“Feelings come and go like clouds in a windy sky. Conscious breathing is my anchor.” Thích Nhất Hạnh,
One day, as I was taking a walk, I met up with an old friend. She asked me how I felt? I had no answer….
Feelings. We have them, we name them, we curse them and we cherish them. Feelings, are, according to Google definitions an emotional state or reaction, and are often felt physically, though churnings in our body.
For example, if I feel frustrated, I feel this huge ball in my stomach going towards my throat, which often feels choked. Frustration for me, often moves from the ball to my head often giving me a headache if I do not breathe deeply to relieve the frustration. Moreover, The feeling of love moves me. I feel often butterflies in my stomach, warmth going across my chest, and even at times tears as loves moves me often to the feeling of joy. Loves makes me want to hug someone tight, and love actually gives the feeling of being valued when it is given to me.
Yet, there was a time when none of this was felt.
Robert Frost states that «the best way out is always through» and I believe this is true when it comes to our feelings. When we experience positive feelings such as joy, happiness or elation, we hang on as long as we can to the emotion which makes us feel good. So we allow it, for as long as we can, to pass through and stay for a long visit. However, when feelings such as sadness, anger or grief, we often want it gone. Thus, many of us crush, hide or deny these emotions thinking we can put them off for another day.
No no no!
“Part of the problem with the word ‘disabilities’ is that it immediately suggests an inability to see or hear or walk or do other things that many of us take for granted. But what of people who can’t feel? Or talk about their feelings? Or manage their feelings in constructive ways? What of people who aren’t able to form close and strong relationships? And people who cannot find fulfillment in their lives, or those who have lost hope, who live in disappointment and bitterness and find in life no joy, no love? These, it seems to me, are the real disabilities.” ~Fred Rogers
A few years ago. I had totally shut-down. The only feeling I was getting was anxiety and despair. Despair because the feeling of anxiety and panic would mask away any other emotion I could have felt if it wasn’t protected by this deep, extra security safe, deep within me. I had tucked away years of feelings, even a lifetime. What I didn’t know was that my anxiety was actually all the shame, guilt, anger, frustration, hurt, sadness, bitterness, and contempt that I put away like a penny for a rainy day.
I felt like a robot, void of feelings, I was dis-abled!
After 2 extensive years of self-work, including therapy, writing about, talking about, screaming about and crying about all these locked up feelings, I managed to bring them up to the surface. In the beginning, my body was yelling «red alert, red alert» with all the beeps and whistles of a good old Star Trek episode. My first instinct was to get them back into the safe where the can stay tucked away. However, with the comfort of my therapist, and some good friends and family, I was finally allowing my emotions to emerge. These people became like a tree, strong, wise and protecting me from the harshness of the heat my emotions could make me experience.
“What we don’t let out traps us. We think, No one else feels this way, I must be crazy. So we don’t say anything. And we become enveloped by a deep loneliness, not knowing where our feelings come from or what to do with them. Why do I feel this way?”
― Sabrina Ward Harrison
What a fucking ride!!
Not for the faint of heart mind you.. oh.. wait a second, I was faint of heart, still am. Meaning, it is very doable, yet you must have a soft place to fall. The first year of therapy was all about assessing the «damage» and slowly peeling the layers. The more layers (like an onion) I peeled the more emotional responses occurred. That first year was about pinpointing and learning to feel these layers and breathe into them. How did it make me feel in my body? In my soul? What do I have to do to forgive, to move on to create something new? The more I assessed the more I felt safe talking to my therapist about my feelings, then, I moved onto one friend, my mom, another friend and so on.
Today, I can count on my hands who I share my true feelings with which is preferable than sharing my “stories” with anyone who would listen. These wonderful people have been tested, tried and true and are now my go to «persons». Those I open up to. There are other friends I hang out with. They are as much fun, however, they fulfill another need, the need for comradery. This is important too.
As I moved towards my 2nd year in therapy, I became easier and easier to feel and release, talk and let go, write and move on. I experienced the negative feelings as I would experience a toothache. They are painful, they need tending too, then they are gone.
It is not that I will NEVER ever feel anger, frustration or sadness again. No, I will, yet this time I threw away the safe, and I live in the moment and express how I feel.
Last week, I walked into my therapist’s office and said:
«You wanna know what Joann?» she said «What?»
«I can feel! I feel absolutely everything! I feel alive and it is fucking wonderful!»