I had an argument with my husband in the car earlier this week. Ok, less of an argument and more of a bottling up of my frustrations and sitting in silence until 10 minutes later he notices something isn’t right, asks what’s wrong and gets annoyed at me being annoyed about what was, in his opinion, nothing.
I hope you’re still with me!
As I sat fuming beside him, I passive-aggressively scrolled through Instagram and came upon this quote:
In that moment, sat trapped in my brittle prison of pent-up anger, something in this quote from William Saroyan called to me. What do I gain from sitting in angry silence? What good will it do to me/Gregg/our relationship? I also had a glimpse in that moment of the fleeting nature of life and knew I wasn’t showing up and truly living as I sat there in anger.
The truth is while I wanted desperately to say something to Gregg – heck, to yell at him! – I didn’t know how. I felt incapable of opening the floodgates of my anger/hurt/disappointment. I didn’t know how to start saying what I wanted to say – that:
- I didn’t feel heard or valued,
- I felt unimportant as he had shut down our conversation, and
- I felt angry that I wasn’t getting my own way
I didn’t think anymore about this quote until yesterday when I was sat in a cafe and it popped into my mind. It made me wonder how I couldn’t, and so often can’t, express how I feel:
For me, part of the issue is owning how I feel without censoring and tailoring my thoughts to fit with the person I’m with. I hate admitting this as it makes me feel like a phony – that I’m never truly myself – but now this fear is out there and is not a dark little secret ruling me, things can only get better. I just need to keep on working on being authentically myself and letting the mask of perfection I so often put on slip away.
There’s another reason why I am so often unable to articulate my feelings – it’s because, in wanting to be perfect, I shy away from doing things I know I can’t accomplish to perfection. This extends to expressing myself when I’m angry, sad, upset.
It hit me in that cafe yesterday how ridiculous this thought is.
Firstly, when is the expressing of emotions ever done perfectly?! Very rarely.
Secondly, it’s a skill that won’t come to me miraculously – it requires practice. I did a French degree and used to speak French fluently. Having not spoken it regularly for a number of years, I don’t berate myself for forgetting vocab or not being able to form perfect phrases. I just muddle by and do my best. And, do you know what? If I wanted to improve my French, it’s in my gift to do so. All it would take is some effort, willingness to put myself out there and practice, practice, practice.
That is how I need to look at expressing myself – I need to jump on in, put myself out there and practice expressing how I feel. I’ll only get better if I do this.
And then the negative core belief hits me –
Deep, deep, down, I believe I am incapable of expressing how I feel
Writing this feels like a punch in the gut or the ripping off a bandage and revealing a bruised, oozing wound. I’m trying to figure out why my reaction to this is so dramatic. At first it didn’t make sense to me. Then it hit me:
I think I feel so stunned, shocked and saddened as I realise that I’ve been condemning myself to a life of being shut down and silenced.
The person I’m supposed to watch out for over everything – myself – is being sidelined by this limiting belief and that’s sad.
But you know what, I’m picking myself up and calling this belief out as complete and utter bullshit. I am capable of expressing how I feel – I just need to let go of the belief that I need to do everything to perfection. I’ve got to jump on in, put myself out there and practice, practice, practice.
So sorry to my hero of a husband and the rest of the world for that matter, in order to truly live, I’m going to have to get good and angry more often.
Photo sourced from http://www.ineedaplaydate.com <–I know, random website!