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Many of us do this.

We fill ourselves with food. We fill our closets to the brim. Fill our schedules with workout, book clubs, dinner dates, movies. Vacations. Hikes. Trips. Our beds with men or women depending on our preferences. If we focus on solving them, soothing them, unraveling them, we don’t have to deal with what rattles and shakes within us.

We don’t have to deal with the empty spots we feel. The ones that we can’t outrun, no matter how hard we try. We are so afraid of facing the things that sting… Debt, a dead end job, partners who treat us as less than we deserve, a marriage (or two or three) that failed or is failing. Children that struggle in school, don’t like us and/or themselves. We all have them.

…The things that sometimes bleed us like paper cuts or knock the wind out of us like a perfectly timed sucker punch.

…The things that steal our breath and our sleep, bits of those things that make us sane.

Not everyone is busy wallowing in a pool of self hate and working themselves into a frenzy, but there is a group of us though that are just as busy.  We throw our  issues behind metaphorical closet doors and secret hatches inside of ourselves and begin to fill our literal closets with stuff we don’t necessarily want or need.

We eat too much, drink too much, and stretch ourselves too thin — all to avoid what the moment really feels like. We blame our busy lives – bridge, tennis, dance practice, dinner dates, work meetings. Reports, doctors appointments , conference calls you name it we blame it,  for stealing the time that we want to be doing other things. That we need rest but just can’t get it.

There certainly is truth to the fact that some things do pull at our time out of our control, there is a ton of stuff that we in fact schedule. The one driving us in the frenzied circles – yeah – ourselves.    Because we are afraid to feel a lot of the feelings we experience in our lives – be them good or bad, we just distract ourselves with events, contents, and other nonsense.

But why do we fill our calendars and our resulting lives so full?  I have a theory.  I think it is because, for many of us, we are terrified of our feelings.  It can be difficult because feelings are not tangible things that can be easily grasped and therefore they are not things that we can determine a solution to the way they work. There is no “on” and “off” switch. (At least for most of us anyway).  They change on a dime at times, influenced by both big and little things – illness, nutrition, sleep (or lack of), social position, monetary  and other daily life successes and failures. Expectations of others and expectations we have of ourselves.  No matter how much we attempt to the havoc it can wreak on us, there is a constant undertone of our subconscious trying to rectify what we think is happening with what is actually happening (stay tuned as I plan to discuss this in future blog posts).

Some days it is it easy to stand in the world. We feel like we have it all under control. We are happy and if you would ask us, we’d say that we are more than a little satisfied.  We are optimistic, both now and for our futures…and then it happens.

Some trigger that makes it feel as though the world has turned into a merry go round or the treadmill without a shut off valve. We are trying to hang on, but we are pretty sure that our arms are going to pop out of their sockets any moment and we will fly off into oblivion, having failed miserably at life in the public stage for all the world to see and ridicule. It’s like we get sucked into a world that is eating us bit by bit, ever so slowly, and with a wide grin on its face.

I challenge both you and myself to take a breather that instead of continuing to fill our lives, stop and feel your life.  Let the feelings of happiness, sadness and nervousness take equal measure in your life.  Limit the darker feelings visits and set a time limit on how long you will allow yourself to feel them.  In my own experience allowing this to happen takes the wind right out of them.  I think you will find that both your head and your wallet will be a lot happier when you take a moment to examine your emotional barometer.  Suddenly you will realize that the feelings that you were so afraid of processing aren’t so bad at all.  Remember, you are never alone.  There is always a cheering section of all of us waiting for you.