feel·ing/ˈfēliNG/ Noun: An emotional state or reaction Adjective: Showing emotion or sensitivity Synonyms: noun. Sense – sensation – sentiment – emotion – touch Adjective. Sensitive – tender – sentimental – susceptible
e·mo·tion/iˈmōSHən/ Noun: A natural instinctive state of mind deriving from one’s circumstances, mood, or relationship with others. Any of the particular feelings that characterize such a state of mind, such as joy, anger, love, hate, horror, etc. Synonyms: feeling – sensation – sentiment – agitation – excitement
For the longest time I’ve wondered what the difference was between those two words. And more importantly how they (the actual states of being) fit into my life. I’m a writer, so I use the written word to process things and to work my way through situations. It was okay to cry, be angry, shout for joy, or laugh with abandon in the pages of my journals. I professed my love, lust, affection, hate, desire, etc. all in written forms.
I used to write letters to people that I never sent because that would have been the same (to me at least) as actually showing the emotion / feeling. The closest I would ever get to letting someone know how I felt would be to buy them a card. Hallmark and I were good friends there for a lot of years. But I believe now that a card here and there carries the same impact as saying (gulp), “I love you” once or twice over a lifetime. Whose going to believe that’s really how you feel if they only hear it (or see it expressed) once or twice a year?
I am what I write. And my latest work in progress brought something to light about my personality (as most of my writing does). All these years of turning to my journal instead of voicing my feelings / showing my emotions, there are relationships where important people in my life may have no clue as to how I really feel about them. The revelation came from my main characters (MCs). They are all about control. Control over their emotions, their behavior, and the only real expressions they allow themselves are through the artful deployment of death. How twisted is that? Oh sure, they have sex, but even their sexual encounters are violent, most often leaving them bruised or marked in some way shape or form. They are so tightly controlled that anything that surprises a reaction out of them, tends to end up dead. And not in a natural causes kind of way.
As all good writing should, reading my draft made me think, really think. This time, I thought about my relationships (romantic, familial, and platonic) through these past years. Common denominator is me; the vibe I put out, the approach I take, the behaviors I exhibit. I’ve been asking “why does this happen to me” and now I have one possible answer. Light bulb moment (to borrow from Oprah) I’ve killed every situation that evoked an emotional response in me. Figuratively of course. There are no actual bodies in any of my closets. But my life is littered with “dead” relationships.
I’ve long looked at the corpses with a “woe is me” or victim attitude. I’ve been bitter, cynical, angry; felt put-upon, used, etc. I am changing my mind. Changing the way I look at things so I can stop the random killing and let things come to more natural ends. Death or the end of a relationship is inevitable. The end comes from either growing in different directions and it becomes understood that maintaining a relationship is not in the cards, or that ultimate natural cause, real death. There’s nothing wrong with that. But killing something before it reaches its natural end is no longer the way I wish to do things. I want out of the relationship assassination business.
In working on this writing project, it also comes to me that I may have prematurely buried some relationships as well. I saw the separation, growth or change, as THE END. When that might not be the case. I walked away from some things, nailed down some coffin lids with my attitude / refusal to see the situation in a different light. Consequently, the opportunity for making amends or reconciliation, was mistakenly buried. Don’t want to do that anymore either.
Okay, so all of that writing to arrive at this conclusion. I am an emotional, feeling, being. And as much as I HATE appearing weak or vulnerable, I’m committing to allowing myself to have emotions / feelings. I may even share them more. Probably never going to readily express them verbally, but at least the letters I write, the cards I buy, will make it to their intended audience more often. And no, we’re not talking cute and cuddly cards, or love letters written on lavender-scented stationary. I’m not going to start flinging the word “love” around just because. UGH. I’m not changing who I am, just one of the ways I deal with this particular aspect of my being. Folks need to know how or what I feel just to remind them I’m human and they need to take care in their treatment of me.
My MCs aren’t about to go all soft either. They will still be lethal killing machines; they’ll just stop trying to kill each other as an expression of their feelings. Who would have thought it possible to show someone you care without putting a bullet through their heart? What a novel concept.