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Collage of portraits of woman showing a full range of 16 emotions


The new year approaches rapidly, so with a few days left in 2023, I want to let you in on my 2023 Word of the Year: EMOTIONAL. Why did I wait until now to tell you this? Because without a specific plan, my faith that I’d emerge fully transformed seemed flimsy. Plus, if I pulled this off I’d either emerge from this feeling like I had a titanium new backbone or ground beef run through a cheese shredder and wasn’t sure I’d shout that from the rooftops. Truth: I feel like a lula kebab.

Was it a problem?
I proudly wear my merit badge for Compartmentalization on my work ID lanyard as it’s a much touted skill that allowed me to keep my emotions in check and stay employed when going through significant life events like marriage, kids, divorce, move, losing a job, flood, move, grad school, mindful midlife, etc. I’d simply pack the problem – layered with emotions, frosted in anxiety – into a dark iron-clad box and shove them deep down into the darkest corners of myself.

I’d reach in and pull out the messy knot, resolve the immediate issue, but then shove the emotions back down to either a) not let it spill out all over my kids or inner circle, b) move on because so much time passed – why bring it out now, c) hold on to my false belief that by keeping it locked up, I held control over a seemingly uncontrollable situation. 

Emotional lava lamp

Emotional lava lamp
I pandemicked like a rock star, transitioning from living out loud to staying careful or contained to our homes. I didn’t love it, but adjusted with minimal wreckage, until I noticed that something persisted from deep inside. It kept growing despite my growing mindfulness practice, feeling like waves of unpredictable earthquake aftershocks. I considered the idea that my body might idle in low-level vibration (aka: survival mode) already due to my history, but that the pandemic set me into overdrive. 

I realized I needed to go back to two particular things – one I learned to live with, one I recently started learning to talk about – to process the emotions and let them go. How does someone do this when you cannot remember what happened?

Shouldn’t you be over it by now?
For example, my adoption. I always knew about my adoption, but did not fully grasp the whole idea of what it entails. When others told me their views or experiences with adoption – or kids said negative comments – and they didn’t make sense to me, I dimmed my feelings and trust in my instincts. My own feelings felt incomplete and complicated, locked away waiting for me to revisit them once I had more life experience. I physically went back in time on my trip to Korea, but never checked back in with my emotions. 

Plus, in my mind, getting emotional revealed weakness, irrationality, or instability so I tried not to feel and learned to bury emotions. You probably know how well that worked out. In my experience, time alone doesn’t resolve these emotions – they’ll pour out between your fingers trying to hold them in. Though, this year I learned that time and emotions can work in strange and mystical ways to heal – I’ll share more in an upcoming post. 

black and white roller coaster

My emotional roller coaster
I used a few different methods this year that I will share through my upcoming posts. I’m not a professional, but definitely leaned on a few for guidance. I also leaned on things that I already knew, but wasn’t practicing regularly. Once I made them a priority, I noticed a big difference. 

This wound up being the most emotional but most unexpected and amazing year for me and all thanks to taking a vulnerable step and checking in with me. I can’t wait to share more.

A few of the things I tried:

What about you?

  • What helps you process your emotions rather than bury them?
  • How are you?
  • What do you need right now?
  • What do you do to mark the new year beginning?
  • Did you have a word for 2023? or 2024?

Subscribe above to learn about fun new things coming this year, my word for 2024 and to hear the things I tried during my emotional 2023!

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