The worst gift I ever received was a blue velour top. It wasn’t because it was blue or because it was velour. In fact, I loved the soft, plush feel of 1970s velour on my body. Even though this sweater wasn’t royal or navy, my favourite shades (it was somewhere between Arizona and Michigan sky), I could live with that. No, the reason it was the worst gift I ever received was because of the box it came in.
It was a 1979 kind of Christmas This Christmas gift didn’t come in our family’s usual recycled gift-giving box, oftentimes an old shoe box with a women’s size 9 scratched out with black marker and housing some neatly stacked homemade fudge and cookies, wrapped in wax paper and gift-wrapped according to the occasion. No, this was a brand new gift box bearing the label, Catherine’s Stout Shop.
My newly 18-year-old hormonal, second-trimester self, burst out in a shocking display of tearful, mortified outrage. ”How could you, dad? I’m fat. Just say it! Not pregnant, but stout. You bought me a shirt from a fat lady’s store? How could you?!!! You could have bought me a maternity sweater, like normal people, and acknowledged that I’m growing a baby, not fat storage!”
I couldn’t accept it Reigning it in, pulling myself together, like a good Calvinist, I scrambled to appreciate the colour, the velour-ness of it all. You can always find something good in everything…It’s the thought that counts. BUT! The SIZE and where it came from? I just couldn’t stomach this gift. I wanted to run out of the room, but I stayed there like something the cat dragged in, torn up, half dead, unable to move and holding my stout top with its new box smell in a pile of tissue paper.
Even with all my striving to be gracious, I couldn’t accept this large sky-blue top from my insensitive, yet well-meaning dad. Only years later did I get why my reaction was so intense. It was another reality check about my pregnancy. I couldn’t accept this new life growing inside of me either. But I would have to, soon.
What I realize now It’s in moments like these that I realize the power of emotions and how, at the time, I had limited skills to process the intensity. Now I know, 4 decades later, from having rolled through hundreds of emotional waves, how to ride them and harness their energy, rather than constantly being thrown off by their magnitude, leaving a wake of destruction for myself and others.
I mean, no one likes to be controlled, right? There’s a fiery rebel in all of us. Whether it’s controlled from outside circumstances, even in the simple act of receiving a gift, or whether it’s inside chemistry creating changes you have no control over, emotions can give us a rough go.
What to do? 1)Pause and breathe – emotions have a funny way of kicking us out of body – take three deep breaths and jumpstart the process of bringing yourself back home
2)Find 3 points of connection with your body – your feet on the floor, your butt in the seat, your clothes touching your skin, for example
3)Now that your body is back with your being, let yourself feel whatever is present, yep that’s right, just feel the feelings, sans story 4)Feel the feelings (without running the mental monologue that is your addiction to the drama of it all)
5)Feel the feelings (without gaining confirmation for the rightness of your point of view)
6)Feel the feelings (without looking for a solution to your problem)
7)Move the feelings through your body… shake them loose, stamp your feet, and express them through every body part, feet, legs, hips, belly, torso, head, neck, shoulders, arms, hands, fingers, and even your voice! Remember that emotions are energy in motion. They get stuck in the body when we bring thinking into the mix! So get out of your head and dance!
Do any one or all of these to break the pattern of your addiction to drama. Do any one or all of these to increase your emotional intelligence and bandwidth.
Do any one or all of these to love and embrace all of you. If you do, you might find that the worst, most impossible situation could become the greatest gift you ever received.