Living With My Shadow At the Wheel

Today has me asking myself:

Where did all the hope, excitement, and general good feelings of the New Year go?

Where did the greatness of Sunday and the attendant feelings of refreshment go?

Why am I asking myself these things?

Because I have been in a cranky funk since Monday.

I’ve been enveloped in this near-constant fog of irritation, stress, anger, and annoyance.  (Not to mention a headache-a-day, which has generally lasted much of the day.)

I’ve been snappish, when I’ve bothered to talk at all.

I’ve been a complainer, am being a complainer, and I don’t like being a complainer.  I don’t very much enjoy the company of complainers, despite my immediate family with whom I reside being comprised of complainers.  (And, yes, that was me complaining about others complaining, and complaining about me being a complainer.  Isn’t that twisted?)

In short, I have not been myself.  Or, at least, I have not been the Self that I like to be.  If anything, I’ve been running around with my Shadow Self at the wheel.

So I wonder what it’s going to take to get me back to the Self I like to be.

Perhaps it would help to figure out what’s bothering me, both that which is bothering me on a superficial level, and that which is bothering me on a deeper level.

The superficial level is an easy, lengthy, complaining list:

  • Work stress.
  • A full-blown acne breakout.
  • Headaches.
  • Having no time to myself at home, or at work.
  • The noise level at home, living with three avid TV watchers/loud talkers, sans earplugs.
  • That I have to wear earplugs at home if I want any semblance of quiet.
  • That I can’t walk into the bedroom I share with my 18 year old sister without stepping on or over her stuff most of the time, at least until she returns to university Friday.
  • That I can’t move my sister’s things out of the floor in order to yoga, so no yoga–or pilates or any other indoor exercise at all–the whole time she’s been home (since before Christmas, and until Friday).
  • That the first-of-the-month crazy drivers are out en force, and speeding, weaving, and cutting people off more than usual.  (I think this must be a rural Kentucky phenomenon, but at the first of the month, it seems that traffic becomes much heavier, and people drive much more erratically.)
  • I feel like I don’t have enough time to do everything I want to do, like reading for pleasure, creating, or doing something about the deplorable state of my fingernails and toenails, for instance.  (Even though I do have time, usually, after work, I just fall into a vegetative state in front of the living room TV, succumbing to the spell of whatever my parents are watching.)
  • I’ve not been sleeping well when I do get to sleep, nor have I been successful in getting to bed on time, so I’m running on a deficit…Again.  (This has become increasingly common for me over the past couple of years, and usually comes in cycles.)
  • Mother nature’s monthly gift has been arriving two to three days after the full moon since November, and the full moon is this Saturday, putting me squarely in the throes of PMS, which only exacerbates an already cranky mood.
  • I’ve realized how much others try to get in the way of what I know is best for me with their own demands, and how often I let them succeed in doing so, while realizing that, at this point, keeping them from getting in my way would require more creativity in circumnavigating demands or more confrontation and argument than I want to go through.

As for what is bothering me on a deeper level, that will take time and thought…More time and thought that I can muster here at work in the dead moments between typing assignments and phone calls.

But see what I mean about being a complainer?!?  Gosh.

Thich Nhat Hanh, I remember, says in Peace Is Every Step to treat anger and other such emotions as a mother would a crying child, to cradle them in awareness instead of just trying to shove them away and pretend it’s not there, but also to avoid acting from them.  I am trying, but this is easier said than done, at least for me, right here and right now.

I am hoping that everyone at home will go to Wednesday night church and I can have an hour to unwind in peace and quiet.  Even if they don’t, I’m going to try to carve out some time for self-care this evening.

At any rate, work has sped up, as per usual for late afternoon, and I should end this.  If you stumble upon this, and feel like answering, how do you deal with negative emotions?

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One thought on “Living With My Shadow At the Wheel

  1. Wow! Good for you for getting this all out! That, in itself, helps!

    How I deal with negative emotions:

    1. Journal
    2. Cry
    3. Sleep
    4. Exercise
    5. Talk with a friend
    6. Get outside myself/do something silly/get a change of scenery
    7. Medicate (Rx, alcohol, caffeine, chocolate)
    8. Yoga/chanting
    9. Practice gratitude
    10. Say the ‘f’ word a lot!
    11. Get a massage
    12. Put on some ‘happy’ music

    I used to be an expert at stuffing my feelings. A lot of anger/grief/frustration didn’t get dealt with for many years. Illness and burn out developed as a result. Now, the ‘new’ me is working hard at letting the feelings come through. Bringing them out into the light – letting them have their say – naming them – voicing them. And what I’ve found is…..within a couple of days – it gets better!
    Also, I’m learning to pay attention to the women’s wisdom that comes along with my monthly cycles. I’ve noticed recurring themes in the emotions that come up during PMS. This tells me there is something that needs to be addressed and I must listen to what it is telling me. (For a long time I was a master at ignoring the messages that were trying to come through. I’m still guilty of this at times – rationalizing them away, putting on the band-aid, counting my blessings instead (my upbringing was a great contributor to this strategy).

    And…now that I think about it…the Buddhists and Eckhart Tolle would say not to label them as ‘negative’ emotions. They are just emotions. It is what it is. It is our interpretation of them and identification with them that cause us to view them as problems. (Easier said than done, of course! But I’ve been listening to the Power of Now lately – and that came to mind!)

    Your last bullet point is a powerful one! Ah, boundary issues. Yuck. A constant learning and refining process. It’s only within the last couple of years, as I’ve gone through the individuation process, that this is getting easier for me. It’s about good-selfishness and giving myself permission to own my stuff and let other people own theirs. Not easy, but very worth it.

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