I am feeling a feeling right now. About an hour ago it seemed to be anxiety, now it must be excitement. Maybe it had been anticipation. Feelings, and how we process them, are pretty interesting to me.
I remember when I was young there were so many times when I would be at a friend’s house, ready for a sleep over, and I’d suddenly freak out and want to go home. Homesickness apparently. I think I seemed to be quite an anxious child.
It wasn’t until I was about 22 that I realized that how I was feeling was based on my interpretation of the chemicals in my body at that time. Excitement, anxiety, anticipation; in my rudimentary understanding these all result from adrenaline and probably all link to the idea of fight or flight and how we respond to certain situations. At the time Jon and I had a fledgling long-distance relationship and would regularly talk on the phone. I’d find myself feeling anxious to call him, almost to the point where my fear would stop me and I’d just stare at the phone. One day I told myself I was being stupid. Why would I be scared to talk to him? I love him. More than anything else I want to be connected to him. Why am I feeling anxious all the time? Maybe, my self responded, you’re actually excited.
So now, when I’m starting to feel myself pull away from a situation, or a thought, and think I feel anxious I consciously change my perspective. Be excited, use that emotion to propel you forwards, not hold you back.
That’s how I just felt. I was going to start writing. Reaching out to friends on Facebook and asking them for prompts for a free writing exercise was easy and a nice way to connect and feel supported. Putting their ideas to paper and mixing them up into my little cat purse was thoughtless. I still hesitated when it came to pulling them out, to setting up the headphones and starting my ‘writing music’, to pressing start on the countdown timer… argh, why am I anxious!? You’re not, you’re excited, now get on with it. So I did. I did 5 minutes and wrote a little something. Pulled two more. Wrote for 10 mins and this time, when the timer went off, I carried on.
This is what I wrote (and remember, this is free writing – grammar and style need not apply), and now I have a feeling, one of accomplishment, and focus, and possibility. Maybe that’s three feelings.
EXTREMELY LONG WHISKERS (from Anne)
AS THE WAVES TICKLED MY TOES (from Bridgette)
It should have been stormy. I wanted to scream into the thunder and wave my arms around, willing the lightning to strike me – to eradicate it all. Instead it was an evening of nothingness. Grey all day, families avoided the beach, opting instead for the bright inviting shops and cafes that line the cobbled main street.
By now the wind had died down taking my spirit with it. The sun had set, seagulls rested their voices for another day. I could have been the only one left in the world. In a way I was, my own world at least. No explanation; he just handed me the spare key and walked away.
Then I did scream. As the waves tickled my toes I scrunched them into the sand and yelled. Nothing. No concerned dog walker came to comfort me, I didn’t even scare away a strategically placed flock of birds in a dramatic yet freeing moment.
Was I even here?
In the distance the ocean was denim blue, here the same dismal grey as the sky. I took a step, foam splashing my ankles. How close to the deep blue could I get before the water engulfed me? Two more steps. My loose skirt floats up around me like a jellyfish. A sudden surge takes the water to my waist. I yelp, a little, at the cold, reaching out my fingers as if the surface of the water can hold me. Another step. Damn, it’s cold. At least I’m feeling something. How long can I float?
As I tip my head back my foot hits something as it moves alongside me. Firm, yet not rough like a rock. The surprise jolts me back and suddenly I’m under water. I flail my arms to get my bearings, wrapping them in my skirt and seaweed. I taste salt.
Eventually, my toes are back in the sand. I blink the water from my eyes, trying to work out what’s seaweed and what’s hair, and scramble for the shore. Something whips by me again. I scream, stumble over a definite rock and splash down in the shoreline, winded.
Finally I cry, great gasping breaths, hugging my knees to my chest. Between the stinging salt water and my tears I don’t notice the domed brown head rise from the shallows, yet I hear it’s chatter. The seal studies me, our eyes connect. Suddenly I feel calm, grounded, as I watch the sea water drip from his extremely long whiskers. His head bobs, like a cat, like my cat’s, then he’s gone.
I don’t know how long I sat there. Long enough for the clouds to dissipate, and the stars to pepper the sky. Tomorrow is a new day, they said, now go and find your shoes.