"I love how deeply you feel."
A friend said that to me as I cried in her arms on a snowy Tuesday morning in a coffee shop.
I was telling her a story about a mentor who changed my life and how much he meant to me; I was expressing myself to someone freely, I was embracing every beautiful and sad emotion.
That was not always the case. I used to run from this exact moment.
I was not brought up in a home overflowing with love. There was a lot of yelling. Love was shown through sarcastic remarks; you received attention at the dinner table if you had the worst day. I was closest with my father and he worked on the road during the week — saying goodbye to him every Sunday night was a painful, teary eyed experience.
As the years passed, I engaged in romantic relationships where I was made to feel small - where I couldn't fully express who I was. I couldn't communicate openly. I would pick fights and diminish my partner to protect myself. I couldn't love. I was always in protection mode — I had taught myself to shut down when I was afraid. I pushed people out. I stopped feeling. I didn't cry for years. I desired to numb out completely. I couldn't handle feeling anything anymore. It was all too much.
One night I let go and cried on the subway. I quickly made a habit of only crying on the subway.
I felt safe with strangers. I knew I wouldn't ever have to see them again. My tears required no explanation. Their kind looks were the most support I had felt in years.
I started to crack open.
It's taken years of work. Self reflection, meditation, yoga, being vulnerable to friends and lovers, trying new things and endless spiritual seeking. My most helpful tool recently has been Breathwork.
Breathwork has allowed me to get into the nooks and crannies of where the pain originates. I no longer feel alone in this universe. I check out from my mind and get into my body. I don't feel the desire to numb a feeling out because it is too much. I also no longer allow people to tell me that I am too much. I've found I am just enough.
I allow myself to feel openly and completely now. My past is just a story and what I make of it is the true gift. To share freely of how someone has impacted me or how a sunrise in Big Sur made me feel alive for the first time is incredible. I have found a power within myself and it causes a surge of energy every time I share an experience with someone.
My friends laugh at me because I cry at the drop of a hat now.
You surprise me in my favourite coffee shop? I cry.
You say something sweet? I cry.
I think of an old wound that I'm trying to heal? I cry.
I see a commercial with puppies? I cry.
I don't feel the desire to rush through a feeling anymore. Simmering in the experiencing is one of my favourite activities. There is joy in the process.
I gave up running from the fear of feeling and traded it in for a good cry and chat with a friend. We don't have to navigate through this life alone.
So my sweet...
Ride the wave.
Feel all the feelings - even the scary ones.
Cry it out on the subway if you have to.
You are more than okay - I promise.