“In this world of numbness and information overload, the ability to feel, my boy, is a rare gift indeed.” ― Patrick Ness

I return to this quote again and again in my life. At times, I am envious of those who can bottle up how they feel and store it away likely never to bring it up again. I have many hushed conversations after a few drinks with those same folks where how they feel sometimes starts to seep out only for those memories, feelings, etc. to be bottled up quite efficiently before it all pours out of them. It usually ends abruptly with a quick “Want another drink?” as they quickly get up to gather themselves only to return with a brand new topic miles away from our prior conversation. It blows my mind how people have a capacity to willfully forget, suppress, and move on. I am the drunk friend who ends up accidentally spilling how they feel and trying in vain to clean it up except I’m completely sober.

I spill and spill and spill – I have very little ability to neatly tie something up and store it away to deal with later. I’m willfully resistant to that behavior in many ways. It feels disingenuous for me to smile and nod when I really might be panicked or upset over something happening in my life. When I have tried to contain, my heart starts to pound – it begs me to ask the “intense” question or call out what’s actually happening or to share what’s really going through my head. Sometimes I’ll even stammer as I try to force out the words, “my day is going fine” as it’s a fight to shove them out of my mouth over the truth. When I say the truth, my heart feels at ease and I feel a comfortable excitement. My truth is impatient just as I am. It rolls its eyes when asked to sit the emotional bench.

I can’t demand that everyone handle this intensity and rawness. I don’t have the expectation that folks do. It doesn’t stop me from sharing Truth though and from asking the hard questions. I couch them in context and in excuses to give folks many outs along the way. The ability to opt out at every turn is the only polite and comfortable thing I can offer – it’s the makeup I try to cover my raw thoughts and feelings with to make them more acceptable to face.

From time to time, I’ll stumble across those spilling themselves out into the world. Our mutual inability to contain ourselves results in a wonderful interaction even if we talk about terrible things. I used to be embarrassed of how honest I was — I’d blush thinking about previous interactions and shame myself. These days, I’m realizing it’s such a strength. There’s nothing I’m afraid will slip out and I have saved so much energy not running around trying to excuse or clean up what comes spilling out of me. Beyond that, I’ve found people who find their thoughts spilling out rush to me as they’ve seen how comfortably I handle my own.

Anyway, I ranted about self driving cars, gene editing technology, and soul mates to a stranger turned friend today. She ranted right back. We exchanged phone numbers and each appreciated how fantastic the other person’s colorful and scattered spillage looked.

5 comments

  1. I think you must have seen into my brain to write this post. I feel this so hard, but have never put it into words (mostly because I still feel delayed shame about my spillage). Great, insightful article…maybe we are the brave ones being real when the rest of the world likes comfortable fakery.

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