Last week I was watching my regular reality TV show when I started feeling a change in my mood. I was beginning to relate one of the characters on TV with my late wife. Then out of nowhere a flood of emotions, mostly sadness and anger, ensued. This is not the first time that I had experienced sudden emotional turmoil.
A seemingly simple situation or a place reminds one of things from the past. Memories bring back rattling questions to which there are hardly any answers. Questions such as “why did the relationship not continue”, “why me”, “did I not do enough to stop it” and the like. These questions are accompanied by a wave of intense, overwhelming emotions.
At early stages of the grieving phase these triggered emotions felt normal. But as time progressed, I started feeling confused. Now, I started having more questions such as “is it not too long for me to feel this way”, “am I overdoing it”, “is something wrong with me”.
In order to stop these relapses, I started resisting the accompanying urge to cry. “I am not the crying kind. Why should I cry? Crying makes me feel weak”, was the rationalization. And when the urge to cry prolonged, I tried distracting myself. Even though it helped at the moment, I found that the emotional relapses were more frequent whenever I used distraction. I found myself taking it out on people or situations which I would have ignored otherwise. Then I tried facing the emotions reasoning why should I give in and that technique just fell flat. I found myself getting caught up in confronting the emotions rather than actually tackling them.
Noticing the fallouts of other techniques and reading about it on the internet, I decided to surrender myself to the emotions without restricting the flow. It was nerve-wracking initially as well as time-consuming. I would slip into a safe shell within the confines of my room where I could cry, howl, and punch the wall. In the long run I started feeling the relapses get less intense. But there were lapses with this technique as well. At times it just took me forever to let the emotion naturally fade away. This caused a snowballing effect on my day to day activities.
That is when I decided to give the emotions a fixed time. Trust me; this is not as easy as it sounds. I am still a novice practicing it, but have started to reap the benefits already. To draw an analogy, it is like the ring in taming a bull game. You try to stay within the ring and tame the bull to the extent possible. But you have a fixed time, beyond which you step out. And even if the bull is taking you over, you’d better leave the ring.
In summary, watch and observe your emotional upheaval, resisting or distracting yourself would not help in the long term, give it due time but make sure not to let the emotions take over and learn ways to reduce the intensity on every relapse.