How do you feel?

Sounds like a silly question, but it can get complicated fast.

Clearly, if you’ve been reading this blog for awhile (and thank you if you have) you’ll see that I attribute many of my glucose spikes to hidden emotion. The emotions that I hide from myself fall in the spectrum of anger, sadness, grief and fear. If they were colours, they’d been grey, brown, deep purple and black — colours you’d see on a bruised and battered body.

My experience working in retail has illuminated the concept that black has many shades. Check out the mascara section of your local cosmetic department and you’ll see black, brown-black, deep black, blackest black, ultra black and so on. I thought at first it’s ridiculous — everybody knows that there’s one black — but now I see a range of darkness can apply to our emotions, especially those that scare us.

If we look at our emotions as a rainbow, the bright colours of red, orange, yellow, green and blue reflect happiness, satisfaction and joy. The hard-to-see indigo and violet reflect our darker feelings. Rainbows often follow on the heels of dark storm clouds, which emit rumbling thunder and jabs of killer lightning.

It seems at first bizarre that joy and happiness are more accessible than frustration, fear and anger. The former swirl on the surface while the latter roil around in the depths of our bodies, messing with our digestive, neurological and circulatory systems. They create smooth pathways to drug and alcohol dependence.

Emotions are cranking up my glucose levels as I transition into a new home-based job. I’ll still be working at the retail outlet on Sundays, which will be good as it continues the social interaction and a familiar routine. The new job with government and rife with layers of security and rules I’ve yet to understand. The base of the job is something familiar to me, that of an interviewer, so I’m hoping my background as a journalist will be my anchor.

In short, I’m a little scared. The metaphor I’ve used most of my life in these kinds of situations is being adrift on the ocean clinging to a small bit of driftwood. I’m okay at the moment, but if the seas kick up or a shark appears, I may need some help.

You may notice throughout this blog I rely on metaphors a lot. They’re a way my brain can make sense of my feelings, and are imagination-based routes to how I think I feel.

The fear is rarely on the surface. I tend to bury it under layers of disguise, a habit borne from infancy when it wasn’t okay to display fear or anger. Love was on the line. I had to hide the darker emotions to be accepted. I was too young to understand my mother’s difficulty in displaying those same emotions.

Today, I’m grateful for the glucose for alerting me about feelings hiding under layers of body function. The ding of my phone’s “high glucose” alarm is like a wake-up call that some hidden emotion is causing trouble.

I have another thing going on, and it hits me every year at about this time. I start to feel despair and depression about Christmas, a holiday I mark on my own. Sometimes I join friends for their family’s dinner, but that doesn’t take away the fact that my own family is irrevocably broken. Last year, I came to almost-tears in the houseware section as I tried to explain to a supervisor why Christmas makes me sad. Seeing hordes of families expressing love for each other by buying gifts and turkey pans, having a family life I never had, pitches me into a well of darkness. I ask myself what’s wrong with me, why didn’t I have a birth family that valued inter-family relationships? Why didn’t I find a partner and have children so I could pass on those lessons of connecting and share all the love I have to give? Why did fear of connecting ruin my life?

That voice in my head can really pitch me into a tailspin. When I have time to reflect, I realize my life is not ruined. I remain well-adjusted, available and lovable despite all the shit in my background. Still, I’m grateful that this year I won’t be spending so much time around families shopping for gifts for each other. I’ll spend Christmas in the usual way, out in nature, being grateful for what I have and contemplating the thought that, maybe, there’s nothing at all wrong with me.

And I’m sure once I get into training, the new job won’t seem as daunting. The people who hired me are confident I’ll do fine, and I’m sure they’ll prove to be right.

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