The Emotional Debt


In yesterday's post, I talked about adversity (that thing we call those times when the chips are down).In retrospect, I was far too nice to adversity. In the world-according-to-my-post, adversity is something that just glides by, that we float through in the knowledge that there will be nice things like kittens and rainbows on the other side. Maybe we even have a crystal ball telling us when the adversity will be over. And then when it's done, we look back, smile, and say 'Goodness, weren't we in a bit of a pickle back then!'That was a misrepresentation. Even when it's over, there's a dark side to adversity.The Emotional DebtDuring those times, when we just put our heads down and get on with it, we're building up the emotional debt.Think of your mind like a bank. Relaxation, nourishment and time off puts credit into the bank. Stress, hurt and grief takes credit out. To have a healthy balance, we need to put more credit in than we're taking out.Of course, that's not possible all the time. At times, we're putting more credit in than usual (yay!) and at other times, circumstances force us to become a little overdrawn.At some point, we need to repay that emotional debt.The Aftermath of AdversityIt's easy to get through a tough period and thing 'Phew, glad that's over.... OK, what's next?' without giving ourselves the time to take a step back and process everything that has happened. Unless you're some kind of emotions ninja, the chances are you'll have experienced some form of dissociation, distraction or emotional management during the period. It might not have been helpful for us to experience certain emotions during the time of adversity.But they're still there, even if you don't feel them.BruisesIf someone whacks you with a stick several times, you'll have a few purple marks to show for it. These will stay visible until they heal. You might forget they're there until someone pokes at them. Then, the pain comes back.These emotions are like bruises. Unless they get processed, they'll be there, waiting to be poked. And the people who want to poke them will be able to see them from miles away.What are these emotions?AngerSadnessAnxietyDisappointmentAnd then there's grief.Grief, with its 10 tonnes of 'Holy crap, this is pretty intense, where did it all come from?', grief that hits you like a truck, grief that says 'Fuck that positivity bullshit, things have been rough.'Grief is not fun.Paying Back the DebtPaying back the debt is simple, but not easy.We have to feel it.We have to feel all those hidden emotions, understand where they're coming from and what's behind them. We have to accept them for what they are and accept them as a part of us.Then we can be back in credit.In the RedWhen we're in the red, we're not in charge - those emotions are. They can come out when we least expect them, especially when we're feeling moved, happy or relaxed.They can also take over our lives. One of my coping mechanisms has always been 'forward planning' (i.e. worrying). At one point, that mechanism had to be there. I probably wouldn't be in the position I'm in today without it.So I don't want to sound ungrateful, but it totally sucks. It's like I had a broken leg, and someone nice helped me into my wheelchair every day. Now my leg isn't broken anymore, they're still forcing me there, saying 'No, really, you need this chair.' That part of me starts looking for things to worry about, looking for potential things to fix and trying to mend what isn't broken.I don't always like that part, but it means there's still stuff there to examine, and I look forward to finding out what that is.Losing the Emotional Debt Means Becoming Who You AreWe're no longer reactive.We're free to live in the present.We're free to accept ourselves for who we are. Right now.We're free to enjoy our positive coping mechanisms rather than rely on old unhealthy ones.We're free to share more of ourselves with others.Over to you...What emotional debts do you have and who do you think you will be when they're paid off?P.S. This post was inspired by someone called Bindu Wiles and her 21.5.800 project. If you like yoga and writing (or even if you don't), check it out!P.S. Thanks so much to those who have already donated to the site. Your generosity means a lot :) Remember that 50% of all donations between now and Monday will go to the British Heart Foundation.Photo Credit: Images_of_Money via Compfight cc