the surprising emotional support skills of a rubber ducky

I once upon a time dated a quantum physicist who was also a computer programmer.

The quantum physicist part isn’t at all relevant to this post. I just like saying “quantum” and “physics” together, because I feel smart.

Onward!

He talked about a trick some programmers use. They keep a rubber ducky on their desk. The rule is that, whenever they run into an error or get stuck, they must verbally talk to the rubber ducky BEFORE retrieving a manager.

Why?

Because nearly EVERY time they verbalize their problem out loud to the rubber ducky? The answer suddenly becomes apparent.

Out with the confusion, in with the clarity.

Rubber duckies are great at holding space. Such good listeners. They rarely, if ever, interrupt. Total judgment-free zone.

That’s happened to you before, right? You’re confused or frustrated and you start venting to a person and then, mid-sentence, there’s an aha moment followed by an “OOOOhhhhhHHhh waaaaiiitt. Now I get it.”

This. Is. The. Power. Of. Sharing.

The goal is to eventually share with supportive humans, but the rubber ducky is a starting point. I didn’t share with people for a long time. Even with my therapist, I played the role of BEST CLIENT EVER – LOOK HOW AWARE I AM rather than being my true, unencumbered self.

My boyfriend once asked if I’d had any human interaction on a particularly dark day.

“Yea. I talked to my favorite teacher from college,” I said.

“Oh good. (Pause) Wait. I thought she died?” He responded.

“She did.”

“…That doesn’t count.”

“WHY NOT?”

“You have to talk to someone who is ALIVE.”

Sigh.

Being an introvert, it’s been an ongoing challenge to consistently share. With people. With my therapist. My sponsor. Even my blog. I’m still riding the momentum of my 30-day May, Myself, and I Self-Love Experiment, where I wrote every day.

There was a temper tantrum battle on some days. I wanted to hide and watch baking shows and not share my innards with people… Most days.

bored room GIF

But, after I shared? I nearly ALWAYS felt better. I felt like I’d overcome resistance. I stayed true to my daily commitment and honored myself, my voice.

I’m learning to find a balance there.

Balance is a mystical concept, by the way. It resides with Unicorns and all the matching pairs to my socks.

I enjoy journaling. And talking aloud to my dog or stuffed animals, or my own version of a rubber ducky. Getting lost in a book about neuroscience or emotional well-being is far more tempting to me than going out for a group dinner. Or, like, sharing feelings and thoughts with people.

Part of my recovery maintenance is to reach out to other women in recovery. (It’s supposed to be 3 women a day. I rarely reach that.) I am to call them and ask how their day is going. This is especially important to do when I’m trapped in my head.

Rather than spew my guts to a rubber ducky, I’ll set the spinning stories aside and put my focus elsewhere: ON ANOTHER HUMAN.

Oftentimes, the human I call will be going through a similar situation. I’ll be offering guidance or my own experience to them, and then become conscious of what I’m saying… And am like, “OH SHIT THIS IS EXACTLY WHAT I NEED TO HEAR RIGHT NOW.”

This. Is. The. Power. Of. Connection.

I still allow myself unplug time. But… I’ve learned to look at my intention behind unplug/recharge time. Am I avoiding some sort of truth or confrontation? Is there something I’d really benefit from saying, but am afraid to say? Am I feeling less than perfect and wanting to hide my messiness?

If the answer to any of those is YES, I will pick up the phone and begrudgingly call someone and tell on myself. It’s the suck at first, but it gets easier. And I’ve found that me being a vulnerable messy human to another helps them feel loved and needed, and opens the line of communication for when they need an ear.

It’s like with any other skill; the more we do it, the easier it becomes.

Even as recently as a year ago, me sharing my feelings with my SigO was preceded by me hiding in a closet or on the floor or at my house with my phone off, trying to figure everything out myself… So I didn’t have to “burden” him with my shit.

In case no one has told you lately: YOUR FEELINGS ARE NOT A BURDEN. You deserve to be heard, to be witnessed. If not by a human yet, then – at the very least – by a rubber ducky.

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Some days, I paint. Other days, I write. And rap. And tell stories. And do comedy. And doodle. And [attempt to] bake. And, one week out of every month, I merge with my sofa and sob about mortality and things like the existence of air and how we can't live without it and how utterly claustrophobic that is to consider. I'm relatively particular. And this is a place for me to share ALL the quirks.

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