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“But feelings can't be ignored, no matter how unjust or ungrateful they seem.” - Anne Frank
Lately, I've felt like I am living the cliché of pushing and pushing against a brick wall and nothing is happening. I know something is bothering me. Heck, a lot of things are bothering me. But I don’t know what to do about it. I just assume I’ll figure it out when I have time.
Yet, any time I do have, I keep filling with activity. Kind of a backward thing to do for someone with a desire for some quiet time. It feels a bit insane. I have to remember that insanity is the definition of doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. Well, nothing different was happening.
I felt stuck.
A lot of things are changing for me. One big thing is that I have felt sad about my kids growing up, and was not acknowledging all of the feelings that went along with this reality. I was spiraling in a whirlwind of self-induced chaos. I thought I wanted out, but I didn’t know how to get out. In some ways, I was thriving on the chaos. I was running and running, and felt exhausted, but it diverted the attention of having me pause and deal with my feelings.
And as silly as it may sound to some, there is a degree of loss. My babies are growing up. The baby-stage is gone. I have been diminishing my feelings because I feel it’s wrong to feel sad about this. I should just be happy they are healthy and growing. So many people have much worse situations.
But that didn’t take away my feelings.
I was comparing my thoughts to the situations of others, therefore invalidating what I felt. And that certainly doesn’t honor me or help me deal with anything. I didn’t give myself permission to feel what was really happening, therefore inhibiting any progress that needed to happen to move forward. I needed remind myself of what to do when I am stuck. My personal growth was stagnant, because I was not challenging myself.
No pain, no gain.
But pain is uncomfortable! It hurts, and I don’t want to hurt. Why would I purposely walk into something I know wasn’t going to feel good? So, I continued putting myself in circumstances that were not inherently bad, but did not feed me. It kept me on the surface, which is where I was comfortable. Until I was not. That’s how it is with me. I circle around until I know I have to deal with what is bothering me. Sometimes I honestly don’t even know. But this time I sort of did.
So, I made myself vulnerable.
I shared my true feelings with a group of people. I cried. I had no structure to my sentences and felt I had nothing of importance to say, because only phrases came out between the sobs. I put aside my need to be perfect, my need to seem intelligent, my need to seem put together. In part, I put it aside because I had no other choice. I couldn’t put a disclaimer to everything I was saying because once I opened the door, I had no control of what spilled out of my mouth, out of my soul.
I relinquished my need to be boxed up, to tough it out.
And then I waited. I waited to miraculously feel better. The tears had stopped and I was waiting for the bolt of lightning to hit me and make all of the pain (and possible embarrassment) pay off and get my reward of feeling better.
I took all of my tissues that were so kindly donated during my release of tears. I got in my car, and then started to cry again. What the hell. Seriously. I thought I was done. Apparently not. That’s what happens when we hold stuff in and then release. We don’t know when it will stop. We just have to take a leap of faith.
As I went through the rest of my day, I kept waiting for the relief. That feeling of “Well, I looked like an idiot, but it was so worth it because I feel so much better now.” It never came.
That night I was anxious about an event, but went through it anyway. Still bumbling a bit, but shared a few moments of real conversation with someone and felt vulnerable, but real. She was real right back to me. Mini lightning bolt.
I woke up the next morning, and I realized I felt a little better. The ickiness wasn’t all gone, but I felt lighter. Another mini lightning bolt.
I can’t say everything is all peachy, and yet, I can say I feel better. I can live with the puffy eyes for a few extra days, because that means the tears aren’t welled up behind my eyelids threatening to release at any moment. My increasingly frequent stomachaches over the past few weeks have dissipated. My neck is a little less tight. Our emotions truly are stored in our body, and I opened a few pathways for these feelings to get out.
Life is complicated.
Things don’t feel as simple as they used to be. The huge lightning bolts don’t happen immediately, or with guarantee. Yet, I feel as if I opened a little piece of my wall to the world around me. It just takes me to get completely stuck pushing up against my own wall, to stop and clear my eyes to see the door right in front of me. I just have to open it.