This topic has come up a lot lately in conversations with friends.
Some people say “think positively” and just let go of the negative thoughts. Poof!
Some people say “it’s okay to have those thoughts, but don’t dwell”. Each person has an idea of what the appropriate time for dwelling is — an hour, a day, a week, a month?
For some people, the minute you say anything negative, they get antsy and want to talk about something more pleasant.
Some people say things like “don’t be sad”.
Some people encourage tears. Others think you’re losing your mind if you cry and are visibly uncomfortable.
Some people will disappear if you are not always positive around them.
Today, I read my DailyOM email from a few days ago and it was about “The Danger of Repression“. The author’s premise follows what I’ve been thinking, that as a society we’ve become so enamored of the power of positive thinking, we actually don’t get rid of the negative thoughts and feelings, we bury them deep in an effort to avoid anything negative.One person intimated I was “losing it” after my dad’s death because I cried. No joke. Crying makes people uncomfortable in our society. I mean we even have a theme song for all this positivism: “Don’t Worry Be Happy”.
To be perfectly honest, I am horrible at letting my feelings show so all this openness and crying in public and in front of people is totally foreign to me. I’ve been known to “stuff” my feelings. I hate seeming out of control and dare I say, weak, in front of others, even those with whom I am close. It is a giant leap of faith and trust for me to open up about these deep and dark feelings. The past six months have been like I’ve been a stranger in a foreign land. But then my friend, Jenn, texts me and emails me (over and over) and looks me square in the eye and tells me that being open in my heart and allowing the pain is when the good stuff comes in. I may be older but she sure is wiser so when Jenn talks, Suzan listens.
I have been genuinely trying to sit with my feelings of sadness and loss, and even anger. It’s been a tough process. It’s uncomfortable. I’ve been so afraid of breaking. On Monday, I told wise woman Jenn I was afraid of breaking and asked how much more can I possibly take. She tells me straight up that I’m already broken, but I’m still standing, and strong, and I’ll be okay. “What?,” I say. “More stuff keeps getting added on to the list of “bad shit” in my life!!” I’m thinking to myself “God must think I’m some serious badass!” Her response? “It’s just more of the same process. You’re okay.” She reminded me that I have to let it happen so good can find me, to keep my heart open so that good can find me. I have to get rid of all this bad so that the good can find me.
That night, despite having the horrible news about SP’s cancer earlier that day, I slept. SP slept next to my head and against my face all night so I won’t attest to the quality of the sleep, but I slept almost all night. That is the first time since the middle of November that I haven’t been up in the middle of the night upset, crying, or hand-wringing over everything going on in my life. I slept last night also. Frank Herbert said “I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.”
I’m working on it.Tom Petty sang “into the great wide open”. Whew!