don’t rush a feeling

Sometimes when I am tired or sad or full of angst, I get annoyed at people who try to help me feel better. I don’t want to feel better right away. I need to get good and frustrated, to actually feel what I’m feeling, before I can start to turn it around. And sometimes people who want to help seem reluctant to let me feel my emotions. You can’t chase the rain clouds away before they’ve started raining. They’re not even your rainclouds if you don’t feel a few wet drops. It’s the same with the weird, sad, intense feelings. They need a moment to become real. If you welcome them in and offer them a glass of water, they’ll be more willing to leave when you show them the door. 

I’ve maybe had more tough days than normal lately. That’s probably true for all of us. We’re locked in these four walls and coming face to face with selves we didn’t quite know. That’s a hard thing all on its own – meeting parts of us we didn’t know existed and aren’t sure if we like. Don’t worry. You’ll adjust. Just don’t rush yourself. It’s ok to recognize angst and feel it and get to know it before you move past it. If you ignore sadness and hurt and frustration, they’re not going to leave, they’re going to hover. You may have less outright tough days but there will be a black-ish tension lying under everything instead of the open type of pain that comes when you sit down and make introductions. 

I’m not saying we should make Grief our roommate, give Frustration permission to rearrange the furniture, and let Angst do all the meal prep. There are limits. You like your couch where you like your couch, and it’s better to cuddle those throw pillows you’ve ordered online than it is to snuggle up with pain like a long-term houseguest. Besides, Frustration is notably terrible at remembering (or caring enough) to open the curtains and windows on a sunshiny morning, and frankly sunshine is as important for you as for your houseplants. Trust me on this. Open your window. I didn’t yesterday and look where that got me. Crabby by dinner time, and nothing short of two strawberry muffins and a walk under the stars would do for a cure.

While we’re talking about open windows, when you need a place to sit and get acquainted with all the heavy things walking with you lately, find an open window. The trees aren’t trying to fix anything. They know how to listen, murmuring their own indistinct and indirect sympathies. They won’t share your secrets with anybody but the nosy squirrels – and maybe your frustrations will get planted with the autumn’s acorns. In a hundred years you can walk through the forest and look for the strength of oaks that grew out of your pain. The birds will gossip about their own hardships in sing-song lilts. Hey that’s a good idea – sing like a bird. They say getting tipsy and embarrassing yourself with karoke break-up songs is good for a broken heart. Maybe it’ll help to get our own angst out in the sad songs we’ve saved from the last season of grief. And the breeze somehow knows just how much you do or don’t want a hug even without your saying. Having your hair teased around without needing to respond might be the most therapeutic thing yet.

Whatever happens, whatever it is pressing down on you right now, even as you’re lifting the blinds and wincing at the sun in your eyes, remember: There isn’t a quick fix. It’s a big feeling and it’ll pass, but it can’t go well if it’s pushed. Sometimes we just need to create a landing space for those things. Let them come to pass. If they’ve been greeted and acknowledged and offered a drink, they’ll be less clingy when we ask them to go. 

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