For the last few days I’ve noticed tension in my neck and jaw, and sometimes even in the root of my tongue. This is a familiar pattern of tension: in recent months I’ve realized that it’s the way I tend to physically experience stress and difficult emotions. And yet I’ve otherwise been feeling fairly relaxed lately: the holidays were a net win with less than the usual amount of work stress, and minimal holiday/family stress. So where is the tension coming from?
I went looking for other possible stressors and the only thing I can find is my “Dark Ages” posts (posted, drafted or merely outlined). I originally dismissed this as an unlikely stressor, but now I’m not so sure.
Sometimes when I’m reading (something on personal growth, for instance), I read a passage and — before any specific thought coalesces — I experience an emotional reaction in the form of sudden feeling of tension (usually the jaw), or being choked up (throat), or even full-blown tears. It’s like a tiny emotional landmine. Then I have to stop and think about it if I want to figure out what I’m feeling and what provoked it. It usually only takes a few moments: I usually have good idea of what it might be, so I just think on that for a moment to see if the thought stings or not. If it stings, that’s the issue. Sometimes the feeling might be uncomfortable but a bit hazy, as though this is part of it but not the biggest part, in which case I work through the other possibilities until I locate the sting.
My theory is that my recent neck and jaw tension may be a similar physical experience of emotion, but more vague and spread over a longer period of time — perhaps because the emotion is complex and/or deeply buried. I’ve had a few ideas about the possible underlying issues, but none of them give that sting when I’ve thought on them.
The fact that this exercise in revisiting the past seems to be unearthing some kind of emotion suggests that there is still some emotional work to be done here, as opposed to just pointless bitching about exes. I’m optimistic that I’ll be able to figure it out eventually and that I’ll feel better when I do.