A Date with Me for Tea

One of the main reasons I’m going the therapy route is that I have no idea how to process emotions.  Most people learn how to do that when they’re very young but people from dysfunctional homes like mine just stuff that shit down…ain’t nobody got time for that!  Of course we all know that comes back to bite you in the ass eventually.  For me the bite turned out to be clinical depression and a whole host of other text book behaviors that left me a 53-year-old recovering alcoholic in desperate need of therapy.  Oh well…cest la vie!

My therapist told me about a Buddhist saying that goes something like – rather than avoiding your feelings, invite them in for tea.

I’ve been thinking a lot about that.  First I have to recognize I’m feeling a particular way and name it.  Believe it or not I’m just learning how to do that.  So let’s say I figure out what I’m feeling and it’s knocking like a cop on my front door.  I’m visualizing opening that door with anger and resentment on the other side (or whatever I’m feeling in a particular moment) and instead of shooing them away, I invite them in for tea.  Which of course would be sweet tea rather than oolong because I’m in the south and that’s how we roll.  Which means instead of sitting on the floor on some fluffy pillows and sipping from tiny cups and listening to pan flutes, we’d be sitting on stools around my kitchen counter drinking from Tervis tumblers and listening to Trace Adkins or Colbie Caillat or P!nk.

Don’t judge.

Anyway, I like the way that makes me feel.  Like I could actually get comfortable with my emotions.  Get to know them a little better.  Let them leave in their own good time rather than rushing them out because I don’t want to deal with them.  Because they make me uncomfortable.

Except.

Except that I can’t figure out what to DO with them while we’re at the kitchen counter!  I’ve been trying to practice today and I’m having a hard time knowing what to do with them while they take their sweet time moving right along.  If I were at home and IF I had the time I could go into my closet and just let the feelings be.  But I’m not.  I’m at work and…well…ain’t nobody got time for this shit you know what I’m sayin’?

Yeah…I still have a little work to do.

My guess is that normal people do this on a regular basis and don’t even think about it.  They process emotions and feelings like breathing…it just happens.  I was thinking about how, when my kids were little, I used to make sure that whatever they were feeling was validated so they knew that it was okay.

For example, someone is angry and throwing a hissy fit.  I’d tell them (sometimes having to yell over their yelling) that it was okay to feel the way they were feeling.  That I understood and that they had every right to be angry because it never feels good not to get what you want.  In fact, let’s stomp and little louder and maybe punch some pillows.  But I’m not giving you the _____________ no matter how angry you are or how much you yell.  So get this out of your system and we’ll talk when you’re feeling more like yourself.

And then I’d walk away.

I’d say it worked about 70% of the time.  I mean sometimes an irrational child is just that.  But I notice now that they’re grown, that they are way more in touch with their emotions then I’ll likely ever be (with the exception of my niece and nephew who I’m still working on – but that’s a different post).  So how could I teach that skill without learning it myself?

Who the hell knows?  Maybe it’s just an innate desire to model what I wished was done for me as a child.  Maybe it’s just dumb luck.

For now I guess I’ll just use my feelings journal and me and my emotions will sit at my kitchen counter and stare at each other until they decide it’s time to get the hell out of my head and go bother someone else.

Namaste

 

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20 thoughts on “A Date with Me for Tea

  1. Hi Sherry. I really like your plan, having tea dates with emotions. (Just so you know, I sit on a chair and drink hot tea out of a pottery mug. And pan flutes for me only lead to rage. So I guess it takes all kinds.) It’s taken me a long time–and lots of therapy and reading therapy-ish books–to get a sense of what it means to feel my emotions, and it’s still a bit like working in a second language for me. But I think sitting with them is the main thing. I’m more fluent than I used to be. I guess you don’t need to do anything–you all just sit there and see/feel what happens. And maybe write it down. Sometimes I can’t name it as a feeling, I just feel strange, so I describe it to myself, and it’s like “top of head spinning off” or “strong impulse to smash everything in sight.” I think that’s what works for me. It’s taking me a long time to learn that head-spinning or wanna-smash-object feeling is rage, because I really didn’t feel angry. But paying attention to the physical feeling has been a big help to me, because that’s the connection I didn’t learn in my own messed up childhood. I’m glad you’re talking to someone and working on this. I suffer from some kick-ass depressions, too, though they aren’t as bad as they were now that I actually stay still and feel more. And at least now I recognize when I’m happy! Big hugs and sweet tea to you! xo

    1. This is soooooo helpful. Once again to know I’m not alone and also to know that there are people making progress. It gives me hope and I’m so grateful to you for sharing it. Thank you.

      Sherry

  2. Duudddddeeeee….I don’t think that all “normal” people process their emotions in healthy ways. Some may, some don’t. Road rage any one?? That’s not healthy stuff, and I am sure many of those folks ain’t boozers and users. So it’s easy for me to cast them as spiritual and emotional gurus, but folks have their own ways of dealing. I would say that the way you are doing it, you’re pretty healthy. Therapy, recovery, prayer, guidance, etc.. well, that’s pretty good looking to me. We’re just learning to do this stuff, Sherry. I am a child still when it comes to emotional stuff, on many levels. Me me me, want want want! I buried my emotions so deep for so long I still don’t have access to them the way that some others do (in recovery or not). Some of the highest EQ people I know are in recovery. There are normies who are dolts in that dept…lol. So give yourself some credit, will ya?

    invite yourself over for some tea too. Be gentle with yourself. This isn’t a three-hour cruise…this is a lifetime thing. Let’s enjoy it 🙂

    Paul

  3. I think feeling our emotions and walking through them and looking at them from every angle is something that once you learn how, once you experience it you will never ever want to go back to not feeling them. You will be living your true authentic life and for me, even with all of the shit in my life right now, that feels good too me. It solid ground. Its a process Love….sitting down for tea with your feelings is such an awesome analogy! I love it and am going to use it the next time I have to process something.

  4. “my emotions will sit at my kitchen counter and stare at each other until they decide it’s time to get the hell out of my head and go bother someone else.” Ha–love this.

  5. Yes! I completely get this. I’m a dreadful emotion processor, or at least I was a late learner. This might be why I stay home a lot these days. I had several incidences after my father died where I had full-on panic attacks at work. It. Was. Awful. I’m thinking of 3 specific incidences at 3 different jobs. I had to retreat to the restroom — lose my shit and deep breathe, and then I’d have to make up some story about how I got sick. I didn’t want to appear crazy. I guess I’m a stuffer, but then my emotions bubble over at inopportune times. Like you said, the world goes on — ain’t nobody got time for that — especially when there are bills to pay. Emotion-processing at work DOES NOT WORK. It’s easier for me now that I work from home, but I find that I have strong emotional reactions at other inappropriate times — school is a HUGE trigger for me, so back-to-school for my kids is hard. I learned this the hard way last year. Panic attack in the parking lot before meet-and-greet with my kids’ teachers. I had to get back on medication. Wow, just typing this out is making me hyper-aware. Maybe tough childhoods make us oscar-worthy actors (fakers). I look like I have it together most of the time. Okay, thanks for letting me ramble. I guess I got nothing for you. You’re certainly NOT alone. Maybe I better go turn on some Pink and get out my Tervis Tumbler — since I’m also a Southern stuffer.

    1. LOL!!! Southern Stuffer. I want a t-shirt that says that!

      Now that you mention it, I was much better at this when I worked from home. I guess being back in the office everyday cause “more stuffing than usual”.

      And also, now that you mention it, I’ll bet that’s why actors are so fucked up! They’re so busy playing a character’s emotions that they forget how to process their own!

      Good stuff. Thank you.

      Sherry

  6. Had a really good laugh at your lovely descriptions and felt a little less alone in trying to figure out and accept these things called feelings.

    The most dreaded moment is when my therapist DS asks what I’m feeling in the moment. Goodness gracious! I imagine the timer clicking in the background like I’m on Who Wants to Be a Millionaire and it makes me want it phone a friend, either to help me or get me the heck outta there.

    It would be so lovely if we were all just born with this skill. You have given your children a great gift!

    Maybe it would help me to print out a list of say, 100 different emotions, and carry them into the therapy room so we have something to refer to. Although as you say, just putting names to my tea guests won’t make them leave sooner 🙂

    1. Actually my therapist offered me some printed materials like that so I bet yours could give some to you. Writing them in my journal and analyzing them “out loud” has been really helpful. Now if I can just stick with it until our next meeting!

      Thanks for commenting – love the Millionaire reference!!! Now that’s going to be stuck in my head. LOL.

      Sherry

      1. I think I will ask him if he has any printed material for me! But not getting my hopes up because he’s not the “homework” kind.

        Looking forward to reading your posts!

    2. My husband went to treatment and that’s exactly what they did. They gave them a wheel with different sections, that included more recognizable emotions on the outside and then more specific ones in the middle. They used is every day.
      I’ve been looking at it. My therapist does the same thing to me. She doesn’t like me to be happy or sad all the time. But it’s a huge struggle.
      Self discovery takes work!

      1. Thanks for the tip! Sure I can find something like that on Google. Lol at your therapist frowning on two emotions. I think I use “sad” a lot too. I can see my therapist shaking his head from here.

  7. I am so proud of you going the therapy route.. huge amazing pride – and will be really interested (if you are happy to share) in the sorts of work they do with you and techniques they suggest etc.. Wow my friend. I love how you never settle for anything less than pure unadulterated sober nirvana and I have every faith that you will be sitting in your rocking chair feeling good that you really kicked all that shitty baggage from your childhood to touch. Love you long time xxxx

  8. i just said, how the hell did I get to 40 and have no idea “what feeling a feeling is?” I have no idea what I am feeling half the time~ I guess I never had time for that either growing up. Now it is time for me to learn!

  9. I just stumbled upon your blog and I LOVE your writing style! I am a Southern Stuffer as well. Maybe we can start a club. I go to therapy and my head doc (I have a head doc and a med doc) tells me I have to own my feelings once I ID them. When I started the recovery journey I didn’t know how to be angry, now it seems that’s all I am. grrrrrrr. Good luck with your therapy. Own those emotions and don’t let them drink all the sweet tea!

    1. Thanks so much for the compliment! It’s always so nice to know that there are others out there feeling the same way and that it’s not just me with this crazy shit rolling around in my head and in my heart.

      Thanks for taking time to comment.
      Sherry

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