Sunday, December 31, 2023

What Would Happen If We All Just Felt More Feelings?

Throughout my life the most stressful and inspiring moments have thrust pen to paper. These moments made it easy for me to sit and write without pause until every single feeling and experience had bled onto the page, leaving me feeling relieved, relaxed, and accomplished. 

Yet, for years, I’ve struggled to get it all out. The pull, the need, is always there, but it’s become impossible to sit down and actually get everything out. I open the document, I sit, I wait, and nothing comes. The thoughts and feelings are there, but the words to express them are lost and hidden away. 

We moved back to Israel in late June 2022, and life has been good since then. The kids made friends, adjusted to school, and picked up Hebrew faster than I could have possibly hoped for or imagined. Work for me hasn’t changed much, and Tuvia got a job working for a company he loves. 

All in all, life is good. We’re okay, we’re doing well, we’re settled. 

Then, October 7, 2023, rolled around like any other Shabbat/Simchat Torah/my 40th birthday ... but it wasn't. 

And that’s where my brain fogs and my fingers glitch on the keyboard. There has been so much in the past few months that I have felt, said, and experienced. By and large, I’ve taken them all and balled them up and shoved them down as far as I possibly can because my focus has been on the well-being — physical and mental and emotional — of my kids, my husband, my mother back in the USA. 

Tuvia volunteered to serve in the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) and spent two weeks in training getting the basics before being assigned Sunday through Thursday to an Air Force base near Rishon Leziyon. He's repairing bombs or missiles or whatever it is that we use to destroy Hamas and Hezbollah and preserve the only democracy in the Middle East. 

I'm at home with the kids, working and trying not to feel too much like I'm living someone else's life. 

I think about pre-October 7 and how I was moving in a direction of self-discovery and healing. Or, at least, I was trying. I was going to therapy weekly, I was starting a workbook on self-love, I was prepared to figure out why I'm so sad and angry all the time. Now I just feel numb and tired all the time. 

Also angry. I'm still so angry. 

I miss writing. I miss feeling like I know how to express myself and how to take all of the big feels and anger and push them out onto the screen and not deep down into my gut where they just bubble up into my chest and sit like a scream that won't release. 

My therapist asked me last week: "What would happen if you let yourself feel?" 

And I don't know how to answer the question. I've been thinking on it constantly since our Thursday meeting and I'm blank. Feelings mean vulnerability and weakness for me. Vulnerability and being weak are two things I absolutely abhor in myself. From a pretty young age feelings were something to be locked away and not felt, not addressed, not acknowledged. If you don't acknowledge them, then they'll go away. Right?

The funny thing is, I don't parent or respond to my spouse with this approach. Feelings are good! Feel the feelings! Let them out! Let them out into the universe so you can breathe! Don't be afraid to cry! Don't be afraid to feel!

And, of course, because of that, I have pretty well-adjusted kids who are open about how they feel and what they're going through and we work through everything together as best we can. I would never silence my children or spouse and tell them that vulnerability is bad or that emotions and feelings make you weak. 

So what would happen if I let myself feel?

What would happen, indeed.