Mixed end of summer feelings

CakeTue 3rd September 2019

It is the last few days of the school summer holidays and I’m experiencing what I often experience in this last week: relief that the term routine is about to start, anxiety that the term routine is about to start; annoyance that all the kids want to do is flop about and watch videos, relief that all the kids want to do is flop about and watch videos.

These kind of contradictory feelings are familiar to me and yet still very uncomfortable to sit with. How do I choose what to do when I have such mixed up feelings? Some things have to be done (work, life admin) other things, like day trips, like certain types of work and admin, are not immediately necessary and, as I am so often met with resistance and clamours for yet another “quiet day”, it can feel hard to take even a few steps out of the flat to run an errand. 

How to sit with these difficult feelings? Well, that is it, really: I just have to feel shitty. Shitty and fed up, frustrated and bored, restless and lazy. I need to feel all these things all at once and do nothing other than feel them: so, no eating, no drinking, watching or shopping or reading it away, nothing other than feeling. And it is hard: really hard. But, from past experience, what’s on the other side of feeling these feelings is lightness, calm and a solid, yet light sense of confidence in the self, a confidence that says: oh, I felt terrible and now it has passed and I see that I can handle that, I can handle those shitty feelings and be okay. Wow. And it really is a wow feeling. But it is, I am afraid, to say only to be found on the other side of feeling these feels.

So, how do we go about being able to feel these feels?

Firstly, we can fully acknowledge how we feel and identify the feelings with words. I notice, right now, that I feel restless and irritable, tired yet fidgety, anxious yet also relieved. 

Next, we can take a look at the stories that sit under some of these feelings. The two big ones for me at this point in the holidays are: I will never get my project finished if I sit about for three more days. The children will be failures in later life if they play too many video games/watch YouTube all day long. 

Learning to just be and feel as opposed to always doing is an important emotional skill but one that can be challenging and takes time to develop 

As I feel and also notice the stories that accompany these feels, I see that much about these stories isn’t true and, also, I begin to understand that I feel this way now, and that it will pass. Everything does. A few days into term and I will likely be craving a lie in and time to do nothing. Right now it feels both restricting and also appealing all at the same time. We can feel fidgety but also feel lazy: it feels crappy but we can just feel this. We just need to see that this is how we feel and then take action once we are sure that the action is not a DISTRaction. Creative solutions like drawing or writing or walking can be more helpful than more passive ones such as watching or eating, even reading. 

 Learning to let go of the need to control and manipulate how you feel, learning to let go of the need to hold the good feels close and push the more difficult feelings away is like working the muscles of the body. Just as a muscle needs to be stretched to grow stronger, so we need to practise and build up the emotional strength that we need to feel our feelings. And, whilst there is no end point with this, no point in time where we are “done”, there is the slow build-up of confidence, the slow growing of knowing that however you feel you can handle it.