My three year old son sits on a chair in my room while I fold laundry. We are together, but in separate states of mind. For the last ten weeks, I have been engrossed in my own schooling and the homework that comes along with it. I know the kids have noticed how distracted I have been. I decide in this moment “let’s play!” and I start tickling him. He gives into this happiness 100%, and I can see that he feels noticed, loved, and cared for. I recognize that, I want him to be able to hold on to that feeling as long as possible.
I remember that feeling. I wish I could will that feeling back into existence: total and 100% happiness. Do you remember that? For me, the happiness would come after a storm in my life. I have written about how I always seemed to be “in trouble” for something. This is true, however, there were these moments that it just seemed like everything would be okay. Moments such as Dad asking me if I wanted to go to the hardware store; Yes!! He would buy me a strawberry plant for my garden and I would feel so special. Mom would laugh at something I did when I didn’t think she was paying attention; yes! I felt loved. When Dad showed interest in a project on which I was working; yes! I felt important. Mom would listen to me talk while we were in the car; yes! I felt heard. I would get a compliment from one of the pastors about school work; yes! I felt smart. I would get chosen by one of the pastors wives to help them with something; yes! I felt useful. As a young person, I would give in to this happiness, 100%. I let it take over my body and it would give me a surge of energy. This is how I made it through the tough times. I never stopped looking for the happiness.
I wondered yesterday “when did that feeling fade?” It faded over time. I started working and didn’t have time for a garden and trips to the hardware store. I stopped being outgoing because I felt that it was opening myself for unwanted violations. I drew the curtains on my emotions and my life, to protect myself. I stopped crying when I was sad, and started laughing at everything to cover up the dead soul inside. I didn’t want feelings, they were only causing me trouble. If I turned them off, then I wouldn’t care so much. I stopped looking for my world of escape inside the texture of my walls at night. There was no escape, and I wouldn’t welcome daydreams.
A few years ago, I was driving to work when I heard a story on the radio about sexual abuse victims and how they have the ability to turn off their emotions. That being able to turn off their emotions was their way of protection, and coping with the awful things that had happened to them. I started to cry, and then I stopped myself. Then, I allowed myself to cry, to really cry for all the times that I hadn’t before. I showed up to work tear-stained and I didn’t care.
Since then I have learned that emotions are energy in motion. By stopping the tears, the anger, the happiness, I was stopping the energy flow. At this present time, I do not hold back my emotions. I am proud of my ‘honesty with empathy’. It is not that I am going out and screaming at every person with whom I feel angry. It simply means that I have a perfect right to all of my feelings.