Wednesday, October 3, 2007

The Sun Doesn't Shine Forever

I tend to keep my cards close to my chest so when I posted something as introspective as last weeks blog the response was mixed; from being told that it was beautiful and time to follow my dreams to those that expressed surprise that I was capable of expressing such emotion as they always thought I was a ‘cold’ fish.’

Happiness I’m good with, and anger too. People always know when I’m pissed off as I get quite vocal about what’s made me annoyed. I have an enthusiastic (i.e loud) laugh so it’s obvious when I’m happy but when there’s something wrong people can’t tell as I’ve turned suppressing sadness and grief into an art form.

I’ve never been comfortable crying in front of people, in fact it’s something that I hate as I then get embarrassed and my face goes red, which makes me feel even worse. I know that this fear is irrational but that doesn’t make it less real for me. It’s the same thing with clowns; I hate them too. I have no logical reason other than they give me the creeps and I don’t want them to come near me. But back to the crying thing. As I was saying it’s irrational. If it was based on reason I’d be able to logically work through why it makes me uncomfortable and rectify the situation. As it is I know I do it and I’m trying to rectify that.

As for the comment about me being a cold fish; I have to admit I found it rather offensive. To assume, because I’ve previously chosen not to show my feelings, that I’m not capable of deep emotions does me a disservice. I do feel things, sometimes too deeply; I just choose to deal with them privately. To believe that I’m incapable of empathy, compassion or even awareness towards other people is actually hurtful.

I admit I hate it when people I barely know want to kiss or hug me! What the hell is that about? I can feel myself tense when someone at work, who has barely said 2 words to me all year, decides to give me a hug or a kiss - or even worse both - when it comes to wishing me a happy birthday or a merry Christmas. Thanks all the same but for future reference just saying ‘happy birthday’ will suffice!

I think I’ve got a pretty good sense of humour but I seriously don’t understand why people think it’s funny to keep hugging me when I’m clearly uncomfortable, especially after they’ve had a few drinks! It won’t make the situation better and it won’t make it more comfortable the next time you do it. It’s as bad as shoving a spider in the face of someone who hates them, it’s just plain cruel.

Even when Belle died I chose to deal with my grief privately, obviously other than at the funeral. I remember a particular moment on the day after Belle’s death when I was making up the spare bed for Danielle’s father, who was arriving later that day, and Danielle came into the room quite distressed. More than anything I wanted to comfort her but neither of us are touchy-feely sort of people so in the end a pat on the arm, which probably seemed more patronising than comforting, was all I could muster. I’ve thought about that moment a lot, and wished I had acted differently, but I was only able to cope with the situation by throwing myself into looking after people’s physical needs and dealing with my own emotional needs when I was alone.

When I broke up with my ex-boyfriend, after being together for more than 10 years, I dread having to tell my parents and receive the ‘plenty more fish in the sea’ speech so I got my brother to tell them for me. By the time I got the phone call from my parents I was comfortable enough with the situation not to dissolve into tears – mission accomplished! (and just for the record I still got the 'his loss’ and ‘plenty more fish in the sea’ speech – thanks Mum).

The one time I have been unable to control my emotions at work was when my dog Andy was put to sleep earlier this year. I’m not sure what that says about me but I’m pretty sure it’s not good! That’s not to say I didn’t have any ‘moments’ after I split with my ex or after we lost Belle, in fact it’s quite the opposite, it just means that most of the time when people came near me I waved them away until I got to a point where I could talk to them without being distressed.

So, what does this mean? With close friends and people I know intimately there’s no problem. Scott gives me a hug every day, and most days a massage as well (if he wasn’t gay I’d marry him for the massage alone). I get kisses from my nieces every time I see them, I don’t care how old they are they’re never too old to give their Aunty a kiss or a hug and I’m truly looking forward to the hugs off my mates that I’ll get when I get to the UK.

I live a fairly well-ordered, sometimes too regimented life, and I truly think the difficulty in expressing emotion is about control. I’ve lived alone for a long time so I think my reluctance to show grief is about wanting to retain control over a certain part of my life, especially when so much of our life is out of our hands.

If someone is having a crisis I’m the person to come to as I’m good with practical advice or just being available to listen. However, when it comes to me I have always avoided facing issues front on and would rather tell people about a situation after I’ve internalised it and come to terms with the situation first. Expressing my emotions openly has only ever been a last resort.

What can I say? I’m female, I’m complicated, I over analyse and when I add up 1 + 1 it equals 3. Being reflective is great when I’m writing a blog on a web page, as I can hide behind my computer, but if you ask me what I’m thinking or what I’m feeling it might make me uncomfortable, or even make me blush, but you will get an answer.

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