Why it's ok to feel what you feel (whatever that is) - and why I choose to share my meltdown with you
Yesterday morning I had a meltdown. I haven’t had a meltdown in a long time. I had some in the past of course, because like everyone I am human. But since the beginning of this worldwide “pandemic” situation, I actually have been feeling pretty good. I feel like I’ve been “prepared” for this. Over the last few weeks I did experience a rollercoaster of mixed emotions but I was definitely able to watch them, let them come to the surface, and process them to reflect or work on myself, grow in a way, all in good spirits. I also had time to take care of myself and do a lot of things that I enjoy: meditating, reading, gardening, forest bathing, reading. I gave myself permission to let go of pressure, and chose to work when I felt it was ok for me to do so. I had some great moments of communion with nature and of connection with the Universe, the Source, whatever you want to call it. I had some deep insights, and I also experienced some profound joy. This, in parallel with sadness, anger, fear, guilt, etc. All at the same time, and totally fine with it all. I was not only finding my own journey really interesting but also the journey of the collective and everyone I hold space for in these times.
And I am not sure what happened yesterday exactly and I can only describe it and understand it from my reality but I clearly felt that my soul wanted me to go through this meltdown, to remind me what it is like, and that to remind me that this also would pass. I am glad I did experience it, even if it was painful: the puffy eyes from not being able to stop crying, the headache from dehydration, the exhaustion from the need for the body to recover, the desire to numb myself from those feelings.
Until Monday I had been very good at setting proper boundaries regarding the use of my time: limiting my time on the internet, choosing when I wanted to connect with friends, and looking carefully when I was happy and ready to work with a client. On Monday, though, I kind of lost myself in the news and social media. And the more I read and watched, the more I felt I wanted to go all the way in, like something was pulling me. I did go in step by step, consciously observing what I was feeling was I was doing it. Being aware did not, however, prevent me from taking it “too” far and getting triggered. So at the end of the day when I went to bed I felt very angry and sad (not scared for some reason). I got up yesterday morning with a knot in my belly, a pressure in my liver both in the front and in the back. After 10 minutes of meditation I started crying my heart out. And it felt strange, it was both a great sense of release, and yet it was so painful.
Because I have experienced this before, I know how to take care of myself, to listen to my needs, to process, to let it be and pass in its own time, to appreciate what I can learn, etc.
But that is not the point of this article. My point is this: I work in the field of holding space for other people, my job is to make them feel safe, in a place where all emotions and all parts of themselves are welcome. And I want to say this, because as therapists we are often taught not to share our own vulnerability with others. I say F*** this. I have never applied this rule because I do feel the opposite is more powerful. To remind yourself and others that we are all human beings. And that nobody should be a on a pedestal where “enlightenment” and “awakening” looks like everything is fine all the time. Because it is NOT and that would set an unrealistic and impossible goal to achieve.
This is true not only for my profession, but also for all the doctors, nurses and helpers out there. It is true for, the police, the firefighters, the security guards, dance teachers, yoga teachers, meditation teachers and all the other “gurus” (in the teacher sense) out there; it is also true for your parents, the friends you admire and think are strong. This is true for everyone!
And more to the point, just because you have up and downs, and you allow your meltdowns to exist and to be seen, does not mean that you can’t be there for somebody else. I can still be there for my friends. I can still work with my clients. And that is because I know how, when and who to turn to when I need support. And everyone should also have that: a friend, a community, a professional, a book, a tool. Etc. But if we keep denying ourselves the right to be vulnerable, we deny ourselves the right to be human, and that is what we all are. Even more so now.
And please, let’s stop telling people how they should feel. Let’s stop telling people they should not complain. Let’s stop telling people they should be happy they have a roof over their head. Let’s stop comparing. Let’s stop making people feel guilty. Everyone is on a journey here. Some might feel happy, grateful and calm; others might feel angry, scared and sad. Some might feel all of these, at the same time, or at different moments. Some might feel nothing. Some might feel it strongly. Some might feel it gently. Some might enjoy this moment to take care of themselves. Some might feel they have to do more. Some might want to do nothing. Some might want to talk, some might want to stay silent. Some might feel deeply some old wounds coming back to the surface. Some might feel a big opening...Some might already be very resilient, some might not.
We don’t heal by judging our emotions, and we don’t help anyone by telling them how they should or should not feel. Only they can know how they feel. We need to try and meet one other where we are, being aware that even if we wish we were in the same place, we might not be, and that’s ok. We might feel strong in some moments and vulnerable in others, and really that's ok.
My hotline is free and open to all in case you do need to talk and be held in safe space: https://calendly.com/laughingbutterfly/hotline-laughing-butterfly