Have you seen the signs like this:
I have a few friends who truly live this way. They are so confident and comfortable in their wholeness – in their brokenness – that they are not affected by the emotions of intense occurrences. They go through life on a even keel without getting rattled by things. I have never been this way.
From a young age I have felt things deeply, painfully. Whether it is joy or sorrow – whether it is my own or someone else’s I feel it to my soul and hold it tight to my heart. I do not let go easily of those feelings, both good and bad. I still remember…I still feel the moment I received the nicknames “Buzzard Beak” and “FA” (a less offensive way to call me fat ass?). I still catch my breath when I re-feel my grandfather teaching me to dance to the Lennon Sisters. I close my eyes to see the look on my friend’s face when she’d had another miscarriage and I feel her pain deep in my stomach. It’s all there. I can re-feel the desperation when I couldn’t help my son through a bad meltdown. I can re-feel the joy when I watched him overcome obstacles.
When I am hurt, I am crushed. My world caves in around me. Every sound, every movement, every bit of life feels too much to bear. I cry easily. I cry for long periods of time and I cry hard. And when I work my way through the hard, the hurt lingers for much longer than it should.
When I am happy, I am elated. My world is full of light and joy. I take in every chirping bird, every dancing raindrop and life feels bursting with love. I smile easily. I smile for long periods of time and for no particular reason. When I am happy I dance – whether there is music or not.
After a particularly difficult event for me recently, one I struggled with more than I should have, my friends shared their philosophy with me. ‘Find your way to indifference’ one suggested. ‘Don’t even give a shit’ offered another. ‘Let it go’ said one who knows my dislike of the all-too-popular Frozen song. So I tried.
I worked to stop caring why someone stopped thinking I was enough.
I fought to ignore the caring words that didn’t match the disengaged actions.
I worked to shut off my feelings, the oversized feelings that had taken over my waking mind and sleeping soul.
And it was a lot of work. I struggled with it. Every time I fell back on old habits I would beat myself up.
Get over it.
Be done with the crap.
I’d tug the boot straps and off I’d go for a another moment of strength. Then, of course, I would stumble again and feel too much.
Until one night on a peaceful walk by myself when I realized where I really need to be: I need to feel. I need to feel too much – because that is who I am. The more I tried to block those intense feelings, the more they gathered strength beneath the surface, only to explode in grief or anger or frustration when they finally bubbled up. Indifference, stoicism, water-off-the-back tactics may work for my friends, but they won’t for me. And that’s okay.
Thanks to amazing friends (who I truly can not thank enough) I have a new understanding of how to discern my feelings and work with them. I’m learning how to take a deep breath and exhale all the stress completely. I’m learning how to value myself more. I’m learning how to measure the importance of the situation that is upsetting me against my life as a whole. I’m learning how to slow down – even with my feelings. When I am overwhelmed by sadness or grief I let it take over my body for a few minutes, then I re-center myself and start over with a more logical approach. Maybe that’s what my friends truly gifted me – the ability to meld logic and emotion when assessing my life events.
It’s still a big learning process. But, I’m building a better life – a better me. It doesn’t need to happen overnight. And, honestly, it’s probably better that it doesn’t. Every day I feel I little less controlled by my emotions and a little more able to stand up to the world. My friends are showing me that I am stronger than what I feel.
I still feel too much. I will still cry too easily and for too long. I will still ache in the quiet of my nights for friends in need. And that’s okay.
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