Traffic Jam of Emotions

I was on a trip recently with Matt and had a moment I did not know how to communicate through.

This is somewhat rare, thankfully, since I spend almost all my time understanding how to link emotions to words. Also, since we don’t have kids, I get to live in the illusion that I communicate well, which would get shattered immediately if we became parents.

This moment on the trip was one where my body experienced a traffic jam of feelings. If I just experience two conflicting emotions, I can communicate those with some ease. One part of me feels this way, the other part feels that way. One part of me wants to support this, the other part of me is anxious about this.

But when I have more than just two, it’s overwhelming and scrambles me. That night, I felt tired, surprised, overwhelmed, confused, and also not wanting to ruin something or give us a bad evening on the trip. When the body feels this much emotion, it usually gives us two options of how to deal with it in the moment - shut down or blow up. Especially because of my work, I know that communicating with anger or frustration has a 1% chance of going well, so I didn’t want to express those emotions. All I could do is be quiet and weird when Matt asked me what was going on, and blink at him like an owl.

The next day, I could collect my thoughts and talk to him about what was happening. We had the conversation I wish I had been capable of having the night before. Sometimes we just don’t have access to good communication in the moment. All we can hope for is more skill when we have time to clear our minds and understand for ourselves what is happening.

The two things that did help me through this were, 1) When I am calmer, I can go inward to understand my “within” so I can eventually share “between” and tell Matt what’s happening. Otherwise, I would never know what to share with him. This is a result of my own therapy and and going to therapy school.

And 2) Matt knows I will always find a way to communicate with him what’s happening so even if I can’t tell him in the moment, I will reconnect with him as soon as I can so he isn’t left in limbo land forever. This helps him not get overly reactive or upset on the rare times I need time to process something internally (I’m typically more of a Pursuer).

No one is out there communicating perfectly all the time.

Wesley Little