Emotions aren’t really welcome in our society. They’re seen as weak, bothersome, attention-seeking. We are told to ‘get over it’, ‘stop bitching’,’grow a pair’. Often I wonder if those who want to stifle the emotions of others are in more pain than those of us who express. But then, we’re all in pain. We simply channel it differently.
My vocation is a bit unusual in that we have a big online community. We are spread out all over the world and some of us never meet and yet count each other as close friends. We are a network of authors, healers, coaches, speakers etc, united by our belief in something bigger than ourselves. We all know or know of one another. Recently, three members of this community took their own lives. I do not know any details about any of the cases and have only met one of the people. I can only imagine the emotional pain they were in to bring them to such depths.
But this post isn’t about suicide. It is about giving ourselves the freedom to feel what needs to be felt. What would our world look like if we allowed each other that? What would it mean to keep boundaries and criticism in check? How would it feel to support one another with compassion- either up close or from afar?
We are a species in pain. Some of us hide it better than others. We all can do better at channeling it.
I stumbled across something last night. It’s a letter I wrote to a friend nearly six years ago during one of the darkest periods of my life. My husband at the time had disclosed to me six months previously that he was attracted to men. He was in the closet and so was I, by default. I had one friend who knew. And I had God. Aside from prayer, writing is what saved my life. All that emotion, all that worry, all that pain- it had to go somewhere. One of the first places I allowed my feelings to flow out was in the following letter. It’s unedited and exactly as I wrote it back in November of 2011, a year and a half before we actually separated.
The truth is I am still deeply in love with my husband and it is extremely painful to think about separating. In the end, it doesn’t really matter to me whether he is gay or not. It matters to me whether or not we will stay together as a family.
For most of our relationship I have felt like he was too good for me. I thought he was better looking, more emotionally stable and had the patience of a saint. I put him on a pedestal for sure. I’ve always felt there was nothing he could do to make me stop loving him. I still feel that way. He’s not on the pedestal anymore, but envisioning a life without him is difficult. Very difficult.
I want desperately to avoid the pain of a divorce. I don’t want to tell people that he is unhappy. I don’t want anyone to know that we may break up. It scares me. Will I go through all of that if it means he begins to feel better? Hell yes. It doesn’t mean I have to like it.
It’s much easier telling people about surrender than to do it. I’ve surrendered food. I’ve surrendered my career. I’m learning though, that surrender is not selective. Surrendering one aspect of your life brings on the awareness that you will at some point have to surrender all. I’m resisting that right now. I probably won’t resist it for long.
It’s entirely possible I’m meant to spend my life with someone else. It’s also possible I’m meant to spend it alone. At this point I have no desire to consider either of these possibilities. I’ve just spent a year trying to heal a period of my life that was so incredibly painful….the thought of now having to start all over is completely overwhelming. That’s life though, right? One healing after another….
Do I think he is gay? Maybe. Do I think he is bisexual? Yes. Do I think he could be happier in a gay relationship? It is very possible. So in that way it doesn’t really matter what the label is. It matters that he faces the shame head-on and pursues his happiness whole-heartedly. I am willing to help him in that, so long as I can do so in a way that does not deplete me.
I’m afraid. I don’t want to have to raise our kids without him by my side. They adore him. I want there to be a way that we can all stay together and be happy. That’s what I want, but that’s not surrender.
And then sometimes I get mad because I think: “Why does he have to be such a fucking pussy?! Why can’t he just TELL me what he wants or at least DO something to change things??!!”
And then other times I just want to disappear so I don’t have to deal with any of this. I wanna just have another baby so I can be overwhelmed by something I at least know how to do. I want to be so busy I don’t have time to think about any of this.
I know I can be happy without him. I know it. I am just so afraid of facing all the things that will get me there.
I’m afraid, but I will let go. I will.
I had not seen those words since I wrote them. Upon seeing them, all I could think was how much love and compassion I had for the young mother who wrote them. They were true. And they had to be felt.
Our pain has to go somewhere: paper, paintings, photographs… And what we don’t realize is that we are giving off that pain whether it’s expressed cleanly or not. We give it off when we judge, when we lie, when we withhold love, when we hold others to impossible standards, when we gossip, harm, ignore…
Pain, when compassionately channeled, can be motherfucking beautiful. It can be art, connection, transcendence. Painful emotions, when given the space to be felt, can be healed and transformed. We can transform ourselves and break free from the patterns that keep us pinned to an endless cycle of guilt, sin and fear.
We are not our mistakes. We are not our fears. We are not our emotions. But these are the waters we wade in. We can either swim and rise above or we can drown within them.
Let us swim. And let us give the space to others to swim as well- throwing, if we wish to, a lifeline to those who need one.
Let us love.