I have been sorting myself out for 45 years. I have found that I have two sides to me that are in constant conflict with each other. Given that my two favorite colors are blue and orange, it shouldn’t be a surprise I view those two sides as fire and water.
I am by no means volatile, but I have my moments as a seething cauldron of anger. I hold that anger in so I don’t allow the lava to burst forth, and usually this anger seeps out in hot, angry tears. I let out the rest later, in private.
I hate those episodes, especially if the person who threw gas in the cauldron is male. Most men view those tears as a manipulative tool, when in fact, the tears represent all the words I wish I could say but know if I do, more trouble would arise. In fact, I see my tears as sparing the person across from me from a barrage of words, likely a barrage of hurtful, anger-fueled words. Having been on the receiving end of such barrages, I hold it in, and the tears come out instead. You’re welcome.
This week, during one of those moments, I was able to reel it all in, sit down and figure out what the real issue was. The two words I took out of the flames were humiliation and respect. I do realize this is about me and my reactions and how another person can make me feel. I take full responsibility for my reaction and my feelings.
My friend David Hayward (www.nakedpastor.com) brought the Feeling Wheel below to my attention. I have been “unpacking” feelings for years, knowing that behind anger, there is always a secondary emotion (go therapy!). I found this chart helpful. I hope you will, too.
One thing I have taken from this week is I’m not ashamed of my feelings. They are real (though not always right). It’s what I do with them that counts. I am still working that out, but the valve I have in place, though it needs improvement, is working okay for now.
A friend asked me if triggers ever go away. Sad to say, I don’t believe so, but the trigger is no longer attached to a missile launcher, just a BB gun. I’m hoping one day maybe that trigger will be on a rubberband flipper (like I used to make with my brothers). I have no notions or hopes that most of my triggers will ever disappear, but it is up to me whether that fact is problematic or not.
As always, I am at peace with myself, and that’s what matters to me.