I lay on the bed, my knees propped up like a display holder, my baby against my legs like a china plate. A wiggly china plate.
She put her feet together in a yoga pose, her toes splayed out and waving like sea anemones. My fingers brushed against each digit, marveling at the velvety feel of every inch of her. She grunted softly the way she does when she’s coming to after a long nap.
Rewind a few minutes and you find me worried and crying.
“Do I have enough love for four children? Do I have enough to give Truly the love and attention she deserves? I don’t know. I just don’t know…”
Distracted. Busy. Disconnected. That’s how I felt. I know I should be taking it slower and soaking up this time with my newborn with great intention, but a combination of duty and drive have made roadblocks to that goal.
I walk through life halfway holding my breath. I start to feel something and then distract myself (to avoid pain, to avoid over excitement, etc.) In doing so, I rarely allow myself to really feel anything fully. Do you do that? Something feels uncomfortable and instead of processing it, allowing it to go through it’s full life cycle of emotion, I grab some chocolate. Or Netflix. Or both, honestly.
When I feel overcome with positive emotions you know what happens? “Wait a minute, slow down, don’t get too excited, something crappy will probably happen or it’s too good to be true, yada yada yada…” I put the breaks on. “Logic” loves to override emotion -which comes in handy, don’t get me wrong. I will always remember what Ellen, my precious silver-haired mentor during my teen years, said. “Live by what you know, not what you feel.” If we let our emotions rule our lives we would all act like tragic teenagers. I get it. But there is something, particularly in our western go-go-go culture, that deadens our experience of life when we do not allow ourselves to feel.
For years I used alcohol as both pain relief and a pleasure stimulant. But mainly I just wanted to numb the hell out. I was quite fine with the idea of drifting away into oblivion, and if I never came back, so what. The numbness was wonderful. The idea of feeling all the way through was too much.
When I decided to call it quits with alcohol nearly a year ago I confronted all my feelings. And I tell you what, it scared the HELL out of me. No more numbing. I had to look at myself and my emotions with honesty.
Within a week I began to feel less fear and experience joy. Really experience joy.
As I lay next to my baby today and worried if I had enough love to give to her and all my children, a still small voice reminded me of something.
Exhale. Let go of the fear and worry and just love. If you allow yourself to give what you have, enjoy the experience, truly let yourself sink into love and that feeling, there will always be enough. The worry and fear give your love a half-life. We don’t need that.
And whether it’s love or even worry -when we allow ourselves to experience an emotion and fully process it we allow ourselves to 1) let it pass if it’s a negative and 2) let it grow if it’s positive.
I choose to breath through, inhaling and exhaling completely, my feelings. I may not always remember it, but when I do it helps me to live presently and more fully. And that’s what I want.
My whole heart for my whole life, as the lovely saying goes.