Atoosa Unedited
Atoosa Unedited
Trigger Warning 🤮
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Trigger Warning 🤮

You may want to barf in my face over the layers of privilege in this letter. But maybe emotional waste management shouldn't be considered a privilege.
I’m never far from a notebook, weighted blanket, Theragun or a nap. Call me a pussy. I accept. My emotional life is my priority…and maybe that’s why I’m happy.

The purpose of this letter is to share my experiences in case you relate. I’m not a doctor or a therapist…but I would TOTALLY play one on TV if you ask nicely. 🤩

I had a really hard week.

And…cut. 🎬

How do you feel when I tell you I’ve had a hard week. Notice if you have a resistance to this. If you know me personally, you may gloss over the rest of this letter and just rush to send me an omg-are-you-okay note. Or you may even be thinking with an eye roll, “Here we go again….” Noticing my own feelings when someone shares theirs (particularly when they are experiencing difficult feelings) has been a very interesting practice. Spoiler alert: We get verrrrrrrrry uncomfortable when someone else is uncomfortable and we immediately want to wish it away for our friend or disapparate 🧙🏼‍♀️ourselves.

When I say it’s been hard for me, I don’t mean I’m sad and I want to be happy.

Newsflash: I am happy.

Here’s what I do mean: I’ve been processing difficult feelings.

We’re living in a society that encourages us to project that everything is GREAT! (Hey, Instagram! 👋🏼) Or that we have the right answer or opinion at the ready! (I see you, Twitter! 👀) We lurve to project that we are #livingourbestlives and #influencers. Insert cocktail cheersing boomerang. 🥂

And I assure you. I am living my best life. But sometimes…I’m not. Sometimes I feel like shit. Don’t you? I don’t want to gloss over these moments for fear of disturbing someone’s perception of me or themselves.

I’d like to normalize processing hard feelings.

Otherwise, we are inadvertently normalizing burying them. It’s like not allowing the emotional body to take a shit. 💩 The emotional waste has got to come out of our systems. Absent that, we have even more problematic strategies of emotional waste management like drinking, smoking weed (I know, weed lovers, I know 😘), shopping, overeating and perhaps even physical manifestations like auto-immune diseases or even cancer.

So let’s start this over again.

Last week was hard.

There’s no worthwhile storyline to explain exactly why it was so hard. I mean…one of my kids got Covid and her sickness required the cancellation of some plans…the kind of important plans made months in advance that involve many other people. But again, I don’t think it was really about these particular circumstances. Afterall, I’m a mother of three. Children get sick. Plans fall apart. This is all par for the course. She is generally healthy, we have solid health care. All in all, this was just a bump in the road. But perhaps because I’ve been reevaluating my relationship to power and control over the past few weeks, instead of frantically trying to salvage this plan or that one – I just let it all fall apart. I surrendered to the situation instead of trying to control it.

When a set plan goes sideways, do you ever feel that sensation come over your body that is directing every single cell to go into Defcon 1 mode? 🆘 Shit happens and my body just snaps into Fight (I’m not a flight-er).

I’m very familiar with this strong urge to exert force. This was the energy of Atoosa from CosmoGIRL! The girl who didn’t give a shit how late we had to work and pushed everyone (including myself) all night if necessary to make sure everything in the magazine was exactly as I wanted it. The girl who called everyone September 12, 2001 to say I expected them back in the office next morning because we had an issue that was going to press. Yes, our city (and our country) had just suffered a catastrophe that left us numb, terrified and unable to function. But that wasn’t going to stop our issue from making it to the press in time. That form of power can only be called force and I know exactly what it feels like in my body. But when it started up this time, I didn’t serve my master. Instead, I observed it. And once the opportunity and urge to control passed, there was something surprising hiding behind it. It felt like a lifetime’s worth of disappointment piled on top of one another. Disappointments I had You-got-this-girl-ed myself into burying. Have you ever had this type of emotional 12-car-pile-up?

Yeah.

It was heavy.

In fact, I was on a walk with my bestie David right after I found out my daughter had Covid (She’s a teen and went back to bed after her test was positive). At the end of our walk, he said something like, “I’m noticing that your energy has shifted very dramatically since we started.” And he was totally right. When we first met up, I was in my typical you-got-this-girl default mindset. This is a strategy that really works for me. When shit goes sideways like Covid or fill-in-the-blank-because-having-kids-means-something-is-always-going-sideways, being a positive person is helpful. But as I leaned into the steadfast support of my beloved friend, and my strategies were not as necessary, my true emotional backpack got heavier and heavier. And by the way, that’s why having a solid support system is so important. We all have strategies against feeling totally overwhelmed by what life throws at us because we have to be able to function. But always being in strategy mode doesn’t allow us to fully process our feelings. Anyway, by the end of the walk, I was essentially mute because of the back log of disappointment and pain this incident was kicking up. I pithily acknowledged to David that I was in a bad place and that I was going to lie in this bad place.

And I did. I did.

It. Felt. Awful.

I put aside the narrative and dropped into the bodily sensations. It was no longer about any plans that were cancelled or people who were sick or my efficacy as a parent or a human. It was just head to toe horrible sensation. No words for it, honestly.

In some ways not speaking about it and just feeling it, is what seemed to invite the energy of every disappointment I’ve ever experienced to come flooding in because the extent of how I felt was not at all commensurate with, “My kid got Covid and we had to cancel some plans.” It was bigger. It was actually debilitating when I let it flow through me, which I intentionally did during the day when my other kids were at school. I rested through it as my sick child did the same with her virus. I allowed the yuck to extend as long as it needed to, but not past about 3pm when I have to do my first school pick up every day. When that time arrived, I was with the kids, made dinner, and I was actually able to enjoy that time because I gave so much time to intentionally doing the processing work. During the days I rested and treated my convalescence with gravitas and respect. And I felt like complete shit until eventually…I didn’t. It took about three days… Interestingly, my symptoms were in synch with the worst of my daughter’s COVID symptoms. And no, I did not have COVID.

And you know what I realized? I was familiar with this feeling. Back when I was working at the magazines, I had two bouts of depression. Once when I was a Fashion Assistant at Cosmo and the second time when I was transitioning from CosmoGIRL! to Seventeen. Both times I felt so horrible, I could barely get out of bed. And it took me weeks before I even realized what was happening and got help. Then I used an SSRI (Paxil) that almost immediately erased the feeling and got me up and functional again.

The bodily sensations I experienced last week were very similar if not exactly the same as the depression of my younger years, but it came in and out like a virus as opposed to a chronic illness. I think (I don’t know – I think!) it’s because of these two factors:

*This is not intended as advice. Merely an observation of my own experiences over the years.

1-    I embraced the debilitation instead of pushing myself to work and function at a normal level. The ability to do this is a privilege, but it’s still interesting to note. Leaning into what was hard worked better than pushing it away or trying to push through it. I don’t think difficult feelings are unique to me or someone who specifically has clinical depression (which I do not have). I believe we all have old, hard feelings that come up for processing. I think we all also have many different (and seamless) strategies to ameliorate or push those feelings away. My experiment involved stripping away my strategies. But I wouldn’t have been able to do that safely if it weren’t for my next point.

2-    I am very resourced (meaning solid friends and a solid commitment to self-care). Back then, I didn’t have friends I could be vulnerable with and self-care meant keeping up with my bikini wax and making time on the weekends to bang out more work. Today, I intentionally create safe spaces for my feelings. Whether it’s my therapist, my energy healer (yeah, I know what that sounds like but energy healing and medicine really works!), the weighted blanket in my office, a meditation or chanting practice, the lavender oil in my bedside drawer, my medicine cabinet full of flower essences, the notebooks I keep in every room in case I need to explore how I’m feeling or the Theragun mini I use on my face, head, neck or any part of me that needs vibration, touch and presence. I take care of myself. I’m no longer a latchkey kid eating bowl after bowl of Lucky Charms to soothe the feelings I don’t know how else to cope with.

Caitlin Marino turned me onto Flower Remedies and for sensitive people like (and my kids) they work like magic. It’s a great tool in your emotional self-care kit.

Listen, I realize having a therapist, healer and all the wacky accoutrements in my proverbial self-care backpack make me sound like a tone-deaf entitled douchebag. But listen, instead of having my eyebrows laminated, getting a new cute top every other day or going out for drinks left and right, this is what I spend my money on: Taking care of myself deeply instead of distracting myself from my feelings. I know not everyone can take a few days off from work to let feelings process. Most people can’t. But instead of making back-to-back brunch and dinner plans after a rough week, if you’re well supported, this may be the weekend plan you never knew you needed: Wallowing in the last place you want to wallow and just letting the hard feelings run their course as you would a virus. Perhaps there’s some emotional immunity for you on the back end.

Perhaps, perhaps, perhaps.

I am not an influencer. I am not a doctor. I don’t have the answers, but gosh I love exploring the questions…even when it drags me through dog shit like last week. In retrospect, I think that shit was fertilizer because I came out with some real clarity.

xo, atoosa

PS - Sweet Darkness by David Whyte is an incredible poem for these moments. 🖤

A Podcast I Think You Will Enjoy ❤️:

These are My Current Flower Remedies 🤍:

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Atoosa Unedited
Atoosa Unedited
When your life gets bat sh*t crazy, I can help.
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