One of the most painful things I’ve felt myself, and heard expressed to me, is the feeling that “I’m crazy”, “I shouldn’t be feeling this way” or “I don’t make sense”.
To feel you are incomprehensible, unreasonable, unfathomable is just so lonely. And frightening.
When Stories are hard to understand
Many Third Culture Kids have lived lives of staggering contrasts – poor here, rich there – face fits here, but language fits there – materially or experientially ‘lucky’, but experiencing so much loss.
These contrasts can confound our attempts to make sense of our Selves. We tell our Stories haltingly, watching all the time for cues that our listener ‘gets it’. More often than not, we learn that somehow our Story alienates, alarms or confuses the people around us.
And so we learn to partition the whole into discrete chapters – this one makes sense over here, that one makes sense over there.
We learn who we are in relationship. The inter-personal acquaints us with the intra-personal. So it follows that the more fractured our relationships, the more fractured our sense of self risks becoming.
If our story doesn’t make sense to others, we may begin to feel it doesn’t make sense to us either.
“I don’t know why I feel this way.”
There will be a reason. There is always a reason.
We have a tendency to split head and heart. Head speaks rationally, and emotions speak… well, emotionally.
Except it doesn’t always work this way.
Emotions are clues. And if we are to detect, we have to honour the significance of the clues.
In so many who-dunnits, the blundering policemen fail to notice the significance of seemingly irrelevant clues. Luckily for us, and the plot line, a detective often comes along who makes sense of these clues. Crucially, this detective assumes there is sense to be found by these clues, even when they look senseless.
You feel your emotions for a reason. There is always a reason, even if the sense of this is not immediately apparent. And this is where the magic is;
“I don’t know why I feel this way” becomes “I feel this way”.
And then we can deal with the feeling – either through understanding, “I wonder where that came from, when else have I felt like this?” or through compassion, “What do I need, feeling this way?”
Both new responses assume the feeling has sense, takes it seriously, and moves you on from that feeling. Frustration with the feeling, or denial that it has any sense tends to lead us more into stuckness – “I shouldn’t have it, I don’t know what to do with it.”
And our stories? Your story may be full of seemingly contradictory beliefs, experiences and feelings. Yet it does have sense. I guarantee it.
And if your story makes sense? So do you.
Reaching for support
If you feel you need some support in your sense-making, or a safe place to tell your story, do get in touch here. It’d be an honour to work with you.