Have you ever felt that you wee living in the eye of a storm? This week, I laughed with a couple of friends as we discussed how the timing of some circumstances in my life created a perfect storm. Why did that make me laugh out loud? I don’t know, but often I think I laugh to keep from crying.
It has been my experience that perfect storms arose when individual things or circumstances I deemed special, important, or potentially impactful in my life collectively seemed to be headed in a negative direction at the same time and in a relatively short period of time. In general, the storm approached me like the torrential rain storms that came out of the Gulf of Mexico when I lived in the south. The storms disturbed the peace of the coastal shores as they braced for an unpredictable weather front. Unfortunately, I haven’t had the benefit of a weather person capable of predicting when personal storms would arise. Even if there had been such a weather person warning me of life storm, the prediction would have been lacking footage of a prior front. The prediction, like those of the weather person, would have failed in stating with certainty the total impact of the impending storm.
In the months leading up to July, I worked my way through wind and rain from the outside of the storm to the inner circle. I experienced the strength of the elements the closer I got to the center. I learned that it was called the eye because once I reached that point in when I faced all that it had to offer I had to stare it down. My Big Mama used to say that you could see into the heart of the person through their eyes. In the eye of a storm finding the heart of the matter aligned with her teaching. My heart had to pull power from the storm in order to walk to the other side. At the moment that I realized I was standing in the eye of the storm, the laughter came and allowed me to breathe and recalibrate. Why cry when there was already so much water clouding my way?
My resistance to tears developed like a callous after years of use and abuse of emotions required to sustain me during chaotic and challenging life trials. I think I opted for laughter over tears because the tears might have looked more like gut wrenching uncontrollable sobs most often associated with the emotional pain of loss or rejection. If I couldn’t guarantee delicate streaming tears, my tear ducts had to remain blocked. After a number of missteps over the last month or so, I sat down to reflect on the internal pressure I felt. Maybe the pressure equaled the swelling of my suppressed tears or maybe I felt the internal battle being waged by my emotional regulator and the physiological energy it took to be me doing me. This week I thought long and hard about me, my work, and the people and things I care about most.
I realized that saying “Oops” in my professional life proved less fatal in the context of taking corrective actions. However, personal missteps proved more difficult to resolve. Resolution presented more complexities because the injuries happened to friends and family members. The blessing and the curse of humans came to be their connection to emotions as opposed to the emotionless processes or routine protocols in my professional life. I couldn’t erase, edit, or rewrite hurt feelings or disappointment. Life didn’t give me redo’s and my frustration was that my friends and family had no obligation to give me forgiveness, understanding, or a chance to reset my crazy life.
Accountability and explanations in the workplace are preferred and valued. Ironically, friends and family sometimes interpret ownership and explanations as excuses and copouts. If there is no benefit in apologizing or owning your mess, why apologize? I am not sure why everyone else acknowledges their missteps, but I think processing things out loud helps me reset. The need to reset comes with a risk of becoming vulnerable and transparent in front of people whose emotions come padded with judgment. Accountability and ownership can reveal my fragile and imperfect self to that person staring at me with emotion and possibly judgment. That moment for me is like standing in the eye of the storm. In the eye of the storm, helplessness may be a realistic response. Like standing in the eye of the storm, during the peak of my stormy life challenges, I have to deal with my perceives limits on my control of the situation. There is concern that when I share my mess and verbally work through my personal storm I lose control and possibly subject myself to the unknown response to my truths. The cool moment for me, however, is when I realize that at the moment I stare into the eye of the storm I can use its power to move through it to reach a new calm. The storm can be the fuel for and the teacher that informs the next part of my journey. I wish for myself and others that once the lesson is learned that repetition does not become the next teacher.
When I thought about my blog post topic for this week, this was not the topic. I had a plan to write something light and bouncy, but I spent the day deciding how to move past the eye of my latest storm. Some mediation, a nap, and a pedicure ended in this post. I hope that someone will read this and be empowered.