Written by: Gracie Mayer, Facebook Manager and Contributing Writer of Unpolished Journey
What do you do when emotion wells within you like a storm breaking on the horizon?
Do you wait in anxiety as the storm moves closer?
Do you open your arms a yell out “Bring it on!”
Do you sit in the rain and just feel the drops hit your bare skin?
Do you see the storm, lose yourself in the storm and feel that you can never find your way out?
In the last couple of weeks I have had a lot of emotions come up around the holidays. I have had mixed emotions around this time of year. A piece of me is so overwhelmed with joy, possibility, gratitude, contentment and peace. There is another piece of me that is consumed with regret, sadness, loss and loneliness. At first, when I had the feelings that I label as negative or unwanted like sadness and loneliness I wanted to run in the other direction. I constantly made myself feel bad for feeling negative emotions especially when I have a loving family and friends, a warm place to sleep and an abundance of resources. However, it felt that the more I judged myself for feeling the negative emotions, the more that I spiraled into negativity. I found that when I could simply step back and honor the sadness, the loneliness or the loss I could fully find peace with the storm and look inside myself to grant myself some compassion and hold space for the full range of emotions that I was experiencing. Living the human experience means experiencing the good with the bad. The negative feelings will not last forever, but the same goes for the good feelings. This too shall pass is applicable to the good and the bad. I cannot expect to constantly live in the joy and elation that comes with life and I also can find comfort in knowing that the negative feelings will not last forever either.
Lately I am trying to give myself space to feel everything. It is definitely not comfortable and definitely not easy. When I allow myself to feel all of my emotions I also allow myself to come to others to receive help and support–I find myself living more in community and building stronger relationships founded in vulnerability. Also, allowing myself the space to sit with difficult emotions helps me resist the negative coping mechanisms I would often use to numb out the negative. When I allow myself the space the feel my sadness or loneliness I have the urge to turn to my negative coping skills but if I can give myself the grace to sit with the feelings that I am so afraid to feel I can begin to trust myself. Often times I would fight myself because there was a piece of my that didn’t believe I could handle the negative emotions–I didn’t trust that I could take care of myself and give myself compassion. I need to be the one to give myself compassion, love and acceptance.
I noticed that when I fully experience the emotions I label as negative or uncomfortable I can greater have gratitude for joy, peace and contentment. Sometimes the dark helps accentuate the light and I find that the richness of my human experience is fully expressed. The holidays bring up a range of emotions. For those with eating disorders, this time of year that is commonly a time of indulgence and a focus is given to the communal aspect of food, isolation and anxiety are high. In addition, the holidays can bring up memories or feelings of loss for those who are maybe no longer in our lives. On the flip side, the holidays are a times of joy, togetherness and a celebration of life. I find that my holiday season is more rich when I hold space for the fullness of my experience instead of labeling some of my emotions as bad and some of my emotions as acceptable. I think that ignoring my negative emotions or pushing them to the side only sends a message to myself that I am only loveable when I am happy or “ok”. However, I am loveable and worthy of love when I am happy, sad, lonely, angry, depressed and frustrated. We are all loveable and worthy of love through the entirety of our experience.
My challenge this holiday season is to see the storm, respect the storm, share my storm and experience my storm with grace and compassion.