at work, i often use ‘labile’ to describe an aspect of someone’s health. i might describe someone’s blood pressure as labile, for instance, which is not a good thing – it means it is unstable, going up and going down but not staying steady. i thought of this word today, in terms of me. how i was doing.
i didn’t even know that ’emotional lability’ was an actual term, but when i googled it, i was like, yup, that fits, that was me today. at first i was okay, feeling kinda good, adult, productive. and then i crashed into the pit. i was weepy, i was enraged, i was ashamed, i was scared, i was young, in quick succession and then back again to adult versions of all the same.
which is what happens when you don’t eat and drink your feelings. fuck.
there were good parts in the middle…i rode my bike in the sunny windy afternoon, got my heart pumping. i didn’t find that i wanted to eat bad stuff, i didn’t feel particularly hungry today at all. though i am hungry right now…i am going to have to do something about that before bed, i think. (actually, right now. banana and almond butter to the rescue! trying not to goop on the keyboard.)
i know part of my (disproportionate) irritability at my family earlier was being hangry, though at the time i felt justified and was pretty sure it was just coz they were so self-centred and annoying. and then i slammed a door (not on purpose) and stomped into my room and laid flat on my bed and breathed for a bit, and scrolled social media mindlessly for a bit more, and then i got up and apologized to them, because i really was being a horrible grump because of all the feelings that i wasn’t numbing with the gin & tonics that were starting earlier and earlier in the daytime hours.
pocketbrit and i didn’t talk much today. caught in our own personal hells, i think. it never feels good when we don’t talk. i think i realize how much i rely on her to check in when we have days like today, and it makes shame burn in my chest. (and shame is a clusterfuck.)
this morning, when she hadn’t replied to my messages, i was only curious. it was unusual but not unheard of, and when i checked the weather, it was a beautiful day there so i figured she was outside. by noon, i was more worried and also feeling ashamed and rejected. as mid-afternoon approached with no word, i was a mix of worried, and when she replied by saying “i’m here” i was angry relieved confused ashamed hating myself for being a fucking lunatic.
tonight, as i’m sitting here, missing her, i’m struck by the process of worrying goes for me, and how ashamed i get when i worry. how untrue the stories i start to author are, and how reflective of trauma they are. how i dip into and out of being little, and how being little hijacks my ability to be rational and understanding and fair. coz the things that i start to hear and feel are things like, she stopped caring. and she forgot about me. and it always ends with, i did something wrong and now i have to guess and if i don’t guess right it’s going to be even worse.
and usually, at that point, my adult brain steps in, tries to soothe the small one. attempts to settle her with more likely stories. like, she’s busy. her phone died and she didn’t notice. she’s gardening, you saw all the plants she’s looking after, that takes a lot of time! to maybe her parents are really after her today and her head’s really bad. but as the hours went on, even the adult starts panicking. she’s hurt. she’s sick. she’s really really not okay, and you don’t even know. and then, always, you wouldn’t even know if something bad did happen, no one is going to tell you anything anyway because you live across the world and besides, you don’t even count and then both little and adult ones are a mess, and the shame gets even huger because this is not even a normal response to someone not seeing my messages, i’m being a total loon and i know it.
and then my shame activates her shame, and our little ones start to box, and soon it’s a triggerfest, where we all feel like garbage and none of us gets what we want or need, where we will both go to bed with our small ones activated and scared and mad and sad and missing. which feels absolutely terrible, the worst, when what we want is to feel connected and close.
but sitting here now, and even earlier, i knew we were okay. we are okay. we have done this before, been here before. i’m not leaving, and neither is she, there’s too much here for both of us, it’s why it hurts so big, coz there’s such a big space left when we’re absent. it was a shit day coz it was shit day. and she will tell me and i will tell her and we will love and understand each other through it, like always, when we are better able to. we will smooth it out among all of us, and i think, i hope, that tomorrow will be kinder.