The need to know.
I have always had an obsession with definitions – the ability to know what something means and by extension the ability to put a label on things. That also includes labeling how I feel. My therapist – and countless self-help books over the years – have reminded me (and keep reminding me) that it’s not necessary to label something. Sometimes, you just need to feel what you are feeling and not worry so much about naming it specifically.
I get that – but a lifetime of “needing to know” doesn’t go away quickly and today I find myself stuck in a thought loop around this concept. My quandary today is about how I feel – the emotions that are dominating my life right now.
I don’t know what they are! That drives me crazy.
OK, sure, I have moments that are clearly “fear.” Then I can identify “angry” and sometimes “paranoid” or “frustrated.” On the positive side, I have moments that clearly feel like “happy” and even the more elusive “peaceful.”
Overall, however, these things are all part of a giant mixture that is something else – something with which I am not familiar. I catch myself sometimes just sitting still, with a partially-finished project in front of me, just staring out the window with no specific thoughts. At times, I put down something I have been working on and just start wandering around my apartment, picking things up and putting them down.
I talk to myself out loud all the time (that’s nothing new, by the way) trying to puzzle out my feelings. I clean things and rearrange them, then get back to whatever work I was doing only to find myself at some point mindlessly doomscrolling through Facebook or Instagram without any remembrance of picking up my phone and starting to do it.
I lose time. You know that experience when you are driving and suddenly you arrive and think, “How the hell did I get here? I don’t remember driving here at all?” Yeah, that feeling. I have it all the time at home. I find myself standing in my bedroom and think, “Why did I walk in here? I don’t even recall choosing to move in this direction.”
When I have these moments, I try to understand what’s going on in my mind and it feels like a strange mashup of fear, anger, despair, frustration, depression, and anxiety all co-existing with peace, equanimity, calmness, focus, and curiosity.
How can these things all co-exist simultaneously? And if they do, what is that state called? It’s like being pessimistic and optimistic at the same time. I have so much emotion – of both types – that my mind seems to be overwhelmed by the magnitude of what I am feeling. I think the moments of distraction without conscious thought are kind of like a power failure – my brain just shuts down to protect itself and recalibrate. My poor beleaguered brain is having a hard time feeling good and bad at the same time.
The dichotomy feels weird, and the swirling energies feel like some kind of spiritual oxymoron.
Perhaps that is what I will call this new state of being – oxymoronic.
It’s only Quarantine if it comes from the Quarante province of France. Otherwise, it’s just Sparkling Isolation.