Have you ever felt compelled to google mystery symptoms in the middle of the night?
I have. I know I am not alone. What is this rash? Is this bug a bed bug? Does this fever mean I am dying or just slightly ill?
These questions loom large in the dark. We are urged not to do this, that instead, we should ask a health professional (or accost one at a social event). "Nice to meet you, how are you with moles? Have I got one for you!"
This is how I have been feeling about emotions lately. Due to global reasons I do not need to mention, I have spent a lot of time apart from others. I still talk to my friends and family every day, but it is rare right now that we are actually in the same room doing stuff together. I cling to those fleeting moments of closeness like no one's business and get nourished by them long after we have to go back to our respective cubby holes, but the constraints on those times are real.
As a result, I am starting to realize that even emotions are becoming like strange symptoms to me.
The other night I was struck by a feeling. A feeling that felt bad but I was unsure what to call it. It was late at night. I didn't want to wake my friends to help me untangle the mystery. What am I feeling? I need words. I need a conversation to excavate and extract the precise source of my dismay.
I mulled it over in silence. Heart attack? Panic attack? Indigestion? No. No. No.
So I started googling emotions.
I started with sadness, but no. That wasn't it.
I moved onto disappointment. Yes! Disappointment: "a form of sadness that arises from a gap in our expectation and reality."
There was a time when I did not need to google this of course. My "symptoms" were predictable and anything out of the norm was almost instantly recognizable. I had context and friends and oodles of time side by side with my friends to boil whatever "it was" down. Right now, the time together is so focused on making sure we are okay and debriefing that there is little time to actually feel stuff and experience things that might produce more feelings.
In various states of confinement, the emotions I have are toggling between anger, sadness and guarded hope. All the other in between feelings lost their names.
Now that that particular emotion I had in the late late night has a label, I am aware that I am probably feeling all kinds of things that I haven't bothered to label.
The light starts to break at dawn and the pain in my chest subsides.
This time alone is scary sometimes, but also I am learning new things about myself.
I don't need google for that, but sometimes it is there for me when no one else can be, such is the state of life right now.
Soon, I am looking forward to a evenings full of words that I have currently forgotten about, but know are out there somewhere. I look forward to feelings I forgot about sneaking in an taking me off guard, not just disappointment, but also , joy and giddiness. I walk towards evenings spent experiencing stuff that make me feel things more than disappointment, anger and guarded hope.