The Decision to Feel
I had a decision to make. I could continue to be stuck in a place of self pity, of feeling like I’m not one of the chosen who gets to have a peaceful, abundant, and joyful life. By no means was this an easy decision to make. I struggled on and off for more than 20 years with a core belief that people like me do not get to have an easy, peaceful life.
A charmed and privileged life of knowing what one wants, how one wants to contribute to society, and for this to effortlessly flow into one’s experience. No, as much as I tried to affirm the opposite of that belief into my consciousness; I found the “people like me don’t get to have it that way” belief still lurked in the dark hidden crevices of my mind.
I’m not one of those who knew as a child what she liked to do and stuck to it. In fact, I have no memories of any interests or leanings during my childhood. In my mind’s eye all that I see or remember are like snapshot photos, like a polaroid instant photo. I don’t remember my childhood as if it were a movie with the scenes replaying in my mind. The things I do remember are frozen in time.
Having a gratitude practice has been the shining light during times when it seemed there was only darkness. Many times it appears as if I have nothing for which to be grateful. With practice, I have learned to dig a bit deeper than what seems to be happening.
On the days in which my mind is swirling with the heaviness of circumstances; I can bring my will power to the table, allow myself to feel the heaviness, and then move into that for which I have to be grateful. There can be a seemingly never ending stretch of time between moving from feeling the heaviness to a gratitude practice. Yet, it’s worth the wait for me to do it in this way.
I can look around me and find dozens of things for which to be grateful. The clothes I’m wearing, the furniture in the room, the laptop I use to pour out my heart, the food in the kitchen, indoor plumbing, toilet paper, a comfortable bed.
Then I can shift my gaze to the window. I am grateful for the window itself so that I may see and have nature within eyesight. Gratitude continues for the trees, and grass, the fresh air, the warmth of the sun, the shade of the clouds, and the delightful bird song.
This is just the beginning. I then close my eyes and bring to mind more images for which I am grateful. My two kids come to mind. I see each of their faces, their smiles, and my heart swells with love and overflows with gratitude. These two wonderful beings have brought deep lessons and incredible joy as they were the catalyst for my arriving at a different destination than I had imagined and shifting my entire view of this thing called life. You bet I’m grateful for these two.
When my daughter, Lillian Darnell, was 3 years old, she was diagnosed with a rare chromosome condition called 18p-; which affects 1 in 56,000 people. Was I grateful for this diagnosis at the time? Absolutely not. I cursed the harshness of it, I cursed life, I was angry and I felt betrayed. Do I feel the same way 15 years later, with an 18 year old Lillian? Absolutely not. …….. Well, let’s be honest. Yes, I do at times. That’s where feeling the emotions and then the gratitude practice shine their amazing light and lend a hand.
In the past I did, in fact, bypass allowing myself to feel the cruddy stuff that called for my attention. I went straight to the gratitude practice without first acknowledging and embracing the unloveliness that had risen to the surface. These days I only bypass when I can’t possibly focus on what needs to be released or I just don’t have the energy or will power. Otherwise, I dive into the abyss and hope I come up for air some time soon!
This gratitude practice and connecting with emotions works best for me when I pour my feelings and emotions into my digital journal. First, I get it all out. Feel what I need to feel as I’m writing, from numbness, to anger, hopelessness, and despair. While at the same time either sobbing or laughing at the ridiculousness of it. For me, this is a critical first step before even entering the gratitude practice. If I did not take this first step, I’d simply be stuffing the unlovely feelings to resurface later.
In all honesty, I forget many times to come back around to gratitude. I am in a hurry, I don’t have time to sit reminding myself of all for which I have to be grateful. By allowing myself to first feel what I need to feel, I can then experience a pivotal shift by acknowledging that for which I am grateful.
At 14 years old, Lillian’s younger brother, Thomas Darnell, has gone through a year or so of being in the throes of puberty and has his own set of challenges. This single parenting journey of raising two kids who each have challenges has been a wild ride. I turn to writing in my digital journal, following with the gratitude practice.
I am not meaning this to sound as if my challenges are any more important or deeper than another’s challenges. At this point I have come to realize each one of us has shadows and struggles. Some of us have perfected bypassing all this jazz, living life seemingly to the fullest. Some of us have perfected diving into it and living life to the fullest. And, some of us are patiently making our way through the diving in part and doing the darn best we can at living life to the fullest. We’re all in this together. Just in a different way.
Having a gratitude practice has been an integral part of this journey for me. I am blessed to remember to appreciate life’s delights, nature’s art and beauty, the kindness and compassion of others; balanced with diving deep into the unlovely feelings and emotions that rise to the surface, ready to be embraced, loved, felt and released.
Breathe in, Breathe out, Feel it …. One breath at a time.
Words of Alchemy:
The poetry of nature, the poetry of healing, the poetry of appreciation, the poetry of love … in one beautiful book.
In Words of Alchemy, Camilla Downs invites you to walk with her to share her love of Nature and Life through a heartfelt free-verse poetry memoir.
During her daily strolls she is mindfully present as she delves into life in the raw and experiences her heart’s observations.
Camilla embraces what happens when she opens her heart and invites the written words to flow. The Alchemy of Love and Healing is what happens.
Camilla Downs is a bestselling author, indie publisher, mentor, and mom. Nature and life experiences are a constant source of inspiration for her writing. She enjoys living a minimalist lifestyle, practicing meditation and mindfulness, reading, going for walks, and capturing nature’s essence with photographs. Camilla is the founder of MeetingtheAuthors.com and lives in Northern Nevada, USA with her two kids.
Family Website: http://theteamtlc.com/
Amazon Author Central: amazon.com/author/camilladowns
Where to Buy:
Words of Alchemy: If you’re in the U.S. and would like a personalized, signed book – free shipping! (I will ship internationally, if the reader would like to pay the international shipping fee): http://camilladowns.com/books/words-of-alchemy/Amazon
Amazon Author Central: amazon.com/author/camilladowns
Thank you so very much, Priya! Grateful for your time in effort in hosting me on your lovely blog! Wishing you all the best! xoxo
You are so welcome Camilla. Thanks for the wonderful piece. So heartfelt! xx