Uncomfortable Emotions

Greetings lovely one,

Although May is Mental Health Month, the themes I noticed mostly are about emotions. In a general sense, mental health includes emotional health, but there are some distinctions between the two. Can I get super honest with you? I don’t much like dealing with emotions. I’m a thinking personality type, and a Virgo who likes things nice and neat. And emotions get … messy. 

When I first started going to therapy, I mostly wanted to fix myself so I could move forward with my life. I think that that’s where some people get stuck and don’t make much progress. Once you realize you have to dig deep past the surface of ‘’what can be done so I can keep it moving,’, there’s nowhere to go but inward, and it’s downright terrifying at times to do that kind of work. 

I suppressed a lot of emotions growing up, because I had to. I hated crying because I thought tears were pointless. I hated feeling my feelings because they had nowhere safe to go. I didn’t really get into inner-child healing work until I began attending 12 Step meetings. Every time I do 12 Step study work I realize how much I still have buried, just asking for release. 

Healers need healing too, you know. 

In fact, I think many of us are attracted to the work because we went through (and often continue to go through) our own dark nights. As a result, we feel intricately close to the processes and tools that transformed our lives and want to share them with others. 

Because pain, grief, sorrow, and angst are emotions that stay with us and return throughout our lives, these feelings are a part of our shared humanity. 

As someone who has been involved with some form of talk therapy for many years, I know quite a bit about the games we play in order to avoid the work involved for  therapy to be most effective. Sometimes, we can bypass emotions by addressing our healing solely on a cognitive level … perhaps that’s where we begin to form our ideal “high-functioning” person in recovery. 

I’ve been thinking about this for some time. Is “high functioning” based on the merit of how many societal standards one fits in with to qualify as “worthy”? Are we less worthy if we’re a sobbing mess on the floor in the dark corners of our deepest, darkest abyss-like states of mind? Are we less worthy if we’re not being efficient and productive? In our leadership capacities, would we honor someone who cries on the phone saying they have to quit because they’re not doing well, and instead offer them time off and a job when they return from necessary care? 

Not surprisingly, I’ve been thinking about emotions and responses. About the times when we are the sobbing mess or when we strive to be the often necessary high-functioning individuals – and how to honor our capacity to be both in our shared humanity. As I thought about it, I kept returning to artists and poets and how they seem to instinctively know that creativity, or rather co-creation, is a good way to embrace life's paradoxes. Creativity for the sake of creativity. Art making for the sake of art-making. Creation for the sake of being. Art because we can and because we are co-creators. Art because it’s a form of soul care both yearning for integration and affecting mental, emotional, and physical health. 

In thinking about those times of sobbing messy-ness, and in-between spacey-ness, and abyss-like stately-ness … I realize I still have something to say, but more importantly I still have feelings to feel and want to let them be free so that I can be free. Let’s be free together ya’ll!

I’m giving myself the go-ahead to grieve in a way I haven’t allowed myself before. How many of us have been told how – and for how long – we should grieve? I hope it doesn’t always take an unexpected death or an awareness month in order to pause long enough to glimpse the depth of someone else’s gaping hole left by a loved one who is forever gone. 

I therefore honor the sadness, the anger, the helpless feelings, the loneliness, the soundless cries for comfort. I honor the darkness, the nights in life, the trials and tribulations. They are sacred pieces of our human experience here on earth. And maybe we do so with candles and dance; or maybe with poetry, song, and glittered masks; or maybe paint brushes and blank canvases. Maybe we finally find the words we didn’t have the courage or the know-how to formulate at 17 or 23 or 89. Maybe we mourn our ancestors with our feet stomping and our hands clapping sounds like thundering drums. Maybe we yell out on the stages of faceless judges a tune that no guitars ever strum. Maybe we sculpt a form for the empty spaces we were once afraid to fill. Maybe the places we didn’t even know ached inside will find it’s time to heal.  

Peace, Love, and Wellness,


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