How to Feel

Even if you’ve managed to get yourself out of an unhappy place, there will often be times when you still Just. Feel. Awful.

And there will be most definitely be people around you who will tell you that you shouldn’t feel that way, you’re already out of it so you should just let it go and move on. That’s all easier said than done. When I first left, I tried to live by that. I’d tell myself that I wasn’t in that physical place anymore and I wasn’t surrounded by things / people / situations / talk that were so upsetting anymore. I’d shove all the unpleasant feelings under a very thick carpet and pretend that I was alright.

But I’m sure we all know that carpets – no matter how thick – can only hide a certain amount of crap before it starts to bulge in a giant mound and then, one day, explode in a mess or trip someone up. A few weeks after leaving, I suddenly felt everything come up again. There I was in my room minding my own business when the carpet exploded and everything came flying out all around me. I felt awful.

When I tried to speak about it, some people still told me again, that I was thinking about things unnecessarily. I was out of the situation already, so why get upset about it? Just let it go. It shouldn’t affect me anymore.

Except of course, that it did. You can’t invest your whole life, love, heart, soul, thoughts, time for 8 years into something and then just step out and it’s all left behind. It’s like being in a relationship for that long a time and then being told that you shouldn’t miss that person anymore when you break up. You. Just. Can’t.

When the feelings came back, they came back stronger than ever and I could no longer pretend that they weren’t there. There just wasn’t any more space under that imaginary carpet (even if I do have an exaggerated imagination). I met up with a friend and emotionally vomited everything out – all my sadness, resentment, hurt, disappointments, fears – and amazingly, she sat through the whole two hours and listened like it was the most important thing in the world (You know who you are, and thank you).

Then she said this, just a little bit of wisdom that has helped in such a tremendous way. She said, “You know Jamie, those feelings will be there. And you have to know that they will be for a while. You should accept that – accept the feelings, know that they’re there and feel them. Don’t try to fight them or deny them because those feelings will be there for awhile. It’s okay to acknowledge all that anger or sadness or whatever, and feel them. Cry if you have to. It’s okay.”

It’s okay. Just like that.

It’s okay not to feel like an impervious Wonder Woman straightaway. I felt like I had been given permission to just… feel. And what a strange relief it was.

Thing is I’m still struggling with how to do this. I don’t really know what it means to just sit in an emotion and watch it or acknowledge it. I find myself swinging to extremes – either I pretend it’s not there or I plunge myself into it completely and obsess over it like it’s going out of fashion.

The truth is, I think, that I’m just too afraid to see that emotion for what it is or to really face it, like it’s a beast in my head. It’s there, it feels unpleasant and well, truth to be told, I’d really rather not look it in the face.

God, I’m just way too fucked up for my own good.

2 thoughts on “How to Feel

  1. wow, your friend is a wise woman.

    I guess when we have built up emotions, those that we have ignored, denied, distracted ourselves from for a very long time, there is a back log. Once we start opening ourselves up to these repressed emotions, it can be like a tidal wave at times.

    A wise woman once said to me when you go into the past, take someone with you. Don’t go it alone, talk it over regularly with someone (a professional someone).
    & learn & practice mindfulness!!

    Big Love,
    Nik

  2. From the outside, as someone who doesn’t know you personally, you seem to be dealing with this remarkably well, by taking charge of your life and facing your problems. Even if you have a lot left to do, the main thing is that you’re going in the right direction. As they say on Mount Athos, God brings good out of evil.

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