Personal tectonic plates are moving

I learned a lot of things about myself this week. I notice that it takes me days to process emotions. I can’t respond fully in the moment. Tom suggests this is because I don’t let myself, and I don’t let myself because I don’t feel safe.

In the moment, control feels more important, a lot of the time. The priority is to stay calm, reasonable and not expressive so as not to cause anyone else trouble. I’ll need to get away by myself to howl, to rage, even to celebrate. It’s not a conscious choice, it’s what my body does.

I realise that this must make me weird to deal with. That I don’t manifest obvious emotional responses at the time, but may talk about them later could easily make me look like I’m faking. Immediacy is one of the things that makes emotions seem real to other people. But, with all due reference to the title of this blog post, what happens with me is like tectonic plate movement, and where and when the volcano or the earthquake happens doesn’t make a lot of sense unless you know about the plates.

Emotion is so easily used to invalidate people. Tone policing, ‘calm down dear’ responses, being told not to make a fuss… The person who expresses things emotionally can find that their emotions become the issue, not the thing that caused the emotions. Equally, my tendency to the delayed response and being able to talk about it calmly has led to suggestions that I’m an ice queen, that there is no genuine feeling going on and that I’m just trying to emotionally blackmail people.

The conclusion I’ve come to is that often there is no win with this kind of thing. If you’re dealing with someone who has no space for how you feel and finds it inconvenient, how you handle it won’t make any odds. Express, and you’re silly and over reacting. Don’t express, and you’re lying about how you feel. On the whole my conclusion is that I need to focus on better spaces and pay attention to when my body feels more able to be present to my emotional experiences.

About Nimue Brown

Druid, author, dreamer, folk enthusiast, parent, polyamourous animist, ant-fash, anti-capitalist, bisexual steampunk. Drinker of coffee, maker of puddings. Exploring life as a Pagan, seeking good and meaningful ways to be, struggling with mental health issues and worried about many things. View all posts by Nimue Brown

8 responses to “Personal tectonic plates are moving

  • Tracy Kruse

    This again, I feel is where there really does need to be a state of Allowance created everywhere and with everyone. If I am in a state of allowance, it lets you be you, with your emotions and perceptions to be honored and respected and it means that I suspend judgement in toto. If you allow me the same, then it’s much easier also not to self-judge and blame and criticize why we don’t feel we fit in. I know that the whole world seems zipped up on extroverts, but there are also the introverts and wide ranges in between. We are all much more alike than we are different, and humanity as a whole has much to learn about cooperation, rather than competition which is where I think alot of these issues arise. Love the analogy of tectonic plates; mine move so slowly and the lava of unexpressed emotions builds until it is possible to blow the same except for the writing every morning, three pages of schweeee, which gives me ease. I have learned that my emotions are really for ME, not for anyone else, particularly as they are so often used by others as a means of control or manipulation. I therefore, seem cool to the touch too. Don’t like it? Tough Sht.

  • juliebond

    I can really relate to this. I don’t tend to express emotions immediately. In the moment the issue for me is just to keep it together, to seem to be okay. It’s afterwards the expression is likely to happen. I think a lot of that is because I don’t often feel very safe, I feel too anxious. I too seem to need more time to process things. Knowing that helps it to make a bit of sense, at least to myself.

  • Siobhan Johnson

    I’m just so glad to know that someone else processes emotion like I do. It helps to know you’re not alone. I hope you find hat you need 🙂

  • @Bookworm

    This resonates with me. I always need time to digest things, think about them later and then assign them a place when I feel safe to do so. Tectonic plates is a wonderful description!

  • Linda Davis

    Well, society in the uk has gone from one extreme to the other in my lifetime – from ‘stiff upper-lip’, buttoned up, never show your emotions to ‘let it all hang out’ & situations where it seems we will only validated as real human beings based on the degree of emotional expression we show.
    You’re right about ‘no win’!

  • jrose88

    I do the same thing! There must be some sort of “reasonable” balancing point that people will accept, but I’m still going to end up on the “I need some time to process this” side of the scale more often than not no matter what I do.

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