Yesterday I narrowly avoided a major tantrum about our car.

Siobhan is our quirky second hand Toyota who doesn’t always like to start again after she’s been stopped at an intersection. She tries, gives up, chokes and bucks and eventually gets going again. When Siobhan and I finally arrived home, I was proud of myself for not going into hysterics. I explained the situation soberly to Nick, carefully answering his questions without getting hysterical and sighed with relief when he agreed it was time to take Siobhan to her friendly, neighbourhood hospital, aka John our mechanic. Congratulating myself on my calm handling of what for me is an intensely scary situation, I went about making supper. From the quality of my clattering the dishes around, Nick came into the kitchen, stopped me with a hug and said “I know you’re in pain. What’s up?”

I thought I was okay with everything. I really did. But as he held me and I tried to think what else could be upsetting me, I blurted out “I’m afraid the car’s going to be taken away from me, and I’ll have to go back home to live with my parents!”

Now realistically speaking, that scenario could not be further from the truth. No way is that possible. But emotionally, that was a powerful realization for me, and it came not just from exploring an event in my daily life, but from the physical presence of a compassionate person. It was Nick being right there and willing to listen to me, the hug, that freed up my mind and my tongue to give utterance to my fear.

Once the fear was spoken, once I had shared my feeling with someone else, I felt a huge wave of relief. I felt normal again, instead of taut and under attack.

I’ve been both a loner for so much of my life, that I’ve never really understood how communicating with another person helps. If my writing goes well, I will get a similar release and even music can sometimes do it. But there’s an unmistakeable magic in face-to-face encounters. When I know another human being has heard my truth and not turned away, some little part of me is healed, freeing me up to go onto to the next life adventure.

Somehow, without conscious intent, I keep worrying at a fear or hurt until I’ve expressed my experience out into the wider world. It’s never enough to tell myself in my mind, ‘okay, that hurt, that’s why, let’s just forget about it.’ If I try to do that, I end up furious at something unrelated, clutter on the floor, a red light in traffic, a sluggish internet connection. Rage engulfs me and a royal hissy fit breaks out. But if I can find the words to express what I’m feeling deep down inside, the feeling that doesn’t make literal sense but, I suppose, my inner child’s feeling, then the energy blockage evaporates. I resume my sane, recognizable self.

I know this isn’t news. It’s the reason so much talk therapy works. But I was amazed at how much relief I felt once I’d spoken the words. The fear of losing my transportation isn’t rational. There are buses, taxis, car rentals, neighbours, my feet… I can still get around. But now that my psychological fear has been revealed to me, I feel empowered. A sturdy brick has been added to strengthen the structure that is my identity. I know, therefore I choose more wisely.

So now, I can just worry about how much the repair is going to cost, and the practicalities of getting Siobhan to the shop. Ordinary irritations instead of overpowering and unexplainable terrors. Human stuff.

#feelings #sharing #car repair


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