Emotional Infection

I’m not a psychologist.

I’m not a doctor at all, or a minister, or a counselor. People don’t often come to me with their problems, unless their problems are related to my work.

No, I’m just a guy who’s been around for a while and seen a few things. Most of the stuff I write here is stuff I’ve lived with. Heck, most of it is stuff I still struggle with.

One thing I’ve always struggled with is holding on to emotions. Just like I wrote about in my last post, I force them away, compartmentalize them, ignore them. I minimize them, because after all, worse things have happened to better people. I don’t want to burden anyone with my piddly stuff when they all have their own.

But emotions are funny, stubborn things. They don’t go away just because we ignore them.

Instead, they fester. Like a speck of dust caught in a wound, they create infection, become bigger, eventually spread to other parts of our lives.

Eventually, they become powerful enough to poison relationships. A small slight forced out of sight long enough can change our attitude about someone we once loved: she forgot to pick me up becomes I can’t depend on her becomes I don’t want to spend time with her. He owes me twenty bucks becomes he’s always taking advantage of our friendship.

Usually, when emotions get to this point, when they’ve festered this long, they can’t be resolved without tears. Usually, when they’ve festered this long, we decide the relationship just isn’t important enough to maintain any more. We just let it die, keep pretending it doesn’t hurt as much as it does.

After all, who has time for pain? We’ve got entirely too much on our plates to indulge our silly, trivial hurts.

You have time for pain. Deal with it now, or you’ll end up dealing with it later in the form of broken relationships, bitterness, depression.

Alcohol won’t fix it, although it might lubricate the hard conversations you need to have to get past it.

Chocolate won’t fix it, although it might help you see the situation in a more positive light.

An expensive vacation won’t fix it, although it might help you relax enough to actually consider what’s going on.

The only way to fix it is to face it, acknowledge it, deal with it. Talk it over, ideally with the person you’re unhappy with, but with someone else you trust if that’s not possible. Forgive if you can–not only the one who wronged you, but yourself for whatever part you’ve been beating yourself up over.

Your emotions, your anger and fear and sadness, are there for a reason. They’re not merely distractions–they’re a critical part of what makes you whole. Ignoring them, allowing them to fester and become infected, is denying who you are.

And unless you can come to terms with your infected emotions, the best you can hope for is half a life.

Aren’t you worth the effort?

I've been a soldier, a dreamer, a working stiff, a leader. A husband, father, example (good and otherwise), and now a survivor. I write about courage, because courage is what enables us to accomplish the impossible. If you draw breath, I love you. If you love in whatever way seems best to you and want others to love in whatever way seems best to them, I am your ally. If you believe someone is less than you because they do not love the way you do, I oppose you. If you see someone as a threat to be abused or destroyed merely because they do not look like you, or love like you, or worship like you, I am your enemy. I am a joyful and courageous man. And I stand with you who love.