an open letter for people feeling things they don’t want to feel right now

Maybe you’re feeling a special cocktail of sadness, shame, and fear. Maybe a bit of anger mixed in. I don’t know your life, but I do know that you don’t want to be feeling it. And perhaps you feel helpless in it, as well.

I’m here on behalf of you, and whatever you’re feeling.

sadness (and all of it’s siblings ie disappointment, overwhelm, heaviness): My question is, what is wrong with feeling down? It means you’re alive. I know it is heavy, but that means you’ve noticed something. It means you’re paying attention. It means you’ve noticed the friction, so much that it feels like you have become friction. Perhaps though, instead of asking, “when (if ever!?) will it go away?” try gently asking, “what are you trying to show me?”

shame*: maybe you fucked up, and shame is making sure that you remember it. it sucks. but do you know what the alternative is? fucking up and not feeling shame about it. and that would make you a psychopath. so, while this very shitty feeling is awful, thank you for feeling it. it is a good thing. (*i feel like I should say: sometimes we feel shame even when we did nothing wrong because someone else did/believes something wrong and they are hiding it within you. that’s a different story for a different time.)

fear: you’re afraid, or you’re anxious. which can often turn into a mental spiral. you’re afraid they will leave. that you’ll never figure it out. that there is too much unknown. that you can’t control everything. you’re afraid of the big questions. i think it all boils down to– you’re afraid of what you will lose (sanity, prestige, success, family, identity, life). the fear sucks. it is so uncomfortable that it can feel controlling. but it means that you have found something within all of that– if you’re scared of losing your family, it means they are important to you. that you care about those relationships. which, isn’t it such a gift to have something to lose?

I’m not trying to be didactic and find the fucking positive in bad situations. But here’s the thing: sometimes we become so wrapped up and driven to leave a (culturally perceived) “bad” feeling that we don’t soak in what that emotion is trying to tell us. Yes, it is uncomfortable. But could that simply be because we’ve told ourselves that we should be happy which makes everything that is not “happy” feel wrong? What would we see if we weren’t so hellbent on trying to leave it?

What would happen if we greeted our most intolerable emotions with a nonjudgemental curiosity and patience?