Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Emotional Range

Yes I know I said I was going to talk to you all about the rest of my jewelry trip and give you pictures and I'm probably in trouble because I haven't yet but life happens and I will get there I promise but not yet b/c I need to ramble. Console yourself for now by knowing that Day 2 Vintaj was amazing but hard and I have a whole tray of things so pretty I can't believe I made them to show you.


Emotion is SUCH a fascinating thing. Did you know part of the reason why teenagers do such amazingly stupid things is because the part of their brain that feels emotion is fully developed by like 14-16 so they've got all these intense feelings and they're real and they're all the more overwhelming because they're feeling them for the first time.

And lets all take a moment to remember that emotion doesn't have to be logical, but emotion is real regardless of if it makes a lick of sense or not and therefore must be dealt with.

But I digress.

So you've got the teenagers with a now fully functional set of hormones and reproductive organs - which holy hell is overwhelming all by itself and now add on top of that the fact that they've got this whole incredible emotional range to cap it off that is brand new and are you ready for the thing that makes it all just special??? 

The part of your brain that controls logic and rational thinking, cause and effect and consequences doesn't finish developing until you're more like 25

Thats right folks by 16 most of us have a wild set of hormones, a wicked set of emotions and our thinking box ain't gonna catch up for almost a decade. 

There are times (like now) when I really, really wonder what our Great Creator was thinking....

And as I watch my son its so fun to watch him develop an emotional range. In the beginning, and don't hate me for saying this, he was at the larval stage. He didn't so much have REAL emotion. His states were "Content" and "NOT HAPPY". There wasn't exactly shades of meaning there. Life was hunky dory or it was NOT.

Now? He has a smile that is pure sunshine and he's learning to be affectionate and give kisses and cuddles. And like a light switch that can all flip and he'll be screaming mad if things don't go his way, and then change again and he's hyper fixated and endlessly fascinated while he picks apart some new toy with a look of wonder on his face.

The earnest look of "WANT" etches his features as he tries to get something he probably shouldn't have, or reaches up for me to hold him. If he manages to get the thing he shouldn't, he lights up with a "Ah HA!" look and tries to run away with it. Everything he feels he expresses right away, that instant. If he's happy you know it, if he's tired he's pitiful. If he's mad, get your ear plugs. He's on this little personal roller coaster and he has no shields to hide it.

And really why should he? With me, he is safe. Its my job as his mother to help him discover all about feelings and everything else the world has to offer.

When he gets older, sadly, I will have to teach him some about how to hide the hurt away. Because while my Grandmother was dead wrong when she told me that "they can't get your goat if they don't know where its tied" (why the FRICK its okay for them to be hunting my damn goat in the first place I'll never know), she was right that you don't want to encourage them.

The jerks of the world are like sharks after blood if they can see that they've hurt you. So its best to hide the hurt, defend yourself, and then go someplace safe and then let it out.

How sad is that? Such a hard, crappy poopy lesson and its not right and its not fair but as my father was so fond of telling me "Life ain't fair". To which I finally found my reply:

"Well fine then, but I'd just like it to be UNfair in MY FAVOR once in a while, thankyouverymuch".

But I think our emotional range only continues to expand as we age. We develop shades of gray when the world used to be black or white. I'm not sure thats always a good thing but it never ceases to amaze me as I study the world, and myself how complicated emotion has become and continues to be as I age. Its amazing how contradictory emotion can be. How intense.

Its interesting b/c as infants if it feels good it is good. If it feels bad it needs to be fixed. Plain and simple. Then we get bigger and realize that just because it feels good we can't necessarily do it because other people have feelings too and those matter and making other people feel bad is bad.

I think that really changes as we become teenagers and even "it feels good for me, and it feels good to the other person" it can still qualify as wrong. Especially if you're religious. And even if you're not there's still the whole my logic parts aren't working right so all sorts of consequences may not occur to us at the time and things can really get out of hand real fast and then reality can reach up and beotch slap you and you get to learn the hard way.

I think that may be the challenge and secret of parenting teens. There is some level of learning things the hard way that we all have to do so that we actually learn. But you don't want to not protect enough that there are really bad consequences, like for example, death, which is bad b/c if you're dead you're definitely not going to learn better and not do it next time. But by the same token you don't want to over protect and keep them from consequences that are needed for their brains to get programmed right in the whole logic and consequence development.

I think the big challenge in a lot of ways as we age is to find the balance. What feels good, but still is good. What hurts now but will feel MUCH better later. What feels good now but will hurt like hell later. And how to try to keep an even keel and avoid those situations that are going to kick you in the taco when you have to deal with them.

Thats I think where the logic side comes in. You finally, hopefully, get this nice well developed brain that can analyse a situation and ferret out the outcome that is the most positive long term and especially with respect to not only your feelings but the feelings of others.

And then once you see the path you're left with the tug of war because sometimes, especially as a grown up, the path sucks. Life is complicated. I don't think I had half a clue just how complicated it can be before I got older. I thought I knew but as I learn more about life it never ceases to amaze me just how complex it can get.

But so you're faced with this amazingly complicated set of emotions in the face of a coldly logical path and then you have to chose. Your brain knows this path will lead to tears no matter how good it feels now or that path will suck now but ultimately lead to happy. Or better yet, this path could work out good depending on other people or it could not but if you don't do it this way it won't work out at all regardless of the other people.

Or it could be completely obvious to any dumb bunny out there what to do but if the emotion is overwhelmingly against it you have to deal with that because as previously mentioned: emotion is real. Even if its not rational. The good news is that sometimes it can be reasoned with and defused or at least brought down to a manageable level. But that usually takes time and the kind of persistence usually associated with rashes.

And for some strange reason I'm feeling nauseated.....

I wish I was one of those people that when faced with Issues gets all "Imma clean everything in my friggin house" (cuz I know people like that. bitches.) where as I am more the variety to curl up in the fetal position and dig my self a nice deep hole and pull the dirt in on top of my head. Because thats really helpful and productive.

That or I blog about it in oblique ways so I can process in front of the whole internet.....


  1. first and foremost, i must say i love your way with words!!! you really pull me in, and put things plain and simple, but add that interesting twist...i don't know how to explain. that being said... interesting topic... too true to all you said! and i too am the curl up in a ball type... i don't know the underlying of what is happening with you... but i wish you the best in getting it untangled and settled... cause dealing with all these emotions day after day is overwhelming, and we all need a ood luck to you! i hope it all works out!

  2. Thank you so much for the compliment Liz! I'm hopeful that some time in the near-ish future we will have a resolution. Its is exhausting.