The other day I woke up feeling like I have a thousand lead balloons connected to my heart. Do I let myself feel it? Or do I redirect?
As a big feeler, I’ve been asking this question for 15 years, with various “answers”. None have felt quite right.
But that’s the process right? Or it has been for me. Ask the question, and then work on it in my subconscious and my dreams and through conversations and pay attention to all the answers I get. Because I believe it’s often complex. But the “aha!”s come and we begin to sync the mind, body and spirit.
I am an emotional being, and I’ve spent a lot of energy trying to figure out how to work with the “harder” emotions like sadness/shame/despair (I put harder in quotes because these are what feel the heaviest, and ones I’ve struggled with the most). But the main two tracts come back to: feeling what is happening, or shifting the story and redirecting my energy.
For a long time, when I would really feel what was happening, I couldn’t find the line between feeling it, and wallowing. I would let myself be with the despair, and my mind would run with it, dragging it down the rabbit hole until I was in fetal position. I kept waiting for the relief that would come and clear the clouds. But when I ended up in the pits of despair, most of the time I felt like I had to work so damn hard to crawl out, that if I felt a hint of it again I would find myself experiencing the not-so-lovely cocktail of anxiety plus despair. But I also knew that allowing yourself to feel was real and important. I knew shoving the lid on my emotions was not the answer. But neither was panicking when I did feel sad.
We tend to be so either/or. Black/white. I get it. But the more I practice, the more I realize that I can do both at the same time. I can cultivate joy and ease and play in my life, while letting myself feel sadness. The more I let go of any stories around my emotions, the more I can truly just feel both at the same time. I can know my life is astounding and have real concern about what is coming.
Healing is a process, not a finish line. It’s a practice that we engage in. And, when trauma is involved, we need to take baby steps. And we need to allow ourselves to feel good, not as a reward, but as a healing in and of itself. It is not the cookie after all the hard emotions are gone through and the rehashings and wailing. It is the way we allow our nervous system to strengthen and become resilient. It’s how we look forward to our days.
A huge part of the healing process is knowing ourselves well enough to know if we tend towards the wallowing or the suppressing. And then we kindly, and with compassion, learn how to move towards a place of joy rather than comfort. The reason I named my work Tidal Heart Healing is because healing is dynamic; it is not fixed. It changes and evolves and comes and goes. It needs this one day and something else the next. So we learn to listen to what we need in the moment. We try what has worked and engage our courage to try something else when it doesn’t.
The more I used the imagery of a thousand lead balloons, the heavier they felt. So I asked, what if they were filled with helium? And for that day, it worked.