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How I Finally Understood What My Partner Meant About Emotions Being Temporary

My head was splitting into two. I was splitting into two. 

The urge to flee was so strong it felt like my muscles were capable of moving on their own. I fought that urge. So, instead of fleeing, my body froze. Not only did my body freeze, but my mind did. In a way at least. If you would have asked me to make a decision or answer a question as simple as, “What is your favorite color?” I would not have been able to answer it. The panic and the negative thoughts were still in my mind. Their voices muffled to a soft whisper. Almost like a whisper of seduction whose breath caresses your neck. The urge to lean back into the temptation seemed the only way to unfreeze my body and mind. I was afraid. I knew those sweet and seductive whispers were tempting me with my own mind’s lies. Oh, but I wanted it so much. I didn’t. I led myself to the kitchen with forceful and decisive steps. Each step required complete concentration on just taking the step. I started the teapot on the stove. And then I froze. I stood in the kitchen. My mind frozen except for the whispers. The teapot whistled. My reality, or lack of, jolted. I tried to sip my tea and sit on the couch. The tightness in my chest was almost unbearable. The noises were the worst. I could hear everything amplified. The sounds made me want to shout out in desperation and frustration. Not being able to take it anymore, I went to the bedroom. You stopped me. You touched my hand. I struggled to return to you.

You said it has helped you to sit through these moments and realize these emotions will pass. They are temporary. My mind fought your words. These emotions are not temporary. They are building strength. They may be temporary, but when they come back, they come back stronger and smarter. More controlling than before. That scares me. That terrifies me. What if I lose myself in those emotions? What if they become too strong and I give in? As you talked, I listened. Each sentence you said, my mind had a rebuttal. Finally, we got off the bed. You helped me feed and water the donkeys. Looking back, while I was feeding and watering the donkeys, my mind was not consumed by those negative thoughts. I had returned. You stopped me and pointed out my accomplishment. You wanted to celebrate with me. I gave you a small smile and went into the house. As I sat and watched my cats eat, after feeding them canned food, something washed over me. Something warm. Something… I do not have the right word for it yet. My thoughts returned to the utter and complete despair I had felt earlier. The complete and utter loss of myself in my emotional episode. The fear I felt was real. I have seen what others in similar positions do when they give into those emotions. When they accept those thoughts and emotions as their own. That fear was real. It was not pretend. It was not imaginary or made up. It. Was. Real. 

Yet, as I watched my cats eat and listened to their soft, satisfying munching, and when that feeling washed over me, your words finally made sense.

I had done it. 

I had allowed those emotions and thoughts to be temporary.

They did not consume.

Yes, I feel their after effects. My mind is in a slight fog. My stomach is in loose knots. My irritability is there, but only as a reminder.

I am tired. Exhausted, actually. 

But, it is me.

Those emotions and thoughts will come back. They will surface stronger than before, as they do each time I truly let them in… or out.

I am still fearful of them happening. I can even still feel the soft tug of tightness in my chest as I write this.

That won’t change.

I don’t want that to change.

I want to be aware. I want to feel everything because I will be that bull rider at the rodeo. I can feel his dream of the ultimate eight-second ride on the unridable bull. The one no one else can ride.

My thoughts and emotions are my eight-second ride in my rodeo.

Each time I am not broken completely by this ride, I get up stronger… but more tired.

Each time as I am getting stronger, I am also getting exhausted.

I need to replenish that. I need to take every moment between these merciless episodes to regain my strength. My physical and mental strength so I can be ready for the next.

Your words tonight. From almost our first date, you have told me sitting through the emotions has really helped you. That realizing they are temporary has given you strength. I have always appreciated your words. But I have never believed them. Until now. Until tonight.

You didn’t save me while I was fighting myself. You didn’t tell me it would OK.

You told me you loved me. You told me you would be there for me as I rode out these episodes and you would be there for me when I was building my strength to face another one.

You told me you loved me.

I believed you. I trusted you. Facing these emotions and feelings that threatened to consume me with you by my side allowed me to begin to understand the true feeling behind these things.

Things that terrify me when I am by myself seem less threatening when you are next to me. When I can hear your voice. When I can feel your touch.

Unsplash image by Maddi Bazzocco