I Got Triggered Today

“Weekend Tom” returned to “Weekday Tom” at school today. One kid struggled with recursive sequences. Another kept falling asleep learning about dear sweet Pythagoras and his most beloved theorem. Yet another needed my step-by-step guidance, only to fizzle out of patience by hour’s end.

It wasn’t the flashiest of mornings. No inspirational artist studio visits or personal hand at graffiti art. Just a job and a desk and formulas and lingering frustrations that one day life will feel epic again. It doesn’t today. But one day soon, it will.

This afternoon we gathered the students in a circle for a momentous conversation, and one student opened up about a disconnect between him and another student. The admission was blunt and bold and vulnerable and refreshing, and to be honest I was surprised he’d confess such a thing. I didn’t think he had it in him. To be real like that. At 17. After everything he’s gone through.

Drug addiction. Loss of family. Emotional disconnect from anything he’s feeling.

It may seem like no large feat, but figuring out your emotions and then expressing your emotions for an entire group to hear is indeed a huge feat. I saw it happen over and over during my time working in the wilderness, and it’s one of the most basic tweaks that could have changed my entire adolescence and entry into adulthood.

I journaled every day. I knew how I felt. I knew my emotions quite well.

But expressing my emotions. That was another deal altogether. For upwards of 20, 23, 25 years, I simply did not express my emotions well. I still struggle to do so at 29.

Writing helps. Blogging helps. Journaling still helps. But face-to-face confession and coming clean — gosh, that’s still tough.

If a recovering drug addict can figure out this emotion-confessing stuff at 17, I figure he’s on a good path. He’s further along than me, that’s for sure.

~ ~ ~

I got triggered today. I overheard something said, nothing vindictive or derogatory, something quite innocent actually, and I immediately felt the bubbles bursting inside of me.

I’m irrelevant.

I’m worthless.

I don’t measure up.

I don’t belong.

I never will.

Isn’t it something how life can be merrily swimming along with geometry and precalculus tutoring and lunch and meetings and bathroom breaks, and then one little spoken sentence totally alters the direction and velocity of your current?

I understand myself better today than ever before. My introvertedness. My Type 4ness on the Enneagram. My INFJ goodness on the Myers-Briggs. My strengths. My weaknesses. My triggers.

And yet all the understanding in the world won’t mean a thing unless that understanding is translated via spoken word and set free from the deadbolted cage of my body.

Without connection, addiction wins. Without confession, secrets fester.

Without love, indifference wins the day.

~ ~ ~

I’m sitting on a porch outside one of my favorite coffee shops writing this post. It’s my third day in a row blogging, something I’ve not done in — no clue how long. It feels good. It feels right. Doing this. Sitting down. Opening the laptop. Typing. Releasing what’s wound up so tightly and tangled inside.

It’s so easy to do this. Blog every day. And yet I don’t. I don’t because I feel I have nothing to say. Or I have an image to live up to. A perfectly sculpted piece to produce that garners x number of comments and page views and social media shares and attention.

But as a wise old wizard with a paintbrush and a hoarse throat once told me: if it’s not fun, it’s not art. Who gives a crap what it looks like — the post itself or the reaction?

Just write. Create. Inspire.

Even if the only one being inspired is you.

This is Day 3 of #MakeNovemberTolerable. Keep checking back every day this month for new stories and discoveries of beauty where beauty may be hard to find.