Foreboding Joy

I’m going to a family gathering today. With several family members I haven’t seen since pre-Covid. I am learning to pay attention to how I feel, physically, as that often indicates how I’m feeling mentally, emotionally, & spiritually.

Slight headache. A bit nauseous. Weak, in general.

And why??

These are all family members I love dearly and have missed getting to be with! They’re all very important to me. And…I want them to think well of me. I question if they will. I have stealth expectations of them, and of myself. I want to put off an attitude of being comfortable in my own skin. But often, I’m not.

What is my deal?? My physical symptoms are pointing me to the uncertainty and anxiety lurking behind them. Foreboding Joy. This is what I’m feeling – what I’m physically experiencing.

I just took a big, involuntary sigh. I think it’s the first deep breath I’ve had yet this morning. Putting a name to what I’m experiencing is regulating, integrating. And now I have a name for this post.

Foreboding Joy – thank you Brené Brown for giving me words to my feelings.

In Atlas of the Heart, Brené writes:

If you’re afraid to lean into good news, wonderful moments, and joy—if you find yourself waiting for the other shoe to drop—you are not alone. It’s called “foreboding joy,” and most of us experience it.

I want vulnerability. I’m expecting pretense. I expect polite hugs and “so good to see you, it’s been too long”. I want deep conversations and The Good Parts. And I know it will be difficult, in this setting, to give or receive much of that openness. But I’ll endeavor to be as real as I can. Life has not been easy these past several years. But I’ve learned SO MUCH. I have reason to be real, to share, and to be anxious about it all.

There was a time not so long ago I wouldn’t have recognized it. I would’ve absolutely found a way to self-sabotage, so that I could “numb out” and expect less. Now, I guess I write about it, for starters. I recognize it for what it is. I have high hopes for this day. And that’s okay! Even if they are not met. Even if I end up feeling like I didn’t measure up to my expectations. I’m excited to go be with these family members. And I cannot “be with” them if I self-sabotage, if I numb out. I want to feel this day. Whatever comes, I want to fully experience it. I will remain aware, mindful. I will practice being present.

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