Making order out of chaos

I really liked that in thirty minutes, I could go from this

to this.

The pile of unmatched and free-floating socks was huge and completely annoying, but it seemed like a task I could tackle. The kids were doing their homework, the crickets were chirping, and I decided to fold socks. It was sort of slow and a bit boring and tedious, but I liked how I could see my progress. I wished the way I handled my emotions could be as neat and orderly as this drawer. I do everything I can to avoid actually addressing my emotions. On the surface, it appears I say what is on my mind. This is quite different from naming how I feel. Instead, I avoid, suppress, mask, run away from, binge eat, exercise, or stare mindlessly at a screen. 

I have had to face some pretty tough emotions recently, and good is hard! It is among some of the hardest work I ever done. I sit in a room with just me and one person naming what seems so hard to name. It feels ridiculous, really. I am a writer who shares a lot, but when I recently reviewed some of my past work one thing I noticed was how I really like to speak for the collective "we".   I have been avoiding speaking directly for me.

So there I sit alone in a chair. My tears fall, my voice cracks, and my stomach clenches....all indicators that HERE is a FEELING! But what is it?  It is as if it were the first time I have ever been asked to name them.

I am sad.

I am angry.

I am hurt.

I am frustrated.

I am scared.

I am confused. 

Well, how about that?  I had no idea it was all of those things. I really didn't. Am I ignorant? Or just dumb? It seems more likely that I don't often try to say what I feel because I don't take the time to discover what I really feel. I dance around it and fill the space of my emotions with so much noise that I don't really hear or acknowledge my feelings. I make do by plowing through like the farm girl I was raised to be. I put into context that my trouble is nothing compared to someone else's. I don't own my own hard truths and how they make me feel. I allow myself some tears and then I move on and take care of the kids, the home, the business of life. 

Or so I think. 

I am learning it's not really moving on. It's avoiding and so I am back to naming these hard emotions. Doing so takes a gentle nudge and some silence and a willingness to sit with them and get squirmy and red-faced and spent. 

But practicing being inside silence has become one of the greatest gifts of the last six months. I have had conversations on the phone where I was so silent that the person I was talking to had to ask, "Are you there?"

Oh yes, I am here. I am so here it hurts. It is hard to hang on to and be inside of some these large emotions that find their way into silence, which, of course, is why I have avoided it. 

But what I am also getting to is there is joy in this experience as well. There is joy in really listening to how I am feeling and naming whatever it might be.  It's better than turning a messy sock drawer into a little spot of calm. This deep and churning and icky feeling has a name! I have also discovered surprise and joy in being wrong about what I thought I felt. After some time and silence, I often discover, "Well no. That was not it at all!" Suddenly, I have a new way of thinking about my feelings. 

I have a trusted confidant and The Red Boot Coalition where practicing listening and silence is a real thing. It is THE thing. Both of these experiences are helping me immensely. 

I also have this sock drawer. Strangely, when I look at it, it sort of reminds me that I can do this. I can make some order out of the chaos of my feelings if I am willing to do the work.


  1. Lisa, YES! Thank you for taking time to put your thoughts to your keyboard! They are beautiful. And real. And messy. Unlike your sock drawer. Can you come do mine?

  2. Lisa, YES! Thank you for taking time to put your thoughts to your keyboard! They are beautiful. And real. And messy. Unlike your sock drawer. Can you come do mine?


Now it's your turn...what do YOU think? Leave a comment to join the discussion!