What Lies Underneath

May 16, 2003

For several days now I have been avoiding my emotions. My employment situation is tense at best, and lately it hasn't even approached best. Last evening I had a very emotional breakdown that allowed me to express what was going on for me.

It felt good to open up about all the stuff I was feeling as a result of work. Some of the emotions I expressed were ones I was aware of having or holding back. I think once you get started in a denial mode you lose the ability to clearly see all that you are denying. On the surface my emotions were about the fears I have about what is going to happen next, while underneath they were really about affirmation and acceptance by the people here at work. And under it all, the truth was about affirmation and acceptance from myself for my actions.

Once I blocked how I was feeling about what may or may not happen next all the emotions about affirmation and acceptance from others piled up behind and created a log-jam. This completely masked the true emotions I was avoiding, the feelings of unworthiness and self loathing I was having because I was listening to, and taking personally, what others were saying rather than listening to myself. When I broke down and cried last night I was releasing the log-jam and getting past what others were saying, and worse, what I was imagining they were feeling towards me. I was able to clear all of that away and see the real truth underneath.

I could not have done this most difficult work without my incredible wife, Michele. She created a warm, safe place for me to fall. And in allowing me to fall she created a space where I could grow and learn. She set aside her feelings about what I was going through and allowed me to fully express what I was feeling, thinking, and imagining. Once I got past all the surface silliness, then she engaged me and helped me to explore the truth of the matter.

I cannot thank her enough for her courage and wisdom.

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Mark H. Nichols

I am a husband, cellist, code prole, nerd, technologist, and all around good guy living and working in fly-over country. You should follow me on Twitter.