A Prisoner to My Feelings

If I could somehow express my momentary emotions, they would more likely be articulated as a noise than any word in the English language. Garbled letters stuck together to create only a sound with no meaning to anyone but my inner demons. All that emerges as a byproduct of the din inside myself.

Confused emotion and logic forced to coexist within–I wish there was an off-switch to madness. To silence the insecurities that beat down the defenses of truth and knowledge. Something so small and insignificant should not be able to worm its way through the sturdy walls of my mind, like a blight wriggling its way through the seemingly immovable trunks of a forest. A slow decaying poison.

Truth. Lie. Truth. Lie. The ebb and flow of the battle within like a tide constantly beating against the same rock face. Touching my cheek, I wonder if the wear of it is beginning to show on my own face.

There are days like today when I wish that I could turn off the feelings that I know do not make any logical sense. When I know life is good and God is in control, but I cannot seem to out-run the insecurities and doubt that are painting my sunny day grey. I am over-thinking, over-feeling, concentrating on the not-good-enoughs and the wish-I-would-haves.

Maybe someone will say something that triggers an old insecurity that has been lying dormant. Haven’t I already dealt with this? Don’t I already know that this is not truth? Is God not in control and is he not taking care of me, and even others’ perceptions of me? Have I not uncovered this lie time and time again? And yet here it stares at me, choking me into diffidence and coloring how I perceive every comment thenceforth. They are the fears that flare up like Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder from lies I believed long ago.

And then I grow silent. Waiting on the words of others to either save or condemn me.

You don’t need them to save you, I’ll remind myself. You don’t need their assurance that you are good enough. Whether or not they like you isn’t even the point. Do you like you? Are you who God wants you to be? Logic will ring inside my ears, begging to be answered, to be heeded.

Sometimes I win. I am able to lift myself out of the bog by embracing what I know to be truth. The truth that no one person defines me or how I approach life. That there actually isn’t just one way to live or one personality that trumps all. That circumstances and the way I feel can only control me if I allow them to. I am able to operate out of the truth and confidence that comes from God and not from what I am receiving from others. I choose to look to my future and not my past.

But then there are times when I cannot. Try as I may, I feel myself drifting into obscurity. I know that how I am feeling is not warranted or logical…so I say nothing to anyone just in case I give my crazy away. After all, it’ll pass. The day will come and chase away the darkness. I wish I could articulate a fool-proof way to catapult yourself out of the valleys when you inadvertently trip into one. And we all trip eventually. We all have a little crazy inside.

My friend, Mandy, is one of the most logically driven people I have ever met. I love and admire her for it. Although I am sure it comes with its own set of unique challenges, she is often able to see the proverbial forest without getting too hung up on the individual trees.

“Just have a great day,” she has often told me. “How you feel is all in what YOU choose to feel.”

As much as I hate it, she’s right.

I will habitually find myself in the middle of the woods, hung up on some tree (metaphorical, not literal) sitting in my (often unwarranted) bad mood. The trouble with most creatives is that we feel everything acutely. Even if those feelings are lies or skewed. And instead of climbing down from my self-made tree prison…I wait for someone else to come along and make me feel better or burst all of my insecurity bubbles; to coax me out of the tree by assuring me that whatever it is I’m afraid of isn’t actually real. And usually, I end up missing out on whatever is happening in the rest of the forest.

Out of these pity-parties and moods I have learned two lessons. Well, more than two, but let’s start there, shall we?

You need community, but you do not need anyone to save you.

As aforementioned, I will often stew until I’ve received proper assurance that whatever it is I’m bent out of shape about is not reality. Christ has already saved you and inlaid you with enough truth to battle any insecurity that threatens to take you out of the game, even if it’s only for a day. Often we do need that truth echoed in our ears by someone we love, but that doesn’t always happen. And when it doesn’t, instead of allowing yourself to be entrapped in your mental prison, remind yourself of what you know to be true. Pray, even if you don’t feel like it (because you won’t).

Second, force yourself to laugh or to smile.

Do something nice for someone else; compliment them. As Mandy has advised me time and time again, it does something to you psychologically. Suddenly, whatever thought was holding you captive isn’t quite so strong anymore. Life doesn’t seem so bad when you’re forcing yourself to laugh at it.

Moods will come and go. As will insecurities. The important thing to remember is that you control how much power you give them. Will I allow my day to be controlled by an idea I do not want taking root in my life? Sometimes I do. I’ll admit, sometimes it just feels good to sit in melancholy…but don’t live there. Even when the elements stack up and life really does feel daunting and too much to handle, you don’t have to live there.

Choose joy, even in the face of insecurity and everything it seems you lack.

Choose joy, even if it’s only for today, even if it’s only for this moment.

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