance to have children out of fear of passing on her crazy. I was able to identify with that feeling. As it relates to children, my greatest fear is being a terrible parent. Or really, just not being great.
I asked another friend who has a history with anger how she manages it these days. She told me to imagine my future children standing in the room listening to every word. The imagery was powerful for me. I just hope I can actually employ that tactic in the moment.
Perhaps the most important reminder for me is simply “show your love”. In actions, in words, in silences, in stillness.
It’s easy to give in to our pain and to let the defense mechanisms out to protect us, but those mechanisms aren’t necessarily ours. Or the most up-to-date. We inherit so much of our worlds from those who raised us, most notably our parents. When reacting to situational stimuli, we are most likely employing tactics we haven’t given much consideration to that was learned from people who didn’t give much consideration to them either.
This week I learned how desperate I am for an emotional intelligence upgrade. It’s long overdue. My heart is big and full of love. I want that to be self-evident. I need that to be self-evident.
For you and for myself, I want to remind us to show our love.
How effective do you manage emotional stressors?
Do you have any tips or techniques you can pass on to me?