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What I've Learned: Emotion

February 12, 2012

Generally my “What I’ve Learned” series is about what I’ve learned in the craft/art world. While this does pertain to craft and art in the way that it is ultimately cathartic, today’s what I’ve learned is more about my personal life, and about emotion. Raw untethered emotion.

We’re all emotional people. We’re human. Whether we let those emotions out or not, or how, is how we define ourselves as individuals. We’re all different. Some of us were taught to keep our emotions (be they bad, sad, or rad) within ourselves, some taught to do just the opposite, others to only let certain ones in or out and still others have been taught a multitude of ways to deal with their own emotions – and even the emotions of others.

Recently my step-son has been diagnosed with PDD-NOS which is a form of the Autism spectrum disorder. What this means, and has always meant for him, is that he has a hard time dealing with emotions. He just doesn’t know how. He never has. This entry isn’t about him though I’m afraid. I revealed this little tid-bit of our personal lives so you are aware of the emotion that is bouncing off the walls in our home. With a 16 year old step-daughter, a newly diagnosed 10 year old step-son, and a two-and-a-half year old, we’re not dry of emotion around here.

And so, we’re left with how to deal with it. How do we need to deal with emotion? How should we deal with it? Do we let it all bundle up inside until we’re ready to explode, giving the silent treatment to those we are angry or upset with and making snide remarks on the sly? Or do we let it all out, all the time, always telling our feelings, what’s wrong, what’s right, what we would rather be doing . . . ? I don’t know what the answer is, if I’m honest. I really don’t. I don’t know that anyone does.

But I’ll tell you What I’ve Learned to do with it. Capture it. Don’t hold it in, but don’t let it explode. Use it. Bottle it up and paint it on a canvas. Squirt it out through words on the page. Wrap your tightly wound fingers around drumsticks and take to the stage. Loosen up your cold feet, take your shoes off and dance. Drink some water and belt it out in song. Tap into it. Don’t let it take advantage of you. Control it. Harness it. You have that power. Most of the time.

Sometimes we don’t have that power – I’ll admit to that. This morning I nearly didn’t have that power. I was filled with such anger I wanted to passive aggressively type back the most hateful,¬†disrespectful, pointing fingers at the other person text message known to man. But, I didn’t. I took the higher road. I don’t do that very often (if you know me well enough, you know this – I am my mother’s daughter, and proud to be). Instead, I took to work. I took deep breaths and remembered that I’m happy. We’re troubled right now, and we’re going through the roughest spot we’ve ever been through, but we’re still together. We may or may not get through it together (just a fact, not an emotional ploy) but damn it we’ll try, and we’re together now. And with that thought, I let my emotions pass over me, into my hands, into my fingers, and started creating. And that’s how I’ll spend my day.

That, and playing with my toddler.

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