We talked about feelings a lot when I was a kid. I have vivid memories of having “family meetings” after watching “controversial” television programming (we weren’t allowed to watch Married with Children or The Simpsons, so you can guess what I mean by controversial…) to discuss (in excruciating detail) our feeling responses to the shows. My brother and I often joke that we would have rather been spanked instead of having to talk with mom about whatever it was the resulted in the need for discipline.
As a result, I have a fairly robust feelings vocabulary and can express myself with ease most of the time (thanks, Mom!). And as a result of that it’s been surprising as an adult to realize how little I am actually willing to experience my feelings. I know that it’s “okay” to have them, and I know how to talk about them, but I’m just realizing that I carry around a belief that if a feeling is “bad” then I must do something about that immediately to make it go away and that if a feeling is “good” it is a sign that a crash is coming and I should tone it down.
This new awareness has me looking at life through a new lens. I want to experience my feelings now (until I am experiencing them… and then I don’t want to anymore… but I’m getting that this is a common, human experience), and if I can do so with intention and thoughtful attention I can experience them without letting them create or change my reality. Crazi-ness.
Last night when Spiderman and I were out front I realized that tomorrow (now today) was the today I had given myself permission to start looking for a new place (we are relocating from Long Beach to Los Angeles). Which means that in one month, we won’t live here anymore… and I needed to grieve that.
There are so many reasons I am looking forward to moving (paying less rent, less time in the car, closer to friends, just being where I want to be, I heart change…) and there is so much about this house where we live now that is in contrast to what I want from life, but I would be denying an experience of feelings if I were to choose one feeling (the excitement) over the other (the grief).
This house is my old life. When we moved here we did so as a family of three: Spiderman, BFO, and myself. We were starting over and this is where we were going to set our roots. This house was a major tactic in a long-term strategic plan. It’s everything I ever wanted in a house: front porch, old and rambling, tons of light, space for planting… and the family I had when we moved here is everything I ever (thought I) wanted in a family.
|goodbye, house. the boy, he comes with me.|
I don’t want those things anymore, and I don’t want this house anymore… and while I’ve grieved my marriage by welcoming my new relationship with myself and grieved the loss of my parent-partner by embracing new freedoms and seeing my strengths as a mother shine and grieved the loss of a two parent home for Spiderman by making his one parent home as loving as I can… I haven’t grieved the part of ME that wanted the traditional family in the old, rambling house with a porch.
So, that’s what I did. I appreciated and loved and thanked the part of me that wanted this for myself. I told her that if there were things about this that she missed in her new city life that I would help her find ways to get those needs met.
Just taking pictures, recording this moment as a beautiful one, and romanticizing some of these last moments in a way I can come back to them just by looking was enough.
Looks like I might have learned something new, and I didn’t get it from a book. I got it from doing what felt right.
In the present moment I am aware of all sorts of feelings. I feel overwhelmed by the number of things I need to do to prepare to move, celebrate spiderman’s birthday, and still take care of myself and my other responsibilities. I feel excited about the rush of finding a perfect, new place. I feel anticipatory about applying for grad school and then getting in (and what that will mean for my life). I feel sadness and loss from missing 38 and the void that remains from wanting to talk to her about what’s happening in my life and find out the same about hers. I feel relief that the choices I made to start a new job and take some big leaps are yielding positive results. I feel gratitude for the loving relationships I have with my closest friends.
I’m having a lot of feelings… and the only way I know how to experience them is to let them be and when I notice that I don’t want them anymore to remind myself that they are only temporary. They never stay long (unless I invite them to).
Now I have to go prepare for tomorrow… I’m going to go sleep on the ground outside and then run through mud and obstacles the next morning while uniformed military personnel scream at me. I’m not sure why I’m doing this… but I signed up for it, so I must have thought it was a good idea at one point.
More grieving on that topic next week?