So yesterday I was feeling so many feelings, lots and lots of feelings, related to a particular [Situation X].

Actually, this situation and I have been having the feelings together for a few months now.

And, as you might suspect, I’ve been working/playing with both feelings and my relationship with the situation. Playing with and around them in a variety of ways, taking my time, because there is Stuff in here, and sometimes you have to dance around the edges of Stuff, because: Safety First.

But yesterday I was at the point where I had to Make An Actual Decision Related To The Ballroom. I needed to ask for input, and didn’t have a way to do this, because of the Really Big Feelings.

Big, big feelings.

Big, not fun feelings. Anger, distress, resentment, frustration, despair. And also shame about those feelings, and about my paralysis in dealing with both the situation and the feelings. Sticky.

I needed a way to bring [Situation X] to my partner in crime so we could brainstorm solutions, in a way where we could talk about what the next possible step is instead of me raging and stomping.

Not that raging and stomping is the wrong thing — sometimes it is a very right thing. What I really wanted though was an interruption from that, a break from that. To sit and strategize, without my big emotions taking over the stage to perform their giant broadway number about HELLO, MY FEELINGS.

While still, of course, allowing my feelings to be legitimate, which they are, and to have space, which they should, because feelings are always legitimate and deserving of space. And I still get to do jazz hands. Jazz hands!

So first I turned Situation X into a Cheese Shop.

It is pretty much always easier to talk about a substitute thing than it is to deal directly with the thing itself.

My post about Bolivia is a really good example of this.

It’s the only civil discussion I have ever seen on the internet about the topic of an adult (me) happily living her life without children. I wrote this three years ago, there are two hundred and sixty six comments, and not one person hurled accusations of selfishness at me or told me how they think I should be living my life, which is exactly what would happen if I were to talk about this in public without the sweet filter of metaphor.

So the Situation became a Fromagerie, and that made it easier to talk about.

But there were still these big, big feelings.

Alabama Crimson, baby.

It occurred to me that while it is useful for me to know what all my feelings are regarding this situation, the people advising me on what to do about it do not need all those details.

They need to know about the practical stuff. They can know about the fact that yes, I have big feelings, but they don’t actually need to experience my wrath.

I translated my feelings into colors.

You could read into the colors if you wanted to. But you didn’t have to. The feelings became extras in the scene, instead of the protagonists. The feelings became the person playing the triangle, instead of the whole orchestra.

I used this lovely list of colors, and here’s the best part:

The more colors I used, the more fun I was having. Partly because it was secret agent code. Partly because it was playful and creative. Partly because colors make everything better. Partly because I’ve spent two months thinking “I’m Feeling So Hurt And Angry”, and now I got to be Alabama Crimson, which is rich and vibrant and spectacular.

The feelings still get to be heard. By me.

Here are some examples of the way I used colors while documenting the history of the Cheese Shop Situation.

“Some days this is easier than others, some days it is nearly impossible. On the best days I feel reasonably Brunswick Green about this, on other days my feelings are more Bitter Lime.”


“I felt pretty Crimson Glory about that part because this was useful and convenient!”


“I realize now that we should written that into the agreement, but (for reasons that I am now very Alabama Crimson about), I made the choice not to fight them on this.”

Here is a sweet little miracle.

I woke up this morning, and for the first time in three months, I do not feel Alabama Crimson about this situation.

I feel strongly about it, and I am ready to take action, but here is what I am not feeling: I’m not feeling overwhelmed by the feelings anymore.

I’m also not feeling upset about the fact that I am feeling the feelings.

This may be in part because it is apparently easier (for me) to remember that it is legitimate to feel Dark Byzantium than it is to remember that it is legitimate to feel dark, scary feelings.

And it may be because using the cheese shop and the colors gave me just enough emotional distance so that I could get closer to the parts of me who were getting lost. Stepping out so that I can draw in.

I find this reassuring. Feeling emerald about it too. Emerald and hopeful.

Play with me?

Here are the principles of how commenting works here: We play! We take care of ourselves. We remember that people vary! We do not tell each other what to do or how to feel or how to be. We are on permanent vacation from advice-giving and care-taking.

Things I am receptive to for this post:

Saying names of colors! Feeling feelings in colors. Sparks sparked for you. Ways you might end up playing with this. Excitement for me because I am making progress with the cheese shop situation. Commiseration for how much Alabama Crimson has been going on. Any or all of those.

And, as always, I love flowers.

The Fluent Self