Sunday, December 15, 2013

In Living Color

B is the most authentic, real, alive person I have ever met. He is sensitive and passionate, his emotions lie just under the surface; they bubble over multiple times a day in intense waves of happiness, frustration, joy, displeasure, satisfaction, sadness, anger. Always intense and always fleeting, his emotions are part of the astonishingly broad spectrum of bold, bright, beautifully vivid colors that come together to form his character. He is at times raw and unfiltered, loud and unrestrained. He thinks big, smiles big, feels big. He allows himself to be vulnerable in every way. He fearlessly feels his way through life and as a result, his life experience is nothing short of grand.  

I, unfortunately, am equally emotional, but not quite as brave as my husband. 9 times out of 10, I’ll take a detour around an authentic emotional response and head straight for a more scientific approach. I’ll filter, analyze, audit and reason my way through a shit storm for 6 months sometimes before I get the guts to really feel something, let it out and move on.  

The idea of becoming unhinged is so disconcerting that I cling to restraint like warm, fuzzy security blankets. This is obviously a byproduct of growing up with a mother who was basically Vincent Van Gogh crossed with Scarlet O’Hara. There was fire and darkness and intense light inside of her, a kind of lyrical chaos that sometimes yielded warmth, tenderness and pure sunshine. Other times, uncontrollable storms of complex, confusing emotions consumed our household and sucked the breath out of each and every one of us. My father, on the other hand, is to this day unwavering, stoic, steady and strong. In our youth, he was the calm to her storm. He was truth. He was safety. He was peace. He was our lifeboat. And so, I cling to the kind of discipline and order with which he kept us all afloat.

I may always find unbridled emotion unsettling. I may always default to restraint and control. But I’m starting to realize that the things that comfort us, the old habits or versions of ourselves that are easy and proverbial, are often the ones holding us back. B has taught me that letting go enough to lead a bold and colorful life isn’t a recipe for disaster. And when I watch the way he laughs and loves and smiles and fills every room with energy, I know that to never realize a life as vivid as the one he challenges me to live would be far more devastating than any momentary loss of control.

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