Accepting Emotional States

These are weird times. A few weeks ago I wasn’t blogging because I was caring for an injured stray cat from my neighborhood who has since insisted on returning now that he’s feeling better. Recently, of course, there’s coronavirus/COVID-19 and the ripple effects of that. For me, my husband and my neighbors there’s also a note from our landlord informing us that we will either move to a more expensive renovated apartment at lease end or we will need to move elsewhere. In response to all of it I have many emotions. At various points in the past I took a very stoic approach because I thought that the emotions were a waste of time. Rather than dwelling I could simply push them down and move forward. There is value into feeling what you feel about the coronavirus uncertainty as well as whatever things in your life feel less big but still give you feelings.

Like many, I’ve been on social media a little too much as the effects of coronavirus have become more widespread and have brought a sense of certain uncertainty beyond the usual. The fact that there’s the virus itself which is new and therefore we are still learning about it and will be for sometime but that there’s also the additional effects that such uncertainty bring makes it personally and socially a bit overwhelming. I’ve also found myself in my own separate line of concern as the complex I live in chose this moment to share the news that all residents who aren’t in upgraded units will experience a soft eviction at the end of their leases. Separate from COVID-19 concerns it is still upsetting but the notice was delivered along with a notice about coronavirus and reflects the tone deaf nature of the management.

I’m not just complaining but I am complaining for a reason. In the past it was very challenging for me to write a post like this because I would just stuff down the feelings of anger and disappointment because it seemed healthier. The emotions seemed unhealthy because I associated them with people who allowed their feelings to manifest in unhealthy ways and used their anger and their disappointment to punish others around them. I’ve been trying something different. As a continuation of last year’s sorrows and paying closer attention to my energy levels I’ve also had to become more accepting of my emotional states as temporary and potentially useful in the moment. I use the analogy of weather for emotions for myself. Wind and rain are helpful and even desirable for the ways in which they change the landscape over time but hurricanes are dangerous because they are wind and rain but in quantities that are amplified and destructive.

Honestly, not sure what’s going to happen at the end of our lease. I channeled my anger and disappointment into pinpointing what I could do to effect the situation in a way that would be useful for me and that was to email the office staff to discuss the notice further. There are a variety of questions that it raises in context with coronavirus precautions as well as beyond that uncertainty. Getting in touch with staff did not help diffuse all of the feelings and I accepted that it was unreasonable to think that I would feel “better”. I’m sad because it disrupts the plans we had about where we would live and our finances. Allowing myself to feel these things without judging myself was helpful.

My mom would often point towards starving children in Africa when I was a child as a counterpoint to my feelings. She meant well but those are not useful lessons to children. You’re still learning how to be within your strange body with many feelings and trying to learn the difference between your own feelings and the feelings of others. It taught me to be more conscious about how much worse others had things but it didn’t actually solve my problem or their problem. There’s a reason that you’re instructed to put on your own breathing mask before you help others. You need the oxygen in order to be of use to anyone else.

I don’t have any answers or expertise about coronavirus. What I do in my day to day involves a lot of the skills that are necessary for finding enjoyment and opportunity in social distancing. Journaling is a big help for getting thoughts out in their raw form. Accepting and addressing my human needs is always a big deal. Facing my feelings has become a big part of that. The feelings of panic aren’t as simple and primal as they seem. There’s the sense of loss of control, confusion, anger, longing and a whole host of other options. Sitting with myself and addressing what my feelings are trying to tell me has become very important. With the apartment situation the anger has provided me with extra energy to face a situation I don’t want to be facing right now. The disappointment has helped me to assess what options exist and try to conceptualize how to respond. And that’s it, giving the emotions a chance to do what they need to do has lessened their power over me.

There are still feelings in the background that pop up and I expect they will continue until this resolves. Often, there is no response apart from realizing that there’s a storm inside me and that what I need is to sit down with a book and fold myself into someone else’s world for awhile.

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