I’m Sad At You: When Your Tongue Is The Trigger

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Anger is grief left untreated.

Values are much easier to uphold in theory than in practice. Freedom has always been my North Star, yet I struggle with the hypocrisy of honoring the autonomy of others when I become emotionally invested. I love hard, but not smart. My emotions often conflict with logic, and my communication skills shut down. This past weekend was really overwhelming for me, and I’m extremely disappointed in myself. It’s a bit discouraging to take a few steps forward with your growth only to take multiple ones back. I felt like over the past few months I was taking EQ classes but when the moment came to put my beliefs in practice, I ultimately failed the final exam.

When it comes to people, I am extremely territorial – this applies to friends, family and lovers. No, I will not put you on with my friend. Don’t talk about my family. Don’t be too comfortable around my man. I’m so protective of people that bring me joy that I immediately stir conflict when I perceive there to be a threat. I realize I’m still grappling with “owning” people, and the irony in having the desire for myself to roam freely. How irrational is it to expect people to be tied down to you, but you’re not tethered to them? I was up all night trying to understand this behavior and the root of it. I watched a Ted Talk a few months ago that talked about how humans should do more fear-based thinking to conquer our deepest fears. The speaker stated that we are often so debilitated by our fears we don’t dive deeper into what exactly makes us scared. The exercise the speaker asked the audience to do was to think about their biggest fear, then ask themselves why they’re scared of it, and then to ask themselves why they’re scared of that a few times over. Eventually you’ll realize the root of what it is you fear. e.g. often people fear not being successful when really their fear is not being able to be a good parent to their child.

I used this fear-based thinking framework to analyze my toxic behavior. What triggers my defense mechanism? What is my deepest fear? So, at first, I thought my biggest fear was being alone in the world, non-controlled or consensual isolation terrifies me. Then I peeled back another layer – So why do I fear being alone? Because it means nobody loves me enough to be present. Ok, so my fear is in not being loved. – So why do I fear not being loved? Because to me it means I am not valued, I am only convenient. – So why do I fear not being valued? Because I fear being forgotten, like my existence didn’t mean anything to anyone. Now, where do all these fears stem from? Seeing my Mamaiay struggle with mental illness and the debilitating impact being ostracized from the Habesha community had on her wellness. Should I see the day my Mamaiay passes, I’ll literally be all alone. I have no siblings, no partner, no kids, no close relatives, and my best friends are starting new chapters across the globe. I will no longer play a main role in anyone’s life, just a substitute. My trigger is feeling disposable, and my response is either over giving or overreacting. What I find upsetting about this realization is that it’s heavily rooted in ego. How dare I feel entitled to take up space when I am no longer present? – I am nothing but a visitor in the lives of others, and overall, I am but a visitor in this world. This feeling is as illogical as a guest coming into your home and requesting they leave their car parked in your garage indefinitely after they leave. Everything, and everyone has an expiration date. Impermanence is the only constant, and I’m grappling with that.

Nobody can get me upset, unless I love them. When I enter drama queen mode it’s stemming from “Hey, I really love you, but this happened that hurt me.” I’m working on my emotional maturity to be able to communicate this rather than lashing out. I’m triggered because I’m having trouble connecting with you. So, as cliché as it sounds I’m pushing you away when in reality I want to be pulled closer. I need help processing my feelings and communicating it – but it’s not a burden to place on anyone but myself. My tone and language come off as angry because it’s an easier emotion to convey and deal with, but really I’m just uncomfortable and upset.

This past weekend I was in ultimate beef mode for nooo reason. First, I misplaced my Passport the night a whole bunch of people were visiting from Seattle. I was distraught trying to find it but what made me the most upset was that I wanted to be included, and to kick it and make memories with these people. Not being able to locate my Passport pretty much threatened that experience for the whole weekend. In addition, I was losing shit all week so this was the cherry on top – like where the fuck is my self-awareness? When I was *drunk* processing my feelings I felt that nobody cared that I couldn’t participate in the club hopping (which wasn’t true) – it was that trigger of being forgotten or disposable. I realized my feelings were irrational and so I just locked myself in my room for the night and waited for the storm to pass. But I could not gather the words to properly communicate that in a manner that didn’t come off as abrasive. I process my thoughts better in writing than aloud.

My second happenstance was probably one of the top embarrassing moments of 2019. I picked a fight with my cousin because I felt she was too close to my guy-crush, who is her long-time friend (the audacity of me, I know). Drunk and toxic me are bffs. I literally felt myself burning up and I tried to calm myself down. I knew what I was feeling and thinking was completely irrational but I just can’t keep things in that bother me. I was upset that I was even upset because I knew there was nothing to be upset about in the first place. I’m not the most apt at communicating when I drink, I’m very brazen, and all that came out was “I’m beefin’ with you.” My emotions, logic and communication were all in conflict. When you’re not intentional with your communication you end up hurting others. I looked crazy and insecure, and made two friends feel uncomfortable. Losses all around. We had (drunk recollection) a conversation on entitlement and control and how my behavior was unacceptable. I agreed – I know I wasn’t right (logic) but I know how I feel (emotion) and I primarily act on my emotions. I was being irrationally territorial over a nigga that isn’t even mine, and I was perpetuating a sense of ownership in relationships I’ve been in and seen around me which is toxic.  The older I get, the more I reveal who I am to myself. I believe X but I’m acting like Y. Like how the fuck do you morph beliefs into behavior?

So, how do I process irrational feelings without obstructing everything and leaving a trail of destruction? I go home and think about it. I legit need 100% solitude and silence to fully analyze what I’m thinking and how I feel. Sometimes to the people around me it comes off as me throwing a tantrum but really, I’m just trying to think and reset. The process of being better, recognizing and undoing patterns is hard as fuck. Cheers to those that stick around during the process and hold you accountable along the way. Anyhow, I spent the remainder of the weekend apologizing profusely. One thing I do like about myself is that I’m not the prideful type that can’t admit when I’m wrong. I do, however, want to get to the point where I’m able to avoid reoccurring situations where I’m having to apologize in the first place. One of the double-edged swords about my personality is that I’m incredibly raw and I don’t operate within the walls of social cohesion. I’m not performative, you’ll see me in all my stages, good and bad. I just want to be more mindful of the bad stages, so I don’t cut those I love with my jagged edges. I wonder if this wisdom shit ever begins to kick in, because I feel like I’m only getting more foolish with time. Or, maybe, perhaps, self-awareness of one’s shortcomings is wisdom in itself.

Here are some affirmations I had to say to myself to realign:

  1. Nobody is responsible for my happiness – that is a duty only I can fulfill.
  2. I am not entitled to anyone’s attention, affection or time – I am grateful for those that choose to share these with me.
  3. Nothing lasts forever – including my presence, impact or memory.
  4. People are meant to be free – if they want to go, thank them for visiting and wish them well when they leave.

Note to Self: The sturdiest of elements take the longest to set. It takes concrete 28 days to fully cure; it takes 30 days to kiss or nick a habit. Who you’re striving to be, transcends the metaphysical and you might never achieve that in this lifetime and dimension. But, continue to build a better you – day by day, brick by brick.

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