Arielle recently told me that as an adult, I’m more honest with myself about how I feel. That was weeks ago now, but it’s still ringing in my ears. She was so right.
When I was a kid (I don’t know how old, but at least six), I remember whining to my mom about being bored.
In hindsight, I wasn’t bored at all – I was misinterpreting pain. I really meant that I was hurting inside and I had confused it for boredom.
The truth is, I was not very good at truly feeling my feelings, though I was still heavily affected by them.
This became especially confusing in my adolescence, when I started to become more aware of the concept of falsehood. I would laugh at jokes, I would often cry, I would lash out against injustice, and I was maddeningly jealous (look guys, I admit it, OK?!). There was a part of me that scoffed at my behavior for being so melodramatic because I didn’t actually feel that way…did I? No, I didn’t. I didn’t feel anything at all. Sometimes I would strongly feel rage, depression, and/or passion, but even those I wasn’t very honest with myself about feeling. I would often question myself – why act this way? Am I lying by acting like this? Is it a farce? At the end of the day, it hardly mattered anyway because I couldn’t NOT act that way, even if I tried.
What I didn’t understand was that whether I could sense them or not, I still did, in fact, feel every kind of complex emotion. I was just no good at recognizing them or using them properly.
Having emotions without feeling them was like being washed over by a strong wave that you couldn’t see or feel and was the same temperature as your body. You’re just suddenly being tossed around and you can’t breathe. You may or may not know why. You can’t see what’s pushing you, but you can’t help moving around. And in any case, you’d better figure it out and learn to swim with this unseen current or you’ll be subject to it until you die – which will probably be pretty soon, unless you learn to swim.
I was affected by them, whether I could feel them or not.
I can still be like that sometimes, but now that I’ve learned that:
A) There’s no shame in how you feel; feelings are OK – and not just OK for other people.
B) Honesty really is the best policy.
C) Dealing with it is best. Deal with it. Now. (Brushing it aside is NOT dealing with it.)
I am much more calm.
Now that I’ve gotten those things down and learned what different emotions feel like (which still often takes much concentration), I can allow myself to feel emotions freely. This, in turn, allows room for actual stillness, actual peace to reside in the largest chambers of my being.