Have you ever felt powerless over your own feelings? There are a number of things that can cause this emotion. It can happen when you feel like your heart is breaking; or upon hearing words that ignite your beast from within; or when one of your vices gets the best of you; or when you feel like someone has taken your power away. And it can certainly be a combination of all of the above.
I got a phone call from a friend the other day. She was feeling powerless and emotional. She was feeling weak and beaten. And she felt like she gave her power away to someone whom she trusted. Her trust was abused and betrayed. And her story was one that I hear all too often. She was on the edge - teetering between her own sanity and her reckless emotions that were about to escape her normally sane grasp. She called me right before she took the symbolic leap into a state that I refer to as “crazy bitch.”
For this story, I’m going to call my friend Grace. And her given name defines all that she is - polished, attractive, kind, lovely, and classy. She is also driven, independent, funny, wise, and has an open and loving heart. Yes, she has her flaws too, as you will see in this story. While I don’t like seeing her flaws get the best of her, I do appreciate her feisty and passionate spirit. But on this occasion, Grace’s passionate spirit was suffering from a broken heart. And it was breaking her. My job, as her friend, was to keep her from losing pieces of herself at a time when her emotions felt scattered in many places.
The first part of Grace’s story is anything but straightforward and simple. It’s complicated, as life can be. But without getting into the salacious details, I can tell you that it’s a timeless story that many have lived, myself included. Girl meets boy. They fall in love. They envision their future together. Trust is given. Someone changes their mind. And someone else is left with a broken heart and unanswered questions (or answers that never seem “good enough”). Someone moves on. And someone doesn’t. Grace was left behind. And suddenly, my lovely friend felt anything but graceful. She called me in tears, the kind that you hear in a woman’s throat because she is fighting to keep them from streaming down her face. There was pain in her voice, but anger too. How could he have already moved on, she asked? Emotions can lay dormant. Until something sparks them. Grace’s emotions were triggered through that evil enemy called: social media stalking. Grace saw a photo of her one-time love on vacation with another woman and it crushed her. After all, he had just messaged her not long ago to say that he missed her and that he was unhappy in his relationship. My thoughts were: If he’s that unhappy, why is he smiling in pictures and taking a vacation with someone he doesn’t want to be with? I know Grace was thinking the same thing.
My friend tried everything that she could to move on from that relationship. She dated other men, but told me that after him, all the others were like drinking wine after whiskey. She threw herself into her work. That seemed to help until she had private moments during the day, like a quiet car ride home from work or when she placed her head on her pillow at the end of the night. Her thoughts always went back to him. She tried to lose track of her ex’s whereabouts, but she couldn’t seem to shake her feelings for him. She did her best to bury them. But they often found a way of rising to the surface. And on this particular day, my friend didn’t sound like herself...
She wanted to curse him. Not just curse at him, but literally wish bad things upon him. She yelled out that he was a liar and wondered if his words were filled with bullshit. She wanted to tell him that she thought he was a fake and a phony. And her voice went between loud and angry to hurt and sad. This lovely and kind woman was on the edge; and ready to release hell upon the one who hurt her. After she confided her private thoughts over the phone with me, she cried and said, “I believed him. How did I get this one wrong?”
Truthfully, I never trusted him from the beginning. Something about his story always sounded fishy to me. Do I think that he thought he cared about Grace? Sure. And maybe he even meant some of the things that he said. But he struck me as the type of guy who said all of the right things to all kinds of women. It hurt for me to say this to my friend, but I had to admit that I believed there were probably a long list of Grace’s from his past. I think he was a man who talked out both sides of his mouth. I think he was a man who talked a lot, but never backed his words up with actions. He seemed to be a man who was full of ideas and intentions that he would never fulfill. And his carelessness with my friend’s emotions left her in a state where she was about to compromise herself and her integrity.
Grace was prepared shelve her typically controlled disposition and unleash her fury upon this man. I didn’t want her to do that. She was better than that. We are all better than the moment when we let our emotions get the best of us. But hey, I get it. We’re also human and extreme emotions are difficult to control. It takes strength of character to control anger. I knew that Grace had it within her to have strength of character. And so, I asked her some pointed questions as she contemplated unleashing her rage. These are questions that I think apply to anyone who is about to compromise their true character...
How will your intended words or actions change the situation? Do you want to be able to walk away with dignity, or know that one day you’ll feel the need to apologize for your words? Will you feel better about yourself if you say what you’re thinking right now? Do you really mean what you’re about to say? And then I had to point out the obvious statement... You’re about to do something that is not representative of the kind of person you are. Grace agreed. And she chose to be a woman of grace.
I knew that my friend was lonely, which contributed to her emotions. She wanted love in her life. And she got a taste of it in that relationship. To her, it tasted like whiskey (figuratively speaking). Some like that taste. Others don’t. Grace loved it. But maybe she needed something that wasn’t so strong? Maybe she needed the taste of a good, dependable wine. (Although, even good wine can be corked from time to time). I think the most important thing to learn from this evergreen story is that it’s always best to represent yourself tastefully. Explosive emotions are hard to contain. But it’s true that you usually get back what you give out to others. Maybe we should all try to practice more grace during our difficult moments.