Befriending Your Emotional Monsters

Like most alive humans, I never liked feeling insecure, jealous, tired, or angry. I wanted to be a healthy, loving mom doing a good job of taking care of my people and my home. But, let’s be honest, there were days I wanted to breathe fire and burn that mother to the ground or lock myself in the pantry with a bag of Oreos and cry until the cows came home. And still, other days when I wanted to see if maybe I could just disappear into the pile of unfolded laundry or sink directly into the couch and die a little bit.

THE TOXIC SLUDGE OF UNFELT, UNPROCESSED “STUFF”

Obviously, I didn’t do that. We don’t have cows anyways. (We did, however, have Oreos and a nice big mom-sized pantry.) Instead, I let all those unfelt feelings turn to toxic sludge in my insides. The sludge would slip out as passive-aggressive “jokes,” venting about my overwhelm without actually accepting any help, and a variety of compulsive self-fixing behaviors. 

Once my internal sludge capacity was met, I would lash out and spew it at my husband. These meltdowns would eventually end with me sobbing and telling him the truth about my insides. The pain, insecurity, jealousy, resentment, fear, not-enough-ness… all of it. I would tell him about feeling like a bad mom and the pressure of trying to get it all right. He would just listen, and by the end of it… I would feel so much better, like Bruce Banner when he un-Hulks I guess. 

THE OTHER SIDE OF THE SLUDGE

Since then, I’ve learned how to befriend my more difficult emotions, so they no longer lurk in the background, subtly ruining everything. I’ve stopped hulking out and I don’t feel like a generally overwhelmed mess, constantly teetering on the edge of breakdown or burnout. My sludge levels are kept sustainably low and I’ve drastically expanded my capacity to deal with “the Motherload” (aka the anxiety, overwhelm and fear that come with being a mom). I’ve become an emotional ninja of sorts – and not by mastering my mindset or changing my emotions into something more positive or high vibe – but by learning how to feel it all

I’m playing every key on the piano, not just the high notes, and life isn’t just more peaceful; it’s more meaningful and I feel more alive in it. My relationship is less volatile, even through divorce. When I stopped being so critical of myself (which is what happens when you give yourself a safe space to feel without judgment), I stopped being so critical of him. Plus, I’m able to teach my son how to handle his emotions in a healthy way now while he’s young, which gives me hope for all the kids being raised by mamas who are healing. Truly, there is something magical about befriending yourself and living the full range of the human experience. I highly recommend it.

GETTING COMFY WITH YOUR OWN SLUDGE MONSTER

My favorite way to start cultivating this friendship between you and your real feelings is with what I call a Dump Journal. This is your safe space for dumping out your insides every day. Like a gratitude journal, but “negative” (well, what you’re judging as negative. It’s not actually good or bad, mama. It just is.)

If you’re serious about healing this and experiencing something different, I invite you to take a 40-day challenge where you commit to showing up for yourself every day and just be honest about how you feel. That’s it. You start with “I feel….” and just let it spill out until you feel like it’s all out. 

No one needs to know what you write in your Dump Journal. Tear your pages out and throw them away after if you’re afraid of someone reading them. You don’t need to go back and read over it and piece together meaning or lessons. You especially don’t need to censor yourself in the process. There’s no wrong way to do it. Just write what comes up. Every day. For forty days. Do it. Your life will change. I promise. 

*If you wanna kick it up a notch, drop in with this meditation for emotional wellness every day for a week (or any time you feel stuck in your head about what you’re feeling) and watch life get real different real fast! 

Lauren Venable is a single mama and somatic meditation teacher living in Lafayette. You’ll hear her joke often, “Thank God I meditate for a living!” as she juggles her 2 elderly yet somehow still wild Boston Terriers, navigates the endless chatter and relentless curiosity of her Kindergartener, and brings her own meandering mind back to the task at hand (instead of the butterfly that just passed.) She’s a sucker for spontaneous adventures and is rocking a solid 70% success rate with her house plants. Her struggles with divorce, postpartum depression/anxiety, and the general overwhelm of motherhood have cracked her wide open and offered such rich soil for personal growth that she now helps other moms manage the motherload, too. You can find out more at www.balancedrootsreiki.com or follow her podcast, Homeward Bound: Meditations for Motherhood.