Emotional holiday leftovers

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I learned years ago that I almost never have an original thought. But I can creatively adapt thoughts to make them my own. This is certainly true when I began thinking about “holiday emotional leftovers.” Others before me have played with this notion. So I learn from them to share with you.

Neuropsychologist and writer, Marsha Lucas, believes “that emotional leftovers are similar to leftovers in your fridge. They’re kind of messy — and much of the time they get old and you might even delay their removal longer than desired.”

You may have recently seen the flyer for next Tuesday’s Geezer Forum. Before I knew about Ms. Lucas’ image, I had selected “Holiday Emotional Leftovers” for the Geezer Forum, and found a cartoon for the flyer, a Beetle Bailey cartoon.

Cookie, the Army cook, is carrying a pot of food to the garbage can. He cries loudly as he dumps the food. Beetle says to Sarge, “Cookie gets very sentimental when he has to say goodbye to his leftovers.”

Then I discovered Dr. Lucas’ article about emotional leftovers. Maybe she saw the same cartoon. She asks the question: “Why do you hold onto those leftovers? Then she provides a few possible answers:

* “You might feel justified in your anger or resentment, and feel the importance of holding onto it, perhaps to keep yourself ‘safe.’

* You might believe that letting go of your grief would be disloyal to whomever you lost, or cause you to lose an emotional thread to the lost.

* You might keep mulling over the frustration of an unresolved encounter, where you held back from dealing directly and authentically in one of your relationships (partner, neighbor, co-worker) — easier to keep it going in your mind instead of dealing with it directly, so that you don’t have to reach a difficult potentially painful resolution.

* You might be afraid of what’s next — and so your mind seems like a hamster on a wheel considering and reconsidering what to do, which decision to make, in an effort to make only the ‘right’ choice and keep yourself safe from the unknown.” (“Your Emotional Leftovers and How to Clear Out Your Fridge by Re-Wiring your Brain”, loveandlifetoolbox.com)

I don’t know if “letting go of leftovers” will be the direction our conversation takes on Tuesday, Nov. 28. We’ll just have to attend the Geezer Forum at 2:30-4 p.m. at Columbia Bank’s Community Room to find out what Karen Poseley has in store for us.

Karen is a psychotherapist who works with Eric Ridgway at Human Connection. She will share insights about the emotional leftovers we all seem to have, particularly around holidays when family and relationships seem so important to us. She may even invite us to share some leftovers that we are comfortable sharing.

So please consider joining us next Tuesday at 2:30 p.m. You may discover new ideas on how to join Cookie and put some of those leftovers in the garbage can!

Paul Graves, M.Div., is lead geezer-in-training for Elder Advocates, a consulting ministry on aging issues. Contact Paul at 208-610-4971 or elderadvocates@nctv.com

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