Embracing Feelings As Visitors

22 November 2016

Dear Baby Liam,

welcome to your 32nd week of life. By now you have grown from a little cell to a magical system of cells. I share my days with you, and you often get active in my belly, waking me up in the morning. What a lovely way to start each day!
I feel you and you feel me.
Knowing that you also feel my feelings, I always tend to worry about you when I cry, and when the sensation of pain in my chest resembles a knot that keeps me from properly breathing. I have been declared and categorized as emotional person, and this has apparently increased with the hormone changes of pregnancy. So I cry and I wash out all the grief and the disappointments, all my own childhood wounds that still affect me today.

I remember a person that is very close me who told me upon hearing that I was pregnant: “You cannotbecome a mother. You are just too emotional”. How polarizing the distinction people make between emotionality and rationality! And still, I feel torn between trying to go through the feelings that come up and suppressing them in favor of “rational response”, with voices of people like that one telling me that I am not mature enough because of my emotionality.

While emotions are an inherent part of being human, it is important to distinguish here between feelings and emotions. Emotions are feelings from the past, while feelings typically arise in the here and now. Emotions can easily become the source of my suffering because they belong to the past, such as wounds from the childhood or the nostalgia of romanticized memories. Feelings, on the other hand, they can arise from a specific situation in the here and now, and need to be felt in order to be let go of.

There is a deep Buddhist wisdom in this realization: it is that the source of our suffering is attachment, which – in this particular emotional case – means attachment to emotions, to feelings from the past, to the past as such.

What is inherent to the potential of feelings is purely human. To feel. To cry. To smile. The spiritual guidance of Rumi says that the cure for the pain is in the pain. That we can finally let go of certain feelings when we have allowed ourselves to feel them, go through them, work through them, bleed. Similarly, Thich Nhat Hanh advises:

“Do not fight against pain; do not fight against irritation or jealousy. Embrace them with great tenderness, as though you were embracing a little baby. Your anger is yourself, and you should not be violent toward it. The same thing goes for all your emotions.”

 

Our modern society, more than any, knows the devastating effects of numbing and avoiding feelings: drug and alcohol abuse, radical ideologies, over-and under-eating, all kinds of psychosomatic disturbances that increasingly affect all kinds of people.

Yes, I tend to attach to my past emotions. I sometimes bathe in the suffering of a certain pain. I do make mistakes, but then I dry my tears and I sit still in the intensity of life.

My sunshine, I want you to know that the feelings I have are part of my journey. You will also feel, you will feel pain, and I will want to take it away from you in an effort to protect you from the suffering. But I will not be able to. The only thing I want you to know is that my feelings are visitors. And yours are visitors. They don’t make you who you are, and they will never truly affect the bright flame of life that is shining as your beautiful soul. These feelings are here to make your Earth experience a human experience.

Here I am human, I am feeling, I am unmasking myself, and you are the only one who knows all of me, who knows even the way my heartbeat sounds from the inside. And in our human condition, we are worthy of love.

In so much love,

your Mum

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