Go and Sell Ice Cream

Glennon Doyle (whom I’m a little obsessed with lately!) describes her emotions as deliveries. I think of mine in a similar way: a knock on the door. Over the past three years I have made it my mission to always sit with my emotions when they come, knowing there is something they are telling me. When Doyle talks about deliveries, she describes how she takes a moment to figure out what to do with them: always open the parcel of course, but then the choice is whether to keep it, return it or exchange it. Whilst the metaphor is similar enough, it describes it all more clearly. Many a recovering addict can probably relate to this, I imagine. After all, there is that saying about recovery and our emotions we may have heard bandied around:

The best thing about recovery is that all your emotions come back. The worst thing about recovery is that all your emotions come back.

My emotions sometimes feel like a bunch of out-of-control and sugar loaded toddlers. They don’t queue up nicely, they don’t keep quiet when someone else is talking and they haven’t yet developed any sense of controlling their urges, wants or needs. Me, me, me! All at once.

But I let them be that way and I let them in. Sometimes I may sigh and point to the sign saying “one at a time, please” but I know they rarely care, so in they all rush at once and whilst I often do wish they’d calm the fuck down so I can focus properly, I accept that this is still something they’re learning. So I try to be patient and let them lead.

Hm… Does this point to me being the toddler when it comes to emotion? Perhaps. After all, it took me to my 40s to listen to them, so I guess in many ways I’m quite new to this. It’s been three years. Just three years. After a lifetime of ignoring them, keeping the door firmly closed (and locked) whilst I sat in another room and turned up the volume on the TV to drown out the incessant knocking, ringing the doorbell and calling for my attention. The TV being the bottle, I suppose. And it always worked. My entire adult life, I never felt a thing in its true form.

And now it’s different. A good different. But absolutely – I am learning.

So last week was incredibly difficult. I was so triggered and the delivery of emotions that I forced myself to open the door to, required what felt like all I had to sit with. With Doyle’s philosophy in mind, I did eventually come to a decision as to what I wanted to do. I’m not keeping it. But I’m not sending it back either. This is an exchange job. There were some things worth keeping here. So I’m now left with what did fit and have made some adjustments.

I’ve spent my life trying to be invisible. Indeed it was always my favourite idea of what a super power would be. If you don’t have the actual super power, the next best thing would be to somehow make yourself small and blend into the background. Attention in any form, I positively HATE. Good or bad. I’d rather eat my own head than have people see me, hear me. ….know me. Yuk! Too painful and too scary. And even now, three years down the line, I was carrying this around.

It didn’t fit.

I’ve made connections and appear to have people around me that are… …friends. I know, crazy! These strange creatures seem to insist they like me. I mean, what is up with that? I mean, I love them, but that’s hardly new – I fall in love with other souls freely, easily and quickly. It takes little more than a smile and a small, kind gesture for me to declare I’m yours forever. Perhaps it’s relief, because I have always carried with me how people must hate me on sight and so when they don’t I’m filled with such relief and gratitude I immediately serve up my entire heart on a silver platter for them to do with as they please. I know, I know – it’s fucked up.

And so, I’ve learnt two things in just this past week:

  1. Never again will I agree when I don’t.
  2. Never again will I try to make someone else agree when they don’t.

See? These are basics I may have otherwise learnt a long time ago, but even now – three years into recovery – my old survival methods still linger. Point is though, bending myself into whatever shape will make me fade into the wallpaper or ignoring what I actually feel in order to be invisible, is uncomfortable. Too uncomfortable. So I won’t do that anymore. Even when it draws attention to me and makes other people dislike me. Bottom line – I’m not selling ice cream. Who was it, who said that? I think it may have been Obama but I could be wrong. It was something about integrity and being true to your beliefs, something about how you’ll always upset someone when you stand up for yourself, and if you want everyone to like you then you should just go and sell ice cream. Oh, I can’t remember exactly, but along those lines.

Does this even make any sense? Hah! Does it even need to? It’s my blog and I cry if I want to.

Well, something happened and emotions ran high. I discovered to my horror that not only did I disagree with the majority, I actually felt – and strongly too – that what had upset what appeared to be EVERYONE, I actually thought was right. Or more right. Or WHATEVER. It doesn’t matter. I felt sick. I tried to blend into the background, didn’t speak up, felt I couldn’t speak up and guess what? It didn’t feel good. But then I grew a vagina and stuck my neck out. Oh, nothing too controversial, but I did what I believe was the right thing – but more importantly, FELT like the right thing – and stood up for what I believed.

I didn’t die. Just like I haven’t died doing any of the other things over the past three years that I’ve found terrifying. Felt the fear and did it anyway.

I’m sure it did put me in the less likeable category for some people. But do you know what? That’s OK. It’s more than OK. It’s what I think. It’s how I feel. Staying quiet may keep the attention away from me and agreeing when I don’t may mean people don’t get annoyed with me. But that’d be hiding the real me and what in God’s name is that going to do? No good whatsoever. And I also believe this terror I feel is so fucking misplaced anyway. Do I really expect people to be so rotten they can’t handle a different point of view? That’s the bit I’m sending back. Would I end a friendship because a friend doesn’t think or feel exactly the way I do? No. Obvs. Sure, there are dealbreakers – I would absolutely find it hard to see past some things (like racism, meanness, unfairness, etc) but generally I am more than happy to throw my love at people even if they do vote for a different party or listen to 80s music. So what?

There were some serious triggers that came my way and I regretted opening the door this time. I wanted to throw it all away and ignore it. But I’m not doing that anymore. I’m saying goodbye to the always agreeing meek Anna and hello to a grown ass woman with integrity. Stockholm wasn’t built in one day but I’m working on it. Hard. And that feels good. It feels right. Something shifted inside and it was a blessed relief. It was a tough lesson to learn, but I am grateful. This delivery was a gift.

Today I’m not going to drink.

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