Gretchen L. Kelly, Author

Damn You, Feelings

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“Welcome to the inner workings of my mind
So dark and foul I can’t disguise,
Can’t disguise.
Nights like this,
I become afraid
Of the darkness in my heart…

-MS MR, Hurricane

This has been a crazy year. At the dawn of 2013 I declared that it would be “The Year of Not Learning.” The previous year had been kinda tough. There were revelations, there was a touch of drama, I learned a lot. So I decided that for 2013 I was going to just coast. I had done some work on myself and my relationships already, it was time to take a break and just “be.”

It’s funny how the Universe doesn’t always listen to me. Maybe it’s because I’m not a walking Chinese Calendar. But it’s such a reasonable request. A little blissful ignorance is all I was asking for. I guess starting therapy for the first time in my life probably didn’t help. Therapy makes you think. A lot. About stuff you really don’t want to think about. That’s why you pay someone else to make you do it. Like a trainer at the gym. You could go do 500 sit ups and 500 lunges on your own, but you won’t. Sure, I could sit and think about my life, think about my thoughts. Work through some issues. But I won’t. I’ll half ass it the same way I do at the gym. I won’t really dig deep and feel the burn.

So, therapy and all that. It makes you feel stuff. Stuff you purposely have avoided feeling. It makes you (if you’re doing it right) take the lid off of the stuff you had so carefully put in a box, buried in the back yard and placed a giant boulder on top of. That stuff.

Sometimes life calls you out.

I started this blog the same month I started therapy. Coincidence? Who knows. But the things you learn about yourself when you start sharing your thoughts and your writing with the world- it’s fascinating. The things I’ve learned from reading some talented writers on their blogs- some of those things have been moving. Profound. Touching. Some of these things have knocked me off of my feet.

I recently had a blogger respond to one of my blog posts. This is a writer I have a lot of respect for, so when she said she could relate to what I’d written, I was honored. I felt gratified, like maybe I’m doing something right. Maybe if my writing connects with at least one person then it’s not totally indulgent. When I started writing in response to what she’d shared with me, I started to feel like a fake. I felt like I had touched on some things I was feeling but I kept them on the surface. Because that’s what I do with the really hard stuff. I keep it on top where I can see it and keep an eye on it and control it. And this writer, she doesn’t do that. She’s hilariously funny, some even say she’s snarky. But when she’s real, she’s gut-wrenchingly real. She’s the kind of writer I aspire to be. And her comments to me were more real and had more depth than my 1000 plus word blog post. I felt like a fraud.

I don’t know if I would have realized this without therapy. It doesn’t really matter, but what does matter is I’m starting to feel. What I’m allowing myself to feel isn’t fun. It actually kind of sucks. But I know it’s healthier than keeping it buried and pretending like it doesn’t exist. There’s a lot of stuff buried in that box. It can be overwhelming at times. If this was an anonymous blog I’d write about it here. What I will say is that I have realized that anger and grief are the two emotions I don’t allow. These are the two emotions I have shoved away my entire life.


Fourteen years after losing my brother, I’m realizing I never grieved. I’ve had sad moments, I’ve cried, I’ve missed him so much it hurts. But I haven’t grieved. I got married 10 days after he passed away. My new in-laws stayed at my house for two weeks after my wedding. Then a few months later I was pregnant with my son. I never had time. And the truth is, I didn’t want time. I wanted to dive back in to work. I wanted to stay busy and preoccupied. But over the last few weeks, I’ve felt it. The only time I truly fell apart was at my brother’s funeral, at the grave side service. I collapsed in tears and wept uncontrollably in front of everyone as we were walking to our cars. But I gave myself about 45 seconds of tears before I pulled myself together.

Last week was the very next time that I cried like that over my brother. I wept uncontrollably, I didn’t try to stop it. I let it happen and I felt it. I wrote through my sobbing. I could barely see the computer screen but I wrote. And it helped. I don’t know if I’ll ever post what I wrote, but it helped writing it. It felt like purging. I was pretty sad for the next few days and my husband knew something was up. I kept brushing off his questions. Then Saturday night as we were putting together the kids’ Easter baskets, I started crying uncontrollably again. I had to explain to him through my sobs why I was crying, what had happened a few days earlier. He got it. Thank god he got it. He held me and let me do what I had to do. I wish that was it, but I’m pretty sure it’s not. Two good cries aren’t going to get the job done. But I now know that I can allow it to happen. I will try to loosen my death grip I’ve had on all these feelings.


This emotion baffles me. When I feel it, I don’t know what to do with it. I usually don’t even know why I feel angry. And then I decide that if I don’t know then it must be unfounded, so I squash it like an annoying little bug. But lately, I’ve been really feeling it. Not often. But for someone who doesn’t usually operate in anger, I have had some random fury building up inside of me. And I do mean random. I shouldn’t want to throw a plate across the room because one of my kids forgot to put it in the dishwasher. That’s not a normal response I would have to such an offense. I haven’t actually thrown a plate yet but it’s been real hard to resist. Like I’ve had to pry my hands off the plate and walk away. So obviously I have some work to do there.

I want to be real here. I am walking the line between writing about what moves me and what’s on my mind and keeping some things private and respecting the privacy of the people I love. Sometimes it blocks the flow. What I am yearning to write about I can’t. Then I have to try to get creative and pull something else out that still feels real. It’s an uneasy push and pull and I’m really hoping I don’t fall on the wrong side of that line. I’ll write through some tears I’m sure. And when I’m feeling angry I’ll find something, some issue, some place where someone’s being an ass. Someone that is putting people down, stifling progress or passing judgement. And I’ll write about it. I’ll exorcise some demons through words. I will transfer all that rage onto some unsuspecting prick and I’ll love every minute. Or I’ll throw a plate… damn you, feelings.



11 Responses

  1. As always, this is a wonderful piece of writing and feelings. Can totally relate (maybe cause you’re my sister) to both the feelings of anger and grief. I think you should write about what you are “yearning to write about”- whatever that may be. Don’t worry about if it bothers any of us, it’s Your writing and it is very freeing for you. No one is forced to read anything, freedom of speech, write on! (Love you)

  2. Well, you can set up another blog and be anonymous, or write the posts you need to, and make them private if necessary, then only give the password to those you want.
    Either way, keep writing and bring your feelings out where they can help you, or at least get out of you.

    1. Thanks Guap. I have toyed with the idea of an anonymous blog. I might do it one day. Until then, I’ll work with what I’ve got here. And it means so much to me, I have so much love for this community and this outlet. It’s really given me more than I ever would have thought. I will keep writing. I have a slew of posts in my cue that are unpublished. I will revisit them when the time’s right. And I have notebooks of writings that will never see the light of day, but that’s ok. Some things (for me) aren’t meant for public consumption. But the support I get from other writers, like you, is priceless.

  3. You’re one of the realest bloggers I know.

    I hide a lot of my feelings behind snark and barbed witticism because sometimes it’s just easier than my truth. Sometimes, the two dance together wonderfully, but sometimes, like recently, they clash – and I don’t post. For three weeks. That’s how hard it is to walk that line between what we CAN write and what we WANT to write.

    Someday, when I have the balls, I’ll write about my brother. Maybe. And when I do, you’ll be the first to know.

    Thanks for honoring me in this beautiful post.


    1. It’s a damned thing, this writing. It’s so frustrating when it doesn’t just pour out of us. That can put me in a foul mood faster than anything. I think it’s because we’re too hard on ourselves. I know for me, I am a perfectionist when it comes to my writing. (Not with grammar, obviously) And no where else in my life am I even remotely perfectionistic. If I don’t feel like it came from deep within then I hate it and can’t even look at myself afterwards. I hope you find some release/ relief soon. Maybe just put out one half ass post to break the damn. Your “half ass” would be most people’s awesome.

      I think we all have a little self preservation going on. I try to embrace it but it sucks when it gets in the way.

      I don’t know why it’s easy to write about my brother. I’ve sat here and cried when I’ve written about him. But last week when I had my meltdown, that took a lot out of me. I was physically drained for two days. I think I needed it, but the aftermath was not fun. If/when you write about your brother you’ll do it because you feel like you need to. It doesn’t take balls, it takes timing. (At least this is how I look at it) Some things I know I want to say, but I have to wait until it’s burning to come out of me. Until then I shelve it. And you certainly don’t need to write about him to honor him. I imagine that you already do that in many ways.

      Write on, sister. 🙂

  4. Interesting timing with this one, Gretchen.

    Great gym analogy, except I’m always trying to do it alone. That’s probably both good and bad.

    I totally knew you were writing about Samara. She does honesty better than anyone.

    Been struggling with a topic for a while now. Been afraid to write it for a variety of reasons.

    I think being scared might just be the best time to hit that Publish button.

    So, I’m going to try to be brave today.

    Like Samara. Like you.

    Random fury.

    I know that one.

    1. Yes, I say the ones that scare us the most are probably the best ones. When you break out into a sweat after hitting publish, you’ve probably got something good.

      And Samara, she’s got special stuff going on over there. I’m either laughing or crying when I read her blog.

      I’ll be anxiously waiting to see your post today. Cause now you kinda have to do it, right? If not, I’ll totally call you out…. 🙂

  5. Looks like you and I are sifting through similar things. I’m so sorry to hear about the loss of your brother. I can’t even imagine, and I’m glad to hear your having time to finally grieve.

    Samara is freaking amazing. She’s my sister wife and I love her emotional depth. She puts it ALL out there with no apologies.

  6. Thank you… even writing about my brother is kind of surreal because most of my brain thinks he’s still here, just away on vacation or something.

    Samara’s pretty amazing. I feel like there should be a WP fan club for her. I love how real and raw and honest she is. And she writes like a beast!

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