Tears at the Table
In a world that wants you to act relentlessly positive, even in the face of your own or others’ suffering, how can you make space for the authentic experience of your own feelings, sensations, and thoughts?
Can you make room for all of it? Can you give yourself permission to have the experience you are having RIGHT NOW – the thoughts, feelings and sensations that are part of your human experience, without trying to change anything or push it away?
I’m writing this post at the end of my birthday weekend – in which I have felt so blessed and loved and unbelievably lucky. I’m delighted to be STILL HERE, enjoying the moment with my daughter and husband and friends and family and all of you.
But I have to tell you, having a birthday, especially a big one, can be a mixed bag!
My daughter, husband and I traveled for one night to San Antonio to celebrate. There were moments of genuine pleasure on our short trip, but I also felt overwhelmed several times by feelings of irritability, nostalgia, and even grief. I was surprised to be missing my grandparents, who lived in San Antonio and whom I used to visit regularly. I felt their absence sharply, like I haven’t in many years.
Then there was annoyance at mixed up dinner and brunch plans, poignancy in realizing I’ve been with my husband for exactly half my life (we met when I was 25 and now I’m 50), love and joy with my daughter’s delight in the history and beauty of the old hotel where we were staying, irritation at her loud complaining about the food not being exactly what she expected.
I felt gratitude for making it to 50 and shame at feeling having tears over minor annoyances, upsetting my sweet family who were trying really hard to be on their best behavior and make the time nice for me.
The more I tried to push away the sadness and irritability to just be grateful, the more it showed in the form of impatience or tears.
Can you relate?
That’s when I remembered what I tell people in class: Make room for this. Make room for the full experience, the sadness and irritability, the love and the appreciation, the anger and the grief.
Why is it important to make room for the feelings instead of shutting them down or pretending nothing’s wrong? Because shutting feelings down doesn’t make them go away. You end up acting them out even more OR you continue to experience the effects of the suppressed anger and sadness – your immune system and nervous system work overtime, because instead of allowing the feelings to come up for a few uncomfortable (even embarrassing moments) and then moving on out, they take up residence inside you.
I tried to give myself space for the feelings, even though to be honest it didn’t make me look very graceful. Luckily my family can be very forgiving, especially when I assure them it’s not their fault I’m crying at the table on my birthday!
And then the feelings moved through..