Staying Present . . . even on an emotional roller coaster

“If you hold back on emotions—if you don’t allow yourself to go all the way through them—you can never get beyond them, you’re too busy being afraid.”

– Mitch Albom (Tuesdays with Morrie)

The past couple of weeks have been incredibly emotional. My husband, Jeff left for a year to work with The British Council doing teacher training in Borneo!  Working with developing countries in the field of education has been a goal of Jeff’s for many years, a goal he put off to be present with his family, be a good partner, be a good dad, be responsible.  So for the most part, I’m thrilled for Jeff!  It’s going to be a fantastic year for him, amazing experiences, a great job, etc. AND, I’m bereft and in pain.  In the weeks leading up to Jeff  leaving, I was blown away at the emotions flowing through me.  And I’m so grateful that I’ve done the work I’ve done regarding my own personal growth, so I could be present with the intense emotional roller coaster.  Often, I would be doing something quite mundane, and suddenly I was overwhelmed with sadness and I would sob and feel intense grief just flood me.  But the interesting thing is when I was present to it, allowed the sadness and tears to overtake me, the emotions would rush through me, in waves, then dissipate and be gone.  Whereas when I tried to push them away, and stay “in control” and try to cover them up and stay busy, I would get a knot in my stomach, feel sick and feel overwhelmed and completely drained.  It was only by letting the emotions come, when they came and flow through me that I was able to keep going.

Emotions are fascinating to me.  To think that they are just part of our brain chemistry is a weird thing to get my head around. Neuroscientist and inventor Christopher deCharms does an interesting short TED talk where he demonstrates a new way to use fMRI to show brain activity — thoughts, emotions, pain — while it is happening. In other words, you can actually see how you feel!  Kind of an interesting way to look at it.  I’m not sure what would happen to those brain waves and chemicals that become our emotions if we try to push them away and pretend they are not there.  But from my experience, I know in my body, it is not good to struggle against my emotions.  When I allow them, they move through me fluidly and I can stay somewhat sane!  When I deny them, I get sick and feel crazy.  And that is a good enough reason to stay emotional for me.



Please let me know what how you deal with emotional roller coasters.  And as always thank you for taking the time to visit, I appreciate it.



8 thoughts on “Staying Present . . . even on an emotional roller coaster

  1. I can really feel what you’ve been going through. I was once in a similar situation. I think you’ve dealt with your emotional hurt the best way possible. You let it happen, as it has to. You’re right about “being in control.” It just doesn’t work that way. I hope the coming year is a good one for you and that it passes quickly.


    • Thanks Martin. Yep – I agree – gotta let it happen, as it has to, no such thing as being in control. When I try to be in control, I spin way outta control! Thanks for your comment, I appreciate it.


  2. This reminded me of the time you lost your mom and how you dealt with that while we were in high school. You were amazing then and never cease to amaze me with your diligence and ferocity paid to your inner being- especially after reading this blog.
    I just made a playlist consisting of Boz Scaggs songs from Silk Degrees and included songs from my sons high school favorites. Music is a powerful connection to percolating emotions.

    ~The outer strength is very limited. The inner strength is unimaginable~ Sri Chinmoy

    Much love,
    Robin (Campagna) Missailidis


    • Thank you so much Robin. Wow, when you made this comment I was suddenly transported back to being 16 and feeling so raw and so powerless when my mom died. I don’t remember a diligence nor a ferocity. What I remember was wanting to escape, wanting to crawl out of my skin. I remember being bewildered and feeling so young. But I can also say in retrospect that that experience gave me strength beyond measure, and taught me that I could survive just about anything by just walking through it, one step at a time.
      Thank you so much for writing this Robin. It was so affirming to read.
      And now I’m going to go download some Boz Scaggs!


  3. What an amazing experience for Jeff and ultimately for you all – as a family, as a couple. As for me, yes, when I acknowledge/feel my emotions I’m always in a “better” place than when I’m in denial or trying to control them. The trick for me is “knowing” this as life happens! I just love you Patti and your example to us all.


    • Thanks Annette. Yes indeed, an amazing experience for us all. I agree, the trick is definitely knowing this as life happens, absolutely! It’s so much easier in retrospect to see things clearly and make startling realizations. But to be present as we are experiencing them is indeed tricky.
      Thanks for writing Annette. I appreciate it.


  4. Pingback: What are your First World Problems? | A Woman's Guide

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