Thursday, April 2, 2015

Untying emotional knots

The littlest bird came and hovered near me the other day. I was sitting in the patio, reading. The sun shone overhead, and I felt entrained with the rhythm around me - the hum of birds, the little unnamed sounds that nature makes that seem to pull downwards, into the coolest, deepest well.  

There was a feeling of relaxing into my body. Time unspooled. I felt part of its wave and not like a disconnected fragment. I could sense a solidity in my body that I don't often have.

I don't feel like this often. I think I have been feeling it because I am giving voice and expression to some of my anger. I have been reading about feelings and the foundation seems to be that we can't selectively numb them.

Push one away, and our capacity to feel other feelings is diminished. Pushing anger deeper into the recesses makes it harder to feel happiness. Not feeling sadness feels like almost deciding not to feel joy.

So, I have been diving into the muck of my uncomfortable feelings, especially my anger.

It feels dangerous at times. What if it turns against me? What if I don't have the skills to navigate through its murky waters?

These are valid questions. With them, fear rises and tells me to stop making this effort. But as someone who has lived through many feelings, I also know that just turning my head away won't make something go away.

It will lie there, getting knotted and twisted. Paying attention to my feelings, learning what to do with them - how to express them healthily, all this might be much less risk than letting anger and fear fester inside.

Inside, they just get contorted. They create a thick wall that keeps everything good outside. They make me a stranger to myself. Just like joy connects me to myself, so does my anger and sadness connect me to very real things.

Just the other day, I was talking to someone, and I realized why I used to feel fear and anxiety almost all the time. I thought anger was so dangerous that I never let myself feel it. I dropped it as soon as it came up. But doing that meant not listening to its message.

Some boundary had been crossed. Some of my space had been invaded. But because I didn't let myself feel anger, I didn't take any action to heal that breach.

Of course, fear would come up in such a situation. How can it not? I had left myself undefended. There was cause to be fearful.

Now that I can see that healthy anger has a useful purpose, I feel regret for that foolhardy girl who left herself unsafe, unequipped to deal with life and the world outside.

I am still learning how to navigate anger safely, and it makes me scared many times. I know anger is powerful, and you can use power in many ways. You might use it to self-destruct.

But I am learning healthy ways, and finding that I am regaining other feelings as well. Sometimes, I touch sadness. Other times though, I touch upon feelings of joy and being completely at ease.

There are birds outside. Things are alive and humming with energy. Time seems slowed down because I don't want to hurry any longer. Who knows how long this feeling will last, this ease, but even some moments are worth the try.  

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