Living, Breathing, Feeling: Why ‘I Don’t Know’ Is Sometimes The Best Possible Answer

This morning I woke up sad. Irritable. Angry. On edge.

I don’t know why.

It was as if I were walking around without skin; like all of my nerve endings were exposed. The slightest shift in the wind, in my husband’s tone, in my father’s eyes caused my insides to start bubbling up. My stomach rose to my throat, time and time again. Tears fell from my eyes. Once. Twice. And then, three more times.

I don’t know why.

I’m in physical pain, but I’ve felt worse.

I’m surrounded by extended family and friends. We are all sleeping under one roof. It’s loud, but the noise is strangely comforting. I am enjoying their company.

I shouldn’t feel sad.

My three young children, whose constant energy and mind numbing tantrums are often the source of my irritability, have been exceptionally well behaved.

I shouldn’t feel angry.

Did I forget to take my depression medication yesterday? No, I remember taking them.

Did I eat too much sugar last night? Not any more than usual.

Did I not get enough sleep? Did I get too much sleep?

Did an anxiety trigger slip by unnoticed?

Is my subconscious still processing grief from years ago?

Am I getting sick?

Am I losing my mind?

I just don’t know why I’m feeling like this.

I notice my breath for the first time all day. I breathe in. The expansion of my lungs hurts but I keep breathing. Deep, cleansing breaths.

My brain begins to settle down.

I hear myself say these words out loud, “I don’t know.”

I rest.

I cry once more.

I still don’t know why.

But this time, “I don’t know” is enough.

Feelings don’t have to fit; they don’t have to make sense. They don’t have to be held up by logic or reason. Feelings just are. And they will continue to be regardless of whether or not I understand them.

I don’t know why I’m feeling sad, angry, irritable or on edge.

It might be my depression. It might be anxiety. It might be the voice of my alcoholism or my eating disorder. It might be my body processing pain.

Or it might just be me.

Living.

Breathing.

Feeling.

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