Be scared, angry and sad! Then, let it go...
Do you know that moment when you feel it in you, the memories and the tears. Your hands start to shake and you sense the swell of destructive anger. You swallow hard and distract your mind with intensive work or sports, with drugs or hobbies until you forgot whatever it was that was happening in you.
Or do you know that moment where a movie catches your attention, and you know -you just know- that you will love it, that this movie will be beautiful and it will touch your heart so much that you will cry and laugh and just feel intensely. So you skip that movie, you just can't handle emotion right now.
Yeah, I've been there. Over and over and over again. And I know many of you relate.
Your hands start to shake and you sense the swell of destructive anger.
It seems that many of us are taught in direct or indirect, in conscious or subconscious ways from early on that it is "inappropriate" to be angry or sad in certain situations, perhaps even inappropriate to laugh or speak out loud in others. That may be true, but feeling itself is totally appropriate. Especially as children, our talent is to feel what we feel and express it. When we are very young we don't even know what the heck is even going on. As children, we just feel and do. And as a parent, it is our role to help your child identify and understand their feelings. Hug them even when they are angry, let them know that you love them even when they, at that moment, "hate you". And when the moment has passed, have a good conversation. One day, hopefully, that child will grow into an adult who can think before he speaks, who has learned to control impulse and mindfully tends to their own needs.
"You change your relationship to the pain by opening up to it and paying attention to it." Jon Kabat-Zinn, At Home in Our Bodies
But, why are we sometimes scared to confront something as an adult, that may be emotionally painful? Even if it's "beautiful" pain? Perhaps because we have learned that pain is suffering. And we really don't want to suffer. But is it? What IS suffering? According to Thich Nhat Hanh, pain is unavoidable - suffering is optional. And the fear of pain, the suppressing of emotion - that is what leads to real long-term suffering. And though suffering (for example through crises) is probably inevitable throughout a lifetime as well, there is beauty in this. And when we gain insight on the blessing or lesson within, we can let go. Truly let go.
So perhaps your grandfather has died. Any you cried, but within a couple of days you submerged so much in work, that you stopped thinking about it much. You avoid his grave and when memories surge, you turn your back and distract yourself with something else. It's just too much pain. You are scared of breaking.
You won't break.
I know where you stand. Not because I have been in this situation, but as a former Borderliner I initially falsely learned to suppress and distrust anything I felt. Why? Because I couldn't trust my impulse, my reactions... Of course, I never learned to do so. And let me tell you, the emotions a borderliner feels even for the tiniest thing is so overwhelming (I truly get kids), it's like dying over and over again. I have wished for death, because the stab inside me was so excruciating, the peace that comes with dying sounded extremely welcoming. Thank goodness I loved myself, my parents and my life too much to take these thoughts seriously, but waiting for the moment to pass was absolutely excruciating. Then there is the other extreme where we numb out so much (body's potent defense to trauma), that we desperately try to feel again (some do so by cutting themselves). There are many types of borderliners, I belonged to the impulsive ones. Being latino did not help *lol*.
"We don’t feel comfortable when our suffering surfaces, and we want to push it back down or cover it up. But as a mindfulness practitioner, we allow the suffering to surface so we can clearly identify it and embrace it. This will bring transformation and relief...
...The first thing we have to do is accept the mud in ourselves. When we recognize and accept our difficult feelings and emotions, we begin to feel more at peace. When we see that mud is something that can help us grow, we become less afraid of it." Thich Nhat Hanh, The Art of Living
Anyways, back to the topic at hand. You know one of the elementary things that healed me? To trust myself. To let myself feel again. And to learn to love myself and be mindful through my emotions. Creating safe space, finding tools, building a plan, finding a healthy way to handle myself. It was not easy, I stumbled and failed horribly so often, crying on the floor alone in my apartment and wishing God to just hug me. It brings tears to my eyes when I think back to these times. And I send love to my former self, the self-love I so much needed to tap into back then. It got better. Every time it got better. And it got to a point where I can honestly say I am a freaking pro now. Yes, a pro at crying, at laughing, at pouting...you name it.
I send love to my former self, the self-love I so much needed to tap into back then.
So what is my message to you? Don't be afraid to feel. If you don't want to be alone, ask a friend or family member to hold your hand while you go through this. Watch that movie and cry and laugh your heart out. Dedicate a time to truly mourn your deceased grandfather. Visit his grave and honor his life in whatever ritualistic way that you choose (rituals are so important). Most of all, love yourself through these episodes. Life is hard enough. You don't need you to add to the hardships. And if you are lucky, you will have those friends or (ex) friends that are brutally honest and invest in those difficult conversations with you.
Yes, it can be painful. But there is beauty in pain. So let the tears wash over you like the ocean washes across the shore. Be angry and scream into the air or burry your face in a pillow. And know that it will pass. Actively love yourself through this process and mentally say what you need to say or pray or write or sing, whatever feels good to you. Let it wash over you and, like rain, let the water carry your emotion to the ground. Give them to Mother Earth or God or the Universe or to Life -again, whatever works for you- with gratitude, and open yourself up to receive all her and his love. If you belong to those people who have difficulty being genuinely happy (what's the point, right? I mean, the next low is coming anyways.) I ask you this simple question: What is there to lose? And what is there to gain?
What is there to lose? And what is there to gain?
It may sound cheesy, but it works. The energies that are within us and that surround us are powerful. You will see that with time, this will pass and the smiles will come. Or actively invite them in by smiling (science says that smiling even though you don't feel like it can actively produce those smiley feelings within you). So release and let go. Sometimes it takes weeks. Others it's just an hour. Just make sure you really let yourself feel, practice compassion with your emotions and then actively release them.
*If you are working with intense trauma, please consult with a psychologist. There are some things that are best to done with a professional. We are magical beings, we are not meant to do everything alone.