I have a LOT of time to think during my commute. This morning I was watching my thoughts and my emotions as they swirled about, playing with and against each other. There was nothing concrete; it was all very nebulous. I noted that thoughts and emotions are completely different animals, so it’s almost futile to even attempt to manage or understand them in the same manner. Thoughts can be concrete and follow reason, so they can be grasped, given the effort. Emotions, however, are entirely different. They are a form of data that requires a completely different translator. The same rules of analysis don’t apply.
I’ve been wondering why certain emotions are surfacing. Logically, there is little to no reason for anything but giddy happiness. Life is so GOOD! MY life is so good! Yet these emotions are surfacing and overtaking me. Just when I think I’m all sorted out, grounded, steady, solid — BAM, tears are streaming from my face and my heart feels as though it’s clenched by an iron fist.
For some reason, I thought of PTSD. It’s not reserved for battle scarred war heroes, you know. Not that I want to assign another disorder to the list of labels already attached to me, but the words themselves –post, trauma, stress– align well with the emotional experience that I’m trying to describe. I also thought of memories and associations. So many associations stir fragments of memories that evoke buried emotions. A song, the color of the sky, a turn in the road, the sound of a voice –so many random things in any given day can stir something up.
Memories are things of the past, and the experiences are over. Any traumas and stresses were overcome, because they are in the past. I am here. I am healthy. I am strong. So why and how can an associated memory bring me to my knees and knock the wind from me and rob me of my now? As I was pondering this, I wondered in terms of PTSD. Maybe at the time I couldn’t actually process or deal with whatever it was. Maybe survival was the only thing that I had the bandwidth for (and may the gods and my departed dad forgive my overabundant use of stranded prepositions). Maybe, when caught up in the fray of whatever drama I was caught up in, all I could do was stay afloat and suppress rather than address the emotions and stresses du jour. So maybe, because I’m no longer in sheer survival mode, the associations that stir memories release those emotions as though they are fresh. BAM! Ouch! Me no likey.
I wanted to write these thoughts down, and I thought I’d entitle this post, “memories and associations” — it has a certain flair. But it also rings a bell (hello? how many things are endless repeats in this blog?), and so it happens that I’ve written at length about memories and associations before. I re-read that post and thought, oh shit. More tears. I really needed more tears.
So here I am again. I wish I knew a healthy way to address the emotions that overtake me. I wish I knew how to pick and choose which emotions could overtake me. I’d love to keep the giddy highs and dismiss the dark lows. I bet it’s possible. I just need to find the right decoder ring.