Allowing ourselves and others the time to vent before leaping into gratitude
I have had several interesting challenges lately.
Living in northern California, we have recently had floods, mudslides, falling trees, high winds, huge sinkholes and more.
My particular experiences lately have been with several falling trees near or on my property.
First of all, let me say that I am tremendously grateful that no one was hurt. There wasn’t even any major property damage done to anyone here on my street. Not so far, anyway. I feel blessed.
I am particularly grateful to several small trees that in two separate cases bore the brunt of the weight of the very large falling trees, sacrificing their own limbs and in one case, even its life, in the process. I am touched and will do my best to save those trees that are left, hoping that they will survive to bud again in the spring.
I, however, have needed to express and vent about all the feelings that were part of the experience. And that is ok. As a matter of fact, it is indicated, necessary, and even vital.
I find it interesting to notice how some people have reacted to my talking about my feelings.
What have I heard?
Be grateful that it wasn’t worse. Things happen. It could have been worse, so you should be happy. You are lucky. Some people have it so much worse. Don’t complain, look how lucky you have been. Look at all the suffering in the world. Compared to that, this is nothing. This too shall pass. That’s what happens when you live among lots of trees on hills.
Of course these things are true. There is much suffering in the world. And it is painful to see and feel, and to feel so powerless about. I don’t mean to discount that.
But do we need to compare ourselves to others in the service of invalidating our own experiences and feelings?
Things could have been much worse. Yes, I am so very aware of that. And I am grateful. Truly. And I express that all the time. All the time.
Why, however, I wonder, is it not ok to express some of the other feelings that I have as part of my healing and recovering and coping process?
I feel anxiety, fear about more trees coming down, deep awareness of the brevity of life and how quickly things can change given that I was in the house when my neighbor’s tree fell toward my home and lightly landed on part of the roof.
I felt a sense of overwhelm at having two trees fall in the space of a week and also having to now have another tree cut that is leaning toward a neighbor’s property. Will more happen? We have another big storm coming in tomorrow.
I felt anxious about how much all of this cost and where I would be able to budget for it and what I will have to cut out in my expenses.
Sometimes I just want to sit, hold my head in my hands for a few moments, and say This is too much.
Can I simply allow myself a few moments to feel that before picking myself up once again and moving forward with what needs to be done?
We are, perhaps, misguided in our attempts to think that we are helping the other person by trying to get them to focus immediately on positive things. Or maybe we are uncomfortable with their feelings and don’t know what to say, not realizing that all we have to do is listen and hear them, validate their experience, their feelings.
Can we allow ourselves to help to make it ok and safe for them to simply express what they need to express?
Can we allow the space for all the feelings so that gratitude can be arrived at, in its own time?
Can we allow all the weather of human emotions? Sun and clouds, clear skies and dark storms. Happiness and sadness. Courage and fear. Sweet and bitter.
Can we also allow this in ourselves? To accept all the experiences and range of feelings that are part of this human journey?
Can we allow the feelings that come with each stage of life? The fear and sadness that can be part of aging, along with the wisdom? The tremendous compassion for all of life as we also realize that there will be an end to our own?
Can we begin to realize that life is about coming home to all of who we are? We can spend so much of our youth and earlier lives trying to repress and deny and conform and mold ourselves into what we are told we should be or think that we should be, only to discover that the true gem of who we are was inside of us all along. Waiting to be seen, heard, expressed. All of it. All of the very human, flawed, perfectly imperfect parts that make up who we genuinely and authentically are.
I am still learning, as I continue on my own aging process, that who I am is exactly who I am supposed to be. That expressing what is deeply inside of me is the gift that I can give to the world. That parts of me that I have worked so hard to try and bury are exactly the parts of me that so many others may relate to and perhaps, when hearing me express them, feel a bit less alone.
I feel so many things. All part of this roller coaster ride of life. All part of being this unique creature called a human being. How lovely to contain all of these feelings, all of these reactions, all of these pieces that make us who we are. All of these pieces that deserve to be heard and honored.
I am so very grateful for all of it.