Friday, March 6, 2015

SOLSC March 6th - Too Full Inside

Join me as I participate in the March Slice of Life Story Challenge. Other "Slicers" can be found among my students in the comments of my class blog. There are also several hundred teachers participating at

You know that moment when you think you have a situation under control, but the emotions inside are just too big to contain and they just spill out? Or something blindsides you and the unexpectedness of the incident brings your emotions front and center for the world to see. There will be no holding back once the threshold is reached and here come the tears, or the yells, or the hitting. Afterwards, you are drained, like a sponge wrung dry, needing to be filled before you can reach normal again. I've been having a lot of those moments lately (I don't hit anymore though).

Life is hard. Some days (or weeks, months, etc.) are harder than others. I spent some real time and effort in my life, especially in my younger and teenage years, learning to control my emotional outbursts, or at least the way the outburst happens. I recognize that whatever emotion is bursting out in that moment, can take the shape of another emotion and the consequences are vastly different. Fear can be look like rage, anger like grief, sadness like laughter; any emotion that can be felt and expressed, seem to be interchangeable. The body just needs the release, blowing off of steam.

But being in control of my emotions enough to make sure I am safe, and the people or things around me are safe, is only part of the lesson. The other part is to reflect on the trigger. I'm fairly skilled at putting myself in good situations, or going into tough situations ready for 'IT,' so that I don't hit my emotional threshold that often. But when I do hit that point, especially when it is unexpected, I need to take notice and do some learning. My body, my emotions, my inner Max, is telling me something important is happening and my mind has not truly recognized it yet.
If the emotional result doesn't match the expected outcome, I'm missing something.
photo credit: Overflowed parks via photopin (license)

It was one thing to prepare myself for my grandfather's death last spring. We all knew it was coming soon as his ailing body fought pneumonia for a couple of weeks. I wished him 'safe journey' each time I saw him. The night he died, I knew it was time. I could tell. I said what I expected, knew, and hoped to be final goodbyes, and he was gone in the morning. I was prepared, but finding out he had passed was still too huge to hold in. I'm glad it came out because it needed to.

I remember a girlfriend breaking up with in college. It was unexpected, without warning (at least to me) and pretty soon I was wrung dry. But my reaction was at least expected related to the circumstances.

Goodbyes are often like that I guess. Dear friends, leaving on their next journey, even when it's for their best and you love and are excited for them. Their leaving is too much for the moment, when that moment is nigh. One hug, or a million, one word, or the entire OED is not enough to fill that goodbye with the meaning it deserves, and the emotions cascade over me. Sometimes I didn't know what someone truly meant to me until they were not going to be there any more.

I guess though, what is important to me to realize, is when my body is able to tell me what my heart truly wants, despite what my head has decided about a situation. If the words are right (and often very logical) but I'm feeling horrible or my emotions rush to the surface, I'm missing something vital. It's like trying out for a play, figuring that it will be okay not to get the role, expecting not to get the role, worrying you might get the role. While there is always some expected disappointment in rejection, if that moment in time cuts way deeper than expected, I know it was what I really wanted.

So I'm working to stay open to myself, to the world, and to channel my emotions when they get too big to hold inside. And then part of the refilling is to make sure I see what it is I really want, and to work on getting it.


  1. I'm trying to work with a little one at school who sometimes has issues. I said it's like being at a campfire and when you are close to the flame you just get hotter and hotter. But, when you walk away, you cool off and can breathe again. She has actually referenced it a couple of times. Good for you for recognizing triggers and working on control.

  2. " Fear can be look like rage, anger like grief, sadness like laughter..." I really connected to this line. As someone who has been riding an emotional roller coaster, it's true. The body just needs a release. Emotions are a part of us that we shouldn't discount.

  3. Your writing resonated with me on so many levels. Thank you for sharing this, Max. As I work on doing some inner healing, I will remind myself of the relationship between expectations, results, and feelings. So perfectly analogized with the play part.