Swimming in Emotional Soup


For those of you who know me, and many of you do, you’ll remember that I’m an Enneagram 5 Type.  The Enneagram At Work website offers these prominent truths about this type: “Fives are mental types who focus on intellectual understanding and accumulating knowledge. They are often scholars or technical experts because of their keen perception and analytical ability. Privacy and personal autonomy are very important to them, and other people may be experienced as intrusive. The ability to detach from other people and from emotional pressure confers personal freedom but may also create loneliness.”

Being admittedly inclined to detach from emotions and live in my head, I find myself in curious space right now – I call it emotional soup.  It is a complex collage of emotions and energies that smack me up-side the head (if only to get me out of my head) when I least expect it to show up.  These emotions range from grief over on-going losses in my relationship-life (husband with Alzheimer’s) to joy, every time I see another copy of my book. They sneak up on me in unexpected places like yoga class, in the shower and after the late-night news when I’m trying to fall asleep.

I mean, what is an emotion doing sitting in my throat while I’m trying to stretch my side-body to the right while looking back over my left shoulder?  How can I concentrate on my stretching, positioning and full range of motion when I’m choking on my feelings and my eyes are beginning to leak? This is just annoying. 

And what is grief doing haunting my time in the shower?  How am I supposed to get clean when I can’t stop crying over my husband’s loss of nouns?  It isn’t fair – I only have a limited time to hang out in the water and I can’t waste it all leaning against the wall while I sob.  Messy, messy stuff!

I described this situation to a colleague this way: “I feel like I’m flailing in the water of a deep blue hole in the ocean (like those mystical structures in Mexico).  I’m in over my head, afraid of drowning and using up a lot of energy in what feels like a useless process!”  To which my friend replied, “Why don’t you roll over and just float?”

Of course, I can float in my sea of emotions, I don’t have to let them suck me down into the abyss below. I can just rest on the surface and enjoy the ride, even if it feels terribly turbulent.  I can also acknowledge the some of the turbulence is of my own making.  I can just “feel the feelings” and let the emotions, just beneath the surface, bubble to the top and ride with them, just noticing the role they play in the whole person (not merely a head) who is me.


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About Paula

I help other caregivers – both professionals and family caregivers – acknowledge their pain and learn to practice the many small skills of self-care that can sustain them through the challenges of wholeheartedly caring for others.

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How Can I Help You?

Through Co-Create 4 Life, you will learn a range of well-being strategies from skillfully implementing self-care to holistic approaches to well-being, rebuilding resilience, and battling burnout. Book a free consultation call today to discuss your options.

How Can I Help You?

Through Co-Create 4 Life, you will learn a range of well-being strategies from skillfully implementing self-care to holistic approaches to well-being, rebuilding resilience, and battling burnout. Book a free consultation call today to discuss your options.