Lessons in emotions, bottles and siblings.

While out for a family dinner the other night I realised something new. You know how if you’re close to your family, you tend to think they know you the best out of anyone there is? They see you at your worse and hopefully at your best and so you feel known. That is one of the key beauty’s to family and this is something I’ve always been aware and grateful for.

When we were younger my brother’s favourite thing in life was to irritate me. My sister came along and as soon as she grew out of being a toddler he realised he had hit the jackpot because he now had two sisters to irritate (Poor guy was probably just bored to death and didn’t feel like playing Barbies and Concerts all day long). My brother and I were talking about how sometimes it’s difficult for men to understand women and we ended up talking about sometimes he feels like he doesn’t understand me and sometimes I feel like I don’t get him. He casually mentioned that he learnt very quickly about what irritated both me and my sister individually and from that he learnt a lot about who we were and what we were like. At least, he did with my sister. He learnt a lot about her by the way she responded to his jaunts or his annoying little boy things and through that he learnt about her character. He said I was the opposite. He learnt what irritated me and how he could annoy me best, but that was it. He told me that I used to shut down and switch off when I was irritated or hurt, and he learnt nothing about me.

I’m not saying as a child he had some crazy scheme to try and get to know us better through irritating us, but I do think he accidentally learnt more about my sister and the way she operates and he understands her better. I am still, somewhat unknown.

I’m not at all worried or concerned that my brother loves me less because he understands me less – that is the key, key beauty to family – but it got me thinking about the way we all process life.
It’s pretty easy to classify and identify what happened in psych style terms. When insults or sibling issues came my way – I bottled it up and shut off. When annoyances or pain came my sister’s way, she let it all out. I’m not a psychologist so I can’t tell you which is technically the right or wrong approach. I think they probably say a mix of both, learning to guard some emotions but also not bottling it all up so you explode blabla. Exploding wasn’t necessarily my problem. I was a professional bottler. I still am.

If someone hurts my feelings, wrongs me or treats me in a way that I don’t appreciate – I shut down. I completely switch off and don’t wish to discuss the matter any further. Which I always thought was a bit of a character flaw but I didn’t realise the deeper effect this has on relationships.
By bottling up your emotions or shutting them off altogether, you rob people of the ability to know you.

Blech – are you like this too?

I’m not saying people purposely pushed you so they could see what you were made of, or that people will never hurt you again if you simply let it all out right then and there, tears, tantrums, the works. But if you never let people see what’s going on underneath, why their words hurt you the way they did, why that push is backing into something deeper they don’t know about, if you never let them in there.. they eventually give up. “I don’t understand this girl”. “That guy is too closed off.”

I’m not saying you need to be the type of person that wears your heart on not only your sleeve but your jeans and your jacket and your shoes so that people take advantage of how vulnerable you are. But I am saying – let people know you. Don’t shut off when you’re hurt. Don’t bottle. Don’t hide.
Pain and heartache reveal to the world our true nature. I am most myself when I am under pressure as my calm, cool exterior – ‘my façade’ – fades away. It’s not always pretty but it is extremely real. If you want to be known.. have someone really know and understand your character, you have to learn to stop shutting off. Let someone in.

To be loved but not known is comforting but superficial. To be known and not loved is our greatest fear. But to be fully known and truly loved is, well, a lot like being loved by God. It is what we need more than anything. It liberates us from pretence, humbles us out of our self-righteousness, and fortifies us for any difficulty life can throw at us. Timothy Keller

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Happy Talk

Who says you can’t be happy all the time? I know, but I’m still going to try. Lifehouse Family.

Replacing a dead pair of shoes with a brand new pair and the feeling of kicking off a pair of new shoes you are wearing in. Happy.

Texts, letters, postcards, emails – any form of written encouragement. Happy.

Catchy riffs and carefully constructed lyrics. There’s something about the power of a beautifully written song that sends me to my happy place.

Ticking things off lists, feeling productive. Happy.

An equally balanced friendship. It sounds mathematical but knowing you are appreciated in a friendship and feeling so grateful for the other person – knowing the other person is in the exact same place is actually rather wonderful and it makes me happy.

The presence of God. The inexplicable presence. Happy.

Small pleasures like lipstick stains on a coffee cup, the quick squeeze in a long embrace, wearing socks to bed only to kick them off under the covers and hitting snooze on Saturdays. That’s happiness.

Christmas time. I love carols, presents and sleeping on Christmas afternoon – it’s the only time I like to nap. Happy Happy Happy Christmas.

Losing your stomach in a fast car. Driving fast, being driven fast. Fast cars.

People have the love language ‘gifts’ all wrong. We don’t just want things and more things and perferably more expensive things. The very fact that you thought of me and then took any time or any amount of money at all is enough. It makes me happy when someone understands that and then does there best to show me love this way.

The look in someone’s eyes when God speaks to them and they just get it.

The rare opportunities I get to spend with my whole family. Happy Steffany.

Impersonations and accents. Deliveries in the post. Nailing a rap.

It makes me happy when someone understands that the Steffany the world sees is a myth and it makes me even happier when someone tries to discover what’s beyond that.

Writing makes me happy. I love to sit and write about nothing and everything. Sometimes when I have nothing to say – I just rewrite lyrics or poems. Just putting a pen to paper makes me happy.

Finding that comfy position. Whether it’s with a book in an amazing couch, that illusive sleeping position or the perfect fit within someone’s arms. There’s nothing quite like it.

Acting. Creating something from nothing.

Alliteration. Books. An empty house. Getting ready at my own pace. Answering questions – either about myself or on behalf of other people.

Helping other people. Sharing my mistakes in order to help someone else grow. It makes me happy to know that my pain wasn’t for naught.

My best friends. People who know me and who I switch off with. I love feeling free. I love not wearing “makeup” with them. I love that people are as honest with me as I am with them. I love that I live in a country, grew up in a family and am surrounded by friends who have encouraged me to be exactly who I am.

That, makes me extremely happy.

Copeland.

I pride myself on coping. Maybe I shouldn’t, but I do. When life gets tough, I’m pretty good at managing it. I’m self aware, so I can normally sense what is happening as it happens. I’m not stupid, so I can piece together why I feel the way I do and I can normally make sense of situations. I’m a talker and a big thinker, so I process til the cows come home and then I’m normally okay. I think it’s a good thing to posses the above skills. Life isn’t perfect and it will inevitably have day to day problems and so honing the above skills probably wouldn’t go astray. However I think there is definitely a risk to becoming a pro coper.

Are you at all like me? I thought perhaps I was the most unique person in the world, and for sure, I am a bit weird and there’s definitely parts of me which are unlike anyone else (for example, I’m not remotely afraid of robbers of thiefs when I live alone – what girl is like that?) but I’m coming to realise more and more that people can identify with things I thought I was alone in. Are you an over-thinker and an under-feeler? I cringe at how bad the english is in that statement but still.

Sometimes, when life calls for it, I take a moment to sit somewhere, preferably a nice mix between sunshine and shade and I allow myself to feel. Whatever the feeling is, good or bad, I allow myself to feel it. Sometimes I write.. thoughts or feelings I never knew or really understood somehow form on the pages. Sometimes I sit and listen to some worship, and God speaks to me about hidden things. Sometimes.. I just kick off my shoes and curl up on a park bench and wait. Feel and wait. Wait and feel.

The problem with shutting yourself off to feelings isn’t actually that you shut yourself off to pain, it’s that you shut yourself off to beauty. By avoiding the painful emotions, you inevitably shun joy.

Life is a curious mix of heart aches and heart warming moments. Learn to love and live through both of them. To me, the highs in life are when you feel God leaning down on you and blowing you a sweet little kiss that seems to say ‘See how wonderful life can be’. The lows in life are when you feel God leaning down and almost literally embracing you saying ‘See how wonderful you are to me’. Both are extremely critical moments in life.

Please please please, give yourself permission to feel. Coping is a ridiculous notion. Don’t become good at coping. What a stupid skill.

“I believe that suffering is part of the narrative, and that nothing really good gets built when everything’s easy. I believe that loss and emptiness and confusion often give way to new fullness and wisdom.” Shauna Niequist, Bittersweet

Heart Felt

Honest Thoughts. If you can’t handle the truth. Get off my blog.

#1 Lately I’ve been feeling very in touch with my inner emotions. Maybe I am feeling things more deeply for some particular reasons. I’m feeling joy on a very extreme level, but that also means I am feeling pain on a more acute level. I think though, that I’d much prefer to live with intense emotions. To live in a constant state of mundane and lukewarm feelings would be depressing.

#2 I’d rather be a honest and true friend with few, than a fake and popular friend with many.

#3 The hardest thing about learning a lesson twice isn’t actually the pain from the lesson. It’s the fact you had to learn it all over agin.

#4 My future husband should be the only one who gets the privilege of seeing me in all my glory. I ain’t giving my glory away to just any random.

#5 I care too much about the way that I look. If you see my rocking some bad hair do’s and many repeat outfits, I’m trying to care less.

#6 I’m fairly intelligent. Sometimes people feel the need to explain simple jokes to me, and they seem shocked when I tell them I’m completely a university degree, so I wonder if perhaps I give out a ‘dumb’ vibe. Just for the record, I’m really not dumb.

#7 My sister and I have way too much in common. Either she is really mature for her age, or I need to grow up a bit. Maybe the latter. Probably should think about getting rid of some Zac Efron paraphernalia.

#8 I want my future husband to be surprised once we get married. I want to have not given away everything I have to give away before then. I need to hear ‘Wow I really had no idea’ every now and then.

#9 You can only really keep about a handful of people in your life that you reguarly and meaninfully connect with. Who’s in your hand?

#10 I would be even happier with my life if I could end up being a writer/actor/professional Gilmore Girls expert.

If I’m being really honest. All I really want out of life is love. Love of the Father and if I’m lucky, my friends, my family and a hunky hottie that can tolerate and love my crazy ways.