December 12th, 2016


Emotional processing

Sometimes navigating life feels like being tossed through a car wash - bumped with rollers, scrubbed with brushes, and splashed with water as I roll on through the day. By the time I get to the end, I'm tired, sore, and wet - ick :P

That's how it feels on an emotional level. As I walk through the hall, I encounter other people. They engage me in conversation, share what's going on, and invite me to respond. For me, it can feel like crashing through the car wash - their mood splashes against me, their words brush and whack me, and by the time the interaction is over, I feel like I'm covered in soapy bubbles that didn't wash off. At the same time, I feel like I haven't had any influence on them at all and haven't been able to share the things that my heart dwells on because they're off topic, too specific, or not of interest to them. They just don't fit and so what I think and what I say become divorced.

After the interaction is past, I feel cluttered - as if the soapy bubbles are stuck and I can't get them off. Not only are the bubbles on the outside - they've absorbed into every pore of my skin and disappeared. I can't wash them off! These foreign emotions, thoughts, attitudes, desires, and fears have penetrated me and I can't separate them from myself or get them out. I have to process through the weird blend of me-and-them until gradually they've filtered out and I feel restored. Just me again.

Sometimes it's not easy to process them out, though. Since I was little, I've used daydreaming as a way to help do this, but my daydreams aren't happy trips to the beach. They're violent, desperate attempts to free myself from overwhelming feelings and the buzzing anxiety that just never seems to subside.

Do you all experience anything like this?

What methods do you have for processing through the external emotions/ideas/feelings that surround you? I don't know if "coping mechanism" is the right word, because I don't want to endure these experiences; I want to get rid of these external-gone-internal impressions that I've picked up from other people or things.

Also, these external pressures don't have to be negative ones - any outside thing can be enough to wash me away and make me feel not-myself anymore. Am I too impressionable? Is there a good way to maintain my identity in the midst of a world that constantly feels like it's crashing in on me and wiping me out? At the same time, does it make sense that I seek to absorb myself in special interests? It's in those areas that I actually seek to diffuse myself because, for once, it's a delightful experience. Either way, I feel like carbon copy paper. I like it when I can copy something that I want to; but if other things are printed on me, I feel offended.

I'm trying to think about what the Bible says about this, too. I remember David crying out to God as he was overwhelmed and then God flew down and set him in a broad place (Psalm 18:19, Psalm 118:5). The Bible speaks, too, of enduring patiently and growing in character in the midst of a world that's groaning, waiting for redemption (Hebrews 6:15, Hebrews 12:1-3, Romans 5:3-5, 2 Peter 1:5-8). God also gave Moses very clear directions to build the tabernacle in the second half of Exodus and I find those fascinating. I'm not sure how that can help today's Christian brothers and sisters, though. Does anything else come to mind?