Silent on the outside

by tamarjacobson

I think I am getting the hang of it.

When I say to myself, "Get rid of desire," or "Just let it go …" it means that I am steering my Self away from uncomfortable feelings. Indeed, since Friday, I must say that this weekend has seemed like an experiment in holding still with some of the most uncomfortable feelings I have ever had to deal with.

And this time, I did not allow excuses to hold me back. 

Sitting in the dark in the wee hours of the morning, or out in the brilliant winter sunshine on my porch, at times even in the middle of cooking dinner, driving down the road to the neighborhood store, or setting out Christmas tree decorations, I experienced feelings of anger and sadness, and stayed with them until they were gone. 

This morning, as I stare at the computer screen, I try to sum up the findings of my experiment this weekend. After all, I have been working at understanding my fear of anger and sadness all year. So, in a way I am thankful for an incident on Friday, which set off a cascade of emotion that, for the next few days, poured through me like the force of a gushing waterfall. And, believe me, it hurt! When I held still and allowed myself to experience the emotions, I discovered that it became physical. I felt pain in my back, chest, neck and legs, including a type of throbbing in the front of my brain. At times I thought I could not breathe, I felt nauseous, and when I cried tears flowed like rain without any control. A veritable storm of emotion. Mostly I was alone when I allowed this to happen. In fact, I did not want anyone around me. I just wanted to know what would happen to me if I simply allowed myself to feel the feelings. At times it felt dark and scary, but mostly it was simply sore and achey … and … even as vibrant images roared and swirled around my brain … it was silent on the outside. 

And I survived. No one got hurt. And I did not even need a pill!

This morning I sigh with clarity and relief. For, I don't feel any need to share those feelings with any of the past or present people to whom they might have been directed. I begin to understand that allowing myself to experience rage need not feel as enormous as it did this weekend. Indeed, it is just a feeling like any other. It is not dangerous or frightening – even bad. It is just part of being human. If someone steps on my toes or bruises my feelings, I can feel angry, hurt, and then move on. At times, I might even be able to say, "Hey! Look out! That hurts me. I don't like it when you do or say that."

Now, I understand that for some of my readers out there what I write here might seem ridiculous. You have probably known this forever – were taught that it is all right to feel your feelings – and were even encouraged to express them. But, for me, this is a revelation. For as a young child, I was taught that my feelings were dangerous and destructive – even crazy and cultural (the wrong culture, that is!). And emotional memory clutters the brain for a life-time.

Back in September, on a trip to Idaho with my darling Jacobson family, I took a ride high up Bald Mountain in a gondola. It was sheer and steep as the ground fell beneath us in a terrifying way for a person like me who has a fear of heights! I was determined to try it though, and held tight to Tom's hand as we set off. Dick and Nelle smiled lovingly at me as we continued up the mountain. Slowly my fear dissipated as the glass encased car glided up the mountain, shaking and trembling gently now and again with the wind whistling through the trees, and gusting by, My family sat closely by understanding and validating the meaning of those moments for me. I cannot describe the feeling of accomplishment I experienced when I arrived at the top of Bald Mountain to share with everyone in the exquisite view.

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This weekend felt quite a bit like riding that gondola up a very steep mountain. And as Christmas draws near, I pull my Jacobson family closer than ever to my heart. For, I realize these past 16 years they have enveloped me with love, acknowledgement, acceptance, and validation that has, bit by bit, given me the courage to be my most open and vulnerable self.

A year ago at Mining Nuggets: All I want