(Caution: the words “feeling my feelings” appear repeatedly)
The week is now over. Sitting in the sun in the café, church bells are chiming and the day is set to be a scorcher. The week began with great shock as we discovered Sami, our moodle* of 13 years had a bleeding tumor on his spleen and wasn’t given much time to live.
Is shock a feeling or is it an absence of feeling? Or is it a quick moving wall rising between me and my feelings. Tears come from nowhere as we sit face to face with Dr. Nick, the messenger. That morning I listened to a training about helping clients feel their feelings. Was this God’s joke? Then I received a random missive from my own coach about how she resisted her feelings when she and her husband had to put down their dog 2 years earlier. WTF??? This now serves as the framework for my week. Will I feel my feelings or resist my feelings? How will I know the difference? Start with awareness. I can choose not to alter my state with drinking or drugs – both of which sound really appealing right now.
Awareness: start by describing your bodily sensations in detail. Pain in stomach, tightness in chest, tension all over. Describe my thinking: willing Sami to be younger, healthier, or at least his last Saturday self when he greeted visitors by jumping and barking and sniffing with great curiosity. Breathing. What if I breathe – take a slow breath – allow the tension to break-up. OK, I am feeling my feelings, folks. Now what? My husband, Bill, is feeling his feelings too. What a pair we make – like two lost souls flailing about – trying to swim and not sink into some dark depth and wanting to sink into oblivion as long as we can take Sami with us. We so loved, benefitted, were healed and entertained by Sami. Our levels of serotonin and dopamine rose each day when we arrived home with Sami there to welcome us with his insanely happy greeting.
So, thank you Sam! But don’t go just yet - I am not ready. 2 days later and no sleep and lots of discomfort for all of us. We realize it is time for Sami to go to dog heaven – he all of a sudden looks exhausted and very old and can’t keep it up. So with love, we spend the last minutes of his life holding him, loving him and letting him go. Ouch. Fuck that hurts. Breath. Be alive; be aware. Aware of my husband and daughter who are also suffering. Give to them. Receive from them.
Then, there is the aftermath. The worst is over. The house is empty. The spot where Sami slept (and he loved to sleep) is now making unwanted space in the living room. Back to work, showing up. In limbo; not actually feeling bad, but not really feeling good. Will I start resisting my feelings now when they seem less defined? Another day. Feeling sad and empty and wondering about the direction of my life. Staying aware, I go to my support meetings; I eat my healthy food; I call friends and fellows. I visit with friends though I wish I could go into a dark room and sit – but I want to be with friends too, so I go, I welcome.
Another day and I feel like something is happening to me. I don’t know how or what, but I skip to the ladies room. I dance down the hall. Where did that come from? Inside life is living me. Feelings are not sticky with stories I tell myself about woe is me. Feelings are moving as promised by recovered folks, by Pema and by my teachers.
Thank you all for guidance as to how to live and do feelings. Thank you, feelings for proving that I am alive and I am human. Thank you Sami for giving me the fullness of life.
*Mutt and poodle mix.