Feeling with the Enemy
This would describe my life for a very long time. My emotions and feelings were my enemy. I was always trying to change how I felt. If I was down, I needed to get up. If I was too up, I needed to come down. It was like this my whole life. Whatever it was that I felt, felt like it must be changed. I think I felt forever that whatever it was I was feeling was wrong and in need of a change up.
Embarrassingly, it never occurred to me until much more recently that I could just accept my feelings. I could just realize I was sad, mad, upset, let down, hurt and just leave it right there. I didn’t need to change it at all, that if acknowledged and accepted, my feelings would change of their own accord in their own time...it didn’t have to be a big deal at all, it could just be the way it was. I would feel whatever the fuck I felt, and then allow it to stay as long as it needed to, then it could just move on.
I was talking to my son last night after he had a particularly bad day. He was a mess and not handling his life very well. He said that he felt horrible and that his feelings were against him. God, could I relate to that! So we talked about how it is the nature of feelings to change. In fact, that is really all they ever do, change. We are moved through huge emotional upheavals and down turns, over and over and over again. Forever. It isn’t ever going to be different. If we are up, we will go down. If we are down, we will get lifted up. Always. (Unless you are clinically depressed, then you might need some help getting up again...and we talked about that also).
What I realized on a new level last night was that it was really quite ridiculous to get all upset about pretty much anything...it would kind of be like looking outside and ruining your life because it is raining. It isn’t going to rain forever...just right now, maybe for a few hours. Here is southern CA, if it is raining, it would be a miracle and the precipitation falling down from the sky should be a cause for a freaking celebration! Anyway, I digress...
My point is that I realized that my feelings are not the enemy. They never have been. I made a decision to perceive them in this fashion and that has been fucking me up ever since! Really, like a lot. And there is another path. I can, you can, my son can, just make a different choice. We can just take step back and see whatever it is that we are feeling will change...like soon. That there is no feeling that has ever come that remains and I have been clinically depressed before and even that changed. What is crucial is that I do something different...and I am realizing that the different really begins with just accepting that I am in a bad mood, that I am unhappy, sad, depressed, grieving, lacking luster for life...whatever it is and allowing it enough space in my life, not so that it takes over, but just has a space to exist for its temporary time. Kind of like a bus terminal locker...remember those? They were just rented spaces for people to use temporarily, no one left anything there for a long period of time (except in a movie)...and my feelings do not need their own bedroom in my house, all of them are forever just going to be passing through. Like a distant cousin or a child who has flown the coop...sort of. They come back, but are really more drifters than residents.
So feelings are not the enemy, what has fucked me up more than anything is this life long commitment to changing the way that I feel instead of just accepting that I am feeling whatever the fuck I am feeling. It was this orientation to life that what I felt needed, ought to be changed, that has forever just about killed me and robbed me of a lot of joy.
I do a better job today of accepting but I can see I have a lot of work to do here. I mean a lot...and I can see that my son needs help with his feelings. He is overwhelmed by his own inner landscape and perhaps could use some reminders to show him that however he feels right now will change in likely about five minutes...
Feelings are like pretty much everything else in life, they are here to teach us something about ourselves. Who we are, how we feel, where we exist in this world. Feelings are what allow us to get to new heights and new lows. And regardless of directionality - feelings are not the enemy. We cannot alway be high and we cannot forever live in the low. We could instead be more flexible and accepting of wherever we find ourselves, remembering always that whatever we feel, wherever we are, will change. And that really, high or low, same thing. That once you realize that, life is pretty fucking wonderful.