“A bad mood can feel luxurious in a society that binds our happiness to our productivity.” ~ my friend Nicole Lawrence
I was in such a foul mood on Saturday. I carried it with me, purposefully, and it was like a heavy purse that keeps sliding off your shoulder as you’re trying to do things. It was so annoying.
It pulled at me as I made lunch. It came with me on a hike with my husband. As I played Words With Friends and did the New York Times crossword puzzle. I didn’t enjoy any of it. I didn’t want to enjoy anything.
The sensations of it were interesting. A sort of swirling, whirling heaviness in my chest. A squinty-ness in my eyes. A taut jaw. I wanted to snarl and sneer and roll my eyes (and did so in my head, or when no one was looking).
I sent myself to bed early. I told my husband that I was in a bad mood and said he could tell. He asked why and my knee-jerk response was a snippy “I don’t know.” He asked if it was his fault (and he should know better than that LOL…my moods are completely and totally my responsibility and that’s what I told him).
But I DID know. I was in a bad mood because I was shaming myself for being envious about something and told myself I shouldn’t be. I wanted something I don’t have and told myself I was a spoiled brat. I ruminated and stewed about it all day long. I nursed it.
Rather than just letting myself be envious, I layered shame and judgment on top, like too much mayo on a sandwich. It was good, until it wasn’t.
I let my husband hug me goodnight but told him that I was temporarily disdainful of hugs.
I have learned to let my husband love me when I am in a bad mood but you know what I realized this morning? I wasn’t loving myself. When I’m in a bad mood, I accept it, but I don’t love myself.
And there’s a difference. Do I love myself at other times? For sure. But this morning I saw that my self-love was conditional. If I deemed myself a spoiled brat, no love for me, from me.
We learn to have difficult relationships with ourselves from our mothers. We internalize the things they said (to themselves and to us) and we say them to ourselves.
So of course I told myself I’m a spoiled brat if I want something. Of course I wanted to snarl. Of course I shamed myself. Of course I believed I wasn’t fit to be around people. Of course I punished myself for my desires and my bad moods…for feeling emotions I deemed ugly.
If you’ve been reading my blog for any length of time you know that shame is something I come back to again and again.
And you might be sitting there, on the other side of this blog post, thinking, “Shit. If Karen still feels shame after all the work she’d done, what’s the freaking point?”
The point is that moods and emotions don’t have a mind of their own. They don’t happen to you. You create them. I created my mood and my shame. And that’s AMAZING news because it means I didn’t have to wait for the Good Mood Fairy to sprinkle magic dust on me in order to love myself again. I didn’t have to wait for Mommy to tell me it’s okay to come out of my room. I didn’t have force myself into being happy before I am ready so I could be around people again.
In the past I would have shut myself all the way down and hid away. I would have been afraid to say what I think, afraid to write books, afraid to express myself, afraid to build a business, afraid to write this blog post.
Shame is a human emotion and as long as I am human I will create and feel it from time to time. And then I will catch myself and create and feel love, and confidence and certainty and audacity.
Because I can create my emotions, I am powerful beyond belief.
And so are you. You know this is true.
Awareness is always where your power lies. And the systems we live in don’t want us to be aware. They want us to play small, be meek, and stay out of our power. And our mothers? If they weren’t aware they bought into the misogyny and passed it right along to us.
You may think it’s about boundaries and healing relationships, and it is on a micro level, but on a macro level it’s about your power as a woman.
Because we’re not going back.
Much, much love, Karen