This is hard to articulate…and perhaps may be redundant…
I have feelings about my feelings. I have feelings about a situation and how I feel about myself in the situation.
I have feelings about a conversation, when I’m in a conversation, and how I feel I felt in the conversation. I have feelings about how I spoke in the conversation and what the other may have thought.
Though I may seem composed at times, and though I want to be composed all the time, I’m always boiling over with feelings.
Starting in middle school I not only boiled over with feelings, but they started to get hot. I would boil over with feelings and an intense heat would rise. This heat spread like a virus through my body. This heat that spread through my body would pulse out into the world. These boiling over, hot feelings that would pulse out into the world would grow cold like ice as I realized that the pulsing, the heat and the boiling over feelings made people retract, retreat, and step lightly around me. Because of this treatment the icy chill would erupt into a heat so outrageous that nothing felt good. Nothing made sense.
I would boil over about the boiling over feelings. I would boil over about the pulsing and about how that made others feel. I would boil over about how they’d react toward me. I’d boil over about the heat of it all and that I have boiling over feelings.
Is your head spinning? Do you feel uncomfortable as you read this? Yeah, me too. Somehow, I’ve survived through it. I’ve lived to tell the story. So hang on while I share with you. Or don’t. It’s up to you.
Middle school to high school I fought with myself even further. It was already so intense, it couldn’t possibly get worse, but it got kicked up about 4 notches as high school approached. Soon those high school days seemed to smack me in the face. Then for 4 years I smacked myself in the face, as I pushed through high school. The boiling over, hot and cold feelings became harder to manage. There were no outlets that could help me channel everything sufficiently and quickly enough. Since there was no time for a decent outlet during the day I’d stay up until the early hours of the morning. I’d blow off as much steam as I could by listening to music, thinking about EVERYTHING, and watching TV. I’d stay up until 2, 3, or 4 in the morning. Sometimes I’d stay up all night! I’d stay up until my body would turn off without my permission. From those early high school days, I completely abandoned myself. I surrendered to the intense thoughts and feelings. Sleep, and downtime no longer existed.
I thought that I’d get in trouble at the drop of a hat for just existing with a forever bursting heart. This would bring in a harsh winter. My heart a blazing wildfire and my face the picture of a dark winter. Tears would fall like icicles, as my heart and mind would burn together. As life and situations presented themselves so did the boiling feelings, and the boiling about the boiling over feelings. I would boil about everything.
No wonder I struggled to breathe fully and with ease! I was suffocating myself with all this emotion. I was strangled by the boiling over feelings about the world, and about people. I was sinking under the weight of everything, boiling about the boiling. It never seemed to end.
Are you still uncomfortable? Would you like to stop the madness? Then feel free to stop reading. You get to choose. I don’t. This is what I’ve lived through and what I still live through. I’m not asking for sympathy, or pity. I’m not asking you to try to understand or try to help me. I don’t need fixing and I don’t need advice. Like I said…I’ve lived to tell the story. I’m also not sharing this because I think I’ve suffered more than others. I’m just sharing my side of things. So, I continue.
I wrestled with demons, gargoyles, and people over the course of my primary school days. I’ve fought with the devil, fire breathing dragons, wild animals, and God. I grappled with the greater good, love, joy, and with life. With every passing year I would scare more people, friends, and love seemed harder to hold onto. Eventually, death seemed to tempt me. I thought about and played with the idea of what that would do for me. These ideas turned quickly into feelings. Then my ice cold, fiery heart got dragged to college.
Simultaneously things got harder and so much better. Although, at the time it felt like things just got worse and harder. Love felt more distant, God made less sense, and the boiling feelings burned me alive. Death became harder to escape from. I would often wish I could be a robot so I wouldn’t have to feel anything. Then I would be able to fit into the tame world, but by college that seemed impossible. So, death resonated more.
While I fought with this, I slowly found things that kept me afloat, things that taught me how to breathe, things that taught me how to love, and things that saved my life. While I’ve shared stories about these things, I’ll share again, and for the rest of my life.
Something that gave me all 4 things at once was theatre. Being a theatre major kept me afloat, taught me how to breathe, taught me how to love, and saved my life. Then within that my professors did the same. While they are not superhuman, or superheroes, they were my heroes. They showed me all the avenues and possibilities of theatre. They met me where I was in the dark, and said, “Hey, kiddo. You’re alright. Take a breath. There’s more to you than the dark.” They taught me how to open up to love, others, and myself. They talked me through why I needed to be kinder to myself and love myself as it related to my schoolwork. They listened to me and I felt heard on a deep level, a level I only thought existed in my dreams. And they saved me by expressing inexhaustible, unconditional love, but most of all they showed me how I can save myself.
I soon made new friends who were just as cool. There were many people that took me under their wing and who guided me to joy and a better version of myself. I wanted to marinate in all of it, but I couldn’t. The kindness felt like a hoax. I was hyper aware of how some were uncomfortable by how I showed up and all I was wresting with. So, it was confusing to my ego why these lovely people were standing by me. I would remember past looks from people, some that may have lasted for only a moment. I remembered things some would say in their discomfort, some things only said once. These voices and glances played in my head. They became weapons. I would bring the past into the present and the future. I relived it and it would distort the kindness that these new people were expressing.
I would get confused. I would get more depressed. I would boil over about the depression, the confusion, and the kindness I saw from others. I did not deserve it. Why couldn’t they see that I’m a menace to society? What is making them want to stand by me? This was something I asked myself, and others almost daily.
Some didn’t understand why I needed to ask and in my continuous asking they would soon leave. The latter of this I would understand. Some wouldn’t understand why I needed to ask and in my continuous asking they would…stay, and perhaps they’d get closer. This I did not understand. This made love even more confusing, and I chased love even more.
My mind exploded with questions. Why do they love me? Seriously, why? Why do they stay? Why are they sometimes uncomfortable by my actions, but they stay? How are they still here? Would it really be heartbreaking if I gave into the temptation of an early death?
I wrestled with the very young child my parents would tell me I used to be. The little girl that would sit on the bow of Daddy’s boat and laugh as the waves would splash the side of the hull. The little girl that would run on the beach, fall into the sand and without brushing it off would keep running. I didn’t know that child. I couldn’t believe that I had once expressed such joy and freedom. I fought with that very young version of myself and the menace I felt I had become. It didn’t make sense. But mostly it didn’t feel good.
I tried to control all the boiling. It hurt and ate away at my energy. Somehow, though, I made it work. In public places, like the classroom, the bathroom became my safe zone. When the thoughts were exploding inside my head like fireworks, the emotions rising like lava in a volcano, then my efforts to suppress it all would begin to burst at the seams. When the firework thoughts would get louder, and the icicle tears would begin to sting I would calmly ask to go to the bathroom.
It was always a relief when I would have the place to myself. Since there was so much ice and fire inside me, and I felt pressure to get back to where I was expected to in a timely manner, I could never let go completely. But after letting some of it out I was able to be a semi-functioning human for the duration of where I needed to be. Though my mind still filled with questions and ached for answers the boiling was capped. I tried to seal it for as long as I could, until I was able to be alone again.
Teachers and other adults might think I was sweet, shy, quiet, and other such things. I’d lose my voice when I would speak to them, or even just standing in front of them I would quake in my shoes. Always afraid that I’d get in trouble for being me, and for having big emotions. I did not understand how these people thought I was quiet, or shy, or SWEET? Seriously?! Everything inside me felt so very loud. Why couldn’t they see that? How was I not able to show that? For a long time, I used to berate my acting, performing abilities, but as I write this now, I guess I’ve been a great performer all my life?
Friends and family felt like they didn’t always know how to deal with me. I felt that they felt that they didn’t know how to handle me. As I would gauge their feelings and how my feelings made them feel I would get lost in the boiling heat and chill of how too much this all felt. I would gauge every look and hang on every word. I would compare and measure myself to friends, peers, family, and their body language. I was in the fight of my life.
Are you still reading? Are you unsure if you should stop or keep going? I’m sorry I can’t choose for you, but I can tell you that the person I’m writing about is not the same person who is writing this. I have come a long way. Though I may feel these experiences as I write them, I can no longer go back. The past no longer thrills me, and, of course I’m not dead yet. So fear not, my faithful readers! All is well.
During my college years there was something else that started to really save my life: writing, journaling, and the brave souls who were willing to be with me while I scribbled in my journals. They did not try to fix me. They saw my wrestling and raised me a healthy debate. Their body language, smiles, and steadfastness said, “No matter how hard you push, or fight with yourself I will be here. You can never scare me or push me away. I have signed up to be your friend. Deal with it. Accept it. You can’t make me go anywhere.”
As the temptation of surrendering my life to death grew, and I asked questions about it those same brave friends answered with steadfastness once again. And so did my professors. They constantly reminded me, and encouraged, “We see the life inside you. We want to see more. We cannot save you, but don’t break our hearts. Please. Do not give up your life. Our lives have been made richer because you exist as you are. We want you to do well and to live a life that’s full. Please don’t end it. You will get through this and we are here for the long haul.”
I hated taking baby steps in my life because it made me feel twice as weak. I wanted to make an immense amount of progress immediately, and passionately hated that I couldn’t. Though I felt this, I knew that the little things really do count for something. I knew that the little things were not nothing. Here’s how I figured that out.
The little moments of encouragement from friends and professors meant everything to me! While I was working to convince everyone that I didn’t need to be seen because all the boiling made me feel like I blended into the night sky. My friends and professors ever so gently tapped at my light. They got to know what I liked, what made me tick, and how to pull me back to Earth when I’d get boiled in my own boiling. They saw me drift in thought and brought me back to reality, and to the good. They requested I keep things simple, and not be so hard on myself, but they didn’t treat me simply. I saw the love they had for me reflected in their eyes, and I saw their hope for me too. I never felt like a frail child when I was around them, and eventually I began to believe it for myself.
College was a really challenging time and when I graduated, I was very unhappy about it. Once I got used to being in that space, with all the care I received, it was painful to leave. It was painful to have to brave the world, as myself, on my own, but I’ve written, processed, and written over the course of going on three years. These last three years I’ve processed not only 5 years of college, but who I’ve been, how I’ve felt and behaved, how others have felt about me and my feelings, and how I’ve felt about all of it over the course of about 18 years. Due to the intensity, and how quickly life has moved I have been slow at processing.
As I’ve worked through all of this, as I’ve thought about the last 18 years, I have grown into a more mature version of my alive childhood self. I’m not saying I’m a child, but I’m starting to come back to joy, to freedom, and to harmony. I’m embracing love and life. I’m starting to enter the land of the living, and above all I’m starting to find peace. I will never stop delighting in this newfound peace, and I will forever express my profound gratitude for the professors, the friends both new and old, and the family members that never judged the dark for a moment, instead they stood with me in the dark. By digging for the light in me they allowed me to be my own savior.
Now that I’m coming home, I want you to know that I’m here for you. I see your light and good nature. I see your beauty and profound ability to love. I love you for everything you are and everything you will become. Though I will always be working through my boiling feelings they will not deter me from being grounded. I am grounded for myself and for you always. So, give me what you’ve got that’s messing with your mind. Give me what you’ve got that’s overthrowing your heart. You can’t scare me. I’m here for the long haul.