Friday, March 11, 2011

Emotion-filled day.

Wow, today was an emotional day. Actually since emotional usually has a negative connotation I think I'll go with emotion-filled day. Because overall it was amazing.

Recently I've gotten involved with a volunteer project distributing clothes to underprivileged children. I actually grew up doing this kind of work (my parents were both volunteer workers), but I haven't had the chance to do it in a while. So I had mixed emotions when agreeing to be part of this project. But boy am I glad I did.

It seems like the moment I am with these children, I become a different person. I smile, I laugh, I talk and am outgoing. At home I am often quiet and withdrawn, I enjoy my privacy and peace. But helping others brings out a side in me that I don't always remember I have. There's a happy, bouncy, fun side trapped inside, and I really need to bring it out more.

Putting on a clown show for handicapped kids.I totally rock being a clown!

There's also something unforgettable about making someone else smile. It's impossible to describe the feeling, but it's definitely a knowledge that you did something really worthwhile. You brightened up the life of someone who's life is generally pretty bleak. And to be honest that makes you feel pretty damn good. All of a sudden your day has purpose and meaning to it. Because for once you didn't just think about yourself and what you needed and wanted, but you were able to reach out and bring a little bit of joy into someone else's life. And that is worth much more then just your own personal happiness.

Another thing I forgot is just how great it is not to think about myself and my problems. When I look at these kids - all either from poor and broken families, some with mental or physical handicaps, it makes me realize just how lucky I am. Sure, I'm not well off by anyone's definition, but I've always had enough. More important then money I am healthy, I have a loving family that cares about me, I have so much awaiting me in this world. Those born with mental handicaps will never have the same chances I have. Their world is full of challenges that are totally and utterly incomprehensible to me. All I can say it... I'm so lucky.

Some kids at a afternoon-care center I occasionally volunteer at (most of these kids have parents with drug/alcohol addictions and have as many as 7-11 siblings)

Hearing about the catastrophe in Japan, coupled with all this charity work I've been doing lately has really helped me to take a step back and be grateful for all I have. Tough things have happened to me in the past, my future is still a mystery and there are a lot of things I currently have to deal with that aren't easy - but I still have so much to appreciate in my life. It's just overwhelming how much we take for granted till it's gone; but stepping out to help someone else can help you realize how much you have before that happens.

After that though, my afternoon took a turn for the worse. My family is planning a big Sunday dinner and for some reason I started feeling really anxious about it. This came as a surprise, as I haven't felt anything like this for a while. Then to make matters worse it seemed everything went wrong that afternoon - things broke, I flooded the kitchen, dinner burned and I was hungry. By the time I sat down to eat I scarfed down my food, and felt overwhelmingly guilty afterwards.As a matter of fact I felt so bad I wanted to purge.

I haven't felt that urge in a long time, so again I was shocked by it. But the thought was so appealing, so tempting. Maybe it was a way to vent all the pent up frustration inside me, or alleviate the anxiety a little. Whatever the case a wave of emotion hit me. Then out of the blue I was reminded of a quote I read from a girl who quit smoking "We are helpless against our addictions, but not hopeless". This is translated, so it doesn't make much sense until to hear the context, but the point is that you can't keep yourself from feeling the urges, but you can keep from giving into them. And that is what I decided to do. I stayed around people and kept myself distracted till the urge faded and then got on with my evening. Afterwards I was able to enjoy a yoga, a movie and a glass of wine - totally beats feeling guilty, weak and lightheaded after purging doesn't it?

It took me a long time to realize that feelings don't have to equal actions. It's ok to feel anxious, angry, frustrated, sad or whatever else the case may be. For so long I tried to numb these emotions by engaging in self-destructive behavior. But I'm slowly learning that all these things pass, and if you are able to endure these emotions for a while, they fade eventually. What doesn't kill you only makes you stronger, and I know I'm getting stronger by the day.

PS: I am totally gonna rock the big stuffed chicken family dinner we are gonna have. ED can just take all that anxiety and shove it :P.

How do you cope with negative emotions, urges?


  1. Honestly, this post made me so happy. It just completely lifted my mood. I am so happy that you got so much out of the volunteering. I know those kids did too!
    And I can't even describe how proud I am of you for not puring. Oh my goodness, that is one of the worst feelings ever. I remember, I hadn't purged in about 1 month, and out of the blue, one day after lunch I had such a strong urge. I am so glad you resisted; I know exactly how hard that can be.
    You are awesome!

  2. Such a beautiful post, L! I am sure you are making a remarkable difference in these kids' lives. I am so glad that it is so rewarding for you and helps you reflect on what you are grateful for. Community service does the same for me.
    I'm sorry that dinner was tough, but you should be so proud of yourself for sitting with the uncomfortable feelings without acting on them! You're absolutely right- thoughts do not have to equal actions. When I have uncomfortable thoughts/feelings/urges, I usually do the same thing as you- DISTRACT, DISTRACT, DISTRACT. If I get my mind off of it and don't dwell, they do eventually subside and I feel so much better than I would have if I had listened to the urge.