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Wednesday, March 6, 2013

How to feel feelings

    Have you dug through your past lately? I know I have several boxes and an old beat up trunk that contain thousands upon thousands of memories, good and bad. I used to look through them while cursing my parents for being assholes. I would rummage for old photos of handsome ex boyfriends to cry on when I had yet another prince charming let me down. And I would later roll on the ground in painful peals laughter with roommates as we looked through yearbooks and my secret stash of love notes ( some written and never sent were the best outpourings). These treasures I carefully sorted in an effort to find diaries kept from my
super early teens. My girl and I had a few very powerful conversations about feelings this last weekend. I think sometimes I should be more grateful for the small separation we have due to the whole step mom and didn't actually give birth to her thing. It allows me to look at her life with different eyes. She has so many things going on in her world that I remember being just life altering at that age. The world was probably ending every week or so because tween-hood is insane. And it's hard when you feel like no one understands your voice. You aren't big and you're not small. Rough zone to dwell in even for a kid in a "traditional" household environment. Toss in some divorced parents and a step-package and it's just a party all the time.

   All the advice I can ever give has to do with who I hope she will get to be someday. Her. I encourage her to think her own thoughts. Speak her mind in respectful ways that still feel right and good. Stick up for her own beliefs and lead with her best intentions. All in all it's sort of frightening how logical and rational she is naturally and I really hope she hangs on to that through puberty. But, if that goes out the window, and all else fails, the best advice I feel like I have ever given another human is this: You do not have to be sorry or apologize for the way you feel. You do however have to acknowledge when your reactions to the way you feel begin to make others feel badly. You can't just be toxic when you are upset or angry because "you get to feel that way". By all means, feel it. Just remember that if you damage another persons day because yours sucks, you need to own up to it and apologize for that. The action, not the feelings. If she can harness that ability she will be further along and more socially well adjusted than most adults I know.

 I think that is fair advice. Felt pretty amazing after that. And I hope it resonates through the teenage hormonal nonsense we will no doubt encounter here in the next phase of this girl and her growing up. I do remember those years of mine very clearly. I wish someone had been there to tell me it's ok to have feelings. Took a lot of years to learn that on my own and a lot of arguments held in the battleground that was our family kitchen, most containing the sentence " you just don't understand how I feel". Hindsight is always 20/20 and frankly I was a brat. But, I had a Mom that did not in fact have time or patience for emotions other than her own. That can be rough for a young girl. I'd like my kiddo to have a sounding board ( or a few sounding boards, a diary and a therapist) for her personal validation.

I just read a post by a cyber friend of mine and it falls into the sweet territory of pre-tween hood. It's nice sometimes to read that a sassy sarcastic and intelligent Mommy has moments like mine and I want to share her post with you all. It's a great read as it her blog in general.

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  1. So awesome! She's super lucky to have you, fo' sho. You know, I remember my childhood vividly too, and I think it makes me a better parent. I flash back to where my kids were when THE WORLD IS ENDING and I get a little reminiscent twinge in my heart of that feeling.

    I remember in my teen years, sometimes I knew what I was feeling didn't make sense, or wasn't appropriate for the situation, whatever. I knew it and I knew one day I would slough it off as "teenage behavior" and I didn't think that was fair to my teen self. So I would remind myself over and over again, "my feelings are real to me NOW." And it worked, that has always stuck with me.

    Her feelings are real to her now, and you DO win the medal because you're trying to work her within those feelings, not tell her not to have them.


    1. Sadly, we are the fringe of that pms stuff. the " I am just so sad/angry and I don't know why" has hit. ::sigh::

      I adore you Kelsey.

  2. Shanny, I am sooo thankful she has you to help her understand what's going on. We know she won't get that somewhere else.

  3. Know what the very best line of this whole post is? IMHO? "...who I hope she will get to be someday."
    It's just so lovely & raw & holds such promise with no strings. She is a lucky girl.