Think of songs on a CD. Sometimes when you play a song frequently, the CD forms a scratch on its surface where that song is encoded. When you play the song again, you may find that there’s a part that skips. The other songs are fine, though, and even the rest of that song is fine. I’ve lost many a CD due to playing the song so much the CD actually gets tired of me. That’s a skill, ya’ll!
But in all seriousness, let’s use this analogy to turn the mirror inward. In many ways, we can see the skip in our own lives. Today, I want to talk about that “skip” as it relates to how we experience emotions. Of course we all know what emotions are. But I’m not talking about the emotions that make us sparkle. We’re all happy to discuss pretty emotions like happiness or excitement. But let’s shift our focus today on those emotions that are not so great. A few examples of those would be grief, betrayal, shame, and anger. These emotions are our “skips”.
Generally, when I used to hear the skip on one of my favorite songs, I would try to wait it out and see if the rest of the song would play. This was especially true for those songs that I felt embodied all of the emotions my little teenage heart could bear (oh the drama!). But after a few seconds of listening to what might as well have been nails on a chalkboard, I would just skip the entire song in my frustration.
Just like a skip on a song, when it comes to the not so pretty emotions our tendency is to skip it. Instead of enduring the few moments of aggravation to get to the other side (in this case the rest of our karaoke routine), we want to pass the whole experience. But here’s the thing when dealing with emotions: the skip is essential. You see, the skip is a space to allow ourselves to feel the feeling before moving on. Did ya’ll catch that? I said the skip is a space to allow ourselves to FEEL THE FEELING before moving on.
This step is crucial in order for us to heal properly. Now, it can’t go without saying that sitting with the skips is a scary thing. And that’s completely normal. It’s even understandable. Feeling ugly emotions are never fun. I won’t say that it will ever be a pleasant experience. But what can be guaranteed is that emotions always intensify the longer you put them off. Think of the last time you had to cry…I mean like the ugly cry that has mascara running down your face. Are you at that moment? Think about the pressure you felt a release as the dam burst and your tears poured out. Did you end up crying yourself to sleep? I did. Emotions naturally want to release themselves. It’s the way that we communicate with the world around us how we feel and what we need. When we bar ourselves from naturally letting go of the emotions, we only put ourselves in a position to need a nap or ibuprofen later.
Instead of prolonging the inevitable, we should take comfort in the fact that, although we’ll have to face the skips, we are always changing in relation to them. For example, I’ll never feel grief like I experienced it when I was in high school. Why? Well for starters, I pay bills now…and that’s a whole other grief within itself! I’ve also lived so much life since that time. I’ve had the opportunity to learn so much more that I use in my experience of grief this go around. The same goes for anger, sadness, and betrayal. The same even goes for the pretty emotions (in high school, I would’ve been happy with a day out of school…now I’m much more happy with a payday). Although I’ll have to face the emotions again in my life, it will be from a different space simply because I’m evolving daily.
So let the skip play, sis (and bro). Use that time to grab some water, look up the lyrics, and get yourself ready for the rest of your bomb karaoke session we call life. Give yourself some credit for the growth you’ve experienced that makes this skip different from the last. And instead of thinking of the pain that may come with a skip, think of the strength that you have to endure it.