Emotional Pits

Yesterday I had a choice to make. I could either choose to just observe my feelings in a situation that triggered old hurts in me and pushed my buttons or I could spiral on down into an emotional pit where I would undoubtedly beat myself up.

Imagine a mosh pit. I’ve never been in one myself, but I’ve seen them depicted in movies, where a group of people body slam and pummel one another. In a personal mosh pit it would just be me, slapping myself, kicking myself, throwing a few good strong gut punches. Imagining this scene almost made me start to laugh. I mean, the visual of me kicking my own ass really is quite hysterical. Yet, on the serious side, isn’t that really what were doing when the negative self-talk kicks in? We are in essence throwing internal verbal punches that are hurtful and just plain mean.

There is that old child saying “Sticks and stone will break my bones, but names will never hurt me.” Well those names don’t hurt if you don’t believe what the person is saying. Truly anyone can say anything to another person and if the person knows in their heart that it isn’t true, even the meanest and nastiest statements will roll right off without leaving a trace. Yet words, such as cruel and unkind names, can be incredibly hurtful if you believe in them. If you give the words power they can hurt more than any physical injury.

As one who has broken multiple bones in her life (my right foot in 4th grade, my left foot and left thumb in 6th grade, my pinky in 8th grade, my nose in college) I know what it feels like to have such physical injuries. Yet none of those physical bone-breaking events, even come close to hurting as much as an emotionally painful experience. Losing someone you love in a car accident is brutal, as I know from experience. So is having a self-esteem that is so low, that you feel so bad about yourself that you begin to wish you would just die.

What may seem really odd is that this opportunity to work my way out of falling into the mosh pit, arrived at an upbeat holiday party for work. Tradition is that our organizational parties are for employees only and we hold it during the work day. We also don’t do the same thing every year, so creativity abounds and each year is a fresh new experience. This year we gathered at a beautiful old Victorian hotel.

The large spacious banquet room was impressively decorated with large paned mirrors, impressive round hanging lighting fixtures and even two inset domes in the ceilings that had stunning mosaic designs.

So what could unsettle me and cause all this deep reflection at a party? Two words – fashion show.

The entertainment for this party was a fashion show that featured the designs of one particular designer. The designers staff was present to model and mc the show. Some staff had also been selected to walk the runway as models. One of the gifts to staff was a $70 voucher to use to purchase clothes at the end of the show. I might note that there have never been many men in our company and this year, even though the number of staff has grown, there were no men. I suspect if there had been any male staff the big activity for the day would have been different.

Again what is wrong with a fashion show? There is nothing actually wrong with it per se. Yet a line from Maya Angelou’s poem Phenomenal Woman may help to begin to enlighten you. “I’m not cute or built to suit a fashion model’s size.” The truth is that the clothes being featured would not fit someone my size. After the show when the majority of the women were shopping I initially sat at my table looking at a book a co-worker had brought to show me. The negative feelings started to spiral up. Thoughts of being too fat, of being different, of not fitting in, of feeling less than, of feeling like a failure for having gained weight again, began their attempt to fill my head. I could feel the heaviness and the sadness begin to pull at me. Then the judging thoughts for daring to commence a pity party for myself creeped in too. How could I be so ungrateful to not appreciate this party? How could I be so self-centered?

Rather than sit there and be pulled deeper into the pit I chose to do something. Lunch wasn’t going to be served for awhile in order to give all the ladies time to shop, so I headed outside to get some fresh air. It was an exceptionally crisp and beautiful day. Realizing I had my camera with me I went back to grab it. I love to take photographs and so I wandered around the block snapping photos of the gorgeous Victorians, a high-rise just a block down, bright green moss growing on old bricks, stunning red fall leaves, and holiday decorations.

I was so pleased with the images I was capturing. My attention had moved from focusing on those negative thoughts into focusing on my surroundings. Suddenly I was the artist at work capturing beautiful images.
The truth is that my head had begun to clear. I was reminded that I am a creative soul and that some of my happiest and best moments are when I am being artistic. There was a moment when I questioned whether or not it was right to play hooky from the party for a little while. However, it felt really good to honor what I needed in that moment. I needed to step away and take a little time for myself. Being outside, just me and my camera was the best thing for me in that moment. Self honor is a very good thing indeed.

Activity ~ Try observing an emotion in yourself that you would consider negative, such as jealousy, anger or irritation. Think to yourself “My isn’t that interesting that I am feeling such and such” and then stop there before you begin to judge yourself. We are not “bad” for feeling emotions like anger, frustration, jealousy, or irritation. Such emotions may ocassionally be a result of simply being tired, hungry, or dehydrated. More often they will be an indicator that there is something deeper going on inside. This is when our emotions are signs and maps about ourselves. Perhaps we are angry because we are not feeling respected. This emotion is an opportunity to stop and think and then recognize what is the real source. We can then make decisions and perhaps different choices and create better and healthier boundaries in our lives.

Suggested Reading ~ Poetry of Maya Angelou

Here is her poem PHENOMENAL WOMAN in its entirety:
Pretty women wonder where my secret lies.
I’m not cute or built to suit a fashion model’s size
But when I start to tell them,
They think I’m telling lies.
I say,
It’s in the reach of my arms
The span of my hips,
The stride of my step,
The curl of my lips.
I’m a woman
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.
I walk into a room
Just as cool as you please,
And to a man,
The fellows stand or
Fall down on their knees.
Then they swarm around me,
A hive of honey bees.
I say,
It’s the fire in my eyes,
And the flash of my teeth,
The swing in my waist,
And the joy in my feet.
I’m a woman
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

Men themselves have wondered
What they see in me.
They try so much
But they can’t touch
My inner mystery.
When I try to show them
They say they still can’t see.
I say,
It’s the arch of my back,
The sun of my smile,
The ride of my breasts,
The grace of my style.
I’m a woman
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

Now you understand
Just why my head’s not bowed.
I don’t shout or jump about
Or have to talk real loud.
When you see me passing
It ought to make you proud.
I say,
It’s in the click of my heels,
The bend of my hair,
the palm of my hand,
The need of my care.
‘Cause I’m a woman
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

2 thoughts on “Emotional Pits

  • Hello!I am a co-worker (and best Alabama bud!) of Melissa’s. She shared your blog with me today and I just wanted you to know that I really enjoyed reading it. I love the poem by Maya Angelou. I hope that you continue to post!With love,Kristywww.bloggin366.blogspot.com

  • MichelleThis is SOOOO wonderful – and right now I am listening to your cd – and reading your amazing card – thank you so much for all of this – and your blog is gorgeous!Thank you for including Cosmic Cowgirls in this wonderful creation…Chief Laughing Cloudhttp://www.cosmiccowgirls.com

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