A Flow of Feelings

by justine

Why do my broken pieces always float to the top of exhaustion, when I feel least able to process…?

That came out in my MPs last Saturday, after a week of busyness and not enough rest.

On my morning walk with the dog that day, my mind suddenly began playing out a scene from when I was 17. The thought “I was so loved” turned over and over in my head. Loved by my then-boyfriend, by my parents… I felt uneasy as everything started flooding back. I realized that the thought would make a good song and came in and wrote down a few sparse lyrics. It’s been almost 5 yrs since I’ve written a song, so this was encouraging, but also scary.

After, as I wrote my MPs, I tap-danced around the emotional elephant in the room. I worried that exhaustion + PMS + emotional thinking would send me into a downward spiral. I didn’t want to think about these things from the past because I didn’t want to feel these feelings.

And then I remembered Jamie Ridler’s podcast where she talks about almost passing out while giving Reiki from an overload of energy. To deal with this, she learned to visualize her feelings as a rooted tree with the energy gentle blowing through her branches. Or as a stream that she is wading in, firmly standing, with the water (energy) rushing by her.

So I sat there cuddled in the corner of the couch, with bright light streaming in through the blinds, in the quiet Saturday morning, visualizing myself as a tree and all of those heavy emotions, all of that guilt and longing rushing through my body like wind rustling leaves. Just sat there and let it happen. I didn’t just allow myself to feel, I allowed myself to feel without trying to manage, contain or box up what I was feeling. I just let it rush through me.

And, kid you not, it worked.

Sark, in Glad No Matter What, talks about there being a flow to feelings and following your feelings as a child does, allowing one to flow into the other.

If you closely follow a child or the child parts in yourself and observe them feeling their feelings, you will notice a flow of feelings one to another – like movements of water.

Feelings are in motion this way, not stuck and obsessed over like adults’ feelings sometimes are. I like it to call it “the raccoon feature” when we go over and over a feeling, holding it in our little paws like a raccoon, and we don’t or can’t put it down.

And then there’s no room there for a new feeling to arise…”

And don’t we do that raccoon thing? That’s what I call “downward spiral” when you have one obsessive thought that leads to another and then you find yourself angry for no reason, which just makes you feel ashamed and more upset…

There is a scene in Little Women where Meg confesses to her mother all of her wrongdoings at a party. She is able to name a whole range of feelings: embarrassed, angry, ashamed, enjoyed, flattered, and liked. Reading this young girl express her conflicting feelings to her mother, asking for guidance and forgiveness, picked at my heart. Here I am 27yrs old and a century ahead of this character, and I don’t know how to do the same.

“Most of us were not taught how to hold or navigate multiple feelings…(but) I’ve learned that feelings don’t ever leave us. We keep having them and this is good!” (Sark)

Yesterday I woke up from a night of bad dreams. During my MPs, I wrote out some plot points from that terrible scene in my life that haunted me last week. I was able to do brave writing and let it all come without identifying with it. I was detached, but in a loving and present way. An observer to the story unfolding. To be able to write these painful things without “the raccoon feature” is a small breakthrough for me.

“When we experience and express multiple feelings, we are expanding our emotional capacities.

If you don’t feel ready to share your feelings out loud, you can write them down and experiment with nuances or little bits of feelings and name them as soon as you can identity them. This will give you an expanded feelings language to work with” (Sark)

I am just beginning to learn this skill. I know it will help me in the future with times like these. Each day I move closer to an awareness and self-love I didn’t even know I was missing until it started coming into my life. My broken pieces, all of our messes, will always surface when we slow down and quiet our lives. The trick is to listen, to name and to feel. Running, numbing, blaming doesn’t work.

“…we think that if we identify or name a feeling, it could or will grow and crush some part of us to death. Actually, the opposite occurs – if we can acknowledge our feelings, they can then transform” (Sark)

Here’s to you and your transformational work. I’m going to keep plugging away at mine.

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