May 24, 2014

Bubbles (The Emotionally Volatile Kind)

You might have been hoping this was about bubbly beverages.  It's not.  Nor is it about soap bubbles.  This is all about bubbly people and what they do to their non-bubbly peers.

On a trip not too long ago, I was listening to an acquaintance prattling happily about something or other.  Without warning she switched into a downward spiraling rant.  No transition.  Just bouncing from positive to negative and, eventually, back again.

It made me feel worn out.  So much emotion!  So much negativity!  And for what purpose?

It was actually kind of strange.  After listening to her for a while, I really just needed a break.  I felt kind of empty, as if the vigor of her emotions had drained mine away.  I made excuses to skip dinner so I could be alone and recuperate.

Then it hit me.

That's how my mom and Sister3 have always responded to me!

When I'd get home after work/school/whatever, I'd always be happy and excited, and want to talk about my day.  It always surprised me when, after a few minutes (or an hour, whatever!), the levels of enthusiasm on the other end died away.  Why didn't anyone else want to share with me?  Why weren't they happy and enthusiastic?  But now I know.

I'm the family bubbler.

My emotions have always tended towards the extremes.  When I was happy, I was bubbly and delighted with the world.  The concept of sadness didn't even exist.  When I was upset, everything was a seething mass of misery, and I'd never be happy again.  Rather like my grade school volcano science experiment, all that negativity would bubble up until the inevitable overflow.

High school was a mess.  I was a brat.  Like most brats, I didn't know it.  The problem was everyone else, not me.  And I continued this way, as a selfish, self-centered, emotional wreck until about age 22.

I was dating another emotional wreck (the second of them actually), and we were breaking up.  I was heart broken.  Even though we fought every day.  Even though we made each other miserable.  Even though.

But after 2 months of crying, something happened.  I realized I didn't want to be the person I had been.  I didn't want the rest of my life to be this chaotic mess of emotional extremes.  I started trying to think of solutions and ways to improve things.

And you know what?  It helped immediately.  I didn't improve right away, but having a plan of action, and feeling in control of my life, made me feel better, safer, and less like a sinking ship.

I learned to think things over before reacting.  I was suddenly able to moderate my emotions.  I started to feel stable!  Oh sure, the highs weren't as high, but I had lost far more of the lows as compensation.  Stability felt nice.

I'm still the bubbly one in my family.  But I've stabilized enough that I was easily out-bubbled.  And maybe one day, that acquaintance will also experience what we feel when in contact with a more bubbly personality.