What Do You Do When Your Emotions Are Too Much?

Photo by stein egil liland from Pexels

It’s absolutely freezing! We’re trapped inside of a polar vortex that’s turning the world into an ice cube. No, wait, that’s the cheesy movie I accidentally started watching. How do you accidentally watch a movie? Insomnia opens weird doors at odd hours, and that leads to peculiar discoveries. Sometimes those peculiarities are useless products being sold on tv. Other times it’s a movie that you never knew you needed to watch.

Where has this goofy film been my whole life? 

I love a ridiculous movie that’s full of cliches and worn-out tropes. Especially the apocalyptic kind. No zombies or scary monsters with gory grossness, please. I like the ones where they’re running from a natural disaster. Those flicks are over the top, and they should be billed as a comedy. 

It’s hard to tell if the production crew is on the joke. I hope they are! It would be sad if they weren’t. Sorry for harshing your buzz. I’m sure you worked very hard on this movie. Well done. Bravo and all that. You achieved comedy gold, and I’m sure that’s what you were going for.

They have to know they’ve created something absurd. It had to be deliberate. The movie people were in a small windowless room, throwing darts at a concept board that’s loaded full of the strangest ideas that a search engine could generate. Everyone got a turn until they mapped out a plot, and then they sent it to some writer.

Put this together! We don’t care how. Then they throw copious amounts of money at it because why spend that on feeding the poor? No, let’s destroy the earth for the 199th time. Whew, that had a bite to it.

Everyone involved has to know it’s silly. They have to! Or, do they think that they’ve created the next Ben-Hur? Where did that film title come from? I don’t think I’ve ever seen the movie. Obviously, I’ve heard of it, but I don’t think I’ve sat through the whole thing. There’s a chariot chase in it? Is that the one I’m thinking of?

Ah, but if we’re talking cinematic cheese, early Hollywood is the best place to start. The exaggerated acting style was taken directly from the stage and put onto the big screen. It works on broadway, but on film, it looks over the top and caricaturish. I love the way they talked, too. Over annunciating and drawing out every syllable. Random pauses that come out of nowhere. Oo, and they’re sing talking.


Those early films have a reassuring innocence and a comforting naïveté in their creation. They were breaking new ground on an untested art form and in a brand new media. To some people, it must’ve seemed magical or otherworldly. Moving pictures with sound and music? It’s just like magic! Oh, and now it’s in colour. 

Gee willickers Beaver, what will they think of next?

I’m sitting here, curled up in a sweater my Gran knitted, wrapped up in a blanket with a heater inches from my legs. It’s probably too close, and I should move it before I set myself on fire. But it’s freezing! There really is a polar vortex swirling around outside, and the temperature has dropped well below teeth chattering. It’s currently minus twenty with the wind chill, and I’m not built for this kind of cold.

I used to be! When I was a kid, we lived in Winnipeg, Manitoba, for a few years, and that place is the epitome of cold. I think the coldest I’ve been was during a blizzard, and the temperatures dropped to minus forty Celsius. On the upside, we could toboggan off the roof of our local grocery store, which was just about the greatest.

And I just realized that a toboggan might be a uniquely Canadian word. It’s a sled for sliding down snowy embankments. In the prairies, where hills are an illusion, we used to make our own by piling up as much snow as we could shovel. It was a lot of work for a few seconds of wee. But then the blizzard hit, and local establishments became snowy mountains. 

It was brilliant! 

Then we moved to the west coast, where the temperature rarely drops below minus ten, and I’ve gotten soft. Spoiled rotten by Vancouver’s wet but temperate climate. When a Polar Vortex— I just love saying that. It sounds so silly.—When a vortex swoops in, it’s carnage and chaos. I don’t want to go outside. I want to stay snuggled up, in this sweater and under these blankets, until it passes.

Should I just shrug off my responsibilities and continue watching this movie? Oo, I could find one of those old ones with the funny accents and sweeping movements. Popcorn! I could make some popcorn and make a day out of it. 

Except, it’s too cold, and I think my toes are turning into popsicles. I hope my dog doesn’t get peckish.

It could be worse! The vortex could encompass the earth, and we’d experience a real global disaster. The oceans would freeze, and we’d live in snow caves. Nah, that could never happen, and if it did, we’d handle it so much better than these movie people. 

This is silly and completely unbelievable. As if a natural disaster could really take over the whole planet and shut the world down for the foreseeable future. Who’s going to believe that the human species would turn on the scientist trying to save them and waste precious time, as well as resources, fighting each other?

Oh…Wait…Damn. Never mind.

The innocence of those old movies and tv shows suddenly looks incredibly appealing. I used to watch reruns of Leave It To Beaver, The Brady Bunch, and my personal favourite, The Carol Burnett Show, all the time. I loved all of the oldies, and I preferred it to my contemporaries. My six-year-old body housed the soul of an eighty-year-old woman, apparently. But I loved it! It was pure nostalgia, even though I had no idea what that was.

There was a simplicity and hopefulness in the stories they told. Life was uncomplicated, and problems were solved in under thirty minutes. The endings were always happy, and the laugh track was endearing. Whenever I watched those shows, I felt warm and goofy.

The kind of goofy that sits in the middle of your chest like a laugh bubble. It’s about to burst, but you hold in it as long as you can because it feels so good.  It tickles, and that makes you want to giggle even harder! Hold it in. Hold it…Pop! Ah, yes, the good old laugh bubble. 

I can’t remember the last time I watched one of those old shows. I’ve seen a few of them on various streaming services, but I can’t bring myself to watch them. They made me so happy when I was a kid, but now they trigger a different emotion that’s less inviting. When I see the titles, I have a moment of surprise and pleasure, but it’s quickly replaced by dread.

Now, nostalgia twists my stomach into knots and brings tears to my eyes. Is that an odd response? These shows used to bring me so much joy at a time in my life when fear and uncertainty were the norm. I was a kid, but I was living a very grown-up life. I guess that’s why my soul aged faster than my body.

We left a home that was dangerous for a new country and an uncertain future. I was diagnosed with a life-threatening illness. There were surgeries, pain, and decisions that would alter my life in ways we couldn’t predict. My childhood was replaced by adulthood at a very young age. But when I watched those old shows, I felt innocent again.

Now? They remind me of the darkness instead of bringing light, and that’s sad. It’s the reason why I don’t like looking back at my life, and I don’t enjoy reminiscing. I’ve never been to a reunion, and I never will. What’s the point? I don’t understand the need to relive those glory days. Have I had any glory days? Well, this is getting depressing.

My stomach is twisting, my teeth are chattering, and I want to turn that stupid movie back on. These words are making me very uncomfortable, and I might have to throw this whole thing in the trash. Forget it! I can’t do this. I don’t want to do this. Type these words? Express my thoughts and feelings? No, I’m out. I’m done. This is making me incredibly uncomfortable.

Or, I need to walk away for a little while and regroup. These emotions…It would seem that I’m not quite ready to put them into words. Also, it’s too damn cold, and my toes are definitely turning into icicles. Be right back after this short break. 

Photo by Jen Theodore on Unsplash.com

When I sat down to write this, I wanted it to be light and silly. It’s two o’clock in the morning, and I can’t sleep. I’m watching a stupid movie about the earth freezing over while reading a weather warning about a polar vortex. How could I not see the parallels? How could I resist the urge to write something stupid? I couldn’t so, I started writing, and the words started to evolve, and then emotions started to emote.  

And here we are, back under a pile of blankets after a nice hot shower, feeling some unexpected things. Brilliant. Just what I need right now. Did I just let out a weary sigh? Yep, you know me so well.

This is what nostalgia does to me. It triggers emotions that are best kept hidden away in a secret vault in the basement of some decrepit old church. I should’ve watched a silly treasure hunting movie staring that Cage fella. Woulda, shoulda, coulda, but there’s no going back so, why look back? See what I did there? It’s a transition. Yep, I’m almost clever sometimes.

Going back? Taking a walk down memory lane? Too many emotions come up, and I can’t handle them. They’re overwhelming, and they’re too big to process so, what do I do?

What do you do when your emotions are too much, and they’re keeping you awake?

I’m tucked in my cocoon, listening to the wind scream through the trees, and I’m inundated with fluctuating feelings. They match the chaos outside and the bizarre scene frozen on my tv screen. My instincts tell me to run away, turn the movie back on, and shove my feelings back into that secret vault.

But what if I just sat here and felt them? My mind just screamed: No! Dear God, no!

It’s a normal response to pain, though. We are programmed to run away from all pain, and that includes emotional discomfort. Not fighting it? It goes against our instincts, and it just feels wrong. But sitting with these emotions, letting them exist without judgement, is the only way to move through them and let them go. 

If we don’t? If I don’t? They catch up with me at some point. Like now, when a hint of nostalgia is keeping me from a good night’s sleep.

Feelings aren’t going to hurt me but hiding from them will. Running away, pretending I’m okay, or drowning them out? It amplifies these emotions until they overwhelm me, and I shut down. Taking time to feel them, let them move through me, is the only way to let them out.

Emotions are a part of us, of our experiences, so if we learn to accept them, feel them, then in a way we are learning to accept ourselves. We are owning our stories, and we’re writing our own happy endings to a single chapter.


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