I’m human. Have you met me? Maybe not…but you’re probably human, too, if you are reading this (or I am seriously behind the times on animal science, or the arrival of alien neighbors from the stars). Doubt is part of this human experience. Uncertainty, too, probably more so than certainty. Too often I find my fears or insecurity are calling my shots, instead of making careful, thoughtful choices. It’s very human, and I am pretty sure that when emotion and reason step out for an evening together, emotion is leading the way most of the time…that’s my own experience, anyway. Reason whispers, emotion shouts.

Tonight I am relaxing, having a cup of chamomile tea, and considering things as evening becomes night. I spent a couple lovely hours with my traveling partner. An evening of connected time, hanging out, and enjoying conversation would generally find me feeling something more like… euphoric. Tonight…something different. No reason I can specifically point to…I find I am exploring mixed feelings.

What does the expression ‘mixed feelings’ really mean, anyway? I take it to mean that I have an assortment of emotions going on at once that may not seem a pleasant mix, or easily understood. I most often use an expression like ‘mixed feelings’ specifically when some portion of the feelings are very much enjoyed, desired, or found to be pleasurable, but some other portion contrasts those, rending the experience more complicated by having to sort pleasant from less pleasant, or figure out quite what it is I do feel…and maybe ‘in response to what?’ becomes a question worth answering. For now, I am simply sipping tea, considering things, and exploring mixed feelings.

Love.

Love.

A phone call interrupts my reverie; my traveling partner letting me know he arrived home safely. I am still smiling, although the phone call was a short one. It matters to me that the time we share is of good quality, meaningful, valued…well…obviously, right? (Or is that so obvious?) I see, too, the text he sent shortly before, thanking me for the lovely evening. My fingers linger on the lovely locket I wear every day since he gave it to me. Mixed feelings? Well, sure – it’s a very human thing, but making assumptions about what feelings exist in that mix without asking would be both rude, and rather foolish. I’ve lived a number of decades rich in experiences and although I have some challenges, I am experienced and may even have some small measure of insight, now and then. However childlike I may sometimes seem I’m no child, and I experience an extraordinary and subtle range and variety of powerful emotions. Worthy, beautiful, amazing emotions. Sometimes…they get mixed up. Sometimes the mix up is complicated by my disinhibiting brain injury; my emotions are generally just right out there, obvious and sometimes rather unfortunately seemingly unstoppable. “Mixed feelings” are damned awkward sometimes…I continue to practice a variety of practices that build emotional resilience; the hope is that I will learn to ‘bounce back’ with sufficient speed to counter the lack of inhibition more significantly. I’m making progress. Incremental change over time is a thing.

So, sure, mixed emotions tonight, but I don’t run from my feelings these days. I am polite and considerate about something as powerful as emotion; I save what I can to consider later (since I’m not sure what’s up with me), and simply enjoy my evening with my partner. Totally worth it. We had a great time, and feelings are no more real than we make them; investing too heavily in emotions at the expense of reason is generally a poor choice. I try to keep my ‘observer’ in the driver’s seat, let reason ride shotgun and do the navigating – but the map is not the journey, and my heart sometimes insists on the scenic route, or some crazy detour. Emotions are worthy of my consideration, and they’re part of the experience. I wouldn’t cut off my hands because I can’t play piano without learning how – why would I seek to cut off my emotions simply because I have not learned all I can about their worth, how to make best use of them, what they do or don’t mean…? That doesn’t make sense. What makes sense, to me, for now, is to explore my mixed feelings and understand them in context, maybe look at them from some other perspective, and to simply breathe and be and let them sort themselves out their own way. It’s okay to feel – it’s part of the experience. Isn’t that enough?

…And I’m still smiling. That’s definitely enough.