Where does it go? The crisis from work, when you’re home; the drama as you left the house? The relentless news cycles of shootings and war, of a planet critically out of balance? How do we hold the news of our world and the deeply personal pain and grief that we all carry? What are we to do when we aren’t directly affected, but are nonetheless heavily impacted by emergencies or the latest breaking news?
Those feelings don’t leave our bodies when we manage to turn our attention elsewhere. We do our best to tuck them away, things still need to get done after all. But there is a cost to tucking and stowing if we don’t make space for that pressure to be released. I know that when my shoulders stay up by my ears and my breathing is shallow, my coping and stuffing technique is starting to slip. My eyes go to a perpetual squint, as if it’s all just a little too much to take in. And it is.
Some of us are masters of compartmentalization. And that, for sure, is a useful skill. But it, too, has its limits and can get over-used. At some point, all of us need to let down our guard. To unclench our jaws, and let what we are working so hard to avoid have some space and room to move through and out.
I’m not talking about zoning out, though that is certainly called for some of the time–hopefully in healthy ways. There is a time for vigorous movement and the welcome flood of endorphins that follow. Sometimes what is called for is rest, pure and simple. And…whether we like it or not, there are times when we just need to feel it. To let whatever flood of emotions swirling in us have a chance to, well, swirl and be acknowledged and even loved.
The great lie is that if we let those feelings out, they will never stop. That we won’t be able to rein them back in. The truth is, the longer we hold them in, the more they have hold over us. And so, messy as it may feel, part of our work is to find solace, sometimes alone, sometimes with others, and let ourselves be fully human.
This is a time for such gentleness. Hands to our hearts, we say ‘of course.’ Of course we are feeling devastated, overwhelmed, afraid, and supremely sad. That doesn’t mean we aren’t joyful. It means we are whole. Able to touch our full range of feelings.
So when I say take heart, I mean all of it. Your whole heart. If we are to find our way through the thickets of problems, it’s going to take our greatest, most Wild courage, which includes a willingness to really feel the hard stuff.
Remember this: no one has it all figured out. Not even your bravest hero or the most sincere well-meaning being that you know. All of us are brought to our knees with some regularity, especially if we are paying attention.
So, with a hand to my own sad and joyful heart, I wish you time and space, and just the right beings by your side—be they four or two legs, sunbeams or lapping waves—to exhale. To let down a little, and to trust that your beloveds—whatever their form– will be there to help you back up.