One of my sons does this so regularly that I finally dubbed him “the bottler”. He is a master of holding everything in his little body and not letting a peep out about what might be bothering him, have hurt his feelings or made his heart hurt. That, in itself, makes my own heart hurt. This nickname for him came back to bite me a few months ago. I was still in my dark, sad times muddling through the grief left from my brother’s sudden death. This particular son asked me what was wrong and I, of course, answered brightly, “nothing.” He quickly responded, “Mom, don’t be a bottler. You have to get it out.” Ha! How many times have I said that! The little guy is just a little too smart at times.
I have found that “getting it out” is extremely helpful and healthy. Fortunately for me, and perhaps, unfortunately for you, the reader, this blog has been great therapy for me. I’ve written some about living through the slow illness and death of my father, the tragic and sudden death of my brother, the grief, the loss, and the search for peace, happiness and joy after death. I’ve learned that one doesn’t ever get over tragedy or loss, one gets through it. I’ve also learned that everyone handles devastation or grief in completely different ways.
I used to be such a “bottler” about everything. I was one of those people who was so scared of “rocking the boat” or making someone upset, or not being perceived as nice, that I would never dream of speaking my mind about anything. This would work for a while . . . until the tiniest little thing – like the cap off of the toothpaste – would send me to the moon. I would just let it rip. I would let all of my disagreements, frustrations and anger come spewing out like a torrent. I bet I looked like Linda Blair from the Exorcist spewing vomit in a horrid headspin. Not a pretty picture. And not a healthy way to handle emotions. You can imagine those early days of marriage. So, I have finally learned to give a little hint, speak up when things are upsetting. Better sooner rather than later.
I’ve grown up in the South. I know I am supposed to keep personal things private. However, being a Steel Magnolia isn’t always the best option. Sometimes, one needs to express feelings, especially if they are those of deep loss and grief. Those are simply too monumental to keep “bottled” up inside. Not talking about something doesn’t mean it didn’t happen. The emotions will come out eventually. Unfortunately, it might be in stress, blood pressure, ulcers, weight loss, depression or other physical issues. (I’m not talking about myself here, just so you know).
I hope that if you or a loved one has something inside, needing to get out, you can find some way to help get it out. There are healthy ways to handle things and not so healthy ways. I hope we can find the healthy way. No bottling for us, right?
Are you a bottler? Know any Steel Magnolias? Did the Exorcist scare the doo out of you, too?