Good day, good people. Welcome to this glorious Friday, September 6, 2019. This is a rare and precious day that will never come again. How do you want to live it?
I don’t know if I was taught to or if it was the way I was made, but I learned at an early age to bottle up my emotions. I was raised in a loving family that had a difficult time showing love, and many other emotions. Some emotions were ok to share in suitable quantities. It wasn’t as if there were a list of appropriate emotions taped next to the weekly chores, it’s what I felt comfortable sharing. And because I wasn’t comfortable sharing much, I bottled them up.
I’ve come to believe that many of us are like a bottle of soda. Shaken. There may be a sweetness within, but pressure builds and builds until eventually the container breaks. A broken human container may manifest as depression, isolation, insecurity, low self-esteem, low self-worth, addiction, anxiety and panic attacks, and at the extreme, homicide and suicide. Though fortunately the latter two never manifested in my life, all the rest did.
Of course, there were times when I was able to let a little pressure off meow and then. It was until recently, however, that I took off the lid and let it out – freeing myself from explosive emotions (I’m not totally free. I’m a work in progress). I’ve heard that when dynamite sits for a long time, it becomes highly unstable. It’s kind of like that. Whether we like it or not, our unexpressed and pent-up emotions and hurts will eventually either internally or externally detonate!
I guess my problem was that I felt like I needed to be strong. I didn’t feel like it was fitting to share undesirable emotions – anger, shame, hurt, sadness, despair, fear. Especially fear. I guess I didn’t think it was ok to tell people about my experience because I didn’t typically see others express these forbidden emotions either. And when I did see it, it was usually ugly. So, rather than removing the lid, I screwed it on tight and wrapped up and reinforced my bottle with denial, distractions and eventually medication. I’d occasionally shake the bottle by ruminating on the pain and fearing that others might see the hurt within me.
It’s so sad. I see so much hurt. So much pain. I see so few who can share about their emotions. We need to remove the lid and let it out. But it’s scary. It takes so much courage. It takes a very special someone or group who we implicitly trust to be vulnerable enough to share what we’re reallyfeeling.
But we can’t expect that by sharing we’ll be fixed. We can’t be fixed because we’re not broken!
These feelings that hurt us are not bad. They’re a part of the human experience. Yet, it’s as if we’ve made these negative emotions taboo – something that we shouldn’t feel. That if you’re feeling sad, mad, anxious, depressed or fearful, there must be something wrong with you. It’s as if we’re supposed to be happy all the time. This is arguing with reality.
It’s also arguing with reality to believe that the things causing you pain shouldn’t be happening. They should be, because they are. They’re happening because all the causes and conditions are such that allows for whatever is hurting you to manifest. It’s our aversion to these painful events and their appropriate associated feelings and our attachment to a desire to have lasting happiness that creates so much suffering.
Like I mentioned in the Let Go Mindfulness Support letter a couple months ago, as we practice meditation and mindfulness, we start to notice that underneath our emotions, positive and negative alike, is a stable and enduring peace. A calmness that allows us to walk the beautifully messy human emotional path with some equanimity and grace. This does not mean that we don’t hurt! In ineffable ways, I have more pain and deep sorrow than ever before. I think this is because I allow myself to feel. I’m simply suggesting here that we start to recognize that even though we hurt, we’re ok.
Though it takes time, when we allow ourselves to really feel whatever emotion we’re experiencing; when we allow ourselves to really look at the thoughts that are driving the emotion, when we surrender and unreservingly allow these thoughts and emotions to flow through us rather than bottle them up, we create the conditions allowing us to experience the peace held within the empty container.
I know it’s hard! I know it takes time and patience! I know you don’t want to! But find someone you love and trust. Gently remove the lid, throw it away, and slowly and compassionately let yourself be seen. Allow yourself to experience your humanness. Start to look closely at your emotions and thoughts. Realize that the beautiful you is neither of these. Under all this messiness, you are peace, you are love(d).
I love you and there isn’t anything that you can do about it!
With sincere empathy,