Feelings are Scary
My quote of the week this week is about feelings being okay, check it out on the Food for Thought page of WifeOTP.com. This was an affirmation given to me to repeat, in my head over and over again so that I could allow myself to feel. I had spent my childhood shutting feelings down. Bottling them up, and being stoic every, single, day because stoicism was the only feeling I could maintain. So when things started falling part for me mentally and emotionally in my early 20’s, the path out was through feeling. Whoa! Not something I cared to do. Feelings were very scary to me because I was always told my feelings were wrong. “You’re not hurt.”, “Why would you be mad at me? I didn’t do anything!”, “This is your fault.”, and the all time classic “What I say, goes.” And the wrath that followed when I would try to express further…”But wait…I AM hurt,” became not worth it. Who wants wrath as a child? All children want peace and joy and happiness. So to maintain that, I chose stoicism. That way no one could touch me. Bummer, right? You know what’s even more of a bummer…feelings you’ve bottled up for DECADES. They are SCARY, like Michael from Halloween scary. They feel overwhelming and consuming. And just like a child, adults are just looking for peace and joy and happiness too, but I could not achieve that without going through some pretty rough feeling days. When I was 23, I was living in NYC, 108th street and Riverside, in a tiny studio apartment. This was 1993. Not the best part of town, but not the worst either. However, for a white girl from Bowdon, Georgia (population 1,800), it was culture shock. I was scared of my own shadow in the subway stations, and I would peek between the rails before running to my apartment building entry. No doorman, just a big ole key. My neighbor above me was either schizophrenic or a brilliant pianist. He would, day and night, bang on the piano. Just bang. No decipherable music…just banging. I was so lost and so scared and so disturbed by this “music”, I was losing it a bit. My dear, dear friend Scott said to me one night on a phone call, “You know, you are the saddest person on the inside. You have so much sadness bottled up inside, the only way to get it out is to feel it.” Not really what I wanted to hear. But I heard him. So, I would sit in my closet, amongst my shoes, and cry. Cry, cry, cry. I cried about everything. About Mommy and Daddy. About divorce. About date-rape. About shame, pain, heartbreak. I did this almost everyday for 3 months. It helped that I not only had a disturbing theme song provided by Beethoven upstairs, I also didn’t have a TV. I couldn’t afford one. So what else was I supposed to do, but feel. The time I spent I that closet changed my life. It set me free. I was no longer afraid of my feelings. I can’t say I enjoyed them, but I was not afraid of them anymore. And by the time I moved to 80th and Amsterdam after those three months, Beethoven had a recognizable tune he was banging out upstairs. Triumph for both of us! We’d come out of the dark, and into the light, better for it.