Moments before the picture above, Nora looked over at me and saw tears streaming down my face. I was connecting to the loss of my nephew and the deep grief of the weeks and months directly after his death. A wave crashed over me and I did not fight back the water. What’s the point of fighting a wave? Who is actually always going to win in the end?
Nature. The wave. Always wins.
“Mama, why are you closing your eyes?”
“It makes it easier for me to feel sometimes, Nora. When I have something that I want to be brave about feeling, if I close my eyes, it isn’t as scary for me to feel the big thing inside.”
A long pause while she ponders and prods her homemade slime.
“Mama, when I close my eyes on the swing when I’m going, it’s scary. I’m like AGHHH!!! Right, Mom?”
I nod. And she continues, “But when I stop, if i close my eyes, it’s not as scary any more.”
Feeling intense emotions and the accompanying physical sensations can be ever so scary. And as 3 year old Nora said to me, feeling those sensations when life is churning and burning can be simply too much. Taking in 5 senses worth of information from the external world at the same time you’re feeling Big Feels can be unparalleled in the challenge. The go-to is to shove down the feeling and to walk away from it. Hopeful it will never return.
But nature always wins. Always.
And so alternatively, when the swing stops – as when the day pauses either by conscious choice or natural cadence – it is easier to close your eyes and simply Be in the Big of the Feeling.
Creating the space, the quiet, the pauses both short and extended in order to feel what is hard to feel. In order to sink in with bravery and courage to the quiet of you. Your shadows, your light and all the gradations of reflection in between. If you allow yourself to Be in those spaces of pure feeling, something magical happens.
Those hard feelings and those overwhelming sensations get heard. They get seen. They get honored as worthy of part of the infinite tapestry that is You.
Like Nora and I in the photo above, once you find a safe place to feel what you are feeling – or what lapped at your toes earlier in the day – allow it to roll. Let the tide tumble. Let the winds howl inside of you. Let the squall run across the ocean. You can do this on your own in the quiet when the swing stops moving. You can perhaps do this as you sit beside your three year old daughter and show her you can be with her at the same time You are with Yourself. Tears, tight chest, and echoes of the deepest of losses. Interwoven big feels with smaller feels of smiles, giggles and lilts at her fiery antics.
And you laugh through the tears of sorrow with your 3 year old because you are so damn grateful to be here at all. With her. Feeling this rich and fertile loss and longing.
If you can let the tears roll when the tears want to stream and if you can let the anger burn inside when the anger wants to flame, then you may discover something miraculous. If you feel when it is safe to feel, you free up internal real estate for the rest of the glorious symphony of life. The orchestral section of sorrow and mourning plays it’s beautiful and somber notes. And you feel them. And they echo in the chambers of your body. And they moan in the recesses of your heart. And they are necessary and integral and perfectly crafted notes of your Being.
Hours roll on. More moments occur.
And later in the day – because internal real estate of grief has been given voice and feeling and simply honoring of it’s request to be Seen – you can sit with a dearest of friends to embrace her newborn daughter. You can feel butterflies of happiness lilting in your chest. You can lose the connection to your feet for this time and all is light. The sunshine is beyond bright and it dances on your soul.
You can receive news that a dear friend’s MRI results are beyond good. The best. And you can spill over with inner joy. It seeps through every open pore and into the air around you. Every overflow is filled with gratitude. You have space for that fill-up and spillover and you can feel it run down your heart and your skin into a well of goodness and hope.
And in that moment, you are beyond grateful. Because if you didn’t have the opportunity and the courage to feel the Hard in the moment that it tsunamined over you in the morning, and to rest into that space and embrace it with all of your love for the depth and perspective it was offering you, you would already be full up with your own loss and longing. You would utterly miss the evening’s arrival with the earth shattering juxtaposition of happiness and joy sliding in under you like an ice rink of upward shining sunlight.
If you hadn’t leaned into the hard, you would have missed the healing.
Ride the wave. The wave is good. The wave is Now. The wave is Your essence of humanity.
Take good care,