Recently I’ve been trying to articulate in my mind what it is that I’m feeling these past couple of weeks. I can identify specific emotions over these past few months such as sadness, anger, ambivalence, or insecurity, but while they all apply in part, none explicitly capture where I am. None neatly define what I’m feeling.
I kind of like to understand my emotions or at least be able to characterize them. So, needless to say, this is a little bit awkward for me. I know that I’ve shown signs of depression, and perhaps I am dipping my toes in the sea of despair from time to time.. but I’m not ready to dive in and consequently sink. There’s much more to me than that and giving over to the sadness of these past few months feels like defeat. The last thing I want to add to my list right now is accepting defeat. So I fight hard against it and I fight hard to remember the girl with the passion, hope, and faith.
I think there is a “sense” that’s consuming me even more than my sadness right now and while I’m not a big fan of the word, especially when applied to my life, I think it might be called confusion. The synonyms perplexed, uncertain and bewildered also fill the bill, making for an even stronger argument that my current state is most likely the undesirable State of “Confusion.” I don’t know anyone who touts a bumper sticker that reads.. I’ve been to the State of Confusion and back and loved the trip! No one plans to travel to confusion. It’s the state you end up in when you find yourself lost with no clue which direction will get you back on the road to your intended destination. Yes, disoriented probably describes the strongest feeling I have, pointing to the evidence that I’m confused by my current circumstance and emotions.
My partner was gracious enough to allow me to talk about it the other night. Something that’s been rare during these current events in our lives and that I’m grateful to him for doing. We didn’t solve anything but it was nice to not feel pressured to choke it down and act normal. I found it really hard though, to describe what I was feeling. The emotions are so strong but they shift and change constantly and finding words to express them was really difficult. He felt that what I described was depression and in some aspects he’s correct, the indicators are there. I wonder though, if it is depression or exhaustion.
Ping pong balls
An image occurred to me earlier when I was thinking about this, as well as thinking about some emotions I have gone through so far today. The image was a ping pong ball. And it’s not too far off from how I feel. A ping pong ball is smashed from one side of the net to the other. Smash! Pow! Pop! (sounds like a Batman episode, right?) Crash! *Smack!# WACK! But just think about the sound of a ping pong match. The kirplunk.. kirplank, kirplunk.. kirplank, kirplunk.. kirplank. It develops a sort of rhythm but also that elevation of intensity as the match speed increases and the players respond with more determination and aggression. There is constant impact. A sometimes less volatile plunk against the table followed by an often harsher, more fierce, smash of the paddle and it goes back and forth, back and forth. If you are that ping pong ball there is little room for recovery between each bounce and smack, bounce and smack. You’re in the air, you’re down, you’re left side, you’re right. No more can you gain orientation than it’s changed again, with another impact (emotion) soon to follow. This is similar to what it feels like to deal with affair recovery. The emotional blows feel constant, and the impacts are disorienting.
It’s little wonder that betrayed partners find it difficult to identify or understand their own emotions or to feel oriented in their lives. Little wonder that we come off as disconnected or unpredictable and at times out of touch with reality.
That imagery of the ping pong match doesn’t cure the confusion or help to put words to the thoughts and emotions being experienced, but it does help to illustrate the sense of being knocked from one end of the spectrum and back in rapid succession. I’m also hoping that it will show someone out there who is experiencing this or something similar that it’s understandable. It’s normal! We are not crazy. Sometimes we have a firm grip on the paddle and sometimes we’re the ping pong ball. When you’re the ping pong ball, try to be a little kinder to yourself. You’re getting beat up enough by the circumstance, there is no need to add more injury to the match. Perhaps there is no requirement to understand the emotions of each impact we feel. It’s possible that there is little value in trying to maintain constant control over where we will hit next. Maybe sometimes, times like these, we simply have to fly back and forth and accept the rhythm, knowing that no match goes on forever. Knowing that there will come the time when we’ll once again be oriented and focused and the dizzying state of confusion…………. will have faded away……